Ben ‘Bulldozer’ Mendoza was sunning himself on the beach. The warmth was something he’d missed in his last place, but he was pleased to have spent the last few years in California.
He looked around, taking a moment to admire a truly perfect blonde in a tiny black bikini.
He glanced away just as she began to look over.
Might have to move here for real, he thought with a grin.
His skin was already tanned, but he could feel it crisping up nicely.
He pulled a beer from the icebox beside him and twisted the cap off. The bottle was cold and sent trails of icy water running down his wrist, carving a path through the sun cream.
He took a long pull, savouring the taste.
After another glance around, he pulled his phone from the pocket of his shorts.
He popped in the earbuds and started the music.
The sounds of the beach; laughter, raised voices, the rush of the tide hitting the sands, the thud of tanned fists colliding with a volleyball every now and then, all disappeared as if flicked off by a switch.
He took another pull on his beer, then formed a hole for it in the sand beside him.
He put his hands behind his head and laid back.
Mendoza was still partially aware of what was going on around him.
As a cop he knew he needed to maintain his situational awareness.
That was of the utmost importance.
Never knew when a mugger was gonna call.
Still, he wasn’t entirely on the beach.
There in body but not in spirit.
In a kind of trance.
Rob Halford was cheerfully singing about breaking the law – ‘Not on my fucking watch, bub,’ Mendoza always used to chuckle – when there was a change in the beach’s vibe.
A cacophony of screams rang out, even cutting through the loud music in his ears.
He threw the earbuds out and sat up fast, lifting his sunglasses up onto his forehead in order to see the scene better.
A crowd of screaming tourists was gathering by the water’s edge.
‘Shark! There’s a fucking shark!’ the drunken frat boy to his right was shouting, loud enough for even the deaf to hear.
Mendoza saw the stream of people heading towards the water, cell phones held aloft to record the scene.
‘Fucking idiots,’ he muttered. We used to run away from danger, now we run towards it, hoping it’ll make us go viral.
He stood, approached the situation.
He was conspicuous in that he was the only one there not holding a cell phone.
‘There’s a shark right there!’ someone shouted, terror in their voice.
The tides moved in a little.
Mendoza struggled to see what was happening, but then the waves came in a little further and he saw the tip of a shark’s fin.
The crowd screamed but held their ground, hoping to capture the perfect viral video.
It was only when the tides sent the creature racing in that they backed off screaming.
The creature was indeed a shark, but not all of it; a severed head ending in a ragged, bloody stump was washed up on the beach, near the crowd. A thick trail of blood lay behind it in the water.
The crowd continued to snowball in size.
More cell phones joining them.
There were gasps and screams, but still everyone was getting closer to capture the moment.
The smartphone craze was one that was beneath him.
He was too old to indulge in the horseshit. He had one, but only because he had to, for his line of work.
If it wasn’t for that he’d never have even had a cell phone.
He much preferred to fly under the radar, remain uncontactable. Less fucking hassle that way.
Finally the crowd began to disperse as the coast guard came in to see what was happening.
Actual, on duty police officers raced in.
Mendoza refused to get involved on such a rare thing as a day off.
He watched from afar, drinking his beer.
The crowd finally broke up enough to give him a proper look at the shark.
It looked as though it had been mauled by a bear.
There were bloody craters of it missing everywhere, like something had taken bites out of it.
But what had been eating it puzzled him, as this was a great white. A big one at that.
It should have been top of the food chain.
What the fuck could be chowing down on the king of the sea?
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