Summer Vacation

Audrey waited until dinner was nearly over, allowing her father time to relax. She’d made baked macaroni and cheese, one of his favourites. “Dad? Could we go to Oyster Beach again, like we did last summer?”

He hesitated, fork hovering near his mouth. “I don’t know, honey. I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. Remember, there was some… trouble there last year.”

“Oh, Dad, I’m sure they’ve caught that creep by now. Besides, Doctor Aaronsohn says I need more stability in my life.”

He sighed and waved his fork at her. “Look, Audrey, I know things have been difficult since your mother left us. I’ll think about it, but I don’t like the idea of going back if there’s a maniac on the loose.”

“I know, Dad, but there are creeps everywhere. Look at the news!”

He shoved his plate to one side. “I’m aware we live in a dangerous world, but that doesn’t justify taking unnecessary risks. I’ve already said I’ll consider it.”

Audrey nodded. She knew better than to press him when he was in this mood. Still, David was going to Oyster Beach again, and she really wanted to go back. She had a pretty good idea what would wind Doctor Aaronsohn up, and over the next few weeks she worked on him. So she wasn’t surprised when her father announced they’d be staying in the same hotel they’d visited last summer.

She unpacked quickly when they arrived. David had e-mailed her to tell her he was already here, so she ran off to find him. They lay on the beach in the sun for a few hours, then got up and wandered around the shops. Buying food from a vendor on the long pier, they leaned against the railing and ate slowly, staring down at the sand and the waves mingling among the pilings.

“This is just about where they found her last year, a few feet back in the shadows.” David spoke gloomily.

“David! How do you know?”

“I was here. I watched until they chased me off. It was pretty interesting.” He flipped a stick into the sea and watched it bob in the water.

Audrey stepped back and started to move away. “That’s creepy. Don’t let my father hear you talk like that!”

“Yeah? He get freaked out real easy?” He laughed.

“No, David, I mean it. That’s one of the few things I’ve ever seen Dad get really mad about.” A boy on a skateboard almost bowled her over, and she hesitated.

He steered her around a hot dog cart. “What was he so mad over?”

Audrey knew she and David would never be together if Megan hadn’t run away. But she didn’t want to get all funny about it, either. Besides, he ought to be over Megan by now. “When we were younger, Megan teased Dad about his name one day.”


“Jack Carver, get it? She said it sounded a lot like Jack the Ripper.” She turned to look at a giant stuffed panda.

“Oh, yeah, I see!” He waved the guy selling chances to win the panda away. “So why did he get mad?”

“He told her he didn’t want her hanging around me any more. He said people who made jokes about serial killers or paid attention to them were sick themselves. That kind of thing.”

“Man! That’s nuts! She never told me that story.”

“Look, David, I’ve got to get back. Dad really didn’t want to come after what happened last summer. He made me promise I wouldn’t stay out on my own once it started to get dark.”

“But you aren’t alone, you’re with me!” He wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her close.

“But Dad doesn’t know you well enough. I don’t think he trusts you.”

“Well, see you tomorrow, then.”

Audrey spent the evening in her room, watching movies on cable and worrying. David hadn’t seemed that unhappy to have her leave. She hoped he hadn’t already met some other girl, maybe made plans with her. She went to sleep late and woke because her father was shaking her.

“We’re leaving.” Her father switched on the television.

“We just got here!” Audrey dug at her eyes, trying to wake up.

“The police found another body under the pier, late last night. They’re asking questions of all the summer visitors.” He pointed to the screen.

“Then they won’t let us leave, will they?”

“If I stop in at the station, show identification, and explain I want to remove my daughter from danger, I don’t think they’ll object too much.”

“But if I don’t go out alone at night, I won’t be in any danger!”

They argued all through breakfast, but finally Audrey convinced him not to leave. As soon as he let her go, she sought out David. He was walking around on the beach, looking like he hadn’t slept all night. He acted happy enough to see her, but he was distracted. What if he had met a girl last night?

The police were everywhere that day, and the next few days, and some people did leave. A lot of places started charging less for things, so that wasn’t all bad. Audrey and David spent a lot of their time swimming and shopping for the weird junk people always sell to tourists. When they got tired of that, they went on one of the rides, or tried to win goofy prizes. Sometimes, they sat on the rocks at the end of the beach, too, just talking.

In the evenings, Audrey sat alone in her room, thinking. She could tell David was hiding something from her, and sooner or later she was going to have to decide what to do about that. She wondered where Megan really was, and wished she could talk this out with her.

One night, she couldn’t stand it any more. She checked her father’s room; the light was off, so he was already sleeping. She eased open the door to her room and crept down the stairs at the end of the hall. She knew she was being foolish, but she needed to get some fresh air and clear her head.

She was so wrapped up in her thoughts she didn’t even notice anyone was near her until he took her arm.

“What are you doing out here?”

“Oh! Oh, David! I didn’t see you.”

“Sorry if I scared you.”

Audrey took a deep breath. “David, we have to talk. I know something’s wrong.”

“You know?” He stopped. “I was going to tell you. I really was. I’ve been trying to get up the guts.”

Audrey slapped him. “Who is she? Is she sexier than I am?”

He walked on, talking fast. “I’ve been a jerk, but I had nothing to do in the evenings. She was just this local girl who came on to me.”

Audrey wouldn’t look at him.

He grabbed her. “Listen! I already told her to get lost. And I was going to tell you about her. We can work this out!”

Audrey was numb, too upset to even pay attention to where they were going. She felt sand shift under her feet, and heard the ocean nearby. David guided her around something in the dark, then wrapped his arms around her and kissed her, fiercely. Before she could catch her breath, he seized her again, harder, and pulled her further back, into the thick darkness under the pier.

A faint whimper was barely audible over the hiss of the waves, and the girl’s pale figure thrashed feebly. Her captor, nothing but a shadow in this light, was much stronger. He was nearly finished his work when Audrey managed a single, desperate scream. Soon, police were swarming everywhere. Flashlights illuminated the struggling figures.

Audrey, shaking, stared as a pair of burly policemen wrestled her father to the ground and snapped handcuffs on him. Paramedics rushed to the strange girl, trying to save her. She stared down at her father.


He lifted his head, saw her, and flinched. He mumbled. “There’s no point trying to lie to you now. That little bitch Megan didn’t run away. I took care of her. And your mother. She tried to run away, but I made sure she didn’t get very far. She’s under the floor of the shed.” He raised his voice. “I told you it was a bad idea to come back this year!”

Summer Vacation


Woonsocket, United States

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