[Welcome to Part 3 of a new story serialized on this blog, with tongue somewhat in cheek and product links awkwardly jammed into the narrative. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. If you enjoy the story, tip your storyteller by following the Amazon link and purchasing something–I’ll get a small cut. Your purchase doesn’t have to be the featured product; just use the search box to find something else if you wish. Today’s installment brought to you by the all-new Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet]
Chief York peered at the curious maze of deep channels dug into the beach and then nodded at the librarian. “Morning. So, someone started on next year’s sand sculpture contest already?”
Not the start I’d hoped for. Kaitlyn didn’t smile. “This is serious, Ed. Something is down there—and I’m worried someone has gotten hurt.”
She flushed. “An . . . animal. Or something else.”
She glanced at Officer Isabel Cruz, seeking reassurance. The tall, curly-haired woman offered Kaitlyn a quick smile. Isabel was a regular attendee at Kaitlyn and Catelyn’s speculative fiction book club; Kaitlyn hoped that meant her mind would remain more open than the chief’s.
“Well, let’s go check it out,” Chief York sighed, hitching up his belt and heading toward the sand labyrinth. Isabel followed close behind; Kaitlyn, somewhat less close.
“Hold up, Chief,” said Isabel as Ed York knelt by the edge of the maze. “You don’t know how stable that sand is. You’d be safer if—”
“Holy shit!” the chief exclaimed. Kaitlyn’s blood froze. He’s seen the creature, whatever it is . . .
Isabel hurried to join him, forgetting her own caution about the stability of the sand. “Oh my God. I know that kid. That’s Tim Woodard. Or . . . was. What the fuck happened to him?!”
Her stomach churning, Kaitlyn peered over their shoulders and saw the body of a young man. Well, “body” was a generous term in this case; Tim Woodard had been reduced to bloody, chewed pieces, floating in the shallow water at the bottom of the labyrinth.
“It got him,” Kaitlyn whispered.
“What did?” Chief York asked, turning to her sharply.
“The minotaur,” Isabel Cruz replied.
Kaitlyn shot her a look of gratitude.
Chief York heaved himself up and loomed over the two of them. “Ladies, forgive me if I’ve fallen behind in my word-of-the-day calendar. What did you just say?”
Isabel’s gaze swept along the width and breadth of the maze. “In every labyrinth lurks a monster,” she said softly. “A beast that’s half man, half bull. A minotaur. Goes back to the Greek legend of Theseus.”
“She’s in my book club,” Kaitlyn said proudly.
“Okay, so you want me to tell the parents of this poor bastard that a mythological creature ate him?” Chief York said. “Christ. What was I thinking letting a bookworm on the force? Officer Cruz, I don’t want to hear another word of this nonsense.”
“Yes, sir,” Isabel said.
“Get in touch with Animal Control and find out if there are any escaped hyenas on the loose, or anything like that. We’ll get to the bottom of this.”
The chief was right to be skeptical, Kaitlyn knew. It was a gigantic leap of faith to conclude that a minotaur had been responsible for digging this labyrinth and killing the young man. She was open to other interpretations and theories. But they couldn’t rule out a minotaur, could they? “Ed—” she said.
“That’s enough, Miss King,” he said. Ed York had known Kaitlyn since she was a teenager; the only reason for him to be formal with her right now was to shut her down. Well. Fine.
“Chief, there’s some stuff out there perched on top of the labyrinth,” Isabel said.
“Don’t call it that either,” the police chief grumbled. “Call it an irregular series of trenches.”
Chief York peered out at the backpack, blanket, and tablet, squinting in the morning sunlight. “Oh no. Please tell me that all-new Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet belongs to Tim and not a second vic.”
“Isn’t that the first Amazon tablet with an ‘always listening’ capability?” Isabel asked.
“Yes, and a full HD 1080p display,” Kaitlyn and the chief answered her simultaneously. They looked at each other, then looked away, discomfited.
Chief York called in fire and rescue. They arrived a short time later with ladders that allowed the Knott’s Harbor PD to bridge the maze and secure the evidence—as well as discover the body of Monica Tedder, in just as bad a state as Tim had been. Her pieces were lying in a different area of the maze than Tim’s, suggesting that they’d been separated before meeting their awful end.
Kaitlyn hung around and watched the whole thing, not out of prurient interest but instead a newfound determination to unravel this mystery for herself. With a stoically unimaginative sort like Ed York in charge, there was no way the police would discover the truth if there were, in fact, a supernatural element involved in the kids’ deaths.
Eventually, during a break in the crime scene investigation, Officer Isabel Cruz wandered over and placed her hand on Kaitlyn’s shoulder. She loomed over Kaitlyn, but her expression was anything but intimidating.
“You should go home, Kait,” she said. “You’ve already seen too many awful things this morning.”
The librarian got up, but instead of walking away, she leaned in to murmur into Isabel’s ear.
“Emergency meeting of the Speculative Fiction Book Club tonight,” was what she said. “And I need you to bring that all-new Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet.”