The Shore

The Shore

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by Robert Dunbar

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As a winter storm grips the coastal town of Edgeharbor, a series of horrible murders terrorizes the residents. A young policewoman and a mysterious stranger are all that stand between the tiny town and an ancient evil.  See more details below


As a winter storm grips the coastal town of Edgeharbor, a series of horrible murders terrorizes the residents. A young policewoman and a mysterious stranger are all that stand between the tiny town and an ancient evil.

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5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

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The Shore

By Robert Dunbar

Dorchester Publishing

Copyright © 2006 Robert Dunbar
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8439-6166-9

Chapter One

In splintered shadows beneath the pier, waves caressed the pylons, sliding between them in a plunging, receding rhythm. Wind rippled the surface, and light sank in pillared striations, while from the timbers above, susurrations resounded.

On the beach, wind grated across sparse dunes and rattled dead grasses, and a damp chill settled from a dull white sky. Gulls hung motionlessly above sand the color of wet straw.

The rusted mouth of a huge drainage pipe yawned jaggedly at the surf. A man crouched within. Winds hissed, mauling him, and he drew back, his breath clouding. Pulling off his gloves, he blew on his hands and rubbed them together, shivering. He barely had enough room to stand in the pipe, and again he leaned past the lip of the metal tunnel, letting his gaze drift to the far end of the beach: scrub pines straggled near the rocks. Perhaps a century earlier, those boulders had been plowed from the sand. Now they formed a rough wall that crashed deep into the surf. Even from here, he could see spray lash up. The gulls rose.

Still nothing. And the light almost gone. The thought of returning here at night stabbed an icy chill deep into him, and he risked another glance toward the pier. Clouded waves lapped the pilings.

As the wind died away, hedrew his head back. Tugging the gloves on, he stuffed his hands into the pockets of his bomber jacket. Straight ahead, the ocean heaved smoothly, silken weights rolling beneath the surface. Languid hills rode each other, until endless repetition, maddeningly torpid, stirred him to twitching somnolence. As the sand crunched softly, he shifted his weight, clumped gravel scratching the soles of his shoes. Soon, he thought. The one he waited for would come soon. He shuddered, his very heartbeat seeming to fuse with the pulse and rhythm of the tide. Between waves, the hush grew so quiet he imagined he could hear things moving beneath the sand, hidden things, secret things.

At the mouth of the pipe, a vein of black splayed through the wet sand. Broken boulders littered the shore, and waves gouged through crevices in granite ... like slow acid. A sound drifted across the beach-the softly grating hiss of footsteps.

He stiffened.

The sound grew louder, and he crouched, breath stalled in his throat, fingers curling within the leather gloves. Warily, he peered through a corroded hole in the metal.

On the granulating mud beneath the pier, foam glinted in an oily sheen, sliding ever back into the water. With a backpack slung over his shoulder, a boy emerged from the dimness. He looked about fourteen. Perhaps a bit older. He wore a brimmed cap, tugged down over his ears, and his cheeks had flushed a deep pink as though wind had scoured away layers of skin. The boy took large strides. Straddling the dry rim of sand, he would pass within a few feet of the pipe.

A ripple of sensation spurted across the man's hands, a warming pain, like the twitch of a long-dead nerve. Just a little closer ...

Tongues of wind rasped along the beach, and waves curled over the rocks like talons.

The boy shielded his eyes from the blowing grit and tried to push back the pale hair that trailed from beneath his cap. Even with two sweaters under the denim jacket, he felt the cold flow right through, and his thin shoulders trembled as he shifted the backpack. Almost against his will, his gaze skimmed out over the sea. He stopped walking.

A gull shrieked.

The sun had not really come up at all today. Swells tumbled sluggishly, and shades of gray blurred together where the horizon should have been. With a jerk of his head, he forced his attention from the bleak seascape to resume his scrutiny of the beach. Beyond the sewage pipe, a boulder protruded from the sand, then another farther on and another until a rock barrier ended the gravelly strip. Either he would have to go back or cut straight across the beach, here at its widest point, a risk he hated taking.

The wind soughed, and a brutal gust scorched his face. Lowering his head, he trudged on, kicking at broken shells. Bird tracks, webbed and hooked like the spoor of tiny dinosaurs, splayed everywhere, and lumps and whorls in the damp sand seemed to mirror the choppy pattern of the surf.

The boy saw only a blur of movement from the pipe. He pivoted. Big hands grazed his back, groping for a hold. Lips pulled taut, the boy's mouth opened in a silent cry as he leapt. His sneakers slipped on white pebbles, but he kept his footing, running hard.

He raced along the edge of the water, straining for the rocks. Footsteps slapped across the mud behind him, louder than his, faster than his. Outstretched hands clutched.

He sprinted with all his strength. Ahead lay the rock wall, and already his pursuer edged to cut him off from the beach.

The boy whirled, sliding toward the water. Surprised, the man passed him, cursing, and the boy glimpsed the pale snarl of his face, the fair hair. "You!" Dread trembled in his legs as he darted back, angling across the beach. "It's you!" His speed seemed to leach away as his sneakers pounded, and sand rose at his feet in slow spurts.

On the dunes, he heard only his own panting. Splinters of icy air gouged his lungs, and he began to think he had escaped. Then he heard a snorting gasp. So close. His sneakers dug deep into the sand.

The man grunted victoriously, lunging. A gloved hand tangled in the long hair at the boy's neck. With a gasp of pain, the boy ducked under his arm. The man rammed into him, butting him backward, then caught him solidly by the shoulders.

The boy flailed, realization twisting his face. "You ain't my ...!" Strong hands closed like a trap on his neck. As they grappled, the boy's jacket and shirttails pulled up, exposing flesh whiter than the frozen beach.

Gravel shaled down the slope as the man's shoes slipped. He toppled, clutching the straps to the backpack. Snagged, the boy shrugged it off, diving for a dark spot beneath the boardwalk. The man fell with a grunt, plunged at the boy's legs. He caught a sneaker. The boy kicked, slipping under the boards.

With a coughing snarl, the man scrambled to his knees and thrust his arm deep into the opening, groping until his shoulder scraped wood. He dug frantically, enlarging the hole. Sand crept up his sleeves and burned like powdered ice. Then he threw himself on his stomach and shoved forward.

Freezing blackness closed on him. The tight cavern smelled of damp wood, and he twisted around. An ovoid of thin daylight leaked from above, and he threshed farther in, grinding his hip against the underside of the boards. He could hardly move his arms, could barely turn his head. Sand gritted between his teeth, and the boards squeezed down on him. He felt empty space with his right hand and tried to writhe forward, but softer earth sucked at him. Twisting in the other direction, he slipped into darkness.

Glowing in a fine seepage of light, a plume of sand trickled down on him.

He was alone now. He knew it. Wind moaned through the cracks, and haze brightened in his vision as he managed to get his feet beneath him in the trench. The boy was gone. Despair coursed through him.

Icy sand filled his gloves as he clambered heavily up the incline. His shoes felt weighted with lead, and at the top, he struck his head against a beam. When he squeezed toward the opening, his belt snagged on a nail, and he squirmed, one arm pinned beneath him, his legs kicking at nothing. Wedged in, he thrashed back and forth, making his way by inches, until the wind tore at his face, and he crawled out. At last, he lay on the open sand, cold grit in his mouth. So close. For several minutes, he listened to the labored pounding of his heart, to the tumbling hush of the sea. Spitting dirt, he rolled onto his back and stared at the sky.

He tugged his gloves off with his teeth, rubbed at his beard-stubbled face. So close. Finally, the breath stopped whistling in his chest, and he heaved to his feet. He reached for the boy's discarded backpack. Heavy. No tags. He unzipped it, turned it over. A rolled towel dropped out like a stone.

Red wetness sopped through the terry cloth, and he prodded the towel with his foot. Lifting it gingerly by a corner, he let the things wrapped within clatter down. Sand caked on the dampness. His eyes moved first to the chisel, then to the small saw and the clotted hammer. Two carving knives lay darkly encrusted, and the center of the towel still glistened.

Fluids hung heavy and gelid in his stomach. Gulls slid across the sky.

The wind rasped myriad sounds over the low sand hills: the distant clatter of the pines, the hushed roar of the waves. The dull whisper held hissing cries that broke, pleading in his ears. Turning away, he leaned one bare hand against the boardwalk, and the frost bled into him. He began to sob, the wind dissipating the sound until he himself could barely hear it.

A stream of sand slithered into the tunnel at his feet, and all around him loose grit wound across the beach in stray currents of air. "No!" He jerked his face up. "You don't get away from me again!" Running for the boardwalk stairs, he shouted at the sky. "I don't let you get away."

He pounded up the steps. "Do you hear me?" He sprinted across the deserted planks. "I'll find you!" Empty shops stood silent and shuttered.

On the other side, he bolted down a ramp to a ragged field. "I'll stop you!" But he moved with a jerky stiffness now, and under his tread, flat stones slid and crunched, slowing him even further. The sparse streets beyond the field looked as deserted as a moonscape.

Halfway down the first block, he halted, shoes scuffing heavily on the sidewalk. Empty dwellings have a distinctive look, like dead trees. Not one of the summery curtains twitched, and some of these cottages even had boarded windows. Leaning against a pole, he coughed and wiped at the grit that clung to his damp face. He tasted brine, felt sand between his teeth. At last, the coughing fit subsided.

The sidewalk curved back in the direction of the beach, and his footsteps scraped a hollow noise from the concrete. Dead grasses rattled at a fence where sand leaked between slats. My one chance. Dry leaves and yellowed newspapers clumped and drifted. He'll go to ground now. In a puddle by the curb, oil shimmered like a rainbow. I'll never find him. A creaking chorus filled the wind. Quaintly LETTERED ROOMS TO LET signs swayed in unison while SALE signs tilted from several of the tiny lawns. He saw only one car, an old gray Plymouth with flat tires near the end of the block. Even from here, the windshield looked opaque with grime.

Right now, he's running. Hooks of guilt dug into his flesh. And I can't stop him. He felt his feverish thoughts teem.

never stop him my fault never catch him in the open like that again so close my fault

He stumbled across the cracked ground. With a shuddering exhalation, he jogged to the end of the block. Never catch him. Around the corner, another boardwalk ramp rose. He halted, listening to the dull roar of the beach while broken sections of pavement slid underfoot, crunching.

The knives. His breath plumed. Got to go back for the knives. As though throwing off a dream, he shook his head and began to climb the ramp.

Beneath the incline, gusts moaned, and tangled in the shadows, debris shuffled rhythmically, as though stirred by the sigh of a sleeping beast.


Excerpted from The Shore by Robert Dunbar Copyright © 2006 by Robert Dunbar. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Robert Dunbar does not define himself as a genre writer but rather as a literary artist...who sometimes works in horror, science fiction and suspense. His plays and poetry have won awards. His articles and essays have been widely published, and his short fiction—running the gamut of the genres—has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. In addition to being a frequent guest on a wide variety of television and radio programs, Dunbar has scripted scores of shows for public television and the Discovery Channel. The Pennsylvania millhouse in which he resides is rumored to be haunted. The ghosts deny it.

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Shore 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Edge Harbor is a small seaside town that gets its resources from the tourists during the summer; in winter the place is almost like Wall Street on a Sunday as it is practically deserted with only locals residing there. Barry Hobbs, a stranger arrives in town in the winter. He has been tracking for months a young man Perry and he intends to take him alive to a place where he can receive help. Although the town is empty, Barry finds it impossible to ascertain where Perry is hiding. The lad is holding Stella hostage or it seems as if he is. A woman's body washes up on the shore with her back savagely torn to pieces and her car having claw marks ripped into the metal. Barry knows his prey is holed up in town, but he remains ignorant that someone else is hunting Perry and Stella; that predator has no problem with collateral damage even eradicating a town. Officer Kit Lonigan joins forces with Barry after he explains why he seeks Perry though she finds his tale implausible: thatis until the truth slaps her in the face. She wants to kill Perry, but Barry is on a mission to take Perry to a safe place; that if they survive a hurricane and the unknown apparently inhuman adversary. Robert Dunbar knows how to scare his readers into leaving the lights on especially while we are sleeping. THE SHORE is gothic in many respects with a semi deserted town cut off by a surging hurricane. Barry is on a mission he believes strongly in as he risks his life to accomplish it. Kit's needs are simpler as she just wants to save her town by killing the peril. Character driven yet filled with action, Mr. Dunbar provides a terrifying horror thriller. Harriet Klausner
Margaret_Marr More than 1 year ago
The Shore is the sequel to The Pines, but it stands alone well as a classic horror. I do recommend reading The Pines first, though, just so you’ll better understand who some of the characters are. It’s not crucial to the story, but it’ll have more meaning if you’ve already read The Pines. Robert Dunbar brings the off-season of the Jersey shore to life, and readers will feel the biting wind, see the fog rolling off the ocean, and hear the horrified shrieks of hapless victims caught outside near the ocean on a cold winter night. Mr. Dunbar has an uncanny gift for pulling a reader deep inside the story, drowning out everything else around them. As I read, I actually felt as if I were right there in Edgeharbor with the characters. No matter which direction you think The Shore is headed, you’ll be wrong. Just when you think you’ve figured things out, again, you’ll be wrong. Not until the last few pages will you get a glimmer of what and whom the monster is, and it’ll leave you feeling a bit astounded. Intelligent, mind-stunning horror plots delight me—and Mr. Dunbar is a master. The Shore is intense, creepy, suspenseful, and horrifying. And since Stephen King is mostly retired, I’ll be turning to Robert Dunbar when I want a good scare along with a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a thiller that captures the imagination, some local folk lore and your attention, don't look for it in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ScruffyM More than 1 year ago
Overall, this was a pretty mediocre offering. I had read The Pines a while ago so wasn't completely familiar with back story since The Shore reads as a continuation of the Barrens/Jersey Devil cannon. Some slight story flashbacks would have been nice just a slight refresher of Pines overall story and some recurring characters. As a stand alone, it's solid enough. The pacing is a little slow compared to other works in the genre. Description and atmospheric settings/details were very well written and encompassing. Character development was average but could have been flushed out more and seemed a little quick in certain spots. The action/gore was slightly limited with details but painted a macabre enough images. Plot was pretty run of the mill with few twists but guessable plot points/story. Overall writing style was very good and flowed nicely also the ending itself was satisfying. Not first choice but a decent read combined with The Pines.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago