Horror of Hidden Pond
by M. L. Fortier
“Don’t go there!” This
is what my mother had said. In this,
she was repeating what all the local moms told their progeny. The “there” was a
hidden pond in the middle of the woods, behind our house. At the edge of the
forest stood a cemetery, by an old convent. No longer could we spy a sign of
life at the convent; one by one, the nuns had mysteriously disappeared.
The cemetery was reputed to be the haunt
of druids or devil
worshippers who called down evil spirits.
For a ten-year-old boy (my name—Robert
Helms), it was an
irresistible attraction. Also, being rather slight, I was subjected to
ridicule, called “chicken” and “scaredy-cat,” so that I knew I would have to
confront my fears.
A young girl I liked, Alice, was brave
enough to risk it. So,
one evening, we plotted to go to Hidden Pond, where a prehistoric monster was
said to lurk out from the muck and devour young children.
“Don’t go there!” Why
didn’t Alice and I listen to our mothers’
This was seventy years ago, and I have
lived with this horror
all this time. I have dwelled in my parents’ crumbling house as an old
bachelor. I set down this account of these terrible events, so as to win some
sort of redemption for my sad role in them.
Alice and I walked slowly through the creaking
oaks and yews.
I could tell she was every bit as scared as I was. In the warm, humid evening,
the insects and birds were strangely silent.
Finally, we reached the edge of Hidden
Pond. No lights or
movements could we detect in the ancient convent. We did not hear any chanting
of devil worshippers, although my imagination conjured up scenes of druids in
white robes processing with lit torches, chanting in a deep drone. Twilight
purples descended quickly, and we knew we had little time before worried
parents would come looking for us.
The pond itself seemed calm and no breezes
rippled the layer
of smelly algae on the surface.
Alice smiled. “See, it is
a lot of bunk to frighten little children.”
“That seems right, but don’t
get too close,” I said.
She gazed at me. “You’re not
afraid now, are you?”
“No,” I stammered.
Alice eased to the edge of the pond. “See,
to worry about.”
Suddenly, the swampy water roiled. A large
out with unnatural speed, and locked its jaws on Alice’s leg, drawing her
slowly, inexorably into the water.
She screamed, “Help!”
should have grabbed
a stone, a branch—anything—and attacked the beast.
I’d turned to ice and could not move.
Alice was dragged into the decaying reeds,
and the churning
waves turned blackish-red with blood.
She was gone.
The next day, no one
spoke of Alice, or of her disappearance. No one questioned me. There seemed to
be a local conspiracy to hush the thing up.
My parents looked at me with pity, and
so did the other
Yet, I knew
happened, and the memories of her screams and the blood-red water have haunted
me all my life.
In an instant, I branded myself a coward,
unfit for Alice, or
any woman’s love.
I am a stooped and white-bearded man, now.
With this account,
I have brought back all the old horror. When I am done, I shall burn this journal.
It is not for other eyes.
“Don’t go there!” We
M. L. Fortier has over 25 stories in
print: mainstream and genre. Black Petals has published a number of her horror
stories. An award-winning author, she
has also taught writing at various