Free Walkers by Graham Masterton

Book: Walkers by Graham Masterton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Graham Masterton
Tags: Fiction, General, Horror
do for you? Would you like some coffee?’
    Lieutenant Ortega nodded. ‘Yes, some
coffee would be appreciated. Black, please.’
    Henry went through to the kitchen,
which was an untidy jumble of washed-up dishes that hadn’t yet been put away,
cups, glasses, boxes of cereal, and sprawled-out newspaper sections. He rinsed
out the coffee jug, filled it, and unfolded a fresh filter-paper.
    ‘Mocha. You like mocha, lieutenant?’
    ‘Perhaps you should call me
Salvador. I’m not much of a stickler for formality.’
    ‘Salvador, okay. My name’s Henry.
Well, you know that.’
    They shook hands. Henry looked
around the kitchen and said, ‘Excuse the – well, I was working all night. The
place doesn’t usually stay too tidy when I’m working.’
    ‘You were thinking about the eels
this morning, then?’ asked Salvador.
    ‘Yes, I was thinking about the
    ‘And what line of thinking were you
pursuing? Is it possible for you to tell me that?’
    ‘Well,’ frowned Henry, ‘it struck me
that the eels were unusually aggressive. I mean, although that eel that
attacked your officer was only trying to defend itself, it was particularly
fierce, and it was unusual that when its head was cut off, instead of its jaw
muscles relaxing, as they would have
done under normal circumstances, they actually tightened. So here we have a creature that attacks, and goes on
attacking, even after it has been mortally injured. You don’t find that very
often in nature – that kind of, well, ferocity.’
    ‘Go on,’ said Salvador, watching him
with steady dark-brown eyes.
    ‘If you try to work out what must
have happened to the dead girl,’ said Henry, ‘you end up with pretty much the
same pattern of blind aggression.’
    ‘What do you mean?’ Salvador asked
    ‘Well – she couldn’t have been in
the water all that long, could she? She wasn’t swollen up, or anything like
that. I’m not an expert, by any means, but I can remember the body of a
fisherman they dragged out of the harbour at San Diego two or three years ago,
and he was bloated up like a blimp. Maybe your medical examiner will prove me
wrong, but I wouldn’t have thought she was floating around for more than a few
    Salvador said, ‘You’re right. Mr
Belli’s first opinion was that she hadn’t been immersed for longer than two or
three hours, possibly less.’
    ‘Fine – then that bears my theory
out. It says in this book on eels that they have been known to devour the flesh
of drowned bodies, when those bodies are trapped on the seabed, and well
decayed. But apart from an occasional attack by moray eels, they hardly ever go
for living people who are swimming around in the water, or even for bodies that
are floating on the surface. What these eels did to that girl was completely
outside the normal feeding pattern of marine teleosts. They attacked her either
when she was alive, or when she was freshly dead and still floating around. It
wasn’t as if her body was down on the sea-bed for a while, where the eels could
have gotten at her, and then bobbed up and floated into shore later.’
    The last of the water dribbled
through the filter into the coffee jug. Henry found two clean blue pottery
mugs, and filled them up to the brim. Then he led the way back into the
living-room, and sat down on the couch. Salvador sat facing him, clasping his
mug in both hands.
    ‘I have to say that I subscribe to
the idea that she didn’t float into shore, but was dragged,’ Salvador said.
‘You remember what Mr Belli pointed out – that her body was lying higher on the
beach than the rest of the flotsam?’
    Henry thought about that. ‘There
were no footprints, though, were there?’ he said. ‘If somebody had dragged her
up beyond the tideline, there would have been footprints. But the sand was
completely smooth.’
    ‘Ah, yes,’ said Salvador.’ But the
sea did reach up that far, at the
very turn of the tide, and so any footsteps would have been

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