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.
The Dead Water
BY Amy GIUFFRIDA
Before Sarah began to tell the ghost story, she looked around the campfire at her five friends. Each of their face ablaze with yellow and orange light, which was perfect atmosphere for the story she was about to tell. Clearing her throat she begins.
“Tonight, on the eve of the thirtieth anniversary of the deaths of four seniors, I will tell you the story of The Dead Water. While no one truly knows what happened that night, legend has it that there is a spot in the lake that is dead. The water actually stops your body from moving as you swim. It is so heavy that it holds you in place until you drown. Although this totally could have killed the four, that doesn’t account for what happens in the end. Be prepared to get freaked out.”
“We’re ready. Hit it,” says Ryan.
Sarah takes a pull on the whiskey bottle, then hands it to her best friend Noah before beginning. “Adrienne Sunshine Rosenberg, was the perfect girl—silky blond hair, C cup breasts, soft skin, and long legs. All the boys wanted her…”
“Damn, with those features, I even want her.”
Jen swats the boy to her left and says, “Shut up, Dave. You’re such a pig.”
In response, Dave puts his hands up in surrender.
Without pause, Sarah continues, “…and all the girls wanted to be her. But she was only meant for one boy—hunky Rodger Stone, who was of course your typical all-American boy. As starting quarterback on the high school football team, he was revered by the entire town. Rodger could have had any girl he wanted, but he only had eyes for Adrienne. As seniors, they were ready to take that final step in their relationship. So, along with a two other couples, they took a weekend trip to a cabin on Lake George.”
“On their first night at the lake, they sat at this very fire pit and got drunk. People who were later questioned recalled nothing about the group, other than hearing their laughter late into the night. When Adrienne had had enough to drink, Rodger took her back to their cabin for a little alone time. The others took the same lead and they each said good night before going to their own cabins.”
“One of the couples, Tommy and Rose, decided to go skinny dipping instead of staying in. After inviting the other couple, June and Matt, they gathered the last of the alcohol and walked to the lake.”
“Which we all know is the perfect horror trope,” Dave interrupts again. This time, he’s quick enough to dodge Jen’s swing.
Tara gets up and grabs the bottle of whiskey from Dave’s hand. “You’ve had enough, dude. Gimme that and stop interrupting.”
“Sarah takes a quick swig from her can of beer. “When Adrienne and Rodger went to find their friends in the morning for checkout, their rooms were completely empty—no clothing, no suitcases, nothing. There wasn’t even any trash left lying around. Since they had driven separately from the others, and the other car wasn’t parked in the lot, Adrienne and Roger figured they had left early. So, they packed up and headed home.”
“The phone calls began around five o’clock that evening. Parents wanted to know if Adrienne or Roger had seen their child. Soon there were alerts for four missing teens. Search parties were sent out to look for them, but the only thing that was found was an empty Jack Daniels bottle left on the dock. The car was even gone. After a year of searching and hope, funerals were held for each of the missing, but there never were bodies to fill the coffins.”
“Needless to say, Adrienne and Rodger had a hard time dealing with the loss of their friends. Even though no one in the community blamed them, neither could live with the pain caused by this tragedy. After the funerals, Rodger drove his car off a bridge killing himself and Adrienne.”
“On the twentieth anniversary of the disappearance, two boys were out in the middle of the lake practicing their diving skills. It was here that they unearthed the skeletal remains of the missing. After an autopsy, there was no conclusion to how any of them died. And it is still a mystery today.”
As Sarah ends her story, the five others clap their approval.
“Perfect retelling, babe,” John, Sarah’s boyfriend pulls her in for a quick kiss.
“Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the four going missing,” Sarah says. “And we’re going swimming.”
It’s a short walk through the woods to the lake. As the six take the dirt path, clues are left behind. Dave is in charge of recording the evidence, so he is last in line. He makes sure to capture the shirts Sarah and Jen hang on tree branches. He points his phone where Ryan and Noah each drop their shoes in a line at the edge of the woods. And finally as his girl, Tara places their empty beer cans on a rock.
Turning the camera around to himself, Dave sets the scene for posterity. “I, Dave, being of sound mind and body do declare that we are going swimming in Lake George on September 10, 2018.”
“You really think you are of sound mind?” Jen asks.
“Nah. Then I wouldn’t be any fun,” Dave says. “Come on guys, quick selfie.”
At the water’s edge, they each take off whatever clothing not left on the path. In their bathing suits, they gather as close as possible and Dave takes the shot. It’s grainy and dark, but in it they’re all smiling.
Ryan says, “Last one in is a rotten egg!” He takes off in a sprint toward the dock.
Everyone else follows and the sound of six bodies hitting the water echo in the night. Their heads resurface, one after the other.
“I doubt anything will happen this close to shore. Let’s head out further.”
“Jen has a point,” says Noah. “Race you all to the floating dock. On your mark, get set, go!”
They all take off, but very quickly Tara takes the lead. She is after all a state champion swimmer, but Noah is always trying to beat her. As annoying as it is to him, he cannot ever beat her. Even in open water, she is a few yards ahead of him. The others sputter out quickly and make their way slowly.
Tara tags the bulkhead in triumph. Noah, although he comes in second, high fives her. Instead of climbing up the latter, both wait for the others in the water. As Sarah and Ryan get closer, Dave and Jen stop swimming.
“Um, do you think they are okay?” Tara asks Noah.
The moment she asks, Jen’s head slips below the surface. Dave begins to thrash around with his arms, the sound of his yelling barely making it to Tara and Noah at the dock.
“Something is wrong,” Noah says. He takes off to swim back to where Dave is.
Tara takes off when Dave’s head also disappears, but she stops to warn Sarah and Ryan. This time it isn’t a speed swim. They keep their heads out of the water and follow Noah. As they reach the spot where Jen and Dave disappeared they all stop. There’s no sign of either of them and it’s too dark to search below, so instead they call out their names, “Dave! Jen!” To which there is no answer.
“Oh my god. Do you think…”
“Don’t even finish that question, Tara. They have to be playing around.” Noah says.
“Come on guys! Quit playing around!” yells Sarah. She begins to swim towards shore, calling out their names over and over again. She’s halfway through Dave’s name when she’s pulled under.
Noah, Ryan, and Tara take off after her. One by one they stop in place; each held by some invisible weight. Once by one they each drop to the bottom of the lake like lead balloons, knowing this is their end.