Stokes was driving North on Route 101 about 2 a.m. towards her apartment
in Santa Barbara when she decided to pull off in the North Oxnard
area. She was returning from a Halloween party in Camarillo and
was beginning to feel the full effect of having a little too much
to drink. There was a park along the beach close by where she could
wait a while until driving wouldn't be so dangerous.
parked the car and decided to go down close to the beach where there
were some benches facing out towards the surf. There was no one
else around, which is the way she preferred it right now. The night
air was mild and comfortable with a slight breeze coming in off
the ocean. She sat down on a bench with her purse alongside, her
head throbbing a little along with that slightly disoriented, drunk
view of the ocean with a full moon shining helped to get her mind
off how she was feeling, although a couple of Tylenol might help,
too. She usually carried some with her, but had forgotten to bring
any in her purse tonight. The waves coming against the shore were
soothing and might have the same effect as some aspirin.
was wondering how long she would have to sit until her mind cleared
enough to drive, but was feeling so relaxed just sitting there with
her hands in her lap that she really didn't feel like moving. Everything
was relaxing: the sound of the surf, moonlight reflecting off the
water, and the waves as they came rolling onto the beach like a
constant spilling of a frosty vanilla milkshake.
the moon was gone and there a hint of sunlight peeking around from
behind her. With the sun rising, there were some long shadows becoming
noticeable of her, the bench, and some trees nearby, all pointing
westward towards the surf. She noticed a couple of early morning
runners jogging their way along the path near the beach. Her gaze
wanted to follow the joggers as they passed, but she was still feeling
too relaxed to move. Her hearing seemed to be more acute, as she
was able to hear their labored breathing. The male sounded almost
asthmatic, while the female seemed to have more of a healthy pace
to her breathing. Better be careful there, buddy. Don't want to
overdo it, fall over and wake up dead.
she breathing? Julie couldn't tell at this point and didn't care.
Her excellent view of the ocean was still there.
seemed to fast-forward to midday. It must be around noon, with the
shadows almost perpendicular with sky. Funny, she didn't feel the
beach had filled up with more people now; chairs and umbrellas were
everywhere. Some of the beachers were safely under their umbrellas,
out of the sun's reach, while others were laying out on blankets
and chairs braving the harsh noon-day rays of sunshine. There were
also the children building sand castles, looking for shells, or
just running in and out of the surf screaming like little pygmies
little boy with an ice cream cone was ambling his way towards her,
unaware of it melting in the heat and running down his hand. He
must have been around two years old by the way he was trying to
clumsily make his footing through the sand. He fell about ten feet
in front of her, spilling the cone. Naturally he started bawling
as most kids would do, since we all know the universe revolves around
tan, blonde mother rushed over to pick him up.
what's the matter?"
ice cream," he answered through sobs.
get you some more."
okay, we'll just leave her alone." She gave Julie a quick,
sun was now just visible in her range of vision in the West. Someone
must have called the police, since she would occasionally see one
or two of them in her line of sight, looking her over.
police cruisers were in the beach parking lot with lights flashing
but no noise. A detectives' car pulled up beside them. Detective
Reese wasn't very happy about being brought out on a call just before
his shift was over. The dispatcher relayed the info about a possible
body on the beach near North Oxnard. 'Now why would I want to see
a body before dinner?' he laughed to himself. He saw Sergeant Malco
approaching his car as he was getting out.
Malco, fill me in please." Malco had a funny look on his face
that Reese wasn't used to seeing, at least on a seasoned police
made his way towards the beach park area with Malco while donning
the standard crime scene gloves that the two police officers were
already wearing. Didn't want to compromise any evidence.
had a call from a citizen who noticed a woman sitting on one of
the park benches, not moving or responding to questions."
there any ID?"
She had her purse beside her and luckily no one did a grab on it.
Her name is Julie Stokes and she lives in Santa Barbara. The way
she's dressed, I would guess she was either on her way to or from
a Halloween party last night."
you check for a pulse?"
I wanted to let you get a good look at her first. We just went through
walked together towards the back of the park bench, where Officer
Brady was keeping an eye on things and keeping the curious away.
noticed that a hood and mask were pulled back from her head and
was hanging down her back. She had beautiful blonde hair, even though
it was tied back in a ponytail to fit into the costume. There was
a slight breeze blowing, enough to gently move his own hair. When
he had gotten closer, he noticed that the ends of her ponytail weren't
moving at all, although they should have been loose enough to move
in the breeze. Reese walked around to the front of the bench and
took off his sunglasses to get a good look at her. She was beautiful,
and totally normal looking. He felt he could reach out and touch
her soft, pliable skin.
into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a ball point pen. He then
took the pen and tapped very gently on one of the hands in her lap.
The feedback he got was solid, as if her hand was stone. He gently
touched her face with the pen also and it was the same, hard as
a rock. Touching her cheek with his gloved hand gave the feeling
of touching fine porcelain.
could see the detective taking the pen and reaching out to places
outside her range of vision to do something. Then he took the pen
and seemed to touch her face with it, though she couldn't feel it.
The same with his hand; he seemed to be stroking her cheek, but
once again there wasn't any feeling.
we really have one for the books here. We have to get her back to
the lab and find out what caused this. Do you think she will fit
in back of one the cruisers for the trip?"
I can make sure there is room in mine for her to fit in the back
seat," answered Malco.
went back to his cruiser to make sure the back seat didn't have
any junk laying in it.
bent down and looked Julie in the eyes.
happened to you, Julie?" he whispered under his breath.
looked back at him. 'Please don't move me!' she screamed. 'I love
the view here and I want to stay.'
course Reese heard nothing.
returned. "Ready, Detective."
we are all three going to have to lift her up to be able to get
her to the cruiser; I would imagine she is heavy. And be very careful
not to break anything."
three lifted her up with some effort and began carrying her towards
the cruiser's back seat.
just what kind of costume is this, anyway?"
the mask and headpiece of snakes representing the mythical Gorgon
reached the cruiser and gently sat her in the back seat like a heavy
of them noticed the glistening tear that had formed at the corner
of her eye and was running down her cheek.