Year One: Duquesa Bay
Chapter One

"Timing"

In the second floor Santa Conchita apartment of Gracie Takanachi, Morrigan McBride is tossing and turning on a lemon-yellow futon with her legs tangling up in a Seattle Seahawks throw blanket.

Morrigan: (Thrashing about) No... NO

Tiki MaskThe woman wakes herself and sits up quickly, brushing strands of unruly light-brown hair out of her eyes. She is surrounded by walls of top-of-the-line electronic equipment and tiki masks.

Morrigan: (Looking around) Where does the last nightmare end and the new one begin?

Gracie: (Coming up behind her) Don't care for the decor, eh?

Morrigan: Oh, no... it's fine... I just

The pudgy, almond-eyed woman tosses her a bottle of water.

Gracie: Morri, if we're to work together as a team, as well as be friends, you always need to be honest with me, no matter what

Morrigan: (Twisting the cap off) Sounds like a deal... your place sucks... better?

Gracie: Much

Morrigan: I mean, it's just not my style but if it works for you...

Gracie: There's no need to patronizing - by the way, you can find potpourri and lace in the bathroom

Morrigan: (Pulling the blanket off) Now who's patronizing?

Gracie lets out a quick laugh as Morrigan gulps down her water.

Gracie: (Picking up the blanket from the floor) That must've been some dream

Morrigan: (Serious tone) It was a tocsin

Gracie: Excuse me, a what? - a poison?

Morrigan: (Getting up and looking out the window) A portent... an augury... an omen

Gracie: Is this where a little boy shows up on my doorstep with "666" on his head?

Still staring out the window, the pale skinned McBride turns even whiter and does not respond to the joke. Silence fills the room for a moment.

Morrigan: They only happen to me before a life-altering event - sometimes good, most times... bad

Gracie: (Trying not to freak) Um, okay... what did you see?

Morrigan: A hand... a green hand... reaching up from the water

Gracie: Ah, that's easy - those dead guys from this morning have you creeped out

Morrigan: No... this was not the hand of a corpse, I've seen dead hands before... this one was very much alive

Subconsciously pulling at her own dark hair for comfort, Takanachi is at a loss for words.

Morrigan's DreamMM: (Looking down at her hands) They... didn't seem completely human - they had... things... on them

Gracie: (Reaching in a drawer for something) "Things" as in markings, growths, missing fingers?

Morrigan: No

Gracie: Oreo cookies?

Morrigan: This is not a joke

Gracie: (Holding up a package) I'm OFFERING you some cookies

Morrigan: (Turning around and taking some) Thanks - my parents would fix me a plate of milk and cookies after I woke up from one of these things

Gracie: I guess I should be grateful for only having crazy sex nightmares

Morrigan: For as long as I can remember, I've had these "P-dreams" about one strange thing or another

Gracie: "P" as in "premonition?"

Morrigan: No, "P" as in I pee my pants

Gracie: Well, I'm glad my cushion is already yellow

Morrigan: Don't worry, I woke up before that happened

Gracie: I think I need a smoke, I think you need a smoke, too

Morrigan: I don't smoke cigarettes

Gracie: Forget cigarettes, I've got something stronger in mind

Morrigan: (Giving her a disparaging look) That's not going to change anything

Gracie: Listen, you are completely fatigued - you've been on the road for the last few days, eating fast-food, not getting enough sleep and being forced to work the minute you get into town - of course your brain is going to play some nasty tricks on you!

Morrigan: It doesn't come from my brain

Gracie: ALRIGHTY THEN

Morrigan: (Cramming two cookies in her mouth) But, now that you've mentioned it, a decent meal wouldn't hurt

Gracie: Do you like mayonnaise?

Morrigan: Uh... when it's ON a sandwich

Gracie: Damn you, picky bitch!

Morrigan picks up a framed photo of Gracie at her college graduation, standing between her parents and brother.

Morrigan: What a great image - such detail!

Gracie: (Now sitting across from Morrigan) My ex-husband shot that - it was the only nice thing he ever gave me

Morrigan: Did you two meet at school?

Gracie: Yeah, we had the same photography classes - it was your traditional drunken Vegas wedding, the marriage only lasted six months - we mainly did it to piss off our folks... HOW DARE YOU MARRY A WHITE MAN/HOW DARE YOU MARRY A JAP GIRL

Morrigan: Did you two love each other?

Gracie: Oh sure - we still do, but we went in different directions - he prefers still shots on film, I prefer live shots on video... anyway, his life is one big paid vacation... and you can see what mine is

Morrigan: Where does he work? - can I get a job there?

Gracie: Jack Stacey is National Geographic's favorite "flash man" - as for a job there, stand in line!

Morrigan: Wait a minute, for six months... you were "Gracie Stacey?"

Gracie: Another reason we got hitched!

Morrigan: Ha

Gracie: Look at the time - all of this bonding over my ex and your freaky dreams is fun, but we need to get a move on

Morrigan: (Stuffing one last cookie in her mouth) Mmm

Gracie: (Packing some gear) We'll get something good to eat after the press conference

Morrigan: Hey, we need to go over to KJ's house and get my stuff

Gracie: I totally forgot that today is KJ's polo practice day, he won't be back there until later tonight - if at all - and I, quite frankly, don't feel like dealing with any of his lame family members - he has the trailer in his garage, we'll get it tomorrow, I promise

Morrigan: (Grabbing her purse) Alright, let's roll

The two of them walk out the door and down the stairs.

Coast Guard Logo

Inside the Coast Guard's field office at Santa Conchita City Hall, Captain Craig Phelps, a tan, well-built man and Lieutenant Anita Fiore, an even tanner, more well-built woman, take turns studying a large map on the wall. Nine red and eleven orange flag pins mark various coastal and inland locations of Quartz County. The sound of approaching footsteps causes them to exchange a look of annoyance. Seconds later, the sheriff sticks his head in the door.

Sheriff: The press conference starts in a few minutes - are we all clear on what we're going to say?

Craig: This is now officially a homicide case - we'll be working with detectives - give the victims' names, ages, and residences - as for who killed them and why, further investigation is required... blah, blah, blah

Sheriff: Don't forget to only take questions from media that can be controlled

Craig: Of course

The sheriff adjusts his crotch, abruptly turns around and closes the door as he leaves. Anita flips a pen after him.

Anita: Useless prick

Craig: (Half-smile) The man himself or what he was adjusting?

Anita: BOTH - it's obvious this guy is impotent on ALL levels - he's not doing his job

Craig: He tries

Anita: BULLSHIT - we now have twenty killings in the last two years - if the public ever finds out about the other highly-unusual, unsolved murders we've covered up, our careers are freaking toast!

Craig: Calm yourself, Fiore

Anita: (Now pacing) I just think it's time to find a new sheriff, that's all

Craig: (Stretching his arms above his head and yawning) All in good time, Lieutenant, all in good time

Anita: Some of the local fishermen are whispering about "Aleta Oscura" again

Craig: (Sighing) That's all we need - find a way to keep them quiet

Anita: (Raising an eyebrow) I think they might be on to something

Craig: Oh please, don't tell me you believe in that crap?

Anita: Listen, Craig, who or WHAT ever this thing is, it's way beyond some punk with a pistol playing vigilante or knocking off the hired help - we need to consider ALL possibilities here

The captain scratches the corner of his moustache and ponders in silence.

Anita: Those men this morning didn't just "wash up" on the beach... THEY WERE DELIVERED ON OUR GOD DAMN DOORSTEP... the coordinates and the slip number of the fishing boat were scrawled in the sand next to the bodies - it KNEW it would only take us a few minutes to figure out who these guys were

Craig: Then why won't this thing point us in the direction of who is hiring these men to perform illegal activities?

Anita: I guess she figures SOMEONE needs to do their job

Craig: SHE?

Anita: In Español, "Aleta Oscura" is the feminine form of... "Dark Fin"

Craig: GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK, ANITA

Anita: (Looking at her watch) Maybe next time - we need to get ready

The two of them stand side by side and primp in front of a large mirror in the corner.

Craig: (Fixing his cap) How irresistible do we look in these uniforms?

Anita: (Checking her short, black hair) Between that and being on TV, we'll never run out of easy snatch

The lieutenant's cell phone rings.

Anita: Hola - great, I'll meet you outside

Duquesa Bay Court HouseCraig: That was quick!

Anita: It was my SISTER, she's picking me up to have dinner with our folks after the press conference

Craig: (Trying not to show his excitement) Is she here?

Anita: Yeah... and so is her husband!

Craig: Oh

Anita: Sandy is going to be giving a statement on behalf of the university when we're finished

Craig: That's good, we need some scientific authority to calm the public... confirm that "Jaws" or some giant squid didn't kill these men and that Duquesa Bay is, once again, safe for happy families

Anita: Can he talk about the toxic waste on the boat?

Craig: Only to say that we did an excellent job of cleaning up the little bit that was dumped - HE IS NOT TO MENTION THE NAMES OF THE BUSINESSES WE FOUND ON THE BAGS AND BARRELS

Anita: (Taking the prepared statement off the desk) Understood - do you think Isaacson is going to be a problem?

Craig: (Walking out of the office) Are you kidding? - Zach already nailed us this morning - he knows he needs information we can't give him... especially at a staged media event

Anita: (Following) He's going underground

Craig: That he will... and he'll also be keeping his distance from us tonight, so no worries there

Anita: I've noticed KCON's new girl, Morrigan

Craig: I'm sure you have

Anita: Do you think she'll be a problem?

Craig: Nah, because she's new in this town, she knows she has to get herself acclimated first before she starts rattling cages - McBride will keep quiet... this time

The two join the sheriff at the podium outside of the building as Morrigan, Gracie, Zach and the rest of the media gather in front of them.

Craig: (Clearing his throat) Can you all hear me? - please be quiet so we can get this thing started - are we ready? - OK... good evening, I am Captain Craig Phelps of the...

All of the sudden, everyone's pagers and cell phones start to go off as the sound of many sirens fill the air. The following message appears on digital screens:

TRAIN DERAILS AT RIVERBANK DR & 101... CARS ON FIRE... OIL SPILLING INTO RIVER!

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