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Authors: Russ Cooper

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BOOK: Shark Beast
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~ ~ SEVEN ~ ~
Back Out On The Beach:
A Nerd With A Metal Detector
and An Odd Theory Concerning
The Alleged Misunderstood Quality
of "The Phantom Menace"

A real nerd by the name of J.J. Sully Chase was scouting the edge of the tide with his brand-new beach metal detector.

Unfortunately, something detected him first.

~ ~ ~

He had been drinking a bunch of beer, looking for treasure. He'd just finished pounding out a whole article on how "The Phantom Menace" was actually the best of the Star Wars movies, and had prepared to put it on the Kindle, sell it as a controversial article. Controversial, yes--but he actually believed it--or, at least, he did when he was drunk. Like here, now, looking for drunken treasure. It was the kind of article one could believe only when drunk, of course, but he didn't know that, and, in a few moments, wouldn't ever care.

Still, it kept running through his head...then, in a slurry monologue, out of his mouth...

"First--it was more realistic," he pointed out to the waves. "A lot of supposed complaints came from the movie focusing so much on space taxes and such. But let's be real--that would be a real problem, no? Space can't be all laser fights and hyperspacing. And even if it were--are lasers free? No, J. J. sure doesn't think so. And gas for the space ships--or dilithium crystals, whatever, it doesn't matter, that isn't the point, is it, no it isn't. The point was, and is, whatever you use for fuel, it's gonna cost money, or space coins, or whatnot. It certainly wouldn't be free. At least not for everyone. Obviously, if you were a member of the Empire, you'd get a good rate, but there would still be forms to fill out, and such.
That's
the point. So, c'mon--get real."

He laughed knowingly, with a condescending-- if somewhat wobbly-- smirk.

"Second--Jar Jar," he continued, as he twisted a dial on his metal detector. "Okay, he was an idiot. And annoying. I'll give you that. But before you celebrate, deluded readers, let me inform you of this undeniable fact--again, did you think every creature in space was going to be cool and neat, and well-designed? No. Of course not. That would be
ridiculously
unbelievable. There had to be some galactic creatures out there that were just plain out-and-out-annoying. That's a simple fact. And not 'cute' annoying like C-3PO, with a nice British accent, where you could just unplug him when he got on your nerves. No, that's not how it works--not on Earth, so how could you imagine it would be that way in space? Get real. You know there'd have to be some places that, truly, were like 'District 9'--and yes, that was a flawed film in itself--that's understood--but it showed that all aliens are not cute and cuddly or scary and cool. Excuse the series for wanting to be mature."

Nodding drowsily, he congratulated himself for his once-again impeccable logic.

"Thirdly, killing off Darth Maul... okay, there's no excuse for that."

Generously, he allowed that point; he nodded, accepting that as a given.

"
But,
now, fourth, Yoda's--"

And that's when the tentacles whipped out from the dirt, and wrapped themselves in a rubbery tangle around the end of his metal detector.

He paused, eyes swimming with uncertainty.

He'd seen pink elephants before--cliche though, admittedly, that was-- but he'd never seen--

"Hey!"

A strong yank. The detector came out of his lubricated grip, and sunk about half a foot into the beach.

Eyes narrowing frustratingly, he leaned down--

"Now just a rotten pickin'--"

--just as the detector was suddenly expelled out of the sand, smashing J. J. right in the forehead, and knocking him out--sending him tumbling like a sack of dirty Jabba the Hutt t-shirts, on his back, to the ground.

Where he sprawled, unconscious and just plain
out of it
--

--fortunately, so that he missed the rather gruesome details of his "Darth Maul-esque" exit from our story, as the tentacles rose up from the beach sand around him, did an ominous little dance, and slowly slithered tightly around him.

 

~ ~ EIGHT ~ ~
Back Up In The Attic Of
The Hermit Crab Used Bookstore:
Oblivious Sex

Roxy, looking quite woozy, walked into the attic hallway, guided by her candle. She stumbled groggily--then suddenly stopped, glaring at her candle, deeply transfixed by the flame, which seemed to be changing colors.

"What's your deal, pokey woman?" asked D. J., stuck behind her.

Roxy grimaced, blinking thickly. "I think ...
the whore
... put something... in my tea."

"You shouldn't call people names," said D. J. "It's judgmental."

Roxy leaned up to him, eyeing him carefully. "Huh. And yet, that's
exactly
what you're doing to me right at this..."

She blinked, cockeyed.

"...whatever." Roxy nudged him aside. "Let's just get back, neuron."

D. J. rubbed his forehead as she continued down the hall. Seemed he was feeling a bit of the tea himself. "'Neuron'...?"

He stumbled after her. When he caught up with her, he found her staring into the abandoned office, her arms crossed, her face scowling.

D. J. cautiously peeked around the doorway.

Hoagie and Luna were really going at it. Hoagie on top, Luna leaning over the Ouija board. They were deliriously oblivious to their witnesses.

"Many attempt..." Hoagie grunted feverishly, "...but few... reach... ohhhh... the I-I-Island of ROOOCKKK--!"

Luna giggled in a gaspy wicked whisper, "Oh, play me... plug it in and
play me..."

Hoagie gibberished, played rapidly-diminishing air guitar with her very large breasts...

Roxy and D. J. just stood there, for a long moment. Watching. It was quite the sight. Then Roxy turned, and vaguely looked at D. J. with a dull, bored expression.

"
Now
can I call her a whore?" Roxy grumbled, giving D. J. a punch as she stalked back down the splintery hallway.

 

~ ~ NINE ~ ~
Yet Again Out On The Beach:
OPERATION: GETTING SOME

There was no getting around it, Beck was a teenage dork and that was that.

And Tara, she was officially semi-hot. Not cheerleader hot, by any means, not even majorette hot, really, but still sorta mostly near-hot. Certainly hotter than dork-hot. She was hot like that redhead girl on the Mythbusters show--she was that kinda hot. Tall, thin, great hair (though she didn't know what to do with it, really), and a nice chest--very nice--and great legs.

Great
legs.

Her only minuses, really, if you had to nitpick--well, her butt
was
a little big, not too big--Beck sure didn't mind--but it was... a little thick, technically. Not even chunky, but with girls, thick was too much (in their minds, anyhow). So there was that. And she was a little pale--again, not by Beck's standards, he was an albino snowman on the best of sunny days--but, again, technically, she was a little on the non-tanned side, no getting around it. Now out here, in the moonlight, he thought she looked beautiful, but if you had to point out flaws, that technically was one. And the other one, was those glasses. They weren't cool glasses, by any measure. If she'd just get contacts, or that laser-thing, she'd be hot. Officially right-close-to-hot.

But then, if she
were
Officially Hot, or anywhere close, let's face it, she wouldn't be out here on the beach with him. Right now.

Susceptible to his big plan...

Operation: Getting Some.

He was 18, and had never had any. He didn't really like to think about it, but it was a fact, so--still, he didn't like to think about it. She was 18, and she never talked about that kind of thing, but he figured she had, at least a couple of times. He didn't really like to think about that either. Still, he knew on pretty good authority she made out with at least a couple of guys, so-- odds were, right?

But he didn't really like to think about it.

Still--on to better things! Operation: Getting Some.

No real point dwelling on how he managed to talk her even this far, to this point, sitting out on the beach at who-knew-what-time in the morning, in her bikini (and those awful glasses), with one sleeping bag between them. Suffice to say it involved a little bit of guilt-inducing, some begging, some more guilt, some accusations--"you owe me!"--some more guilting, a lot more begging, some twisting of the truth, just the barest hint of blackmail...

...and a whole lot of humiliation.

(Mostly, of course, on his part.)

But, those were basically the elements that made up his whole romantic repertoire--the sum total of his "move"--and he'd long since learned that if he was ever going to even get close to getting some--ever--it was no more Mr. Nice Guy. It was Mr. Whiny, Begging, Pity-Party Guy.

You had to go with what worked. And this, apparently...well...

He really didn't like to think about it.

"I don't know about this," Tara whispered, pushing her beautiful hair away from her hideous glasses. (A move that just completely turned Beck on more than he already was.) "Maybe we could, just you know..."

"You totally promised, but I knew you'd bail," he huffed, feeling a little pang of guilt for going immediately to "whine" mode. But he'd worked so hard to get her to this point, there was no turning back, no way. "Fine, even though, you know, whatever."

He sat there, really playing up the "sulking" thing.

They both sat there, a long time, in the moonlight. Beck started feeling a surge of panic--she was thinking too long! She was talking herself out of it! She was a shy girl, and prone to people-pleasing to a self-sabotaging degree--but he could tell--she was talking herself out the scheme! She was going to bail! And once again, he was going to be stuck, hanging in the wind--literally dangling!--in the beach air, all alone and abandoned, yet again--

Not getting some!

No way! He could feel himself turning red. He could feel things slipping away. Those sweet chunky thighs--

No way!

He was going to have to pull out the big guns! It was going to be embarrassing--who was he kidding, it was going to be beyond humiliating--but he couldn't just sit there and let her walk away, not after all the work he'd put into--

"No, no, I'll do it," she said, suddenly, working up a weary quarter-smile. "I said I would, so--" a half-hearted shrug of those pale shoulders "--let's do it."

His face brightened--still red, but a good kind of red now.
Thank you, people-pleasing virus! Thank you, low female self-esteem!
He felt himself gibbering a bit, so he took a big breath, and then, as calmly as he could--

(those sweet chunky thighs!)

"Okay," he said, with a bit of a wheeze, "let's go over the rules one more time, so we all can confirm we agree."

She nodded, sluggishly:
fine.

"Okay, here's what, here's uhm... here goes." Interlocking his fingers slowly (and very tightly), he took another breath, and said, "We have the two of us, all alone, out here, by ourselves. We also have one sleeping bag. And, thirdly, we have a story--an original scary story, written by me, Beck. Which has never been read out loud to anyone before tonight. Are we together on the rules so far?"

She nodded:
fine.

"So, okay, cool.
"
Another breath.
I can't believe it. This could actually happen. Tonight could be--in just a few minutes, I could ACTUALLY--

Beck paused a moment, as he was starting to hyperventilate. He forced a smile, as he bit his tongue. It made for a strange expression, but it did the job. (Though it did seem to unnerve Tara for a sec.)

"So-okay-cool," he squeaked. Then, yet another deep--but slow--breath, and he continued. "So what will happen is this: I will climb into this sleeping bag all alone. Then, from within this sleeping back--I mean, bag--I will read this brand new never-been-revealed scary story, aloud, and if you can listen to it, to the very end, without getting scared and crawling into the sleeping bag with me, then you win. I will get out of the sleeping bag, relinquish it to you, and spend the rest of the night sleeping out here in the beach sand. Alone, and I shall not bother you the rest of the night. Agreed?"

She nodded.

"However--" he said, feeling his hyperventilating starting up again (bit his tongue, made a weird expression), then continued: "--if at anytime before I finish, you become so scared that you tell me to stop the story, then you must come into the sleeping bag, and spend the night with me."

With trembling hands, lips--well, trembling
everything
, he added the capper:

"Without your bathing suit."

Then, an inspired ad-lib, out of nowhere:

"Or your glasses."

Surprised at himself, he grinned.
Nice touch.
Not only would he get her to (possibly) take off those ghastly specs, he'd touched an insecurity nerve that surely, he assumed (he hoped), would work in his favor. Somehow.

Tara sat there, unconsciously adjusting her glasses. (Hey, it worked!) She nodded, and said, "I agree."

"Agreed?" Beck had to work hard to keep his eyes from bugging out of his head, but he did.
It didn't seem possible, but here he was--with her!--Operation: Getting Some... right at his fingertips!
"You totally agree?"

"I totally agree."

"No backing out, no do-overs."

"No backing out, no do-overs."

He smiled. She smiled back--not as big, obviously, but she smiled, so it counted. Not a lot of respect behind that smile, but Beck had tossed respect out the window a long time ago. He was here, she and her chunky thighs were here, and that was all that mattered. The rest of it, well...

He didn't really like thinking about that.

So he didn't.

Besides, now it was all a matter of two things. One, if his story was as scary as he hoped it was...

And two, if she was as easily frightened as she was rumored to be.

BOOK: Shark Beast
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