Estimated reading time — 6 minutes
Albanie put her bare feet in the water and leaned back on her arms. She had her jeans rolled up to her knees. The night sky sparkled with a billion stars above her. She couldn’t imagine a more perfect moment. She was so happy that she decided to take this trip by herself, even after everyone else bailed out. They were worried about the rumors about the lake, and she knew it. They all used excuses, like needing to work or a sister’s birthday party, but she knew. She wasn’t afraid though. She wasn’t afraid of anything.
She wasn’t even startled when she heard twigs crackling in a nearby bush. She looked over at the shrubbery and watched it, expecting to see some form of wildlife, but she didn’t see a thing. If it was a timid animal, she assumed she should make a noise. Aloud she told it, “I guess you and I are sharing the lake tonight, huh?”
At first she was met with silence. Nothing ran away. Nothing came forward. She guessed she startled it into a camouflage mode, where the creature would stay still and hope she went away. She shrugged and looked out across the lake. The waves came up and brushed the backs of her rolled up jeans, but she didn’t care. She had a fresh pair of pants in her tent after all. Who wouldn’t want to relax in this water?
From the hidden shoreline, shrouded by bushes and trees, something splashed in the water. Albanie frowned at the deep ripples that drifted her way from the impact. Maybe it was the creature she scared. It could have been anything. It could have been a little perch for all she knew. She watched the water for a while, to make sure nothing was sneaking up on her feet, then tilted her head back to look at the stars.
They were softly twinkling in the sky above her. They reminded her of how great it was to be there. She didn’t get this sort of thing in the city. It was always go, go, go. There was never any Albanie-time. She was getting that time now, all to herself.
At least she thought she was. In a matter of seconds, she felt a hand on her ankle and it gave her a yank. She screamed as she slid through the pebbles along the water’s edge. Her arms gave out from under her and that she fell back against the rocks. By the time she stopped moving, the waves were teasing the tops of her shoulder blades with cool water. She kicked at whatever had her ankle and tried to sit up to look at the culprit as she tried to get away.
As she rose onto her elbows once again, her legs thrashing wildly, her eyes caught a terrible sight. In the water, holding onto her leg with a web-fingered hand, was a creature unlike one she had ever seen. It had huge black eyes and a wide mouth. All she could see of it was its torso, arms, and its head. It hissed at her, revealing its pointed teeth. She screamed again as she fought harder to get away.
“Share the lake tonight,” it mimicked her in a raspy, under-used voice. She screamed again and started to cry as she twisted and kicked at it. Its skin was cold and slick, like a fish. Louder it yelled at her over the sound of the water flailing around them, “Share the lake tonight!”
“No! No!” Albanie screamed in absolute terror. The thing had a firm hold on her ankle. It ignored her thrashing, even as she kicked him. It just stared at her with its mouth just barely parted. Its teeth gleamed out at her. It yanked at her once again, pulling her deeper into the water and causing her to fall. She screamed again, spitting out water as she did. She thrashed about again, and her leg touched something odd, the lower part of this thing was basically solid. She didn’t feel any legs. She forced herself to rise up again. She looked at it with tears blurring her vision and it calmly looked back at her. She pleaded, “I don’t know what you are, but let me go. Please let me go!”
“We share,” it told her, mimicking her pleading tone. “We share. We share. We share.”
“No please, no,” She pleaded, her face wet from tears and lake water. “No.”
The creatures face twisted angrily. It demanded, “Share the lake tonight! We share!”
“I just want to stay on the shore,” she cried. “Please, I can’t swim well.”
“Swim?” the thing asked. Slowly, it started to pull her out. She could feel something like a flipper or a fin brushing her calf.
“No! No! I can’t swim! I can’t swim!” She objected. She pushed her hands into the pebbles beneath the water and tried to stay up right. She knew how to swim well enough that she could go in shallow waters. She just didn’t want to go in with this thing. She wanted to go home, far away and never come back. This thing, whatever it was, seemed to listen, sort of. She hoped to get it across to it that she wanted away before it dragged her under.
“Can’t swim,” It repeated. It blinked at her. It seemed to be getting it. It mouthed the words as if it was sinking in. Finally, its eyes lit up with a sense of knowing. As it yanked her further and further into the water, ignoring her screams as it chanted loudly, happily, “Can’t swim. Can’t swim. Can’t swim. Can’t swim! Can’t swim!”
She thrashed around, trying to tug her legs away from it and scrambled to keep a hold on the shoreline as it pulled her out deeper and deeper. She struggled to keep her head above water. Sometimes she would go under and she would have to fight to get air. Every time she would go beneath the surface, she would come back up spitting water. She knew this would be the end of her. She was going to be murdered by some creature in the lake that wouldn’t stop chanting “can’t swim”. She was still so young yet! How could this have happened to her? She saw her life flash before her eyes, and by the time the show was over, they stopped moving.
All of the sudden, the thing let go of her ankle, she fought to stay above the water’s surface. She couldn’t feel the bottom and the shore seemed far away. They were out in very deep water. She heaved for air as she bawled. Right in front of her, the thing watched with its enormous black eyes. Its raspy voice was much softer now as it chanted, “Swim, swim, swim.”
Swim was all she could do as it began to move away from her and said, “Share lake. Swim.”
It ducked under the water, and a second later she saw a tail moving away just under the surface. It looked like a seal’s tail or something like that. She didn’t wait around another moment. She swam as fast as she could towards shore. Her technique was lacking and slow in comparison to someone that knew how to do more than paddle along. It took her a little while to get to the water’s edge. As got into shallow enough water to stand, she trudged towards shore.
The going was slow, but she quickened her pace as much as possible when she heard from somewhere nearby, “Swim. Swim. Swim. Swim!”
She let out a cry and moved as fast as she could. She could hear something move up behind her as she moved up on shore, onto the rocks. She didn’t stop running until she was in the grass. It was only then that she was brave enough to turn back and look. At the edge of the waves, the creature sat with its arms on the rocks and its gray tail glistening in the moonlight. The look in its eyes could only be described as wounded and angry. It was then that it occurred to her that this thing was what all the rumors were about in regards to this lake. There was supposed to be some monster fish here and a ghost. The fish was massive and it was impossible to catch. The ghost would watch partiers and campers from the brush near the water. They were all wrong. It was this thing.
She stared at it in wonder, and it looked like a child that couldn’t have a toy. It reached out to her and she backed away quickly. Albanie kept backing away until she ran into the side of her tent. She slide down the side and her foot landed the wrong way on a stick. She yelped and looked longingly at her shoes down by the water’s edge, near the creature. The thing seemed to visibly sigh before turning back towards the water and slithering out into the waves. Albanie was left to grab a few of her things and hike back to her car without any shoes to cover her feet. There was no way she was going near the water again.
Credit To – Nixie B. Vilda