Estimated reading time — 20 minutes
I squirted a hefty portion of the nasty smelling disinfectant in a bucket half full of water and mopped the entire house flooring just to ensure there were no germs left. Then I sprayed some disinfectant in the corners of my house–aromatic lavender says the spray bottle–it does smell like lavenders and it manages to kill the stink of that trashy floor disinfectant which had no flavor. Once done with the floor, I took my laundry out, handed it with my yellow rubber gloves and let it soak in the mixture of soapy water and dashed some Dettol in it, took my gloves out and let them sank in that water. There are two things in the world I hated the most: “germs” and “loneliness”. You know how it feels when you’re alone and old and when you lost everything you had but still, you gotta work; not for your family but for yourself, only just to feed your own belly. But there is something that keeps me moving, something that keeps my insanity in check, something that motivates me to tug that starter rope of the motor with my wrinkled, trembling hands and drop tourist or certain passengers to their desired location on this grand lake called the Great Ander Lake.
The lake is spread over 4.3 kilometers. It’s like a huge chunk of the water body on the land. You might think I’m a germaphobe, and still, I took this as a job? Honestly speaking, I hate this job, but I had spent my childhood here; Moving around the lake is like a handling your own untidy pet. The lake is surrounded by eerie woods with tall trees and with very little advancement, it is left alone to deteriorate and when ‘Mother Nature; is left alone her beauty is more evaluated.
My job is basically to help many researchers and their team to understand the lake’s flora and fauna and take them to their desired parts of land encompassing the lake, and the worst part is that when they do their job, I have to stay with them and act like I understand their dialect and their complex machinery and tools and not to forget their demands. Considering this lake, it is so vast that it isn’t yet mapped. Some parts are still anonymous because of McConner. He thinks this lake belongs to his ancestors and now it belongs to him. He filled a lawsuit and for decades this subject was under investigation, but the outcome was bitter to McConner. He lost the case. That was obvious, who the hell owns a lake? After the drama, McConner was pissed. He accepted the judgment and forgot about this lake, and the government began to think about the welfare of the Great Ander Lake. And because of this, I had to spend time mostly with these rock collectors so-called geologist. But usually, I deal with tourist pretty well. This beautiful lake is quite an attraction. I’m very familiar with this lake because my whole childhood elapsed by this lake. I still remember the days when my brother, Jack Willis, and I used to fish by the lake. Back then, catfishes were like a foot long but now fishermen are seldom. That was like thirty years ago but the memory is still fresh. Lots of things changed by the time I got married. My wife and I had to move in the city; I was a technician at a car factory. I still remember cars were made only on customer’s demand but now it is a mass production business. Now every house has a car. Yeah, things change within a blink of an eye. Jack left me in his tender age and some things that could have been abstained.
One afternoon when the sun was in its prime, throwing off the shards of sunlight that reflected off the lake which made them look like granules of light-balls floating on the surface. My house was very close to the lake; it was a small double story house. It is a sort of a lake house you can say with a platform and my own boat tow. I had just finished my lunch and was about to take a nap, but there was a sudden rapping on my front doorstep. I was disgusted. The rapping continued.
“Coming”, I shouted, but the rapping on my door continued ceaselessly.
“Oh God. Hold up.” Spit-droplets discharged from my mouth.
I opened the door, not to forget with a countenance of anger wearing on my face, “What the HE… ” The words died in my throat. I found out that Mr. Becknell, the town sheriff, was on my doorstep. My anger was faded in seconds by just seeing him. I was quite nervous. What might have happened? My eyes were fixated on him. One could have easily identified a “WHAT NOW?” expression on my face. He let himself inside and sprawled on my rugged brown couch, and he took off his sheriff’s hat and placed on his lap and spread his arms wide across the back cushions of the couch. There was no place for me to sit. I took one of the old, rickety chairs from the dining table. Mr. Becknell completely took over the couch; there was no couch left on that couch but only Mr. Becknell. Damn his large body. I placed the chair right in front of him and leaned myself, digging my elbow into my thighs and waiting anxiously for him open his walrus-sized mouth. My foot started tapping against the wooden floor.
“You look disturbed,” said Mr. Becknell, fishing for something in his shirt pockets.
“No, I…I’m good. What brought you here?” I questioned him
“Hold on a sec. Let me grab it for ya…” Still trying to find something in his pocket but this time with more efforts.
“Here we go.” He pulled out a packet of lemon drops. I mean come on!
“Do you want some.” He offered me some of those lemon drops. I refused without hesitation.
“What happened to your hand there? Something wrong? Why is it wrapped in a bandage?”
“Nothing just a cut, I’m okay!” I said furiously. “Get to the point man,” I said, “I need some rest”
“Oh, I see now the age factor is getting in, huh? You should be more careful,” said Mr. Becknell with a grin on face
“You can say that.”
“But you look quite fit for a fifty-two-year man”
“Yeah, and you’re not that bad for the fourth-year-old.”
“Yeah, your right.” Rolling that lemon drop in his mouth. “Tell you what, we got a visitor in the town. He is some sort Hydrologist, whose job is to study the stream flow, PH levels and…”
“Yeah, I got it,” I interrupted him.
“I want you to take him to the southern region of the lake. You have been there, right?” Everyone in the town knew about that.
“You want me to take that guy over there—but you know what happened there.”
“Yes, I do. But that’s an official order. Can’t resist the authority”
“Do you think what I told you was a lie… about what I saw there that day? Do you think I’m just joking around?” I stood up. My face was red and the veins on my forehead protruded.
“Calm down. I believe you and everyone in town too, but I can’t help it.” He gestured me sit down, “If you want, you can meet the officials and let them…”
“No. No.” I interrupted. “I’ll take him there. Tomorrow. eleven am sharp. But only until two pm, that’s it. Not more than that or else I’ll leave without him, you understand me?” I said cheerlessly.
“That’s the answer I like to hear,” he acknowledged.
Mr. Becknell lifted himself off the couch, leaving behind a huge crevasse on cushions.
“Tomorrow morning,” he said and took his sheriffs hat and his sunglasses from his breast pocket and opened the front door, letting the warm light enter the room. He stood in the doorway. Standing there like a cowboy against the backdrop of blazing sunlight. I could only see his dark silhouette.
“Tomorrow, 3 pm sharp. Be ready. I’ll be there with Mr. Kay, till then good-day, Jim.” And bang. The door was shut again and again the darkness occupied the veins of my living room and also of my mind.
That night was long and an uneasy one and the morning was dim, adding fuel to my terror. The sky was owned by turbid clouds. I packed my backpack with certain essentials required for this trip. I dressed in a blue and white flannel shirt and tucked it into my blue jeans. My greyish black hair was proper and cleanly self-trimmed and my beard was outgrown and bushy, but somehow it complimented my look; I topped it off with a navy-blue field cap. I had a glanced at the clock, an hour to go till then I’ll have something to eat. I had some eggs by the time it was already quarter to eleven. I sat on the sofa, anxiously waiting for Mr. Becknell’s arrival with his hydrol… something I can’t pronounce. I had finished smoking my third cigarette when suddenly I heard a thud on my door, and I panted on that smoke inside my lungs. I coughed hard and open the door. It was Mr. Becknell with another man beside him. My eyes were watering and bloodshot.
“You all right?” Mr. Becknell asked.
“Yeah,” I said, clearing my throat
“Jim, this is Mr. Jeff Kay.”
“Hello” I offered him my right hand, for the left Band-Aid hand was busy with my queasy throat. His hand disappeared in my huge grip. Mr. Kay appeared to be a guy in his early thirties, blonde slick back, scrawny build. He wore a loose jacket that made him look even skinnier than he actually was.
“Please come in,” I insisted. They let themselves in. “Will you like tea, coffee or anything else?” I hate doing this but I have to adapt in this hospitable world.
“Just water,” Mr. Kay ordered while examining my house.
“There you go,” I offered him a glass of water and watched him finishing it.
“Thank you,” he said and got up from the couch and was soon strolling around my living room.
“Nice house you have here,” he said and lifted a car model sitting on my shelf.
“Yeah, it’s old but strong,” I said. Beside the car model, he noticed a photo frame that I didn’t want him to notice but it was too late now.
“This must be your family, Jim?” He asked
“Yeah,” I said. He looked up and found me very close to him. I snatched that photo frame from him and placed it back on the shelf, facedown. Apparently, he was not expecting it from me. His expression was like I had just performed a magic trick and had left him flabbergasted.
“Never mind,” he said, forcing a smile.
“I think we should be leaving by now. It’s already past eleven,” I said, looking at Mr. Becknell who was messing with my steering wheel showpiece on the wall.
“You hear me? Mr. Becknell,” I said sternly.
“Oh, what are we waiting for, lads?” Mr. Becknell said with a fake enthusiasm and dashed towards the doors. We both watched him leave my house.
“I’ll be right behind, you go ahead,” I commanded. Jeff obeyed. And followed Mr. Becknell out the door.
I took my olive-green jacket from the wardrobe and lifted my backpack. It felt heavy, very heavy, but there no chance I could remove anything thing from it. I went out. I could see Jeff and Mr. Becknell under a tree, very close the lake, having a conversation and they stopped suddenly when I approached and faced me.
“All set,” Jeff asked. And again, that fake looking grin which I hate.
“Yeah, all set,” I said and Jeff left us and moved closer to the lake. “Listen… have you told him about the deadline, till two pm only? Have you?” I said while rage boiled in my lungs.
“Calm down, you don’t have to worry about anything. It would only take a few hours. Trust me. You’ll be back in no time,” he said calmly.
“Whatever, if we don’t return after four, you have to come and find us,” I said in spuriously angst voice.
“All right, chief,” Mr. Becknell said, patting my back.
I headed towards my boat, loaded my bag and found another man already occupying a seat.
“Who’s this guy?” I asked Jeff who was beside me.
“Ah that’s my assistant Kevin,” Jeff said without any enthusiasm.
“I thought you were alone.”
“No,” he said and again that fake grin, oh god. Kevin. He didn’t look like an assistant to me. He looked more like a butcher than an assistant of a hydrologist; Yeah, really rugged, jeans sleeveless red shirt, a baseball ball and thick moustache and sideburns; doesn’t certify to assist anyone.
“Alright,” I said with dismay and took my seat near the aft. I began to inspect the motor and boat from inside.
“Come on old man,” I heard a slightly nasal voice from the front seats. To my astonishment it was Kevin. There was a huge gap between me and them because our stuff was placed between us, occupying the whole middle of the boat.
“Alright, hold on tight,” I said, unleashing the boat from the little wooden dock and our venture began.
The lake was still but the sky was dull. I thought it might rain in few hours. I was hoping it won’t take long for us to get the job done. Our boat was slicing through greenish water that reflected the overcast sky distinctly. It could have been a beautiful day except for the weather; it could switch its temper anytime. Not to mention I hate when it’s raining; you can’t trust the winds in such weather. It’s quite a huge lake. It’s a pain in the ass to sit still and steer the boat for long. Yeah, a real pain in the ass. But it’s really soothing to watch the view around: dense woods by your side, a fleet of birds passing above you and eerie sounds your ears hear. I’m used to it and I love it.
“How long will it take for us to reach there?” Jeff asked, his voice muffled by the chugging motor.
“If we go at this speed It will take another half hour or even less,” I said.
“Then go at full speed dammit,” Kevin interrupted.
“I can’t. It’s getting windy and it’s quite challenging to steer against the wind,” I explained him but that numb-nut couldn’t pick what I said. He kept yelling something that wasn’t audible.
“So, for how long have you been doing this, the hydrologist thing, you look young. The only people like you I meet are old, as much as of my age. What made you do this?” I asked Jeff who was admiring the view.
He didn’t say anything; even Kevin’s eyes were stuck on Jeff for an answer. After a while he spoke, “Ah, I’ve been doing this for quite some time now. I think for past four years. I live in Penshaw but for now, Holden is my home, and I don’t know for how long I’ll stay here.”
“So, you like working as a hydrologist?” I questioned him.
“Yeah, it goes in my blood. My dad was a topographer.”
“Oh, I see, and what about you Kevin?” The rattling of the motor killed my voice but Jeff seemed to have heard it just the same.
“He is just from the town and here to help me. Kevin doesn’t belong to this field,” Jeff said.
“Oh, I see,” I said, looking at Kevin.
“I had to ask you something. I hope you don’t mind?” said Jeff.
“Yeah sure, if it’s related to the lake.”
“No, it’s about you.”
“About me?” I was surprised. “What about me?”
“The photograph I saw later this morning, was that your wife?”
I just felt like diving in this lake and swimming away from Jeff but in this scenario, it is not possible, and somehow, I managed to speak out.
“Yeah, that’s was my wife Joanne.”
“Oh, where is she?”
I don’t wanna answer him but… “She’s dead,” I said.
“Oh, I’m so sorry.”
Yeah, like, first you come up with a knocking blow and say sorry like I didn’t mean to hurt you but you already did, son.
“Can I ask you what happened to your wife?” said Jeff anxiously; not expecting an answer.
I didn’t feel like answering it but finally contemplating my thoughts, I spewed out
“She was a doctor and she caught a bacterial infection of a patient and that took her life,” I said without looking at him.
“Oh, she didn’t have proper precautions?”
“Her team of doctors was in a hurry. It was something different. They had never seen something like this before. It was an emergency and she forgot her gloves which made her exposed to the infection. And since then I’m a kinda germaphobe.
“I can’t tell anything more about it.”
“How long it has been, her death?”
“I think six months. Maybe eight and after her death, I moved to Holden where I was born.”
“It’s so sad to hear that.” He reached for me and patted my back. Frankly, that was unnecessary.
Jeff took something from his pocket and began to examine it; it was shiny I thought it was a mirror.
“I think we are going in the wrong direction,” he said, looking again to his device that appeared to be a compass.
“We are going east. We have to go south,” he said, looking at me suspiciously.
“Oh, yes, you are right. I lost the track in our conversation.” And laughed it off.
“Are you alright, Old man?” popped Kevin.
“Yeah, I’m alright,” I said nonchalantly.
Jeff didn’t mind, but he kept asking questioning to me and I mostly avoided answering him. I mean, come on, it’s my life.
After a few moments, I could see magnolia trees protruding at distance on the southern horizon.
“This is it. That’s our destination,” I announced, “within few minutes, we’ll be there.”
“Excellent,” said Jeff.
“Well I have to ask you one more question,” said Jeff, looking at Kevin.
No more question now, Come on!
“Okay, I’m hoping it’s the last one.”
“What do you know about the monster of this lake?”
That question made me swallow hard. And rivulets of sweat began to flow down my forehead.
“What monster you are talking about?” I asked, faking a surprised look.
“Come on, don’t act silly, you are the one who spread the word about that beast or monster or whatever that thing is. Becknell told me.”
“That asshole,” I said bitterly. “You know about that monster and still you wanna come here?”
“Sorry, it’s my job,” said Jeff. “So, tell me more about that beast you saw here that day?”
What the hell, I can’t tell how badly I want to go back and beat the shit outta Becknell.
“So, this is how it goes. I often come south for fishing, the only area where you can fish or you can say where fish exist and they are mostly extinct from other parts. And on one fine day, I was just fishing like I usually do. I heard a shrill cry from the woods–like an elephant, but it wasn’t an elephant. I took a turn and bang I was down. I saw a tall figure, twice of my length and it had huge claws and long protruding ears.”
“It must have been a bear,” interrupted Kevin.
“No… No… it appeared to be too skinny for a bear, and he tried to attack me with his claws. I tried to shield myself with my hands, and its claw dug deeper into my forearms, see my hand!” I showed him my band-aid-wrapped arm. “It hasn’t healed since.” Jeff looked intrigued. “Somehow, I managed to escape with my bleeding hand and fled away from him, and still that roar haunts me”
“I could take him down with ease,” said Kevin.
“Good luck,” I said. Fuck you bitch.
“The monster seemed scary, huh Kevin?” said Jeff.
“Not at all,” said Kevin.
Now, I saw the shore was only a few meters away from us, and I cut off the motor and began to row the boat with an oar. And finally, we hit the infamous land. Kevin was the first to alight from the boat, followed by Jeff. They unload the boat with their stuff: they had two bags. But my single backpack seemed heavier than theirs. I dropped my backpack and unzipped it and took a small conical shaped pipe-like device carved from wood and began to blow air from its butt, which resonated a very loud like a steamer horn sound that echoed in across the dense woods.
“What the hell are you doing?” asked Kevin, looking disgusted.
“This will keep the beast and the other animals away from us.” I showed him my horn. “I made it myself.”
Jeff and Kevin looked pissed off.
“You don’t have to do that,” Jeff said calmly
“But It will help us conducting the experiments.”
“Listen, no experiments going to be held here. You understand me?”
I was baffled. “Then why are we here?”
“We are here for the beast,” said Jeff. And I gasped.
Kevin unzipped his bag and took out a Remington model 1100 shotgun and started loading it, shell by shell. And Jeff took out a camouflaged cross-bow from his bag. I stood frozen and just kept looking at them. Jeff began adjusting the string of the crossbow and attached a telescopic sight on top of it. He then took out a quiver full of arrows from his bag and tied behind his back. For the moment I thought: just to run away!
But I can’t.
“I didn’t sign up for this?” I said but they both didn’t hear me and acted like I wasn’t there. “I’m sorry but I’m leaving. I’m not into this, you have to come with me. I’ll confront you to Becknell and he’ll penalize you for carrying such weapons.” I was scared to death but I spoke with all my guts. It’s a scam,” I added
“Sheriff Becknell? He is involved in this,” said Kevin aiming the surrounding with his gun.
“We could do this with you or without you my friend,” said Jeff.
I noticed a change in his voice; it went from gentleman-like to barbaric, just like Kevin’s.
Jeff continued. “Jim, Jim… come on man. We are in this together. Tomorrow’s newspaper front page will be covered with the pictures of us three and the dead beast lying at our heels. Come on, don’t ruin that picture for me.”
I had to appreciate his manipulating skills. He still had that charm in his voice.
“Okay, you stay here and we’ll be back in no time, and we’ll give you equal credit, right Kevin?” said Jeff.
“Yeah whatever…” said Kevin.
“Look if you think you could stop him with your puny toys then you’re wrong, completely wrong!” I warned them.
“But it is worth a shot, later this month Kevin and I caught a croc that was this big.” Extending his arms as wide as he can. “We are used to this shit.”
“This completely a different thing; we not dealing with crocs here. It is more of a supernatural thing,” I said
“Supernatural? Don’t tell me it’s ghost.”
“It can be,” I said in an alarming tone.
“Okay, let’s find it out—you can stay here and we’ll be back soon.”
“I’ll come with you, if you don’t mind,” I said.
“That’s wonderful,” said Jeff, elated.
I went near the boat and took the oar out from it for my protection and joined them.
I unzipped my backpack and took out a yellow pair of rubber gloves and began to wear them. It was difficult for me to put it onto my left hand. The left hand was aching badly, but somehow, I managed to do so. And then came an anti-pollution mask on my face. I don’t what the bacteria these wood habitats.
“Ah look at you,” Jeff said,
And we headed deep into the woods and soon we were engulfed by the dense tall trees and wet, soggy ground. It started to drizzle. I saw Jeff moving very slowly ahead of us and started using hand signs that I couldn’t decipher but Kevin could. Jeff stopped and started talking to me.
“Where was the last time you saw that beast?” In a low tone.
“At the shore and then I don’t know,” I said, matching his tone
“You don’t know?” said Kevin. “Have even been here?”
“Yes, look at those empty cans of food. Those were eaten by me when the last time I visited this place.” Pointing at the cans lying near the trees.
They said nothing and moved on. The drizzle turned into a heavy rainfall. We momentarily stopped and looked above us and took shelter under a nearby, huge tree. Jeff cursed the rain but it won’t help to fade the rain away. Instead, it burst even more heavily. Kevin’s eye caught something and pointed his finger on his lips and aimed for something at distance. Kevin was about to pull the trigger and I saw something to my left and yelled.
“The Beast… Beast look!” Kevin swung his gun until its muzzle was pointing in the same direction of my finger. He fired a shot. There was no one there. Then we saw a shadowy figure moving ahead of us and getting away. They both ran, and I didn’t know if I should follow them or not. I followed them. I had to follow them. Trying to match their pace and battling the falling rain that hindered my vision, I heard a gunshot. Then they started slowing down and at a certain point, they stopped, and I joined them.
“Look at your beast,” said Kevin, pointing his gun at a carcass.
It was a white-tailed deer, lying motionlessly with opened eyes and oozing blood from its abdomen.
“What a waste of shell,” said Kevin, frowning at me.
We went deeper into the woods. It ceased raining but all our clothes were soaked and even my bag was wet and heavy and that made me exhausted very quickly. But their energy hadn’t wavered at all: They wanted to hunt the beast no matter what. Their determination was scaring me.
“Look, guys, time’s up. We have to go now. We can return to this place someday or on tomorrow.” I sat near a tree, gasping for air. “We had a deal, you remember?”
“We? No…no… You and Becknell had a deal,” said Jeff.
“Come on guys, it’s four already, and It will get dark soon,” I said.
They completely ignored me and kept waddling through the woods. The rain had stopped and but the dew was falling on us, and a musty smell of decaying trees filled the air. I knew they were tired too, but they didn’t show their tiredness.
They after the beast no matter what.
I like their dedication and perseverance but it could be fatal and even their last mistake. Jeff stooped and talked about something with Kevin and switched to stealth mode, leaning down their heads as they began to crawl across the mud, and I did the same.
“What happened?” I asked Kevin. He said nothing and pointed ahead. I protruded my head and saw a small hut like a structure which was made with local trees and grass.
“It must be where the beast stays,” Said Jeff his eyes fixated on the hut.
“Look, guys, it could turn ugly! Let’s just get outta here,” I said.
“Shut that hole of yours, alright?” said Jeff.
“Do whatever you feel like. I’m leaving with my boat,” I said.
Jeff and Kevin stood up. I was still lying down. Kevin grabbed me by the neck and punched the wind outta me. I had never felt anything like that in my 58-year-old life. The oar slipped out from my hands. I was holding my abdomen in uncountable pain, and then Jeff knocked me out with a kick right on my face. I was down for a count. I tried getting to my feet but crumpled down again. They surrounded me and started kicking the heck outta me. And finally, Kevin aimed for the skull. I could see two gun’s barrels close to face but actually, it was only one. I couldn’t see anything clearly, everything was burly and distorted. And I closed my eyes and thought this is it, I’m going to die here. I heard a loud thud and something dropped beside me. It was Kevin, bleeding from his head and I could see a sharp stone stuck in his skull. Jeff was baffled but much scared and began to shoot his arrows at anything that was moving. At a distance, I saw a silhouette figure of a man or women and Jeff was aiming at it. With all my strength I got onto my knees and picked up the oar and swung the oar at Jeff’s legs and he lost his balance and fell to the ground with a grunt.
“Run! Joanne! Run!” I screamed with all my lungs out and the silhouetted figure faded away deep in the woods. And I passed out.
When I woke up I found myself tied with ropes, and I felt like I was in a straight-jacket. Looking around, I realize I had been brought back near the shore. Jeff and Kevin were patrolling me.
“So, what is your wife doing here?” Asked Kevin with a cloth soaked in blood and dripping out tied on his head.
“She was always here,” I said, trying to break free.
“Why?” asked Jeff.
“She is sick,” I said.
“Why don’t you treat her?” asked Kevin and sat in front of me.
“Her disease incurable,” I said.
“Stop your bullshit and bring her here now. Call her now,” said Jeff
I had no other choice but to call her here. Now that they know the beast is my wife, they wouldn’t shoot her. Hopefully.
“Grab that horn from my bag,” I said.
Jeff looked confused and gestured Kevin to do so, and he took it out.
“Blow in it from the opposite side,” I said.
Kevin didn’t. He handed it to Jeff and he blew it from the opposite side and loud high-pitched whistle filled the air. After a few minutes, a figure started getting visible amid the woods. It was getting closer. Kevin stood up and Jeff got alerted. It was Joanne; her white skin was no longer white. It was covered in burns. Her face had brown patches of the wound and there were barely any hairs on her head like her body was scraped with some stone-tool, and she looked somewhat mummified because rugged gown she was wearing. Jeff and Kevin were scared to death. They aimed at her while moving away from her.
“This is not a human… It is an alien,” said Kevin in a voice that shaking with horror.
“Please don’t shoot she is completely harmless,” I said
“So, this is the beast of the lake. I see you were trying to protect her, and so you spread the rumor of the beast. Yeah, I know society would never bare a thing like her. I mean look at her! what a filthy creature! But I have to appreciate your story but this is going to end soon.”
My barrel of emotion was rolling between sadness and anger. But they both appeared on my face. Joanne rushed toward me; she didn’t like me tied like that.
“Look what your husband got for you,” said Jeff, emptying my backpack. “See, dozens of food cans and water bottles, and look he got a dress for you. I was wondering why it looked so heavy.”
Suddenly, Kevin passed out and was barely making a move. Jeff examined him.
“Come on boy, it will be over soon, stay with me,” said Jeff.
But Kevin didn’t seem to respond. Jeff thought Kevin was dead. He stuck his ears close to Kevin’s chest.
“You’re alive, boy. Keep up,” said Jeff. “I’ll deal with you later.” He told me. “First, I’ll take my boy to the hospital.” Jeff was lost in oblivion. He was going crazy, watching his friend bleeding to death. Jeff lifted Kevin and put Kevin’s head under his arms and steered him to the boat, and to everyone’s surprise, we saw another boat coming toward the shore. It was Mr. Becknell. Jeff knew he was in danger and Began to shoot arrows at Becknell. He dogged them and retaliated with his service pistol. Becknell jumped in the shallow water and waddle through the shore. Jeff dropped Kevin and remained hidden behind the boat. I and Joanne were the only audience to this gunfight. Jeff took the shotgun and fired blindly at Becknell. It didn’t deal any damage to Becknell. He raised his pistol and Shot Jeff in his shoulder. Jeff crawled from behind the boat and was soon begging for mercy.
“Drop your gun!” said Becknell and Jeff obeyed and raised his hands.
He looked at me and then at Joanne, and then asked me who was she? I explained him everything.
“At least you should have told me,” said Becknell. I had no answer to that.
“I’ll cuff these lunatics, and we’ll go straight to the police station,” said Becknell
“Alright,” I said and looked at Joanne.
Out of the Blue, Kevin crawled up and grabbed Becknell’s knees, trying to trip him off.
“Shoot him,” said Kevin, putting all his strength to trip Becknell to the muddy bank.
Jeff took Kevin’s shotgun and aimed at Becknell. All this time Joanne was busy cutting the rope for me with a sharp piece of rock, and I untangled myself and ran and grabbed that barrel. Jeff misfired. Becknell stomped Kevin with his foot and tried to grab that shotgun of him. His finger was on the trigger all the time and could have shot anyone of us anytime. He hit the trigger, and a loud blast made my ears go numb, and the smoke hindered my vision. But I was still clinging at that shotgun. The smoked cleared and I saw Becknell lying down in the mud. Joanne tried hitting Jeff, but he pushed her off quite easily. I saw Joanne falling down and was heated and pulled the gun off Jeff and kicked him on his stomach and shot right between his eyes. Jeff was down. His head flew apart. He collapsed like a house of cards, and I tried to shoot him again but I was out of bullets. I threw the gun away and dropped onto my knees. That was my lucky shot.
I checked on Joanne. I have no idea what to do. Becknell, Kevin, and Jeff were gone. There was no longer a bandage wrapped around my hand and the wounds were similar to Joanne’s. I was infected. I knew it long ago. I carried all three of them, one by one, and loaded them in the boats, turned the motor on and set the boats free to the horizon in a hope that it will reach back to the place where we had begun. Joanne hugged me; she had tears in her eyes, and we watched the boats disappear into the sunset.
CREDIT : Sumedh Jadhav