Day Monsters

Evil…can never pass away, for there must always remain something which is antagonistic to good. Having no place among the gods in heaven, of necessity it hovers around the mortal nature and this earthly sphere.



Chapter One: Dead in the Water

The dolphin should have been warning enough. Pacific Bottlenose dolphins, tursiops truncatus gilli often swim around past the surf line. However--this one spoke to me.

I’d just jackknifed underwater. The sounds of kids screaming, waves crashing, seabirds calling--all cut off into silence. I scissor-kicked, pulling wide with my arms, my view fogged, hair streaming in the current.

Then, within reach, a dolphin. .

The dolphin’s head turned toward me, white conical teeth gleaming like tiny shells. High-pitched screes and clicks like Mickey Mouse with static saying, “Lurk a sea bend beatings.”

Huh? That couldn’t be right. My pulse skipped, then thundered in my ears.

The gray-skinned dolphin vanished into the depths.

Burning lungs forced me up. I broke the ocean-sky mirror with salt fuzzing my tongue. The sunlight lanced my eyes into squints. I gasped, then gasped again to catch my breath before I dunked under.

Nothing. Everything past an arm’s length disappeared into jade haze.

Up again to breathe, I tossed my wet curls out of my eyes.

The surface of the sea around me dimpled with wavelets and kelp. No dorsal fin and back. Where had it gone?

The lift and pull just before a wave crested tried to drag me into the washing machine of the break. I looked up into the arcing blue-green wall, and then turned onto my stomach, kicked and pulled, letting the energy of the water catch me up and fling me toward shore. Angling off to the left, I leaned away from the break, slid down the green face, my shoulders and head out of the water, swooping toward shore.

Something dark. Something in the wave.

A dolphin again.

The same one?

The tursiops rode the wave right next to me, its back and fin breaking the surface, then submerging. It was huge, and so close I could reach my hand out and touch it.

I reached out--

The dolphin looked at me. The head angled so the eye, that almost human eye, stared into mine. A click, more clicks. “The Lord of the Sea”--a high screeing--“sends greetings.” Its piercing whistle soared almost out of my hearing range.


The creature dove and disappeared. It had spoken to me--real words. The little hairs on the back of my neck snicked up.

I searched the water. Nothing.

I admit sometimes I talked to myself. Sometimes I even answered, but I wasn’t crazy. At least before today I’d never had reason to worry. I searched my memory for any family members confined to mental institutions. Nope. None.

Who was the Lord of the Sea? Why would he send anything to a girl in Laguna? Why would a dolphin talk to me?

I shook my head. I dove under water, then kicked up my feet to dive deeper. Nothing. Back on the surface I scanned the horizon looking for a dorsal fin. Nothing. Treading water, circling clockwise, I looked and looked. Nothing.

The sound of kids at the water’s edge mixed with the muffled thunder of breaking surf and the hiss of white water. A seabird slipped overhead, a young California gull, larus californicus, still fledged all in browns.

On shore, the bright stripes of my towel lay next to The Stepmom’s blue umbrella, and The Stepsister Brat, Kaylee, dug in the sand. The cliffs rose behind them. The layered earth eroded into vertical gullies, draped in sage scrub, cactus, and dried grasses.

The Stepmom waved, motioning. She looked frantic.

I looked where her arm pointed. Oh. Roiled, brownish water flowed out toward the horizon. I’d almost moved down into a monstrous rip. Sheesh. You'd think she'd know I could take care of myself. I'd spent the last nine of my thirteen summers swimming at the beach.

Okay. Okay. I waved back to let her see I noticed. Otherwise, she’d make me get out. Both The Stepmom and Sheff worried too much. At least my brother had earned the right to worry; he’d put up with me my whole life.

I stroked overarm, head up, parallel to the shore, away from the sand plume, still looking for that dolphin.

A breaking wave. I dove under it, down to the sand, skimming the bottom, and swam out to the surf line. Two more waves, and I’d take a break. Even in the summer the water chilled me down to a mass of goose bumps and purple lips.

The sea lifted.

Too late I turned, too late to avoid the mountain of water towering overhead and crashing on me, churning me down to the bottom, to the sand, twisting me over and over until the world had no up or down.

Something hit me. Hard. I opened my eyes, but couldn’t decipher the blurred images. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a flash, bleary yet bright, like sunlight through a fogged window--teeth in an open mouth.

A shark? A shark!?

I tried to swim. Panic swimming. Thrashing.


Thrashing attracted sharks.

I had to breathe. My feet searched for the bottom. I felt sand.

I stood, my head out of the water at last. “Pahawww!” Deep, gulping breaths rasped my salt raw throat.

Nose or eye? Kick it in the nose or poke it in the eye? I’d have to see it first. Where was it?

Blood rushed out of my limbic brain and into the upper reaches of my cerebrum. I dug into my brain for facts. My heartbeat slowed.

Sharks didn’t often attack this far south in California and large ones were rarely seen around here near the surf line. I thought about hanging around to investigate the species of shark.

My dad’s frowning face appeared in my mind’s eye. Dad’d be mad if I became lunch for a shark.

But Dad wasn’t here.

The sea moved beneath me and on past toward shore. Something large lifted me in its wake. The image of a shark mouth coming in for the first bite flashed through my head. I’d seen a photo once of a man’s side bitten by a shark. Looked like a cookie with a bite out of it, a half-moon gone with teeth marks, but grosser than a cookie--much, much grosser.

Maybe I would be the one in a million shark attack in Southern California waters. Dad would miss me. So would Sheff.

The surge again from below. A bump, a shove from what felt like wet inner tubes, but bigger, harder. A gray side and back wider than I could reach across filled the watery space before me. The dolphin! Better than a shark. No risk of my blood in the water.

Its head lifted above the surface, mouth wide, pointed teeth glistening. The dolphin clicked. “Stay here. He approaches.”

Was the tursiops an escapee from some secret government project? Why would they teach it to speak?

I smiled. I reached out and touched the wet rubbery side. The dolphin nudged me. I swear it smiled back. What had those government types done to it?

A tug of water distracted me, the sea retreating, pulling, pulling hard, pulling me out to sea, out toward a wave face rearing up twice my height. It broke and I saw hooves, white hooves on powerful white legs pawing the lip of the wave, the huge-gonna-kill-me-when-it-crashed-on-my-head wave.


Horse hooves, part of gigantic white horses, manes tossing in the spume of the breaking wave. The wave galloped toward me and trampled me down under the water, churning me, thudding into my body, rolling me into the sand, scraping every inch of my skin against the sea floor.

Something walloped me hard in the chest and whacked the air out of my lungs. I gasped in cold water.

No, can’t breathe water.

All went gray, then black.


Do you know who this is, really?