30-Day Flash Challenge, Day 4
Earlier stories in this series.
Many miles away
There’s a shadow on the door
Of a cottage on the shore
Of a dark Scottish lakeThe POLICE, Synchronicity 2
Folks that lived in the valley swore the sun never shone on the deep, dark pond and that the gnarled trees with their black, sickly leaves and gray, splotchy bark, the deformed flowers, and all the deformed animals in the valley were caused by something in the water. “It’s bad,” they told the visitors who’d wandered into their cursed valley, don’t drink the water from the pond, don’t linger near the pond, locals suggested helpfully. Usually, the visitors, sensing some authentic weariness, heeded the advice.
In 1913’s, upstate New York developers were unaccustomed to cursed properties. When H. R. Parnassus, III, the oil baron turned real estate developer, bought Devil’s Paintbrush Lake and the surrounding 1100 acres for a fraction of what he shrewdly sensed it was worth, he didn’t think to wonder why.
He planned to open a lake resort, a summer getaway for people in the city. The problem was, the place where he had decided to build was less than 13 miles from the dark pond.
The place opened under the shadow of having four construction workers die within the last seven days of construction. But they did open, and, for a while, there was a pleasant buzz about the place. The area held mysteries; they whispered conspiratorially to their first visitors – leaning into the haunted rumors rather than trying to distance themselves from the tall tales.
Within the first two weeks of opening, thirteen resort visitors committed suicide.
Terry and Timmy, identical twelve-year-old twins that had always struggled with melancholia, woke in the middle of the night and walked the 13 miles to the pond. The police suspected they went for a midnight swim in the deep, dark pond. They never found their bodies. The only evidence they had even been there was their clothes left on the ugly, fish carcass-littered shore.
All told, only five of the resort’s first month’s customers people survived the first month; none of them like to talk about the place even now, 17 years later.
The Great Depression displaced hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. When the man learned about the abandoned resort, he made plans to leave the city. So he and his wife (neither of whom had ever put any stock in the rumors) decided to live in one of the abandoned resort buildings. They planned to stay at least until the financial situation righted itself.
They had been college sweethearts and had lost everything when the stock market collapsed. They had nowhere to turn; both of their families had moved to California in 1928. They had only one another. They were okay with this arrangement – they seldom disagreed and had never fought, not a proper dispute with raised voices or threats to abandon the other.
“This will work for us,” he says, kissing her forehead. “There’s nothing here that can hurt us here.”
“I know that; why must you always speak to me as if I were still a child?” she snaps.
His jaw dropped. He knew he should address it, but was unsure how best to proceed.
While the young couple warily moved about each other in their new quarters, on the shore of the pond many miles away, dozens of deformed, blind fish beached themselves and began energetically flopping their way towards death.
It was already too late for the couple; they were both already under the influence of it.
For centuries it has struggled to extricate itself from the pond. It would feed upon the suffering of the animals and those that wandered near the place. Then, in 1913, it had come close to escaping the pond altogether. It longed to be free. To feast upon human suffering. With the deaths in 1913, it had risen to within eleven feet of the pond’s surface.
For seventeen years, it waited patiently, suspended eleven feet below the pond’s surface.
When he took her that night, he was a changed man. He was usually an attentive lover. That night, he was a man possessed. He was not gentle; he was brutal, selfish, and cruel.
For a while, she found the change interesting if not agreeable, but then something possessed her as well.
She matched his energetic, aggressive punches, slaps, and bites with her own.
Somehow she slyly managed to get the upper hand and tied him, spreadeagled, to the bed.
Somewhere under the bleeding, screaming mess of a man, she could still see the shy fourteen-year-old boy as he awkwardly approached her and asked her to accompany him to the county fair dance.
She decided to take a break. Kevin wasn’t going anywhere. A snack she thought would help her energy, so she made her way to the abandoned kitchen.
When the developers left here, they left in a hurry. The kitchen was still fully stocked with the latest gadgetry, pots, pans, chopping boards, utensils, mixing bowls, and knives. Glorious long racks of long, sharp steel knives; glinting in the moonlight from the tall windows. She can feel the light slide into her brain, whispering mad messages of mayhem. In seconds, Linda receives an entire class in the best ways to cut someone so that they didn’t die, at least not right away; where was the fun in that?
Many miles away, in the dark wood where the sun never shone, and the tree branches were gnarled, in the pond with the blind, deformed fish, in a space where it had patiently hovered motionless for seventeen years, the monolith began to rise again.