The Shimmer Project

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I had just moved back to San Francisco, I had been away for ten years. I used to live here when I was younger. Then my mother died in a car crash downtown so my father took me back home to his family in Tokyo. We lived there for a few years then moved to Detroit for his new job. I chose to move back to San Francisco at the beginning of summer so I could have time to settle in before starting my last year of school. Dad hadn’t been so fond of me moving so far away but he knew that I wasn’t happy in Detroit. So he allowed me to live with my aunt Victoria.

Victoria was Mom’s sister, they had been very close, but I couldn’t remember her very well. Victoria also had a daughter, her name was Pamela but everyone always called her Pam. At least that’s what everyone told me in the emails I received. She was also my only cousin on Mom’s side. She was younger than me, only twelve. Victoria was drunk when she was conceived, so Pam never had a father.

All I had was my backpack on my back and the slip of paper with their address. But I was glad, my life was starting all over again in a place I loved. Another reason that I wanted to come to San Francisco was because I needed time to study. I was still in high school sure, but I was taking extra classes, I wanted to become a doctor, a cardiologist. I could get a head start in the summer and the universities and high schools in San Francisco were slightly better equipped than in Detroit, at least, that’s what I told Dad.

It didn’t take me long to find Victoria’s apartment building, I gazed up at it, it was easily one of the newest buildings in the city. It looked very modern with its swinging glass doors and doorman decked in dark green and gold. Aunt Victoria was a very high class and well-paid surgeon. She had been top of all her classes all through high school and college. My grandparents used to brag about her to my Mom, who was a sculptor. I knew I could learn a lot from her and I was secretly very excited to live in such a shinny building.

I parked my Jeep around the block and slipped out. It was a nice part of town, not too far from the beach, yet downtown enough that people looked sophisticated. Down the street I saw the painted cable car rolling down the hill covered in tourists. San Francisco was a busy, cheerful city, exactly like I remembered it.

I moved on from the building and found the street where I used to live with Mom and Dad ten years ago. I found our old house, it had been touched up and I could hear the sheiks of a little child inside. A dog raced around the front lawn barking joyfully. I watched it run back into the house.

I kept moving after that, walking down the streets I knew better than I thought, I found my old school, it was empty. I walked to Golden Gate Park until I found the beach. The long wide beach with its light blue-green seawater lapping up, there weren’t very many waves, but the water was still sparkling and beautiful. The great Golden Gate bridge loomed above it. It wasn’t a place to swim really, the water was so cold and the currents pretty strong, nevertheless, the beach was crowed. Tourists walked with bare feet soaking up the bright rays, the cafes along the beach were full, people shucked on ice creams, played ballgames and walking their dogs.

I kicked my sneakers off, rolled my jeans up and marched into the surf. The water was freezing, it wrapped around my ankles quickly, the drew back just as fast. Chuckling to myself I walked back up the beach, dumped my stuff and leaned back to enjoy the sun on such a lovely day.

Eventually I made my way back to Victoria’s building and was welcomed in by the doorman. He pointed out the elevator and told me they lived on the eighth floor.

The lift binged and the doors slid open. I stepped out onto the landing and rang the doorbell. The door slammed open almost immediately and a girl stood in the door way.

“ Mom!” she hollered. “ I’ve found him!”she grabbed my hand and pulled me inside slamming the door behind me.

“ I really hope you’re Pamela, or I’ve just been kidnapped,” I murmured down at her. She grinned up at me. She was pretty, her skin was light brown tanned and she had large green eyes. Her dark brown hair was cut in a straight line at the base of her chin with long bangs that fell just above her eyes. I hadn’t seen her in ten years, she was two the last time I saw her. And I was only seven at the time. But I recognized her, her eyes, so different. It’s hard to forget them.

“ Oh Caleb! I’m so glad to see you! It’s been years! Oh I’m so happy!” she exclaimed, my memory suddenly came back reminding me she was clingy. Even as a two year old.

“ Hey, nice to see you too.”

“ Caleb I’m so glad you decided to move in with Mom and I! It’s been years!”

“ You’ve already said that,” I reminded her.

“ But I’m so happy. Mom’s making your favorite dinner! Roast chicken! Remember you used to love her chicken!” I nodded slowly.

“ Yeah, I remember. But how do you?”

“ Mom told me all about you. She said you were great! Plus I’m so happy to have a big cousin living with me! She said you were tough too! So boys won’t beat me up in the playground.”

“ Do they hurt you?” I asked raising one brow.

“ No,” she grinned. She didn’t look like the sort of girl who let herself be pushed around at school anyway. She indicated for me to follow her as we entered straight into a large living room. It had a plasma TV and two red couches. There were gigantic windows facing the city, the view was amazing. I could see the Golden Gate Bridge and the ocean. I could see the whole city. I grinned.

“ Pam? I’m in the kitchen,” I heard a woman’s voice cry out. Pam grinned at me waving me into the next room. It was the kitchen, it was gigantic and very silver. There was a large window, facing the ocean. A woman stood next to the oven. Some thing was boiling in a pot on the stove. She wore her dark hair in a messy bun and a bright pink apron. She glanced up at me and grinned.

“ Caleb! I’m so glad you’ve come. I’ve missed you,” she gushed ripping her mittens off.

“ Hey Auntie Victoria,” I smiled as she reached her arms around me to hug me.

“ Wow, you’ve grown,” she gazed up at me grinning. “ Oh, how old were you the last time I saw you?”

“ Seven,” I smile.

“ Now look at you! A man! Oh I'm so old!”

“ You’re not old Mom! You’re beautiful!” Pam piped up. Victoria laughed.

“ While don’t you settle in? There’s rice ready for lunch. And the chicken is in the oven. As soon as you’re ready we can have some lunch,” I nodded in agreement. “ Pam will show you to your room. I’m sure you’re dying to see it,” Victoria continued smiling sweetly. Pam nodded then skipped out of the room again. She led me down a hallway pointing out the rooms that we passed, two bathrooms, her room, Victoria’s room then on the end mine. I pushed the white door open slowly. It looked pretty okay. The walls were painted white and there was a very big window on the far corner. I could see the bridge and the ocean. There was a large black double bed pushed up just under the window and a small trunk placed at its foot, a small wooden wardrobe and a desk. Besides that it was pretty empty. But it was exactly what I wanted. I smiled entering the room. I dumped my bag on the bed. Pam was rocking back and forth on her feet smiling.

“ Do you like your room?”

“ Yes.”

“ Here’s the key. For your room. Mom said you might want a lock. You know living with girls an all. Anyway here it is,” she placed a small silver key in my palm. I smiled down at her.

“ Thanks.”

“ And Mom has a key for the front door for you. Come on! Let’s have lunch!” she started away indicating for me to follow.

The lunch was good, better than what I had been eating with Dad the last several years in Detroit. But Pam chatted the whole time, nonstop and Victoria hummed which was a bit annoying. I knew that they were my new family though.

“ You know there’s a murderer running around town? You heard of him? No one knows what he looks like, mainly because he doesn’t leave any victims,” Pam giggled slightly.

“ This amuses you?”

“ No, but hey it’s pretty exciting. Don’t you think? Plus they’re pretty interesting murders, blood everywhere. Have you heard of it?”

“ No.”

“ It’s been going on for a month now. Mom’s a bit scared aren’t you? But you know what? I think he’s far away. The last murder we heard of was way up north of the state. So I think he’s leaving.”

“ I can’t imagine why,” I sighed looking away. “ So where are the murders?”

“ Well they’re a bit everywhere around the state. A lot in the city,” Victoria answered.

“ Yeah. I wish they would catch him. I’d love to see his face!” Pam gushed, her mother made a face.

“ You’re a bit weird aren’t you?”

“ I’m not scared of anything!” the twelve year old announced proudly.

“ Huh.”

“ Mom said we could do lots of things together this summer.”

“ I have to study Pam.”

“ But not seriously! You will have time to hang out right?”

“ I guess. But I will have to spend time studying. I want to go to a very special college later. So I have to study hard.”

“ That sucks!”

“ Language Pam!” Victoria scolded.

That night Pam insisted we go to the cinema. She chose the movie and jumped around in the cinema excitedly. Then Victoria took Pam home while I went down to the beach alone. The sun was set and the moon out, like a spotlight on the water. The beach was basically deserted except for a couple running and giggling. They disappeared rapidly. Looking around quickly I slipped my shirt off and tossed my shoes in the sand. I looked around again then dove under the waves.

The freezing water hit me harder than I expected but I kept moving deeper, my body warming up. Mom had always told me not to swim in such strong currents, especially at night; but that had never stopped her. I remembered her swimming at night while Dad and I ate on the beach waiting for her to come out. I didn’t swim out too far, I stayed relatively close to the beach. The current was pretty strong, enough to make me wobble. I dove under again the popped up again spiking my dark hair on top of my head. I laughed aloud. I was happy. When I looked back out at the beach I noticed three figures. All of them women, all the same size. Their skin was pale, almost silver in the moonlight. I squinted coming closer. One of them stood to the side arms crossed over her chest. Another with curlier hair stood still looking towards the third one. Her hair was actually white. It shone in the moonlight. She was looking down at three figures lying in the sand.

Suddenly one of them stood up and started shouting. He grabbed the white haired girl’s shoulders and shook her. The closest one to her let out a yelp and stepped closer. Two women stood up quickly, they didn’t seem to be wearing any clothing. One of them let out a scream. I watched in shock as her head slipped off her neck and plunked on to the sand. The other girl let out a shrill cry and leapt on the man shouting. The white haired girl stepped away from them slowly. She was staring at the couple. The other two were looking around the beach quickly. There was a long silence then suddenly the girl fell off the man. She screamed as her arm was ripped from her body. Then suddenly she went quiet. The two dark haired girls were hurrying back up the beach. The man and the white haired girl were staring at each other. Suddenly the man made a move towards her. She stepped back in time and ducked under his arm. I saw it, a glinting knife in his hand. Obviously he’d killed the other two, now he was after the white haired girl. I was stunned as he man brought his knife up and plunged it into his own heart. My heart thundered in my chest as I crouched in the water. The white haired girl seemed to shimmer in the moonlight, she was as bright as the stars. She turned quickly and staggering, she raced up the beach to join the other two. Then they disappeared into the city.

I stayed in the ocean, silent until I realized no one was coming. Slowly I slipped out of the water and pulled my clothes on. The three bodies lay side-by-side, blood pooling on the sand. I swallowed, my heart was hammering in my chest. As I had thought, the two women were naked, the man was as well. He clutched his bloody knife in his cold fingers. The stench of the blood made my stomach turn. I had to take a few deep breathes of the sea air to calm my thoughts.

Shivering I took out my phone. I dialed 911.

“ Police.”

“ My name is Caleb Matsumoto. Uh I’m reporting a murder. Two women, and I think a suicide.”

“ Where are you?”

“ Baker Beach, San Francisco. Just below the Golden Gates. I saw it happen. I was in the water.”

“ Stay where you are Mr. Matsumoto. We will arrive shortly.”

“ Yes sir,” he kept talking to me, as I paced away from the body and stood in the water. I stared at the moon reflected in the black water as I spoke. He hung up just as I heard the sirens in the distance. I flipped my phone shut then collapsed in the sand staring at the dead bodies. My head was spinning and my heart beating so fast. I closed my eyes hopping to feel better but I just felt sick.

I heard the police and ambulance sirens moving closer. Then suddenly the beach was very crowed. The police were swarming the beach inspecting the bodies and closing it off.

“ Mr. Matsumoto?” a police officer asked standing over me. I nodded weakly watching as two men in orange suits examined the bodies.

“ Come with me son,” the police officer told me. I nodded slowly standing up. He was a thick man with a black mustache. And obviously he was in charge.

“ I’m Chief Samuels. You don’t mind asking any questions do you?” he asked bring me away from where his men were working.

“ No.”

“ Did you witness the murder?”

“ Yes. I was the in ocean. Swimming. I noticed three girls on the beach.”

“ In the water?”

“ Yes sir,” he frowned at me.

“ Strong currents,” he murmured.

“ I know sir.”

“ You said three girls? How old? What did they look like?”

“ I was pretty far away. They looked like teenagers, young women. They had very pale skin. Two had black hair and the third had white hair,” he nodded writing everything down. “ So I saw them on the beach, they must have been talking or something. But them the guy and the two women stood up. A threesome I think. One of the women got her head chopped off, the other her arm, then she just stopped screaming. Then the guy, I think he was threatening the white haired girl. He stabbed himself and she and the other two ran off,” he nodded and thanked me. Then I handed over my number and I got a ride home in the police car. My head was still spinning, the visions of the deaths kept playing back in my head. I ground my teeth together in frustration.

The police dropped me off in front of the apartment then the chief walked me up to Victoria’s apartment. It was midnight so I didn’t ring the doorbell, I just went straight in with my new key. The chief told me he would call, then he left.

I went straight to my room seeing as most of the house was closed up and the lights were off. I slipped my clothes off, opened my window widely and peered out. I could see the beach, the flashing lights of the police cars moving away slowly. The night air was warm, but I was shivering. I felt sick, I dropped back onto my bed closing my eyes.

That night I had a nightmare. It was basically the same scene I had witnessed on the beach only this time I was being cut apart as well. The three girls were looking out at me, their faces crossed with horror and sadness. I woke up screaming and drenched in sweat at three in the morning. I listened but didn’t hear another sound in the house. So I pulled my pajamas on and slipped back into bed gazing out the window at the starry sky.

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