Convinced that she was going to be the first newsperson to go down onto the beach, Sue Taylor woke while it was still dark, her alarm blaring cheerful bubblegum-pop music. Groaning, she switched off the music and shuffled off to begin her morning routine. Hours later, the faintest hint of sunlight strained to chase away the darkness. Golden mist swirled in the breeze and danced beneath the soft pink clouds.
“It’s going to be a gorgeous day, isn’t it boys?” Sue announced to her camera crew.
“I dunno…do you really think it’s safe to go down to the beach this early?”
“Yes!” She snapped angrily. “Grady and his deputies said so at the town meeting. They’ve been on the beach during the daytime plenty of times and they’re just fine.”
“Maybe we should wait just a little longer though, just until the sun is fully up. Maybe closer to noon?”
“No! We need to get down there before the cops do so I can get the best shots.”
Despite the camera crew’s objection, Sue Taylor got her way. They loaded up the van and drove as slowly as they could manage without getting chewed out by “the talent”. Above, the sky had lightened to a picture-perfect blue speckled with puffy, white clouds but dark, ominous, storm clouds of fear hovered over their hearts. Though she would never admit it, even Sue felt the stirrings of panic as they made their way down toward the water’s edge. The squawking cry of a lone seagull made all four members of the Neighborhood News team jump. They giggled nervously at their own jagged nerves and found comfort in having company as they drew closer to the dreaded water. At first glance, there was nothing, not a single trace that there had been people on the beach the night before. They strolled along for a few yards thinking that perhaps the whole story had been blown grossly out of proportion; until they came across the first cluster of mutilated body parts. The camera men vomited into the ocean only to let loose another round when the chunks swirled back around their feet as the next wave rolled in to caress the wet sand.
“Eww! You guys are disgusting!” Sue squealed, turning her back to them. “Can you pull yourselves together so I can get this report finished?”
Several minutes later, once everyone’s stomach had been emptied and there was nothing left to come back up, Sue retouched her makeup and they were ready to start. Each time the wind shifted, they scrambled to find a new spot, up wind, to film. Without really looking, the camera men panned across mounds of mutilated flesh crawling with ocean-dwelling scavengers. Bone fragments, oozing organs, and tiny rivers of coagulating blood seeped into the sand. Waves of salty water rushed in to mingle with the befouled remains from a myriad of hopeless souls, the smaller bits bobbing up and down in the foamy spray. The cameramen insisted there was absolutely no way they’d be able to show that kind of gore on-air but Sue was adamant.
“Look, just film what I say and I’ll take care of the rest. I’m getting national recognition so the station will listen to me. Bottom line: shut up and do your job. You’re not here to think or give me your opinion. If I had the time, I’d train a monkey to do your job so I didn’t have to listen to your whining. Just get everything ready because I want to film my sign off sometime today!”
“Don’t let her get to you, Earl.” Freddy, the camera-two cinematographer whispered. “She’s a witch and everyone knows it. Besides, the sooner we get this wrapped up the sooner we can get out of here. All these dead bodies and…pieces, ugh, it’s giving me the creeps. Let the station manager deal with her.”