Bokor closed the door to the house and smiled. She had found Maggie in the living room of the bigger house. The girl had been crying. Bokor was expert in giving young women advice. Soon Maggie was convinced that Ralph would be by her side that very evening. There was only one thing. Bokor would have to move the four of them to a different location.
Maggie had been confused at first as Bokor led her out the door and down the beach toward the area where Jon was surfing. But the older woman’s smooth voice comforted the insecure girl. The other students had left already. The house was too big for just four of them. They would be more comfortable in the smaller cottage down the beach.
Maggie shouldn’t worry. Her things, and those of the other three, would be transferred to the new place by a villager. Everything would be taken care of. The visitors need not worry about a thing. Bokor would set it up so that Maggie and Ralph had the biggest room together – with one bed. And dinner that night would be cooked by an experienced woman from the village who would bring wine to serve with it. Bokor would take Zoya and Jon to town for dinner.
Maggie looked at Bokor and smiled a bright, white smile.
Marilu’s shoulders slumped as she looked around at the dead students. What use was it to be afraid anymore? Whatever was out there would come. It would come for all of them. But when it did, Marilu would be ready. She ground her teeth.
“So you see why I had to get those four out of here as soon as possible, don’t you?” Bokor appealed to her cousin.
“Oh yes, I see. And you called me here because you want me to help conceal this?”
“Naturally – there is no one better.” Bokor’s brown eyes reflected a darker color as she stared at the other woman.
Zoya walked on the beach. She was waiting – showing herself – inviting an encounter. She shuffled down the beach slowly, deliberately staying away from the shadows cast by the trees on the edge of the beach. But Ralph was not the one she bumped into.
Jon was in a hurry. His one-track mind had been annoyed when Bokor had interrupted his surfing only to summon him to see the new house. Who cared where they stayed? As long as he still had access to one of the best surfing beaches that he had been able to find in years. He did not see Zoya until they collided.
“Watch where you are going,” he said irritably, not recognizing the girl.
Zoya’s eyes were circled by dark shadows. She did not look directly at him. Her hand reached out, her palm open.
“What the –” his exclamation turned into a squeak as he felt his face being squeezed unnaturally. The sockets of his eyes and the apples of his sunburned cheeks drew together as if his face were being folded inward. The long fingernail of her index finger separated from the rest of her hand like a tarantula’s leg. Still squeezing his face with her unnaturally elongated palm, she scratched at his face, drawing blood.
Zoya seemed not to notice what she was doing. Her body pressed toward his and her breathing came hard and fast.
Suddenly Jon reached around and grabbed his surfboard behind her on both sides, flattening her even tighter to him. Then he drew it back briefly, tilted it a little and then brought it in fiercely, hitting her square on the back with the thin side toward her. She gasped voicelessly. Her hand loosened from his face long enough for him to step away from her. He drew a long breath and was about to run toward the house for help when the sound of a particularly large wave beating on the packed sand of the shore distracted him.
“I’ll deal with that bitch later.” He thought as he ran toward the backwash, into the froth and jumped on his board.
Zoya lay facedown on the sand for a few moments. Then, pushing herself up, she sat and glared toward the sea. Something went wrong. This one wouldn’t be as easy as the others. She looked down at her hands and scrunched up her face. How was he different? Surely he wasn’t like Ralph. Damn it – he couldn’t be another… She was still reacting to one of them. She couldn’t handle another. But no, she had gotten a different sense from this encounter. Jon wasn’t the problem. It was her. But what about her exactly?
She licked the blood off of her finger and thought.
Still to come this week: Maggie rebels