Lady of the Merrimack

 

The Merrimack River was a changeling river.  In places deep and deceptively slow, in others seemingly shallow  and too many unwary thought they could swim across.  Today yet another body was pulled from the tangle of wood that lined the shore.

 

The last storm had brought up more than heavy rain.  It brought strong gale force winds that had uprooted two hundred year old trees.  Jackson shook his head.  The body before him belonged to a local kid.  A good kid who just happened to be unable to resist a dare.  Now he was lying in the mud, battered and very dead.  “Aw, damn,” came a ragged voice over his shoulder.  “Mrs. Flor is gonna lose it.”

 

Jackson nodded and stepped to the side.  “Looks like he took another dare.”  He moved further down the bank as his partner called back to the corner.  This was the third kid that had been pulled out of the big river in the past month.  A record for the city.

 

Nashua, while surrounded by rivers on three sides, was a safe place.  It was more than uncommon for there to be more than single drowning on the big river a year.  The series of freak storms in the past two months had led to flooding up river and record high levels here in the city.

 

Jackson paused as he heard a low sound.  He held up a hand as Baxter started to ramble and cocked his head to the side.  Very softly he heard the sound again.  A low moan coming from behind the toppled willow.  He picked his way carefully over the bramble mess and then down to the edge of the river bank.  Lying half in and out of the water was a pale, faintly glowing form.  “Baxter!  Over here!  I have another one!”

 

He jumped over the broken stump, landing near the quietly moaning form.  He knelt down and ran light hands over the upper body, checking quickly for major injuries.  He then slid his hands under the shoulders and lifted the nude woman carefully.

 

Her moans were pitiful in the darkness.  As he turned her over he scanned her quickly.  Long pale limbs were covered in mud, blood and bruises.  Tangled locks of what would probably be light colored hair covered her face and slicked down her arms and further.  As he reached up to pull the hair from her face he felt her body stiffen.  “Easy, let me help you.”

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