Crouching at the Door

Sunday, May 23, 6:30 a.m., Box Lake

Dan Daniels—DanDan to his friends—was eighteen years old, five days from graduating high school. And he was dead. His body lay limp, a rag doll across a large boulder on the shore. His head caved in on one side. His throat cut for good measure.

The little rocks were cold on Karl’s bare feet. He rubbed his temples. Sweat ran down his back. The murky blue lake water lapped up in small gulps on the pebbles.

Devon vomited into the sand. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He wore only mud-covered sweat shorts.

Smith brushed back the hair from his forehead, gagged, and ran for the water. He had found DanDan. He stripped and threw his bloody clothes on the beach. He dove into the lake and scrubbed his chest and arms. The dried blood liquefied and merged with the water.

Jason stood, just up the hill, his eyes locked on DanDan’s body. His feet were bare.

Smith climbed out of the water on his hands and knees. He gasped and cried.

“What do we do?” Devon asked Karl.

A hawk swirled overhead, and Karl watched it with his mouth open.

Devon asked again, “What do we do?”

Karl blinked. His knees buckled, and he fell forward. He caught himself, and his hand landed in DanDan’s blood that had pooled on the rock. It was cold and dry.

“We get the police,” Karl said.

Smith curled up into the fetal position. “Oh, God!”

Karl touched DanDan’s icy, stiff hand.

“One of us needs to go to the police. Get into town, find the police, and bring them out here,” Karl said.

“I’ll go,” Jason said.