by DEREK PLYMESSER
he lake. What can I say about the lake that I couldn't have said before? For that matter, what could I say about anything else in my life? There is nothing new. That lake has probably been sitting here since before we came and dropped a suburban neighborhood around it. Probably longer than people have even been on the continent. My life feels the same way. It feels like I’ve been here forever. If you can’t remember the beginning, does that mean there never was a beginning?
And now as I look back at what this lake has been to me, what it has meant over the past few weeks, and it just seems silly. My wife was right. She was so fucking right. I was going crazy over a big puddle. It's just water. But is it just water? Can water be walked upon? Is there any water, anywhere else in the world, that is as black as tar?
The color of the water, of course, is what gave it the name, and that name definitely brings in the tourists. Who wants to visit some odd smelly body of water named White Tail Lake? It just doesn't have that creepy ring that makes thrill seeking teenagers want to go find it and fuck in the woods beside it.
"Hey babe, I got a bottle of Jack with our names on it. Wanna go out to White Tail Lake and hump like zoo animals?"
Doesn’t really bring to mind an adventurous night of having your car stereo too loud, and having one of the old rich bastards whose house you're two hundred feet away from call the cops on you, only for the officer to walk up as you're trying to slip the tricky little jizz sack onto your cock. Have fun being bailed out of jail by your wealthy parents!
No, people are definitely drawn to Black Lake because of the name. Some of those tourists, people like me, don’t ever leave. It’s because they’re insane. Some, like my wife, want to leave as soon as they can. It’s because they’re afraid. . Let's face it, this place at night is creepier than walking around Chernobyl with a blindfold on..
The stuff that happens in and around this lake is probably some of the most disturbing I have ever heard of, and it's all in the small quiet little town of Arkton. But don’t imagine it’s some quaint community under assault by the supernatural. The people here are fucked up. It’s just the consequence of residence. Like a property tax.
Only a month ago, just up the block from me, a man named Philips, beheaded his wife, mutilated their cat and shot himself on the tree stump in front of Richard Gray's house. I remember driving by on my way to work, before anyone had even gotten up in the morning, and just finding this man's brain scattered all over Richard's yard. I remember hearing a whispering then, as if I were being beckoned to. Was this what Philips had heard? As I drove away, letting the cops take over an all too familiar scene, it felt like I could hear that revolver going off again and again.
It's just something with this area, something about this lake, something here just drives people insane. Just like it has done with me. In this instant, I really wish I had the choice that Mr. Philips had. But did he have a choice? Was he just like me; lost, trapped in this maze of the unknown? An unknown that makes itself known, far too quickly to comprehend?
I've lived here for a while now, around twelve years or so, but it was only two weeks ago that I really looked out the back windows of my house at that lake and saw something for the first time. It was around midnight. I was wearing my nice silk "hey I'm rich and just got done nailing my wife, better put this on and stand in front of my big nice windows" robe. And the act of standing there like a pretentious asshole had become a ritual for me after every sexual encounter. Especially since the kids didn't live at home anymore.
I was staring at the big large body of black water; so still, it seemed peaceful. Yet there was no peace about it. It was ominous, large and dark. It was a captivating thought to wonder. What was at the bottom? What was crawling around on the floor of that big murky pool of filth?
I walked over to my liquor cabinet and began pouring myself a scotch. I looked up from my glass and saw it; a figure, standing on the water. I immediately thought of Jesus, but this was no Jesus. The figure was completely black and appeared to be made out of the lake water itself, like a weird gooey human analog.
I completely froze. It was hundreds of feet away, but I knew it was looking directly at me. I could feel it. The sweat on my brow and my spine sent a freezing surge up my entire body. My arms became covered in gooseflesh, and suddenly my big house seemed so silent and small. Like an inconsequential speck, with my body trapped inside.. After a time, during which I was glued to the same spot upon my bedroom floor, the figure sank back into the lake. Almost instantaneously, I felt breath on the back of my neck.
I spun around to find nothing behind me. I downed my glass of scotch and began walking back to my bedroom. I stepped in something cold and wet. A set a muddy footprints, just a single set, none leading to the spot and none leading away. I realized that I was truly in awe of what was happening, and that this feeling was completely foreign to me.
I turned back around and poured myself another scotch. The typical reactions presented themselves to me. I had my pick from a buffet of emotions. I settled on fear. I didn’t sleep at all that night. I just sat in my recliner, staring out the window and drinking until I could convince myself that the alcohol was causing me to shake, rather than the shock of the earlier experience..
I mentioned none of this to my wife. In true form, she seemed completely unconcerned with my behavior. We had an extreme but mutual distaste for one another, only becoming intimate when we knew a true escape from our circumstance, in the form of a three or four second orgasm, was the end game..
Nearly two weeks passed, and I barely left the chair. I waited for it to return. To watch me again. I shifted from confusion to certainty. Why would I ever imagine staying here? Why would I not leave? But in reality, I knew. I knew that it did not come back, to watch me again, that I would cease to exist. I knew this with utter certainty, while also knowing that I was being a complete fool. But it did return, and one side of the argument did win out.
I was seated firmly in my chair. I held a bottle of liquor in my hand (cups had grown useless in the past week). I watched as the figure rose from the lake and as the lake became a human. It was as if a person was there, trapped under an airtight sheet of darkness. I was just as frightened as before, but I needed to understand. At least I knew now, that I existed. I felt another feeling for the first time. Relief at discovering something that I also knew to be completely illogical.
Riding on a wave of this relief, before the terror took hold of me, I got up and ran to the back door, still dressed in silk robe that now reeked of my absorbed and festered bodily odors, and bolted outside, barefoot, towards the lake. I felt an urge to swim out to the figure, so without a thought I made the attempt. But as my foot hit the water, I didn’t feel the expected wetness. I felt a cold, solid surface, like muddy concrete. I took a couple of steps and realized I standing on the lake. I was walking on water.
This didn’t distract me from my goal. If I let the fear take hold now, I would never know the truth about.... what? What was I looking for in this mysterious thing?, I glanced out towards it. Was it motioning towards me? I could almost see arms. A gentle movement. A gentle voice. No. I could hear nothing. Yet, I could listen, and did.
I walked slowly on the water. The moon shone on its surface and the wind pushed waves around just as it would the water in any normal lake. I wondered, is this a normal
lake? Am I the thing that’s abnormal? When I reach the figure, will I find something perfectly ordinary. something terrified of me?
When I was nearly ten feet away from the figure I stopped. It had the shape of a young girl, but she was really just a three dimensional silhouette. I imagined this young girl to be a perfectly ordinary young girl, confused, having found herself walking upon the surface of a lake, coming across me, a dark monster that resembled a man. But no, that wasn’t the case. I was real. I had decided it. I was the real thing here. I must hold onto this thought, and leave this thing, this girl here. But maybe I should speak to it?
I opened my mouth to say a few words. A strangled sound came out. The fear had overtaken me again. As if she sensed it, the figure sunk back into the lake, and I fell along with her. I could feel that I was being pulled down by the immense weight of this substance that was water but was not water. Or was there a young pale girl, gripping my ankle and diving towards the bottom, taking me with her. I could feel my panic as sharply as I could feel my lungs begin to fill with water. I realized that this water was not special. This was the usual, standard fare water that could still choke and kill a human being just as easily as it could be their sole source of sustenance, keeping them alive though there was almost no other ingestible material. As my brain screamed for oxygen and my lungs caught fire, I looked into her lifeless, black but somehow mesmerizing eyes. I watched the movement of her lips and the glimmer in her beautiful irises as she spoke the word ‘Dream’. Could this be? Could I be dreaming? But I knew that I was not. She did not provide clues, but instruction. I had to choose. Let myself die, or try to dream. I dreamed. I dreamed of her eyes. Then I dreamed about the lake. The lake. What can I say about the lake that I couldn't have said before? For that matter, what could I say about anything else in my life?
Derek Plymesser is a horror/Science fiction writer from Omaha, Nebraska. Some say Derek has an unhealthy obsession with reading. With his growing collection of 500+ books, he is slowly growing crazier, and may be an actual psychopath. He is also a book reviewer on the social networking site YouTube. Derek's short story Dream My Eyes and We Will Fall Together appears in the October 2013 issue of HelloHorror and his short story Love Thy Neighbor appears in the December 2013 issue.
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