Sandman

By: Morgan Hannah MacDonald

Beware the SANDMAN. He’ll put you to sleep…forever.



A serial killer on the loose, a woman being stalked, and a homicide detective who must find the connection between the two before she becomes the next victim.

He collects women. He imprisons them, plays with them, tortures them. Until they bore him. Then he removes a souvenir. They call him the Sandman.

Meagan McInnis is being plagued with late night calls, yet when she answers, no one is there. Then one night she makes a grisly discovery in her own backyard.

The caller is silent no more.

Homicide Detective J.J. Thomas realizes that Meagan is the key to finding the Sandman. Now, not only must he protect her, but he must find the connection between Meagan and the killer before she becomes his next victim.





ONE



The night was winding down and the moon hung low on the horizon. It wouldn’t be long before the sun’s first rays kissed the sky. Sean O’Brien parked his Ford Explorer along Christianitos Road at the top of the trail that led to Trestles Beach.

He opened the door while raising his mug to swallow the last bit of coffee. He only had time for one cup today, he was in a hurry. He wanted to hit the water before sunrise. Exiting the SUV he cupped the keys, grabbed his backpack, then slammed the door shut with his foot. He proceeded to the back of the truck, where he pulled his surfboard out through the tailgate.

The half-mile descent to the beach stretched before him. The crickets’ familiar melody kept him company. There was a rustle of leaves close by as an animal scampered through the dense foliage. His anticipation grew at the sound of the waves crashing below. Two long months had passed since he’d been surfing. He wasn’t a kid any more. His work and family kept him busy.

Sean had been born here in San Clemente, a quaint little beach town in Southern California, just north of the San Diego County line. The town gained infamy back when President Nixon owned a home on the cliffs above Trestles that was commonly known as the Western Whitehouse.

Although the calendar said it was winter, the outside temperature was a warm sixty-five degrees due to the storm brewing off the coast of Baja. The latest surf report promised six to eight-foot swells and the water temp hung at around fifty-eight. He couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

He’d shimmied into the bottom half of his spring wetsuit at home and let the top dangle loosely down his back. A fisherman knit sweater covered his naked chest. He carelessly pulled his long sandy-blond hair back and tied it with an elastic band at the nape of his neck.

Once he reached the end of the trail, Sean turned left and headed down the beach to his favorite spot. His rubber thongs slapped sand against the back of his legs. He walked a couple hundred yards further before he threw his backpack on a mound of seaweed against the base of the cliff, far out of reach of the incoming tide. He needed dry shorts for the ride home.

He stepped out of his flip-flops and carelessly threw his sweater in the general vicinity of the backpack. Then pulled on the rest of his wet suit, grabbed his board and ran toward the waves. When he hit the water he dove in, immersing himself completely. Once he surfaced, he drew in a quick breath. The cold water shocked his system, but swept away the last remaining cobwebs in his brain and made him feel alive.

Sean paddled out past the break and turned around to face east. Bobbing up and down, he watched the sun’s rays break through the clouds, reaching their long arms down from the heavens. The sky, once purple, turned pink, then orange as the lazy sun crept above the surrounding cliffs.

God it was beautiful. This was his church, his religion.

When the show was over, he lay back down on the board and paddled toward the shore to catch his first wave of the day. After two hours of near-perfect sets, it was time to join the real world. Life was good.

Sean climbed out of the water with his board under his arm. He dragged his hand down his face to brush the salt water away from his eyes. His breathing was labored; he’d gotten in a good workout today. He walked up the beach a ways before he detected a strange odor. As he neared his destination, the stench invading his nostrils became more pungent. I hope there wasn’t another damn sewage spill.

Soon he heard a strange buzzing sound. He stopped, brows furrowed, and concentrated on zeroing in on the exact location of the noise. Failing at this, he shrugged, and then continued up the strand. But with each step his uncertainty grew. The irritating cacophony had increased in volume.

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