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3-DAY NOVEL CONTEST 2012
TITLE: The Guardian of Tranquility Cove
WORD COUNT: 31,773
SUMMARY: Neve owns an antiques shop in Tranquility Cove. She also happens to be a sea monster and a reluctant guardian of the town and its supernatural creatures. So when the town's inhabitants start turning up dead, it's up to her to figure out who's being a bad neighbor.
The eviscerated dolphin was nothing more than a bloody blotch on the floor of the abandoned fish factory.
“I definitely smell something weird about this whole thing,” Stratford told me. “And I'm pretty sure it isn't really fish. I might be old and fat, but my nose is as sharp as ever.”
I glanced over at the rotund sheriff who supplemented his plain tan uniform with a cowboy hat and matching boots. He wore a thick steel gray mustache which made him look like a Shih Tzu playing dress up. Which wasn't too far from the truth as the sheriff liked to turn furry every full moon. But that was also what made him an excellent sheriff in this little town of Tranquility Cove on the Pacific coast. There were way too many strange things happening in this place. An ordinary cop would have either tried to chalk it up to coincidence or deranged pranksters or started to believe that he was slowly going mad.
“I'm not sure I should thank you for calling me out here,” I told Stratford. “But I suppose it's appropriate.”
“So what do you think, Neve? Illegal fishing or something else?”
Stratford shook his head. “Mermaids? Are you kidding me? Those pretty little gals who sit out on the rocks at the shore and spend their time singing?”
“They're just there to distract people with their breasts. They like attention. But yes, I'm positive it's mermaids. Crazed, angry mermaids. I can smell that they were here, probably not too long ago. And they've left scales.” I crouched down to point at the glittering blue-green shards surrounding the dolphin's body. “They definitely do not look like ordinary fish scales. You can probably take a sample off to the Fish and Wildlife Services to have it confirmed, but I think this would probably lead to more questions from them than would be good for you.”
“You're right about that.” But Stratford pulled out a pair of latex gloves and a plastic zip bag from his coat pocket just for the occasion. “However, I do have a forensic pathologist on staff who won't ask such awkward questions.” He groaned as he got to his knees to gather the evidence. “Damn it. I'm too old. I should have asked Connor to come with me, but he's busy dealing with another situation.” Lieutenant Detective Connor was a younger werewolf Stratford was grooming to take his place.
“I don't know why they came after this particular creature,” I said as I got up and stepped aside to give the sheriff more room. “But mermaids can be extremely vengeful if they feel that something wrong has been done to them. And while this is pretty horrible, I don't think you'll get very far trying to question the resident mermaids about what they know.”
“Oh?” Stratford finally got back up once he had gotten his samples. He wrinkled his nose and studiously turned his back on the dolphin corpse. “Why do you say that?”
“It's just not their nature to answer straightforward questions unless they feel like it. And if you or Conner stick your noses into it, they'll feel threatened and clam up.”
“That may be your opinion. But I'll see for myself,” the sheriff replied. “Besides, this case isn't very high priority. It is just a dolphin. But if you want to make yourself useful, you can start patrolling the shore to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again.”
“I'm just a shopkeeper, Sheriff. I don't have time or the inclination to become the volunteer neighborhood watch.”
“Just a suggestion, Neve.” He cocked his head. “The coroner's almost here. Well, thanks for all your help in pointing me in the right direction. You were the only one I could think of to call when I got to this situation. I knew something out of the ordinary had occurred, but I didn't know exactly what.”
I shoved my hands into my jeans and finally turned away from the bloody scene. For some reason, it was making me hungry. “So how did you find this place anyway? This abandoned fish cannery hasn't been in use for at least a decade.”
“Member of the pack,” he replied. “He was jogging out this way and heard some strange noises. When he decided to investigate, the culprits were long gone but they left this mess.”