's 2017 Horror Write-off:

The strange case of Hamrey

Submitted by Daniel Wixom (email)

Hamrey was a small town, known only for it's clamming businesses until commercial operations buried it in their race of "progress".


It was tucked between the Atlantic and the hills, boxed in by cool seawater and dark conifer forest.


Everybody knew everybody; a very close-knit community. Though the old clammers had seen better days, they still got decent business inside the town, though the familiarity they had with their buyers made it seem less like a supplier/customer relationship, and more like old friends helping each other out. They all knew their little old forgotten town was going to die someday; new generations had the tendency to pack up and leave as soon as possible. No one was bitter, but many felt creeping sorrow, as though their personal piece of history would soon be forgotten and consumed by the shady woods. Ultimately, they were content to let their secret town wind down with them, knowing each other as neighbors, and even family.


Until there were no more clams.


"It's the damnedest thing," one grizzled, wader-clad old clammer said to another. "I've known these flats for years, and they've gotten a bit unpredictable lately, but they just up and quit on me, startin' last Monday." The other gazed out across the field of mud exposed by the low tide. Every clammer in town came to the others to report the disappearance. Whether it was with hand tools or a boat dredge, all attempts turned up only rocks and weeds. And empty shells. Mussel, clam, oyster, and quahog shells, washing up in huge numbers, littering the mud.


Everyone was shaken.


And that was before the murder.


Larry Morrow, 29, had been hiking along a well-tread clifftop trail, before descending to the shore to do some beach combing. He was missing for over 7 hours, on a hike that should've taken less then one. When his wife found his body, after dusk, it was slumped against a large boulder, a large, circular, stab wound on either side of the chest, the mud below stained with massive amounts of blood. Forensic investigators from a larger town a couple dozen miles away came in, taking the body back to the morgue. The stab wounds went all the way through Larry's chest, piercing the lungs on the way, identifying likely cause of death as asphyxiation. The trauma caused to the tissue suggested blunt weapons, round in cross-section. The wounds were exactly parallel, as if whatever implements had been used were swung down together in one precise motion. And it got stranger. Local mud and traces of tooth were found in the wounds, and worse still, there were ragged chunks of skin missing from the body, on the chest and upper right arm, with all adjacent blood vessels burst. An ME rather distastefully thought, "it's like a hickey from hell," to herself as she scoured the corpse on the table.


Tension ran high in the following days, people leaving the town, and despite the ongoing police presence, many cowered in their homes from the sadistic killer who surely did this. And the clamming business didn't get any better either.


"Bullshit! This was no fancy new bottom trawler, everyone takes the whole damn thing! These shells are polished!"


"Than what are you suggesting? It would certainly be hard to miss a boat coming this close to town, but disease didn't take these, they're not just dead, they're harvested, cleaned of meat. They don't stink."


"So, if that's the only explanation, then how did the clams on the flats get taken? I find the notion of a stealth on-foot clamming team more than a little ridiculous."


A younger man sat across the table from them, listening to them go back and forth over their beers.

He sipped his, digesting the evidence. He opened his eyes after a good while, "so it's not people. It doesn't make sense, they'd have to sneak in, and our clams aren't worth that. It's not disease either. It's an animal taking your catch." The two men stopped their discussion to stare at him for a second. The TV mounted above the bar obliviously broadcasted the news, grainy through it's cheap speakers.


"...melting ice has caused strange behavioral disorders to emerge in many polar animals, which have counter-intuitively started to move south, exhibiting aggression and hyperactivity. Notable affected animals include polar bears, seals, killer whales, and walruses. East coast north Canadian residents are advised to exercise caution, as polar bear attacks are considered..."