via Daily Prompt: Deplete
The peace was broken by the shrill alarm of her cell phone. Elizabeth sighed as she felt her muscles tighten up. Her work phone. Couldn’t ignore that one.
“You’re needed at Oceanside beach.”
“This is my day off.”
“You know our department is depleted. ”
“I’m at the beach. Where is it?” she nodded then hung up, rummaging through her bag she found what she was looking for. Jeans and t-shirt with flip flops was going to have to do for professional attire. She shrugged into her clothes, topping it off with her shoulder holster and badge. Packing up her towel, she made her way toward the pier and the crowd of people she could see in the distance.
She noted the police SUVs on the beach with flashing lights. Uniformed officers had partitioned off the scene with yellow crime scene tape. The body lay in the middle of it, tide was still out, but she would need to work fast. She looked around and saw the CSI team was already taking photos to preserve the scene as best they could. A man in jogging shorts and sweat-soaked T-shirt was speaking to another officer. Elizabeth looked back at the victim. A girl. Young. Naked. Kelp and sand crusted in her long dark hair.
A pang of grief hit her, but she grimaced and suppressed the emotion. Focus. She walked up to the scene and ducked under the tape. Younger than she thought, maybe still in high school? Body unmarked. No sign of struggle. CSI handed her a pair of gloves. She pulled them over her hands then squatted down, gingerly picking up the girls hands and examining her fingers. Nothing. Clean. Too clean?
She looked up and met the light-brown gaze of the jogger. Her heart jumped. She frowned. Did that really just happen? Annoyed with herself, she shook her head. Ain’t nobody got time for that! She looked away to compose herself. She was going to have to speak to him.
The girl came to consciousness slowly. It was dark. Her right cheek lay against the cold floor. She could hear a steady drip, drip, drip from somewhere in the room. She shivered. So cold. Her arms hurt. She tried to move them. Bound. Terror caused her mind to come to full awareness. She struggled to sit up. Her heart pounded. She could feel herself start to hyperventilate, and forced herself to slow her breathing.
A glimmer of light came under what she presumed was the door. She could vaguely discern the murmur of voices, but could not make out the words.
She and her friend Andrea had been walking to their car after leaving the mall. She remembered laughing at something when a white cargo van had pulled up next to them, the sliding doors flung open and two men with black ski masks on had grabbed the girls and hustled them into the van. It had all happened in less than a minute. Where was Andrea?
“Andrea?” she whispered. Silence. “Andrea?” Nothing.
Slowly, slowly she crept around the room, reaching out with her toes. Nothing. The room was devoid of furnishings and devoid of Andrea.
He came down the steps to the beach at a jog; so familiar with the path, he no longer had to think about where to place his feet. His gaze was drawn to the horizon where sea met sky. Breathtaking. Deep breath. Salt. Kelp. Laundry detergent from his freshly washed T-shirt. The view never got old. The tide was out. Screeching seagulls. Sand pipers poking into the ebbing waters, looking for snacks. Thank You. He whispered the prayer.
To his immediate right was the pier, a few old men fishing off it. He remembered at time from his childhood being there with his dad when a fisherman had caught a small hammer head shark. He smiled at the memory. To his left in the distance he could see the power plant; that way looked relatively empty and he chose to run that direction.
He stretched, then set off down the beach at a jog until his muscles warmed up. His Nikes slapped the wet sand in a comforting rhythm. He gradually increased his pace until he was sprinting down the shore. Heart pounding, blood pumping, breathing measured. Every muscle in his body felt alive.
His morning run was suddenly disrupted when he tripped over something on the beach. His ankle twisted and he heard a crunch as he fell forward. He rolled onto his back and sat up. What he saw caused him to yell, but it came out as a gasp. Horror hit his brain and shot adrenaline into his system, causing him to feel cold and nauseated simultaneously. He scooted backward in the sand, then reached for his phone.
“911. What’s your emergency?”