storm and rocks in the North Pacific

When the body of an influential visitor washes up on a remote Alaskan beach, Danny, Ava, and Cam find themselves in a storm of trouble. New to this series? Check out Part I here.

The surf roared against the narrow beach, and an icy rain pelted their faces as the trio stared at each other over the body of the dead visitor in the bright blue parka. Ava was the first to speak.

“I think he must be from out of state. They’re the only ones who wear parkas in August.”

“I recognize this guy,” Danny said. “I saw him getting off the plane that came in this morning. He’s one of the Resource Management guys who came to meet with the ‘Ammas. They were all bundled up like they expected a snow storm.”

“Good riddance,” Cam spat.

“This is bad,” Ava said, chewing her lip. “Think they’re looking for him yet?”

“Definitely. These big-shot white guys always have minders when they visit the village,” Danny said. “Wouldn’t want them wandering into our part of town by mistake.”

Cam glanced down the beach nervously, as if expecting the man’s escort to arrive any moment.

“Think his minder put him in?” Ava asked, prodding the man’s khaki-covered leg with the toe of her boot. “A lot of people are saying they’re just here to support Conlin. They’re not going to actually listen to anything the ‘Ammas have to say.”

“Doubt it. Old Man Morris met the plane and drove them all into town in his van, and he’s about as pro-Conlin as you can get without working for the state.”

“‘Course he is,” Cam sneered. “If it wasn’t for the Conlin mine, his store would’ve gone out of business years ago.”

Danny knelt and searched the man’s pockets, finding them empty. He probably had one of those implanted ID chips that served as identification, employment credentials, and a bank card all rolled into one.

“The hell are you doing?” Cam demanded. “Do you want to get popped for murder?”

“You’re the one who wants to find out who did it. I’m looking for clues.”

The man’s hands were soft and without callouses, and the backs sported a faint tan turned a sickly grey by the cold water. Paler skin at the base of his right middle finger and around his wrist suggested that he wore a ring and a watch on a regular basis.

“Someone robbed him before they dumped him,” Danny said, rocking back on his heels. “He had jewelry, probably expensive stuff from the looks of his clothes. Now he doesn’t.”

“Stupid. Whoever pawns ’em will get popped within hours,” Ava said.

“…unless whoever did it has a plane ticket out. You can move goods a lot more easily in Fairbanks or Anchorage. Not that I would know,” Cam added hurriedly.

“The next scheduled flight out isn’t for a few days. Do you think the plane these guys came in on already left?”

“It was still there when I came down to the docks to meet you guys,” Ava said. “The pilot was nowhere in sight.”

“The murderer might be planning to hitch a ride out!” Cam exclaimed. “If we hurry back, we might be able to catch him.”

They stared down at the outsider’s body, wondering what to do with him.

“We need to tell somebody,” Danny said at last. A gust of wind slapped them with a sheet of stinging rain, as if trying to knock some sense into them.

“There’s always the crab pots,” Ava suggested. “Uncle Charlie says that’s a good way to get rid of bad meat. After the crabs and the munchers get to him, there’ll be nothing left.”

“No,” Danny said firmly, “that’d just make a mess. We’re going to leave him where we found him. Anything else would be disturbing a crime scene.”

“You mean, more than you already disturbed it?” Cam shot back.

Danny jumped down from the rocky ledge with its cluster of tide pools and stalked across the beach to where the incoming tide was trying to lift their little skiff. A few moments later he heard the two younger teens behind him. They climbed into the craft in silence, and Cam and Ava pushed off with their boat hooks. A flash of blue parka could be seen among the tide pools as they motored away, soon obscured by sheets of icy rain.

Between A Rock & A Storm  is a serialized murder mystery set in the same dystopian near future as Hel’s Fury, the preview of which you can read here. Hel’s Fury is featured in the charity collection Trumpland: An Alternative History of the Future, along with dystopian, horror, and science fiction stories from a number of other talented authors.

Looking for something a little less Alaskan and a lot more cyberpunk? Check out Necrotic City, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, and other fine booksellers in paperback and ebook.

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