Hey! Another short story I wrote for a contest that I didn’t end up winning. Ha ha. They’re great for practice writing but so far I haven’t gotten anywhere with them. Ya know what’s funny, I’ve been entering these contests, putting in work and time in writing them and it hasn’t yet gone anywhere for me, but I entered this other contest that a blogger invited me to where I didn’t have to do anything and I actually won something! Seriously, life is hilarious! 😀
Below is the prompt I based it on, hope you like!
Write a story that begins: “That was the last we ever heard of him/her.”
“That was the last we ever heard of him.”
Mark’s three children looked at him with wide, curious eyes.
“What happened next Daddy? Anita asked sweetly. She was perched on her father’s lap contentedly.
“There is no, ‘what happens next Anita,” Barrily said to her younger sister with irritation. She had heard the story many times since she was younger and considered herself an expert.
“Actually, Barrily, that is not true,” Mark said. “ A lot of things happened after Marco’s disappearance. First of all, I married your mother. Then I had you, Barrily.” He nodded to his daughter and she blushed with pride.
“And soon after had Miller.” He lifted up his willing son onto his other leg. He had been listening half-heartedly and took his toy train that he had been playing with on the ground with him. “Then Anita,” he said rubbing his nose against hers which caused her to giggle.
The sight of both Barrily’s siblings gaining so much physical affection from their father made her jealous and she ran to place herself right in the middle of them against his chest. The story was told and Mark was now very uncomfortable with two heavy children on his lap and one between. He placed Miller and Anita down. Barrily for a moment thought it was then her turn to climb into his lap like she used to when she was younger, but when he stood up, knew it was time for bed. She thought to be seen as the most grown up and please him, so she hopped into her bed and tucked herself in with an intentional smile.
Mark picked up Anita to put her in her bed beside Barrily. The three children shared a room and their beds were close. “Daddy,” Anita said as he tucked her in. “Is the story true? Did Marco disappear in the water?”
“Of course it’s not true, Anita!” Barrily exclaimed removing her covers and sitting up. “It’s a story.”
“No, it’s a good question,” Mark said standing up after picking up Miller who had just collapsed from exhaustion on the floor. “Some stories have truths. I’ll leave you to decide if this one does.”
He put Miller to bed, said goodnight to his kids and then exited the room. Mark’s wife, Vanessa walked up to him as he was closing the door. Her face lined with worry.
“What is it?” Mark asked.
“Your brother’s here.”
At that Mark swiftly walked past her, downstairs to find Jason standing at the door. His clothes were soaking wet and dripping onto the foyer. Jason turned when Mark came downstairs. Mark hadn’t seen him for years but he hadn’t changed much except for the horror in his eyes and the redness on his face like he had been slapped or crying.
“Jason – where have you been?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Jason asked looking down at the wet puddle developing around his feet. His voice etched with fear.
There was a moment of silence before Mark asked, “Did you find anything?”
Jason covered his mouth and his hand began to shake. “They’re real, Mark – they almost dragged me in!”
Mark grabbed his brother’s hands to stop their shaking. “Was anyone else with you?”
Jason didn’t answer, He just stared at his hands.
Jason looked up and met his eyes. “Two people. Madison and Jeannie.”
“Did you see them get pulled under?”
Jason shook his head and then covered it in his hands. “They were everywhere. I ran.”
He slid to the floor. Mark held him upright. He could hear Vanessa on the stairs.
“Jason, what lake was it?”
“It was – it was one of the lakes in the state park. You remember, the one we went to with Dad when we were younger.”
Mark stood up and went to the nearby closet to grab his jacket. He put it over his arms as his brother watched.
“What are you doing?”
“We have to go to the lake and make sure they’re still alive.”
“We can’t go back! Didn’t you hear me? Those things are everywhere!” Jason said wide eyed.
“You brought this on them, you can’t leave them. Remember what happened to Marco? That’s not happening again.”
Jason’s eyes softened and he stood up, trembling. Mark left the room and came back with a bag. He had a gun slung over his shoulder and two large flashlights in his hands. He turned one on and it beamed a heavy bright light. Mark handed him it and Jason nodded.
“I’ve kept these. Shine it on them and you’ll be fine.”
“That won’t stop the voices,” Jason mumbled despairingly.
“You heard the voices, too?”
Jason nodded. “That’s when it all started.”
Mark went to the kitchen and came back with earplugs. He gave a pair to Jason.
“I don’t think these will work. You can hear them in your head,” Jason said looking down at them in his hands.
Mark got out his phone and turned on some rock music.
Jason laughed and shook his head which caused Mark to smile too.
“Let’s go, then,” Jason said still shaking his head and opening the front door.
Vanessa was at Mark’s side. He kissed her gently and put his head against hers.
“I wish I could go with you,” she said.
“I’ll be back.”
“You better,” Vanessa said smiling. “Be careful.”
He pulled away from her and they drove out to the lake. Mark felt uneasy at the mere thirty minute distance it was from his home. Jason had calmed down a little, but had hardly said anything until the park was in sight.
“It’s this way,” he said solemnly and Mark followed him through forest and underbrush for awhile until the lake was in sight. There was a light mist around it and a full-moon above made the lake look radiant and blue. If Mark didn’t know any better, he would think it looked tranquil and serene. A perfect place to relax and maybe even swim, but he’d seen a place exactly like this before under another full-moon.
“Is this the lake?” Mark already knew it was, but he asked anyways.
“Yes,” Jason said staring at the waters dejectedly. “They attacked us over next to that big oak tree.”
Mark saw the big oak tree next to the lake’s shore. “Is that where you last saw your friends?”
Mark started down the hill, toward the tree and Jason followed slowly behind. His head swayed back and forth, searching for something that Mark could only assume was Them.
Mark came to the tree and watched as the water rippled just four feet from him. Jason stayed a fair distance behind and away from the water as Mark surveyed the area around the tree. Mark listened for a moment at the foot of the tree. He heard a faint mumbling and immediately clicked on his flashlight. He shone it on the water. It shimmered in the bright light, swaying back-and-forth.
The mumbling continued, it was rhythmic, like a song. He shone the light up the tree and saw the shadowed form of a woman. He almost jumped back until he saw her arms hugging her legs and knew she wasn’t what he’d thought.
The woman stopped her mumbling and looked down at him. “Jason?”
“No, but Jason’s with me.” Jason took a few slow steps forward to reveal himself under the tree.
“Jeannie, is Madison alive?” Jason asked.
Jeannie turned away. “He was pulled under,” she said and her voice broke.
Jason covered his mouth. Mark looked to the water and turned again to Jeannie. “Jeannie, we have to leave, right now. I need you to come down.”
She broke out in tears. “I can’t.”
“Come back in the morning. They’ll be gone, then.”
“We can’t leave you. They might try to climb up, just come with us.”
“They haven’t tried yet. They disappeared after they took Madison. They haven’t come out since I climbed up this tree.”
Mark felt a chill crawl up his spine. “Did they try to get you up there?”
Jeannie was shivering. “No, they just looked at me and crawled back into the water.”
Mark stopped breathing for a moment. “They know. They’re waiting – Jeannie, come down now!”
“I can’t,” she said again.
Mark shook his head and started to slowly walk away from the tree. “Fine, we’ll come for you in the morning. Climb the highest branch. Jason, let’s go,” Mark said and started to run up the hill.
Jason ran ahead of him. They were almost passed the water before Mark felt something take hold of his ankle and was pulled from under his feet. His flashlight fell from his hands and out of his reach. Panic coursed through him as teeth lunged for his neck. He kicked at it’s fishtail hold of his ankle and elbowed the teeth, keeping them from hitting his flesh.
His tactic worked and he was able to crawl a few inches forward to the flashlight before he heard soft sirens. He felt frozen and heavy under their sound and knew these were the voices he’d dreaded. He managed to crawl only an inch to his flashlight. He could hear Jeannie crying from the tree and could see Jason’s boots ahead of him, unmoving and frozen.
He pulled out his phone to play the music. He turned it on. Every movement of his finger was ten times the work. He felt lethargic and his will fading like he was swimming in a void. He could feel himself being dragged against the dirt and grass. He knew what it meant. Deep down, he knew that he was close to his fears, that he would end up like Marco. He was so tired. So so tired that his end had little meaning and he almost welcomed it. It would be relaxing. Those words kept repeating in his mind. Maybe it would.
Inch by inch he was closer to the water. I will be like Marco. The last my children ever saw of me was this night. This night –
He fumbled with his phone. Heard a sloshing sound and felt his shoes touch the water. The last they ever saw of him, was not this night. He pressed the play button and let go of his phone as he was dragged into the water.
That’s it. As always, if you have any advice on my writing or storytelling, (or, maybe, by some miracle, if you liked my story and think I can make it into a book) I would love to hear it. I can take criticism, seriously, and would love the help!