BEWARE! DARK SEAS: A LOVERS’ ROW BY KEVIN LEWIS
Welcome to Beware! Dark Seas Halloween showcase, an annual author & artist showcase that features talented creators. Come back each day, the entire month of October for a scare! Prepare for dark stories, myths & legends, and creepy creations that will make the hair on the nape of your neck stand up straight. May the water have mercy on your soul.
A LOVERS’ ROW
BY KEVIN LEWIS
“Are you sure we should be out here?” Carla Naples said, shivering from the cold.
“Why not?” Hank Timonds answered his date. “It’s my boat and there’s no one out here to stop us. Besides, the ocean is beautiful at night.”
Hank regarded Carla with caution. He didn’t want to frighten her. He liked her. Carla was a very attractive woman with bright blonde hair and he definitely enjoyed her company. This was their third date and he was very hopeful the relationship was going to work. Hank had met her through his best friend and former Harkenville High School football teammate, Bill Thompson. So far, he thought things were going well.
The night was calm and peaceful, which Hank was grateful. They had been out on the water for at least an hour, setting off from Bay Point Pier just as dusk had settled, creating a dark but romantic mood. Crickets softly chirped in the distance.
As Hank rowed the boat, he noticed that Carla was still not at ease with being out in the ocean at night. “Just relax, Carla. Nothing will get you out here. I promise.”
It took her a few seconds but Carla finally believed him and breathed a sigh of relief. Still holding on to the oars, Hank leaned forward, and the two passionately kissed. Hank wanted the kiss to last forever, and he hoped Carla felt the same way.
A moment later Hank noticed something out of the corner of his eye. He pulled away from his date. It took Carla, who had her eyes closed and was still in a passionate mood, a few seconds to realize that Hank had ceased kissing her.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
Hank nodded and Carla turned to look at what had caught his eye. She didn’t stare at the site for long before turning back around to face him. “So what? Someone’s working in the lighthouse.”
The Thompkins Lighthouse stood tall on the bank of the ocean. It served as a beacon for ships that sailed this portion of the Atlantic in Harkenville, Massachusetts, in addition to being a hotspot for tourists.
“I know but I don’t want them eavesdropping on us,” Hank said.
“What, are you embarrassed?” Carla playfully said.
Hank shook his head, smiled, and said, “No, I’m not.”
He gripped Carla around the waist and pulled her toward him and once again they continued where they left off.
Only to be interrupted a second time by a loud BUMP!
“What was that?” Carla asked.
“I don’t know. It felt like something slammed into the boat from below.”
The two lovers stared at each other with worried expressions.
The water began to glow a yellowish color. Then it started bubbling. The boat rocked violently back and forth.
“Hank, what’s going on?”
“I don’t know, but I’m getting us out of here.”
Hank gripped both oars and began rowing toward shore.
Another loud bump lifted the stern slightly out of the water.
“Oh, God, what is that?” Carla hysterically asked no one in particular.
Something was definitely underneath the boat.
“Carla, just don’t think about that now. I’ll get us out of here and then we’ll—
The little rowboat flung upward, sending Hank, Carla, and both oars, high into the air and then crashing down into the water. Both of them were submerged for a moment but then broke to the surface, coughing out water. Hank immediately searched for his rowboat. He spotted pieces of it floating along the surface. He couldn’t worry about that now. He had a more pressing matter on his mind—getting him and Carla to safety.
“Are you all right?” Hank asked Carla.
“Scared but fine. You?”
“I’m good. Are you ok to swim back to shore?”
Carla just nodded.
The two began to swim. Hank took the lead. He heard a sizzling sound, like something bubbling in the water. He turned around and his eyes went wide-eyed in horror. In back of Carla, the water was bubbling ferociously. Carla didn’t appear to notice.
“Carla, don’t look in back of you, but believe me when I tell you to move your ass!”
Carla didn’t argue. They upped their pace and swam, hand over hand, to the shore. The bubbles intensified, inching their way toward the young and frightened couple. Hank worried they wouldn’t make it, that they were going to meet their end by whatever it was that inhabited the sea.
Hank reached the shore first and just as he was about to grab on to a large rock, a hand reached down from above.
The voice was familiar and intense. He recognized it in an instant.
“We’ll exchange greetings later. Grab my hand, now!”
Hank extended his hand upward and Vivian gripped it firmly, pulling him out of the water.
Carla was several feet away, still being pursued by the mass of strange bubbles. Whatever was underneath the surface of the ocean was inching closer and closer toward her. Pretty soon whatever it was would be underneath his date.
“Carla! Swim toward me!”
“I’m trying!” she cried.
Hank saw the terror in Carla’s eyes and that killed him inside. A part of him wanted to jump in and carry her out. But a weaker voice inside Hank told him to stay put.
Carla finally reached the rocks and when she did, Hank knelt down, grabbed her arm, and hauled her out.
Hank, Carla, and Vivian climbed up to the front of the Thompkins Lighthouse and took a moment to catch their breath. They all looked down at the water below and the strange phenomenon stopped.
“For our next date, let’s just go to a restaurant,” Carla said.
Hank didn’t look at Carla. He just stared down at the now calm water. What the hell is down there?
He turned to Vivian. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” she said. “What was that back there? I was up at the lighthouse, going over the tour schedule for tomorrow, when I heard a loud boom, and heard the two of you screaming.”
Hank shook his head. “I don’t know what that was. One minute we’re having a romantic boat ride and the next my rowboat is destroyed and we’re stranded in the water.”
“What would do that?” Vivian asked.
“We need to call the authorities. Look, my cell phone is definitely gone thanks to the water. Does anyone else have a cell phone?”
Carla shook her head. “My phone is charging at home.”
“Mine’s in the lighthouse,” Vivian said. “Let’s go.”
The three began walking toward the lighthouse. A loud and guttural roar stopped them in their tracks. The trio turned with worried expressions and witnessed the Atlantic Ocean exploding; water spurted out high into the air and outward, toward the three terrified onlookers. Hank, Carla, and Vivian shielded their eyes from the onslaught of water.
The roaring continued as a massive entity emerged from the deep. The creature had a long gray neck. Its gigantic fingers were claws that could tear through steel and its razor-sharp teeth looked like it could do the same.
“Run!” Hank yelled and the two women followed his orders.
The lighthouse was just up ahead so they didn’t have far to go. It’s a sea monster of some kind so it can’t walk on land. Could it? Hank thought to himself. He wasn’t sure.
He didn’t think anymore on the subject matter when he heard a piercing scream.
The scream came from Carla.
Hank turned his head to witness the giant creature standing tall in the water. The creature gripped the rocks to support itself. Its long neck arched above the grass-covered ground; its sharp fangs acted as prison bars, holding a frightened Carla in its mouth.
Hank screamed for her.
Hank and Vivian rushed over to the imprisoned woman. The serpent did not pull its head up in protest, as if it relished in seeing the two people attempt to rescue their friend. Hank grabbed a hold of one of its fangs and pulled it forward to break it off. He tried another fang on the opposite side but it was to no avail. The fangs were too strong and embedded in the serpent’s mouth to be pulled apart.
Hank didn’t give up. He continued his attempt at prying open the fang-like prison. The serpent dragged its head from side to side to throw Hank off of its mouth.
Vivian jumped on the monster’s tail and punched it over and over again. When she realized that this had no effect, she hopped off and tugged on the tail instead, in an attempt to distract the serpent.
The serpent had had enough of the current show and whipped its tail around. Vivian released her grip on the monster and sailed through the air, landing hard on the ground. The serpent then brought its head up off of the ground and high into the air. Carla screamed Hank’s name as the monster backed up and disappeared into the depths of the Atlantic, carrying Carla with it.
Hank collapsed on the ground and placed his hands on his head in stunned disbelief at what he’d just witnessed. Then he began to sob. It was Vivian’s voice that brought him back to reality.
“Hank? Hank, we need to call the police!”
Hank gathered himself, stood up, and the two of them entered the Thompkins Lighthouse.
“My God! I can’t believe it’s true!” Vivian said. Hank couldn’t tell if she was scared or excited.
The lone survivors walked ascended the winding staircase to the lighthouse watch room. Hank was in the lead and Vivian limped behind him, having bruised her knee when she crashed on the ground.
“The Thompkins Lighthouse Serpent! Don’t you know the legend?”
Hank didn’t respond to Vivian’s question on account of everything that was happening to him at the moment and also for the fact that he really didn’t care.
“The legend,” she said, “is that there is a mysterious portal at the bottom of the ocean near the lighthouse shore. It’s a gateway between dimensions and the serpent can enter and roam the ocean freely.”
Hank had heard the legend countless times over the years. It was a popular tale to tell at Halloween. Harkenville, MA, like it’s next-door neighbor Salem, was rife with folklore of strange supernatural creatures that lurked in the large expanse of woods; ghosts that still lingered and refused to float into the light; and witches who conducted their dark rituals in secret. But these were merely stories and nothing more.
The gigantic serpent that snatched up his date right before his very eyes made Hank think otherwise.
The two reached the watch room. Hank wasted no time. He frantically searched for Vivian’s phone. Vivian stood near the staircase, still astounded at the thought of a legendary creature being true.
“I just can’t believe what we witnessed. I know I sound crazy, Hank. What happened to Carla is awful and I am so sorry for your loss. But still. It’s insane to think that the monster actually exists!”
Hank wanted to shout in her face. He had known Vivian for years, and while she was pretty and intelligent, she could be a bit awkward at times. Also, all he wanted to do was call the police.
He turned around and faced Vivian. “I’ll be happy when that thing is dead.” He turned his back on Vivian and continued searching for her phone. “Vivian, I can’t find your cell. Can I just use the landline?”
“The landline’s been on the fritz for the past couple of days. I’m having the phone company come out next week to fix it. It’s strange, though, don’t you think?”
“Well, according to the legend, the serpent can only enter our realm through a mystical portal. I doubt very much that this creature has the intelligence to open the portal all by itself.”
Hank did not have the time or the patience to be having this conversation. All he wanted was justice for Carla. But, he wanted to stay as calm as he possibly could, so he decided to placate to Vivian while searching for her phone. “Then who opened the portal?” he asked her.
There was silence in the small room. Hank could hear the crickets chirping and a slight wind blowing outside. Vivian answered and her answer sent a chill down Hank’s spine.
Hank stopped in his tracks. He turned around and his lights went out as the barrel end of a baseball bat struck him in the forehead.
As Hank came to and he opened his eyes, he felt two things; the immense pain in his face and the splish-splash of water. The sound of the water was loud enough so he knew he was no longer in the lighthouse. He shook his head to get the wiggles out, turned to the side, and saw water.
Oh, my god, I’m back in the ocean!
“I’m glad you’re finally awake, sleepyhead.” It was Vivian’s voice. Normally, Hank would have been grateful to hear her voice. But not now—not ever again after what she had just done to him.
“Vivian, what’s going on?”
Vivian continued to row her rowboat. “I’m serving you up to the legendary serpent you dummy. That’s what I’m doing.”
Hank shook his head. Not from pain this time but from confusion.
“I don’t get it. You said back at the lighthouse that you summoned this thing?”
“You got it.”
Vivian sighed. “I never told you this part of my family history because I didn’t want you to freak out, but apparently my ancestors on my mother’s side were witches. They were part of a coven three hundred years ago. A few years back I was renovating my family home and discovered my great-great-great-great grandmother Tabitha’s grimoire buried underneath the basement floor. I thought it was really bizarre but I figured, it’s a family heirloom, so I kept it. I didn’t think about it anymore until recently. After the way you treated me.”
“What are you talking about?”
“We were an item and then you just dumped me for that tramp, Carla.”
Hank’s mind went racing a mile a minute until he understood what Vivian was talking about. “Vivian, we went on some dates. It was nice but we just didn’t have a connection.
Not having a connection was only part of it. The fact that Vivian was plain old strange was the major factor. She was nice and all—or so Hank had thought at the time. But she displayed bizarre behavior over the course of their four dates. Spacing in and out during conversations at dinner to the point that Hank felt he was talking to a brick wall. One time, when they were out for a romantic walk in the park, she suddenly strode away from Hank and started dancing dreamily up ahead, oblivious to Hank or anyone else in the area.
In short, Hank was embarrassed to be in her presence. He just never told her that to avoid hurting her feelings.
Vivian’s face fell from Hank’s shocking statement. “I thought we did.”
“But we didn’t. We have nothing in common. I’m sorry I wasn’t man enough to tell it to you face to face, but I never meant to hurt you.”
“Well, you did. I tried so hard to get over what you did to me. I tried so hard to forget you ever even existed. But I couldn’t. I read the grimoire, cover-to-cover. At first, I thought it was nothing but silly hocus-pocus. Then one night I was at the bar, drinking my troubles away, and I saw you with her. You and Carla were eating, drinking, and laughing. I was so angry. When I went home, I grabbed the grimoire and ventured out into the woods. I didn’t think anything would come of it—hell, I didn’t even know what I was doing. I stoked a fire, performed the summoning spell…and she appeared before me.”
“Who?” Hank said, once again placating to the insane woman before him. “Who came before you?”
“Tabitha! Her spirit emerged from the flames. We had a long conversation. She told me she was very proud of me and that I could become a powerful witch just like her. When her spirit vanished, I knew that revenge could be mine, and I vowed to see it through. And here we are tonight.”
Hank shook his head in utter disbelief.
An object floated along the surface of the water by Vivian’s rowboat. Both Vivian and Hank stared down at the object as it bobbed from side to side. Vivian did not react emotionally but Hank did. He gasped and began to cry.
It was Carla’s severed head. Her eyes were opened wide with horror and her mouth was agape as if her head had been severed mid-scream.
When Hank shed his last tear, he returned his gaze to Vivian. His expression had now changed dramatically. Before it was confusion and sympathy. Now it was anger.
“You monster. How could you do this? Carla was innocent in all of this?”
“No she wasn’t and neither are you!” Vivian screamed at Hank. Hank hoped that someone had heard the scream and would call the police. He came to the realization that it was very unlikely as it was late and everyone in his or her right minds were fast asleep. “I’ve loved you since elementary school. I thought you felt the same for me as I did for you. But I was just another woman in a long line of women for you to use for your amusement.”
“You weren’t for my amusement—“
“Liar!” She was completely out of control.
Vivian pulled the oars out of the water and set them down by her sides in the rowboat. She then stood up and walked over to Hank and grabbed him by the shoulders. “Come on. Work with me here.”
She’s going to push me into the water with that thing!
Hank shook his head in defeat and pushed upward, with help from Vivian. The two were now face to face. Hank searched for reasoning in Vivian’s face but found none. There was no reasoning with a mad woman, a mad woman who also happened to be a witch.
“Please, Vivian. You don’t have to do this.”
“I’m sorry, Hank. I truly am.”
And with that said, Vivian pushed Hank into the ocean. Hank sank deep into the murky water. Fish swam past him as he descended into the depths. Hank wrestled ferociously with the rope that tied his hands together. As he did so, he noticed something odd—resting on the ocean floor was a hole as big as a house. Yellow light shone from the gap. Next to the hole appeared a seal. Hank noticed bizarre writing on it; some sort of satanic writing that would now probably interest Vivian.
This must be where the serpent entered our world!
Hank finally unbound his hands and he let the rope fall to the bottom. He heard a splash of water from behind him. Hank turned and saw a mass of bubbles. From out of the bubbles came the serpent’s head, its mouth wide open, and its jaws ready to chomp through his flesh.
Hank swam upward and over the creature, and latched on to its long and narrow neck. He grabbed a hold of its head and pounded on the monster’s eye. The serpent violently shook its head from side to side to throw Hank off of it, but the man held on tight. Hank wasn’t going to let this thing kill him like it did Carla.
Bash! Bash! Bash!
Hank didn’t have any other weapon to use to fight off this monster, only his hands. He took his index finger and pressed his nail against the creature’s eye. The serpent winced in pain as Hank drilled his index fingernail hard into its eye socket. It took a moment, but the nail finally pierced it. Blood seeped from the socket.
The serpent roared in pain. It spun around with such violent force that Hank lost his grip on the creature. He thought he was a goner but he was surprised when the serpent did not return to finish him off. Instead, the creature swam deeper into the ocean and disappeared through the mysterious hole. Hank breathed a sigh of relief and swam up to the surface.
Vivian and her rowboat were no longer in the water.
“Over here!” Vivian’s voice echoed loudly across the water.
Hank spun around and saw her sitting on the rocks by the lighthouse.
“It’s over, Vivian,” Hank shouted, trying to sound triumphant. “The serpent has returned to whatever stupid dimension it came from. It’s injured thanks to me. You lost.”
“That’s all right,” Vivian said. She didn’t sound nervous at all. “That was only daddy. I summoned his entire family. You’re about to meet the whole clan. Goodbye, Hank.”
Hank turned at the same time the ocean exploded again. He was sprayed with water and when he cleared his eyes, he saw three massive structures towering over him. He wasn’t sure which was the one that arched its head back, whether it was mommy, or junior, or daddy’s little princess, but he didn’t care. He didn’t care about anything anymore. Hank didn’t even scream as the serpent stormed its head down, swallowing the young man whole. The serpent pulled its head out of the water, its mouth covered in Hank’s blood.
The three serpents stared across the ocean …at Vivian, the witch who had summoned their family in the first place. Then the creatures submerged under the water. They swam through the hole to join the alpha serpent. Once they were through, the seal mysteriously covered the hole, the yellow light disappearing, darkening the ocean.
On the rocks, Vivian sighed and stood.
Her revenge had been carried out.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR KEVIN LEWIS
Kevin Lewis is a graduate of Emerson College. He is the author of many short stories, most of them in the horror genre. Kevin’s stories have appeared in publications such as Blood Moon Rising Magazine, MicroHorror, Sonar4 Science Fiction and Horror E-zine, Open Casket Press, Hocus Pocus & Co., and FunDead Publications. Kevin is a member of New England Horror Writers and resides in Massachusetts.