Shark Bite

by Cathy Tran

Curtains open. Birds chirp. Alarm clock ring.

It was already eight in the morning in a small town not too far from San Diego . Carnegie Chen was already down at the beach, wading out into the shoreline for a swim. The weather was perfect"bright, clear, and so warm it was like being wrapped up in a plush blanket on winter's coldest night. Today was perfect. Carnegie had finished her swim and was currently trudging her soaked and slightly wrinkled feet through the sand. As she sat down on her chaise lounge, all seemed well. Her boyfriend was sleeping on the sand around her, the sun was warming her cold skin up, and she enjoyed the feeling of sand among her toes.

Carnegie Chen graduated from Stanford with a degree in biology. It had been her dream to become an environmentalist and save the world from deadly human hands. Her parents had been adamantly opposed to her decision to become an environmentalist, mostly because it wasn't a "professional" job. But passion and devotion overcame parental advice, and Carnegie moved to San Diego to pursue her dream of becoming an environmentalist. For the past few years, Carnegie had established a fairly good name for herself in the scientific community. She had studied under Professor Anthony Caldeira and helped him to develop a new theory known as ocean acidification. Carnegie discovered that when she put pteropods, tiny marine organisms with calcium carbonate shells, into an enclosed bottle of salt water, the calcium carbonate shells started to disintegrate. Two years after the initial researching began, Professor Caldeira and Carnegie discovered that it was actually high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the water that contributed to the formation of carbonic acid, which led to the deterioration of the pteropods' shells. Carnegie accompanied her professor to a conservation conference the past week and announced their findings to the scientific community"the earth's ocean are becoming acidic due to high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a direct result of global warming.

But frankly, who cared? It was a nice day at the beach, and Carnegie was content to keep her day off as the way it was. She cracked open one of her favorite essays, Bernard's Lewis Multiple Identities, and began to read. Slowly, Carnegie's mind drifted, her eyes fluttered, and she dozed asleep in the warm sun.

*****************************

"Mama!"

"S Brian?"

"Puedo nadar en el mar?"

"Nades solo?"

"No Mama. Mis amigos nadarn conmigo."

"Esta bin. Ten cuidado!"

"Ok Mama!!!"

******************************

Carnegie was currently in her kitchen, hand on hip, and trying to decipher the cookbook. The TV was on, the aromatic smell of food still lingered in the air, and the sight from the kitchen window was the epitome of happiness. Tonight she was cooking dinner for her boyfriend Alan Zinn. Alan had finally been hired by one of the biggest law firms in San Diego "Bradbury & Moreno Law Firm.

"Hmmmm," Carnegie pondered, "I wonder what will make for a more dramatic ending to tonight's course? Apple pie or tres leche?"

A sudden loud noise interrupted Carnegie's thoughts.

"BREAKING NEWS!!! Hello and welcome to a special breaking news segment. Today at ten o'clock at San Diego 's beach, a young boy was bitten by a shark. At the moment, we are unable to release any further information than the boy's name is Brian Padilla. Padilla is in a state of acoma, and doctors do not know if his state will progress. City officials and lifeguard do not know the specific reason for the shark attack. Please stay tune for more breaking news information."

Carnegie stood frozen. Brian Padilla was her neighbor. She didn't know the little boy too well, but she knew he was a good and caring child. But this was a bit odd. Dover Beach was known to be one of the safest beaches in the country, and for sharks to attack humans was out of the ordinary. For the past four years, Carnegie had helped Professor Caldeira monitor the wildlife of the beach, and one thing was for sure"Dover Beach was no home to sharks.

In the midst of her thoughts, the door bell rang.

"HANG ON!!! I'll be there."

Carnegie ran to her front door, and was gasping for air, "Hi Alan. How..are ...you...doing?"

Alan, Carnegie's boyfriend, was grinning, "Hey there Stretch. You okay? You look a little bit out of breath."

"I am. Come on in, dinner should be ready in a few minutes."

"Okay. Hey, Carnegie?"

"Yeah Alan?"

"Have you heard about the shark attack today?"

"Yeah. I just saw it on the news."

"Does something about this attack seem..."

"Seem weird?"

"Yeah. Weird. Beach shorelines aren't a shark's natural habitat."

"Exactly. Sharks usually live in murky waters."

"Like in estuaries?"

"Correct. Plus Dover Beach is home to one of the biggest ports in California. There's trade ships, tourist ships, all sorts of ships coming in and out of this port. That alone should be enough to drive any shark out of these waters."

"That's what I thought. But when I asked Professor Caldeira, he suggested that maybe this was just a freak accident. There haven't been any other shark attacks lately, has there?"

"No. This is the first shark attack in two decades at Dover Beach. I hope Brian's okay."

"Me too."

*******************************

It was morning when Carnegie drove her hybrid prius to Professor Caldeira's laboratory. She was anxious to get to work and start researching about sharks. Something didn't fit in this picture. Sharks normally do not swim near the shoreline. Estuaries, and other areas of murky waters are a shark's natural habitat. Besides, only certain species of sharks swim in clear water, but never near shorelines. Carnegie pushed aside her thoughts, and turned on the radio.

"Good morning. It is 7:45 am on NPR. During this past week, three people have fallen victim to shark attacks at Dover Beach. The first victim Brian Padilla has just returned from the hospital. The other two victims are currently in critical condition. Doctors believe both will make a full recovery. Beach lifeguards still do not know the cause of the sudden outbreak of shark attacks. Coming up on NPR, Robert Seagel discusses the inequality of wealth..."

Carnegie shut off the radio.

"Hmmm," she thought aloud, "Two victims plus Brian equals three people who have been attacked by sharks. So far I know sharks don't normally inhabit shorelines. I wonder if there's anything in the water?"

As Carnegie stepped outside her car, and walked towards the laboratory, her cellphone rang.

"Hello?"

"Hey Stretch?"

"Yeah Alan?"

"I've just got a case!"

"Congrats honey. What's it about?"

"Apparently PETA is suing a meat packing company for inhumane treatment of cows."

"Which meat packing company?"

"Bundestag Inc."

"Wait, isn't that own by the German entrepreneur Lichten?"

"Yes. Lichten Bundestag, born and bred in Germany. And get this, Bundestag's meat packing plant was illegally operated. They had no government okay to open such a plant."

"So, you're saying that Bundestag..."

"Illegally operated a meat packing plant."

"But what I don't understand is how did PETA find out this plant existed in the first place?"

"Not too sure. That's what I have to figure out."

"Where is this company located?"

"Up North, near the San Joaquin Valley."

"Hmmm....that's pretty interesting. Look Alan, I'll call you back later, I gotta get to work."

"Okay. See you later Stretch."

Carnegie was fascinated at Alan's case, but more importantly, she had to figure out what was causing sharks to come to Dover Beach? As Carnegie entered the laboratory, she immediately began rummaging around, searching for past research papers that documented a shark's behavior.

"Hello there Carnegie."

"Oh hello Dr. Caldeira."

Anthony Caldeira had been Carnegie's mentor for the past eight years. She had studied under him at Stanford, and now she worked for him. There's was something about Carnegie that intrigued Dr. Caldeira. Perhaps it was undisturbed passion, or even pure determination to succeed that made Carnegie different from all his other students. Whatever it was, Carnegie was sure to succeed in life. The gray hair old man walked towards his prodigy, and asked, "What are you looking for?"

"Dr. Caldeira, have you seen the animal behavior files?"

"Whatever for?"

"I'm trying to figure out why there are sharks at Dover Beach."

"Didn't your little boyfriend Alan ask me that a week ago?"

"He did, but I'm afraid sir it's not a freak accident as you mentioned. There's been three attacks in the past week, and that's definitely not normal."

"Good point. I've got to run, but check in my office, the files should be there."

"Thank you professor."

*******************************

"Found it!"

Carnegie grabbed the animal behavior files and ran to her desk. Page after page, the file only indicated that sharks do not normally attack human beings. That wasn't exactly the information she was looking for. Carnegie wanted something more substantive. But then, she found it. Page sixty one of the file stated:

Sharks are only known to be aggressive when they are hungry. Hunger is triggered by certain hormones in the brain. Often the smell of blood will induce a feeding frenzy.

There was something new. Sharks are attracted by the scent of blood in the water. But if there was blood at Dover Beach, where did the blood come from? Carnegie decided to test the water at Dover Beach, and hopefully there would be some clues.

***********************************

Alan Zinn was treading back and forth in his law office, waiting for his client to arrive. This case was finally starting to get to him. He had spent days in his office reading brief after brief, but still, there was no clue as to how PETA found out the illegal meat packing plant. Alan had returned from a three day trip up north to visit the site of the plant, and from what he saw, it was nearly impossible to find that plant. How did PETA know?

Sound of door knocks.

"Come in!" bellowed Alan.

"Hello there Mr. Zinn."

"Good morning Mrs. Bouleir. Please have a seat."

Mrs. Bouleir was a white haired woman, probably in her mid sixties. For a woman her age, she still had a youthful looking face, but her eyes were cold. Her slow British drawl added to her calculating features.

She opened her tiny mouth, "Thank you. Cigarette sir?"

"No thank you, my girlfriend won't allow it."

"Ahhh...someone's been whipped."

"Nevermind that. The reason I asked you to come down here today is I wanted to ask what exactly is your relationship to this case?"

"Well Mr. Zinn. As you can see, I am an animal right's activist."

"No I cannot see that. You're wearing fur right now."

"Not fur my darling. Faux rabbit fur. It's quite luxurious. Anyway, I have been a life long member of PETA. I spent the better part of my youth defending animals, and to see these cows brutally slaughtered, it is my duty to file suit against Mr. Bundestag."

"But how did you know this illegal meat packing plant even existed?"

"Darling. I have connections."

"Would you mind telling me these connections?"

"A friend of my working for Mr. Bundestag informed me he was doing some illegal activity."

"Could you tell me the name of this friend?"

"I'm afraid not darling. It's confidential information."

"Thank you Mrs. Bouleir."

"Good day darling."

Mrs. Bouleir swaggered out of the law office. Alan sat himself down behind his desk and sighed. Something wasn't right. Mrs. Bouleir was hiding something. Alan began to rummage through the briefs once more. Words flitted by his eye: environment, PETA, Bouleir, Bundestag, divorce. Wait, divorce? What was a divorce settlement doing in his briefs? Alan went back to the divorce paper, and read through it:

Divorce Settlement

Petitioner: Linda Bouleir

Married to: Lichten Bundestag

Reason of Divorce: Dissolution of marriage

So Mrs. Bouleir was married to Bundestag? As Alan read through more of the divorce settlement, he realized Mrs. Bouleir's connection to the case. Apparently Mrs. Bouleir had filed for divorce after discovering her husband had another mistress. The two did not sign a pre-nuptial agreement prior to their wedding, and during the course of the marriage, Bundestag had acquired a massive fortune, totaling 100 million dollars. Linda Bouleir was seeking half of that fortune, but Bundestag refused to comply. The next two years that ensued was a bitter divorce battle, and ultimately Bundestag won. Linda Bouleir received no money, and was forced to pay the legal fees. Alan thought to himself, "So Linda Bouleir does have a motive to sue Bundestag. As his wife, she would have known all about this illegal meat packing plant. And because she lost the divorce settlement, she was still bitter and wanted revenge. Revenge, the best motive possible.

***************************************

"Damn this weather!!!"

Carnegie was currently out on a kayaking canoe, taking samples of Dover Beach's water. The water was a bit rough, and the weather was burning. She couldn't stay still long enough to take an adequate amount of water for sampling. But this was her second hour in the water, and she was confident she had enough water samples.

Carnegie drove back to the laboratory and started testing the water. Sample after sample proved nothing suspicious was in the water. There were no visible signs of blood in the water. The water didn't smell odd. Everything seemed perfectly normal. Discouraged, Carnegie decided to go out even further in the water. Instead of sampling water at the shoreline, maybe traveling three miles out to sea would provide a better test result.

Her cellphone rang.

"Hello?"

"Carnegie?"

"Alan? What's up?"

"Hey, can I talk to you? I need your help solving this case."

"Um...right now?"

"Could you? This is kinda urgent."

"Umm...I'm about to go back to the beach to take more water samples."

"I can come with you."

"Okay then. I'll see you at Dover Beach in ten."

"Okay, see you then."

*****************************

The two lovers sat at the edge of the Carolina sailboat, waves pushing gently against the side of the boat. Carnegie was lying flat on her stomach, dipping her hands and test tubes into the water, collecting samples. Alan sat leaning against the rail of the boat and asked, "Carnegie, do you think Linda Bouleir would still have any animosity towards her husband?"

"Well," grunted Carnegie, "I don't see why not? Bundestag did cheat on her, and from your description, she doesn't seem too friendly. Pass me the stopper."

Alan handed the black test tube stopper to Carnegie. Carnegie rolled herself onto her back and pushed herself up off the floor of the boat. She placed her final water samples into the cooler, and sat down facing her boyfriend.

Carnegie spoke, "You really think you've got a lead on this case?"

Alan was sighing, "I sure hope so. If I can prove to the jury and the judge how Linda Bouleir knew about the plant, then PETA will for sure win the case. But Bouleir is going to deny everything the defendants ask her. So I don't know."

"But isn't she your client?"

"Yes in the sense that she represents PETA, but she isn't cooperative. And that's what frustrates me."

"Well, if you can't prove how Linda Bouleir knew about the plant, can't you bring Bundestag to court based upon another charge?"

"It's difficult, because technically, Bouleir and Bundestag no longer have a connection with each other."

"Well, I'm sure you'll figure something out."

"Thanks Stretch. How's the research coming along?"

"Not so good. My suspicion is that there's blood in the water, but I've taken dozen of water samples already, and there have been no signs of blood. I'm hoping this last batch of samples proves something."

"Need my help?"

"That would be great, but you have a case to solve."

"Well, can I at least help you test water samples? I kinda need something to take my mind off this case."

"Sure."

**********************************

Alan was completely out of his comfort zone. The last time he had been in an actually laboratory was the mandatory biology class he had to take at Stanford. He was afraid to turn on the microscope, because he feared he would catch some epidemic disease and die right on the spot.

"Umm...Stretch?" Alan's voice cracked, "What do I do?"

Carnegie stood in the door way, grinning at her boyfriend, "Put on your gloves."

"Okay, done."

"Turn on the microscope."

"Is it safe?"

"Yes it's safe."

Alan pushed the red button at the base of the microscope. Carnegie inserted an eye dropper into the water sample, and drew out a vial of sea water. She dropped a tear size droplet onto a glass slide and took a cover sheet and placed it at a 45 degree angle.

Slowly, she began to slide the cover sheet on top of the slide and once that once done, she placed it under the light of the microscope.

Carnegie asked, "What do you see Alan?"

"Nothing really. Just black."

"What? Black?"

"Yea, black."

"Oh my god Alan! You didn't refocus the lens. No duh you're seeing black; you were focusing the lens elsewhere!"

"Sorry Stretch. It's been a while since I've done anything remotely nerdy."

"Hey! I resent that."

"Sorry."

Carnegie refocused the lens, and what she saw shocked her. Speaking slowly, "Oh my."

"What is it Carnegie?"

"Take a look at this Alan. What do you see?"

Alan bent down to peer inside the microscope, "I see red specks."

"Exactly. Those red specks are red blood cells."

"What does this have to do with shark attacks?"

"Sharks are attracted to blood. When they come in contact with blood, the brain sends out hormonal signals that induce a feeding frenzy. Any humans nearby when this onset of hormones occurs are subject to shark bites."

"Do we know if these are human blood cells?"

"As of this moment I can't tell. We have to run a DNA test."

"About how long will that take?"

"I would say about a week."

"Congrats Stretch. You've got a lead."

*******************************************

A week later, Alan accompanied Carnegie to the laboratory. It was late at night, but finally, the DNA test results would be available. Carnegie sat at her desk, closely examining the electrophoresis gel prints. Alan was snoozing nearby at Professor Caldeira's desk. Something was odd about the gel prints. The DNA strands were oddly thin and oddly thick at certain points. Carnegie pushed past her boyfriend to enter the back of the laboratory where human DNA prints were kept. As she walked back to her desk with the human DNA prints in hand, she bent down and kissed Alan on the forehead. Finally, she could compare the DNA results.

Carnegie murmured aloud, "ABCD...DBAA....AACC....BBDD....wait....ABBB... CCDA?"

Alan was still snoring lightly.

"OH MY GOD!!!" screamed Carnegie, "These aren't human DNA prints? The blood in the water belongs to a different mammalian species!"

Alan had just awoken, "What?"

"Alan, the blood you saw earlier was that of a cow!"

"Cow?"

"Yes. But how is there cow blood in the sea?"

"Aren't cows," Alan yawned, "land creatures?"

"No duh they're land creatures Alan. The question is why is the blood there?"

"I don't know," Alan yawned so more, "Lichten Bundestag owns an illegal meat packing plant. Can we go home already Stretch?"

"Wait. What did you say?"

"I told you before Stretch, Bundestag owns an illegal meat packing plant."

"What made you think of Bundestag now?"

"I don't know. I think it's because you mentioned cow."

"So was Bundestag's meat packing plant a cow farm?"

"Yeah."

"STOP YAWNING ALAN!!!"

"Sorry Stretch. It's hard to stay awake. Look, it's one o'clock. Can we please go home?"

"Not yet Alan. I think I've got a lead."

"If you tell me, can we then go home?"

"Yes. Now listen. I remembered you said Bundestag's plant was up north, right?"

"Right. I'm awake now. So what's the connection?"

"Well, was Bundestag's plant located near any source of water?"

"Not that I can recall."

"Think harder Alan! This is really important. Were there any lakes? Streams? Rivers? Tributaries?"

"Now that you mention it. I think there was a stream behind the plant."

"You think?"

"No....no...no. I'm confident there was a stream behind the plant. The slaughter house was connected to the stream. All Bundestag had to do was rinse the blood off the slaughter house floor..."

"And the blood would flow to the stream..."

"And the blood in the stream flows out to sea."

"Exactly. And by sea currents, the blood is pushed down south to San Diego, attracting sharks along the way."

"But Stretch, don't sharks live in murky water?"

"It doesn't matter. Where there is blood, there are sharks."

"But can the sea currents pull blood that far? From the San Joaquin Valley to Dover Beach?"

"It can. Sea currents in the Indian Ocean have washed jelly fish from India all the way to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. The sea current from San Joaquin Valley most likely pulled the cow's blood, a waste product of Bundestag's plant, all the way down to Dover Beach."

"Carnegie. That's brilliant!!!"

"I'm going to need your help Alan."

"Okay. I'm listening."

"You mentioned earlier that you couldn't bring a charge against Bundestag, because there was no substantial evidence to prove how Linda Bouleir knew the plant existed."

"And?"

"You can use science to help you. Do you catch my drift?"

"I think so. You're saying that the evidence lies in the blood trail."

"Precisely. You can trace the shark attacks to the blood in the water, and if our theory about sea currents is correct"which I'm sure it is, you can trace the cow blood all the way back to its original source."

"Bundestag's plant."

"Correct."

*****************************************

Two months later.

Alan Zinn was dressed in a dark gray suit. His hair was neatly gelled, his briefs were prepared, and he stood before the jury erect and confident.

"Your honor. I would like to call Linda Bouleir to the stand," said Alan, "Mrs. Bouleir, please state your relations to Mr. Bundestag."

The old British woman drawled, "I was his ex-wife."

"Did you feel animosity towards him when you discovered that he had cheated on you?"

"OF COURSE!!! What kind of a question is that? Of course anyone would be mad if their significant other cheated on them. Wouldn't you be upset if your darling girlfriend did that to you?"

"That is besides the point."

"That man," and Mrs. Bouleir was pointing her index finger towards a fifty-year old man, "broke my heart. And he refused to pay me the appropriate amount of money for our divorce. He even made me pay for the legal fees of our divorce!"

"Mrs. Bouleir, what is your opinion of animal abuse?"

"It's horrid! Any man who cuts the throat of an animal simply to procure its fur for clothing, and its meat for food is despicable."

The defendant shouted, "OBJECTION!"

The judged said, "Objection overruled. Mr. Zinn, please continue your prosecution."

"Thank you judge," said Alan, "Mrs. Bouleir, isn't it true you are a member of PETA?"

"Very true. Life long member as a matter of fact."

A murmur from the audience arose.

"What is your reason for accusing your husband today?"

"He owns an illegal meat packing plant."

"That is all."

The defendant began to question.

"The defendant would like to call Mrs. Bouleir to the stand. Mrs. Bouleir, you admit to your husband owning an illegal meat packing plant, do you not?"

"Agreed."

"How did you know there was an illegal meat packing plant, when it was kept secret from you?"

"Um...I...I...I"

"Speak up Mrs. Bouleir, you are under oath."

"Um....I...I...I...I overheard one of my husband's business conservation. A few years ago, while he was having an affair, he was discussing a business deal with his brother. Apparently, from what I gathered, they were to open an illegal meat packing plant. The FDA had not approved of the business, and they were forced to resort to illegal practices."

"Continue."

"I also found letters of my husband's dealings."

"Where did you find these letters?"

"I stole them from his business firm."

"Do you realize that reading other people's private letters, let alone stealing, is a violation of the right to privacy?"

"Yes I was aware."

"And yet you did it anyway?"

"Yes."

"That is all the defense has to ask."

Carnegie sat in the courtroom, horrified at how the case had taken a sudden turn. The defense was attempting to shift the blame to Mrs. Bouleir! She only hoped Alan would pull through.

Alan rose and spoke, "Your honor, the prosecution would like to call Brian Padilla to the stand."

The little boy squeaked, "Good morning everyone!"

"Good morning Brian. Would you please tell everyone what happened to you last year?"

"Yessir. I was a victim of a shark attack."

Gasps flew through the audience.

"Where did this shark attack occur?"

"Dover Beach sir."

"That is all."

The defense shouted, "OBJECTION!!! Irrelevant witness!"

The judge grunted, "Objection overruled."

Alan thanked the judge and continued to speak, "Your honor, I would like to call Carnegie Chen to the stand."

Carnegie strode up to the podium, and took her seat.

Alan stared down his girlfriend and began to question, "Good morning Miss. Please introduce yourself."

"My name is Carnegie Chen and I work as an environmentalist down at San Diego."

"Please tell the jury what were you researching last year?"

"Last year at Dover Beach, there was a sudden outbreak of shark attacks. What happened was many of the victims, such as Brian Padilla, were being dragged into the water by sharks."

"What was so strange about the shark attacks?"

"Sharks do not normally attack human beings."

"Where did these sharks attack?"

"At the shoreline. And sharks do not live at the shoreline, they live in murky waters."

"Like estuaries?"

"Exactly. Like estuaries."

"What is significant about blood in water?"

"Sharks are attracted to blood, and the smell of blood triggers certain hormones in the brain that leads to a feeding frenzy. It just so happens that Brian Padilla and many others were swimming in blood infested waters, and the sharks smelled the blood and attacked."

"What did you find in your research?"

"Well, I spent weeks taking water samples. And in one of the water samples, I found evidence of cow blood cells in the water."

"What was the significance of the cow blood cells?"

"Cow blood cells have no place in sea water. Cows are land mammals, and for their blood to appear in the ocean is very odd."

"What happened next?"

"I traced the blood cells all the way up to the San Joaquin Valley, straight to the source of the cow blood."

"And where was that?"

"Mr. Bundestag's meat packing plant."

The audience gasped and whispered.

Alan said directly to the judge, "Your Honor, the prosecution rests its case."

**********************

A young blond haired woman from the jury stood up and enunciated, "We the jury find the defendant Lichten Bundestag guilty of animal abuse, third degree murder, environmental damage, and fraud for operating an illegal meat packing plant. We sentence Lichten Bundestag to four years in prison."

A wave of applause and uproars rang through the courtroom as Alan rushed to Carnegie, swept her up in his arms and whispered in her ears, "Thank you." Alan had won the case, of course, not without the help of his best girl.

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