Vance - please, wake up!' Laura's heart was racing, and she felt sick with
terror. She had tried mouth to mouth and done the chest compressions as best
she was able to—not even sure if she was doing them correctly. But still, her
boyfriend lay completely motionless upon the cold wet grass by the side of the
vast lake. 'Vance!'
She closed her
eyes, sobs wracking her body.
She was shivering violently, despite the warmth of the late summer evening.
And then she
heard it—a spluttering cough,
followed by harsh, gasping breaths. Her eyes flew open, some of her panic
giving way to light-headed relief as she reached out to Vance. He was
struggling to sit up, water still dribbling out of his mouth.
God. I thought you were—' But she
was crying too hard to get any more words out. Instead, she simply cried some
more and clung onto him as he heaved and retched. She pressed her face into his
throat and felt the pulse of blood racing wildly against her cheek.
he gasped out, putting his arms
around her, and patting her clumsily on the back. 'It's okay, I'm alright now.'
For a few moments,
they simply remained like
that—clutching each other tightly and trying to allow what had just happened to
'How did I—I
mean...' Vance's voice was a
'You don't remember?'
Laura asked. He shook
his head, chest still heaving somewhat. 'We were out on the boat—' She jerked
her head towards the little rowing boat that was bobbing, so harmless and
innocent-looking, on the surface of the water nearby.
remember that part. We were laughing about
something, and then - ' he scrunched up his eyes, trying to remember. 'I
thought I saw something...' His eyes darted towards the line of trees which
surrounded them. 'It looked like there was something—someone—following us. I
stood up to get a better look , and then all of a sudden...' He shuddered, and
Laura did too. That image of him, suddenly toppling over and out of the wildly
rocking little boat. Plunging into the water below—the splash. And then the
horrific silence as he drifted down beneath the surface...
'We need to get
you back home,' she said
abruptly, getting to her feet. 'Your sister was right about this place, we
should never have come. Do you think you can manage to walk?'
he said. 'Just give me a minute.'
She nodded. A
moment later, he stumbled
upright. She reached out with both of her hands to try and help steady him.
'What's all that?'
down at his body. She hadn't
noticed before, in the daze of panic, but now she could see that his clothes—as
well as being completely water-laden—were also covered in some kind of sticky
grey substance. Looking down at her own clothes, she saw that some of it seemed
to have transferred itself onto her as well. Looking at it, she was filled with
an overwhelming, irrational sense of revulsion.
'It's in your
hair, too. What is it?'
'I dunno,' he
shook his head. 'Must be from
something in the lake.'
As Laura's eyes
found his face, she was
alarmed to see the ashen color of his skin. She placed an arm around his waist
and let him lean some of his weight against her.
'Come on,' she
said. 'Let's just get you
somewhere that you can rest.'
progress was slow, and she hadn't realized how far they had walked to get to
the lake in the first place. The towering trees that surrounded them made Laura
feel deeply disoriented and uneasy—several times, she thought she saw darting
shapes and shadows moving all around them. But she told herself that she was
just being nervy. And little wonder, after what the two of them had just been
through. She just needed to concentrate on getting Vance safely back home, so
that he could start to recuperate from his terrifying experience.
'There is one
thing that I don't understand,'
he said, after they had been trekking along for what felt like twenty minutes
'How did I get
back out of the water after
falling off the boat? I mean, you can't swim—so you wouldn't've been able to—'
'No,' she shook
her head. 'I didn't.'
stumbling over a rock concealed
on the ground and lurching forwards slightly before righting herself and once
again gripping Vance's waist to help keep him upright.
'I don't know—it
was kind of weird, actually...'
Now that the
initial blur of horror was over
and her mind had time to think back over the events, she was starting to realize
that she didn't fully understand what had happened back there at the lake. Or
'I tried to reach
out and grab you—but you
just sank beneath the water so quickly. I couldn't see you, you'd just
disappeared. I didn't know what to do—I was just standing there, calling out
your name, over and over. And then, all of a sudden, there was like this...
this rumbling kind of a sound from somewhere underneath the water, and then you
just came flying out and landed on the bank.'
She'd been far
too distraught at the time to
really question it - but she realized now that she could come up with no
explanation at all for how he had gotten out of the water. He had been
unconscious at the time, after all. Quite incapable of even attempting to swim.
They lapsed into
silence once again. The only
sounds were their footsteps crunching through the undergrowth, and Vance's
increasingly ragged gasps. Laura's heart beat fast with worry. She would call a
doctor out to see him as soon as they got home. Just to be on the safe side.
Glancing sideways at him, she saw that his damp skin had grown paler than ever,
glistening almost translucently beneath the glow of the setting sun above them.
Very soon, it would be growing dark, and the thought made Laura even more on
edge. Already, she felt that she could sense living things lurking somewhere
nearby, just out of her sight—things that shifted and moved restlessly. An odd
sound reached her ears—a deep, guttural, throaty sound. An animal, she told
herself. Although it was unlike any animal that she had ever heard before.
'Not much further
to go now,' she said loudly.
The reassuring words were as much for her own benefit as they were for Vance's.
She felt breathless—from both the exertion and her increasing anxiousness.
'We'll soon be—what are you doing?'
For Vance had
come to a dead stop—his feet
planted firmly upon the ground, his body like an immovable statue.
on, we have to keep going. We're
nearly there now.'
'I have to go
back.' His voice was a gurgle,
as though his throat was still full of water—and the sound of it made her
'Go back? What
He turned around,
and—before she could even
attempt to stop him—began marching back in the direction of the lake. His
breaths were silent now.
yelled out. Her words seemed to
hang in the humid air, the strange guttural noises growing louder to accompany
them like a bizarre symphony. 'Vance!'
She went after
him, having to run to catch him
up. Confusion and fear crowded her brain, making it impossible to think
stop it. We need to go back
home. You need to rest, recuperate—' She grabbed at his arm and tried to pull
him back, but it was to no avail. His eyes were fixed unblinkingly ahead, and
it sent a chill down her spine just looking at the empty expression that was
pleaded, her voice quiet and
despairing now. 'Just come back home with me.'
He didn't respond,
or give any indication that
he could hear or see her at all. He just kept on walking, briskly—and before
Laura knew it, they had found their way back to the lake. Dusk had fallen fully
now, and the surface of the water was glimmering with the same dark blue hue
that stretched above it. The very sight of it made her feel queasy.
This is crazy!' Tears of
frustration gathered in her eyes and she blinked them quickly away. To her
horror, she saw that Vance was now rapidly shedding his clothes. The garments
dropped to the ground and he made a dash toward the water's edge.
He plunged in,
spreading his arms and legs
wide and floating there with an expression of delight upon his face. Laura's
thoughts swam. Maybe he was suffering from some kind of brain damage due to the
oxygen deprivation that he had suffered earlier? Or perhaps he had struck his
head on a rock or something when he had been in the water. If only she could
get back to the car and get her phone. She needed to call for help. It was—
A sudden sound
close by made her jump, all
other thoughts fleeing her mind instantly. It was the same sound that she had
heard earlier—that deep, throaty sound—but this time it was much nearer.
Goosebumps crawled across her flesh.
she called out to him again, trying
to keep her voice from shaking. Panic threatened to overwhelm her but she tried
to stay calm—even as pulses of dread shot through her body, her nerves
tingling. Something was wrong here. Very wrong indeed. And they needed to get
out of there before—
A gasp escaped
her lips, but she didn't hear
it over the rush of blood in her ears. Amid the trees in front of her, just
feet away, there was a figure. Tall and almost human in its appearance. But not
The skin which
covered its body was reptilian
and as she watched, a forked tongue snaked out from between thin lips to touch
the air. She caught a glimpse of long, razor-sharp teeth and she couldn't
stifle the scream which rose up from deep within her.
was frantic now, backing away
from the creature as it lurched ever closer. 'Vance—get out of there now!
There's something here! Vance—quick, it's coming...'
But as her eyes
darted briefly away from the
creature and towards her boyfriend, she saw the truth. He swam sinuously
towards the bank, a forked tongue darting out from between his lips as he did
so. Another gurgle sounded from deep inside his throat, and the creature that
was approaching Laura made an answering sound.
no, no, no...' she cried, fisting her
hands into her hair as she continued to back away. She knew instinctively what
it was that they wanted. To take her and drag her down into that water, and
turn her into a creature like them. But she couldn't let it happen. She
But she could
see in his eyes that he was
gone. They weren't even his eyes anymore. They had turned a sickening shade of
green, the pupils thin and vertical.
A whimper escaped
her lips and she turned to
run. But as she did so—she saw that there were more of them, closing in on her
from all sides. Hisses and gurgles filled the air, like mocking laughter.
There was no
escape. Nowhere for her to run—just
the glimmering body of water that awaited her as the darkness of night
Samantha has been writing horror fiction
for several years now, ever since completing a writing course in 2012. Since
that time, she has completed three novels, the most recent of which is
currently being looked at by agents. She also regularly write short stories and
poetry for magazines.