This story is a follow-up to Fishing Day, is as dark as that one, and is from my Fishy Prompt Call, as the original story reached 7 comments (the last time I counted). Not sure I actually answered anything, but I carried on without any more on-screen murder, at least.
The fish fought the line. She pulled, reeling it in carefully. There were police coming up behind her. She finished reeling in, carefully unhooking the fish. “Officers.” Her bucket had three fish in it already; she checked the size of this one and dropped it in with the others. “I heard screaming a little while ago. Is everyone okay?”
She’d had a peaceful half hour of fishing while the police arrived – sirens in the distance – and worked through finding the body – the occasional sound of splashing, radios, and more vehicles coming in. It was enough that she could act more or less normal, act more or less like a person ought to, act like she had nothing to hide.
“Miss.” The officer in front didn’t answer her question. “How long have you been here?”
“Got here today about half an hour before dawn. The fish like it best, or, at least, I thought they did.” She set down her pole. She wasn’t going to get to fish until they left. “I was the first one in. Couple guys came about dawn, left a little later. This spot’s really only big enough for one.” She gestured around – the parking lot held room for three or four cars, but the area by the water could hold three only if they liked each other. Since she didn’t really like anyone, she preferred spots where she could fish alone.
“You didn’t hear or see anything strange?”
“Um, couple times something was thrashing in the woods,” she admitted, “but I didn’t think anything of it. There’s deer around here, and sometimes coyotes.”
“Miss, are you aware there’s a killer on the loose?”
Lots of killers. And me.
“I heard something on the radio?” She shrugged a bit, fiddled with her pole, sliding another worm on the hook. “But I mean – this is just fishing.” She looked up at the police officers briefly, feigning realization and hoping she’d been fishing long enough to pull it off. “Wait, did you catch him?”
“Someone did,” said one officer, at the same time as the one in front said “no.”
She looked between them, not having to fake confusion. So the arm in the ghoul’s mouth had finally tipped them off? It hadn’t been the first time she’d caught them in the middle of a meal. She always tried to leave evidence of their crimes – well, their kills. Ghouls weren’t people, no matter what they looked like. They couldn’t commit crimes. “So…?”
“Someone was killed. That’s all we can tell you at the moment,” the front officer told her firmly. “You really shouldn’t be here alone, miss.”
“Just one more fish,” she wheedled. “If you’re here, nobody’s going to bother me, right?”
And if she didn’t fish a little more, she was not going to get through the next week calm.
With the police all over the place, she was going to need every bit of peace of mind she could get.
“All right, but no more pre-dawn fishing until this case is all wrapped up.” The officer clucked. “You’re sure you didn’t hear anything?”
“Nothing,” she told him firmly. “Nothing but the fish splashing and the animals crashing into the brush.” She gestured vaguely at the brush in question.
“All right. Well, you’re out of the crime scene, but be careful when you leave. And stay careful,” he added. “Now, if we can just get your name and address…?”
She gave him the name and address she used, hoping the look the second officer was giving her wasn’t about anything but the oddity of a female fisher-person. “If that’s all, officers…?”
“Hope they’re biting,” the second one told her as the two of them got back into their car.
Something about the phrasing struck her as weird, but she smiled, or tried to.
She cast her line and stared at the water, settling her breathing, settling her expression. She needed this fishing day. She needed the calm.
But the ghouls were still biting, all over the place.
She was going to have to hunt again soon.
Her line twitched.
Soon. But not today.
But not today.
Somewhere back near the swamp, someone screamed.
She reeled in the fish, far slower than she needed to, and set her jaw.
But not today.
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