It was a beautiful sunny afternoon out on the lake. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun provided a gentle heat to the day. The lake itself was calm and almost empty,except for the two men working on the dock. Surrounded by tall pine trees, the lake would soon be in shadow. The forest around the lake was wild and overgrown, precluding visitors from entering. The road that lead to it had crumbled years ago, leaving behind a dirt road with patches of pavement. The dock out onto the lake had slowly fallen apart.
“That road was awful, I knew I should have gotten a truck when I moved up here.” Jacqueline said as she threw her car into park. She paused for a moment to lookout at the serene lake and take in the beauty.
“Hey there’s the boat rental place you were talking about.” Saul said pointing over at the little shack on the edge of the lake.
“Yeah, Duck Boat Rentals, I told you there was stuff up here. It had a 4.5 star rating online.” Jacqueline said with smug pride.
“I know, but it’s weird that I’ve lived here all my life, and there has never been anything up here. So I don’t know how hundreds of people could have been going up here and leaving online reviews.” Saul seemed slightly nervous about the shack and the lake but he couldn’t put his finger on why.
“We’re here, so we might as well go and see what the place looks like, and if they seem really shifty,then we’ll just wander around a bit and we can head back. But we did say we would try and do new stuff on the weekends instead of just staying inside and watching movies all the time.”
Saul grudgingly agreed he did want to get out of the house more.
“You love watching some of those movies as much as I do, and besides I’m majoring in film.”
“Yea I know your a film major, you drone on about it a lot, but you can’t just watch horror movies constantly. It’ll rot your brain.” Jacqueline said exasperated from saying this for the 100th time.
The shack faced out onto the lake.Walking up, they figured out why it was called Duck Boat Rentals real quick. All of the boats lined up on the dock were bright yellow plastic ducks. The head of the duck was proudly at the front of the small boats with two seats behind it. The boats were only about two meters long, and it was obvious they weren’t brand new. Some had scum growing on them, and others were in disrepair. The dust covered cobwebs caught Saul’s attention. Walking along the dock they saw one man working on another paddle boat out of the water. He wasn’t a very big man, but he looked strong. Hearing Jacqueline and Saul walk down the creaking pontoon he stood up and smiled at them. He was glad to finally have some customers come along.
Smiling Mike said aloud, “Hello, looking to take a boat out on the lake?”
“Yea, we saw your website and thought it looked fun. This lake is beautiful, it’s amazing there is almost no one here.” Jacqueline said smiling back.
“Real pocket of beauty she is, I grew up coming out here and I just couldn’t think of a better place to retire to.” Mike said while staring out onto the lake.
“How long have you been in business?” Saul said looking for any crack in Mike’s facade.
“Oh, not long, I got these little paddle boats second hand from a guy two towns over and I’m looking to get some little sail boats soon. The road in is a bit rough still so getting them transported in is going to be hard.”
“That road was awful, I’m gonna have to take it really slow getting back out of here.” Jacqueline said looking back towards her little blue hatchback.
Saul tried to tug on Jacqueline’s shirt to get her attention. He wasn’t convinced Mike was on the level, but Jacqueline just brushed his hand off and gave a quick look of ‘stop it’
“So, we’ve got a deal today. The first hour is free, so it’s just $20 for two hours in one of our lovely little pedal boats.”
Jacqueline smiled, fished out $20, and handed it over to Mike. Mike took the money, then yelled out. “Hey Hal, could you get boat #6 ready for these two while I grab the paperwork?” Jacqueline followed Mike before Saul could do much to stop her.
A smaller man with a definite limp walked out from inside the shed. He had a very large and unruly white beard. He limped out to the boat, Saul followed him not sure what else to do. Hal undid the rope holding the bright yellow duck to the pontoon and then held it tight while Saul got in. Saul had to step past Hal to get into the boat and got a strong whiff of cheap whiskey that almost made him lose his balance while getting into the boat. Saul was familiarizing himself with the pedals and the small rudder to steer with, when he looked up at Hal and asked, “Have you been out on the lake much yourself?” Hal had been plainly staring up at the sky holding the rope tight until Saul asked this. Suddenly Hal twisted his head to look Saul straight in the eye, and in that moment, Saul saw the look of a grown man who seemed frightened for his life.Hal had the look of someone you would want on your side in a fight.Why would an innocent question like that cause him to get so visibly scared? Saul sat in the boat not knowing what to do or where to look but being unable to look away from the pure terror that seemed to emminate from Hal.
Hal held tighter on to the rope and as he was beginning to open his mouth, when Mike walked up from behind him and put a hand on his shoulder. Jacqueline soon stepped into the boat, and Mike went over a quick safety demonstration. He then handed them a small radio and told them that their phone probably wouldn’t work in most areas of the lake. Hal kept a tight hand on the rope until Mike was done, and Saul couldn’t help but look up at him, but his face had returned to one of complacency. Soon Hal let go of the rope, and he and Mike helped to turn the boat and push it out off of the pontoon.
“It’s such a great day out, and we have this whole lake to ourselves.” Jacqueline said with joy.
“Yea, it’s pretty nice. Where should we head to first?” Saul said, trying to get Hal’s face out of his mind.
“Mike gave me a little map and he marked off some spots that he said would be cool to check out.”Jacqueline said, smiling and pulling out a little Disney landesque map. It had a rough outline of the lake with trees around the outside and an oversized image of the dock. Each of the two dozen coves had names like ‘Skull Cove’ or ‘Treasure Nook’. There was an obvious pirate theme to the map. Some of the areas had been circled in pen, and one in particular had ‘This is my favourite!’ written next to it.
“Okay, well why don’t we hit up Tower Bay, its right over there.” Saul said pointing. They had drifted out into the lake a little ways and were bathed in the sunlight. Having decided where they were going, they began pedaling and pushing on the rudder. They quickly realized that trying to get anywhere on purpose in their little rusty boat wasn’t all that easy. They were moving at least, but the rudder was difficult to adjust, and small corrections could result in large changes to direction. Slowly making head way towards the small cove, they could see the bottom of the lake jutting up. There were large towers of rock and deep chasms in between. Neither Jacqueline or Saul had realized until now how deep the lake was. Some of these formations looked to be 20 meters tall, and the water was clear enough and still enough to make out formations of fish swimming around them. There was life there in the bottom of the lake. When they looked to the areas where the light could just barely reach they saw shadows darting about, some bigger than the fish they had seen nearer the surface.They sat and stared over the edge for ages watching the smaller fish be chased about by the bigger ones. Watching as crayfish ate from the towers and fought for territory.
Saul sat up to stretch his neck, and Hal’s face came back into his mind. Jacqueline sat up with a huge smile, which disappeared when she saw Saul’s face.
“What’s going on? This place is amazing, have you seen what’s down there?” She exclaimed.
“Yea, it’s great, sorry… I just… I can’t get Hal’s face out of my mind.” He said while staring worriedly out at the lake.
“What are you talking about?”
“When you went off to sign the paperwork with Mike, I followed Hal to the boat.”
“Yea, I remember. What, did he make a funny face at you or something?”
“No, look…… never mind. I’m gonna sound crazy, it’s just all the horror movies getting to me.Let’s check out another place. If anything is as cool as this it’s worth checking out.” Saul said trying to shake off the weird feeling he had.
“Yea! Come on there is another he circled just around there!” Jacqueline pushed the rudder hard and they both started pedaling to see what else was in store for them. Through some hard pedaling and fighting with the rudder they made it to the next spot, which didn’t disappoint. They continued to make their way around the lake and to check out all of the little coves that Mike had marked off on the map for them.
“This lake is unbelievable! How has no one ever talked about this place before? I didn’t know there could be lakes like this.” Saul said, exasperated from pedaling.
“And you tried to say we should just stay at home and watch movies again today. Look at what you would’ve missed out on. Those fish that swam right up to the boat,I’ve never seen anything like that.”
“You’re right, we should definitely get out more.” Saul looked down at his watch. “We need to start heading back soon, we’ve only got about 30 minutes, and it’s gonna take us a while to get back to the dock.”
“Alright fine, but lets check out Mike’s favourite spot it’s on the way anyway. Plus, if we’re two minutes late I don’t think they’ll care. It’s not like it’s crazy busy up here.”
Saul agreed, and so they forced the rudder to where they wanted and began pedaling. The lake had been incredible so far. Neither of them knew what to expect for the last little cove, but the map made it clear that this cove was more protected than the rest.
Upon reaching it there was only a small gap that was wide enough for the paddle boat to fit through.The far side of the cove had a small sandy beach with a cave behind it. The rest of the cove was surrounded by high walls of sheer rock.Almost in the middle of the cove was a buoy floating with a flag on it that said ‘Attach here’. When they got closer they saw a small line with a clip on it, and attached it to their boat.
“Must be so we don’t drift into the walls or something.” Saul said although he didn’t fully believe it.
Once secured to the buoy, Jacqueline and Saul both quickly peered over the sides of the boat. The sun was low in the sky and the subsequent reflection made it hard to see below the surface.
“I think I saw something!” Saul said with excitement.
“What was it?”
“I don’t know, it was just a shadow, but it was big whatever it was. It’s just hard to see.”
Jacqueline had put her hands around her face in an effort to see through the glare. Leaning in closer to the water she saw a couple large objects darting around too. Then a large splash broke the stillness of the water only a few meters from them.
“Did you see that.” Jacqueline said, looking up.
“No, I was busy looking down trying to make out what’s going on underwater. It’s weird, whatever is down there just seems to be moving back and forth, I can’t figure out what it is.”
Looking around more, Jacqueline noticed the gates that are hung from the walls just inside the cove. Grabbing Saul’s shirt she pointed, “What are those for?”
Saul looked up from the water to seethe rusted metal. “I don’t know, maybe someone used to keep their boat locked up in here or something.” Saul had an urge tounclip the boat and get out of there immediately but stifled it down. He didn’t want Jacqueline to be right about the movies getting to him.
“Who would lock their boat up in here? What, is it going to run away, like a lost puppy?” Jacqueline said incredulously.
“I don’t know, it just looks like they’re meant to keep something in.What else would you keep inhere? Besides, they look rusted in place. Whatever they were for, it was a while ago now.” Saul said not believing himself.
They both went back to looking at the water trying to make out whatever was below them. The sun had shifted slightly and the glare on the surface weakened. They were able to see a mostly flat sandy bottom with a large cave opening on one side.They soon realized that all of the movement they had seen so far was emanating from this one cave. Long arms were waving and trying to tease small fish to come in closer. A fish that was bigger than most they had seen swam in scaring away a small school. It swam lazily in a circle around the arms protruding out. Then in a flash it was caught. Two of the tentacles had grasped on to it and held it tight bringing it into the cave. Saul and Jacqueline were staring vigilantly as the fish was dragged across the sandy bottom. When it got closer to the mouth of the cave a pair of arms appeared the and pulled it in the rest of the way.
Both Jacqueline and Saul sat up and looked at each other. All the horrific movies they had seen and gruesome deaths they had watched came flooding to their minds at the thought of a monster lurking below them. Trying to sort out what they had seen. Feeling scared and unsure of what to do, they both sat back in their seats. They began to hear a creaking noise, turning around they saw the massive gates closing behind them. Looking up they saw Mike standing at the top of the cliffs turning a wheel that closed the gates. Both of them were trying to understand what was happening, were they really being locked in the cove with something.Why would Mike want them dead?
Jacqueline yelled out, “Unhook the boat, let’s get out of here.”
Saul sat up and tried to grab the rope to unhook the boat, but he fumbled with it. The adrenaline flowing through his veins made him anxious and uncoordinated. Finally he was able to unhook the boat, and they began pedaling furiously both pushing on the rudder to get them heading in the right direction.Mike was pushing hard to close the gates. Jacqueline and Saul were rushing to get their little boat through. It was becoming more and more obvious that they weren’t going to make it.Their had only been just enough room for their boat to fit through in the first place,and now the gates were covering half of the entrance.
The sound of someone yelling and throwing a punch startled Jacqueline and Saul, who looked up to see Hal fighting with Mike. The two short men had locked arms with each other and were both throwing punches. Hal yelled out, “I can’t let you do this again!” Mike grabbed on to Hal’s beard and pulled his face down to take another punch at it. This last punch made Hal stumble a bit and and begin to fall over. Mike grabbed him before he fell off the cliff.
The boat had made it to the gate, but it wasn’t going to fit through. Jacqueline and Saul looked at each other. The two college students looked at each other, each knowing what the other felt, ‘This is it.’ Soon the gate had shut completely and Mike stood staring down at them triumphantly. Then he grabbed a hammer and began pounding on a large metal pipe that went down cliff and into the water. Jacqueline and Saul looked over the side of the boat to see the fish scatter. They could not see the tentacles anymore. The mouth of the cave seemed to be empty. Saul yelled up at Mike, “What are you doing?”
“I’m ringing the dinner bell!” Mike said with a big smile.
Then Saul noticed something, Mike was wearing an unusual necklace that covered almost half of his chest. It was hard to make out from so far away, but Saul was confident he had seen it before.
“This guy is nuts!” Saul yelled out.
“Yea, you just figured that out?” Jacqueline said looking out at the water.
“No you don’t get it. That necklace thing he is wearing is some old symbol for a god.”
“Great so he’s a religious nut?”
“No it’s weirder then that the symbol its from fiction, like actual fiction as in it doesn’t exist at all.” Saul said while trying to remember everything he could about it.
Mike had gotten down on his knees and put his hands into a prayer position. He was saying something to himself, but they couldn’t hear him. Then, throwing his hands up in the air, Mike yelled out, “Praise be unto you! Holiest of deities, oldest of creatures! I bring you a sacrifice so that you may grow and retake your place as ruler of these lands to be revered by all!” The water began to rumble, and soon tentacles began to appear near the surface.
“He is pleased” Mike said looking down at Jacqueline and Saul. Both of whom were staring down as tentacles began appearing above the water. They were holding each other close when a face began to appear at the surface. The eyes were pure black surrounded by a green skin and below them was a row of smaller tentacles.
Mike called out, “He gives you a great honor to see upon his face before he devours you.”
They couldn’t take their eyes off it as it rose above the water. Soon they saw the shoulders and fierce hands they had seen earlier. Each finger ended in claws long enough to cut a person in two.
The sound of a heavy thud caught Jacqueline and Saul by surprise. They looked back up to the cliff to see Hal standing over the collapsed body of Mike. Hal was looking out of sorts, and when he saw the creature peering up at him he started to lose his balance, as if the mere stair from this abomination had pushed him over. He managed to lean up against the wheel that opened the gates and steady himself. The creatures gaze returned to Jacqueline and Saul. It slowly started to descend below the water once more while moving towards them. Hal called out, “I’m going to open the gates, then you’ll have a chance at least!” Saul and Jacqueline looked up frightened, but nodded in quick agreement.They moved their boat away from the gates so that Hal could open it more easily. The creature was nowhere to be seen. The water has become very still, but they were too scared to look over the edge of the boat. Both Jacqueline and Saul hoped what they saw was just a dream, knowing that it wasn’t. They watched as the gates slowly opened, and they looked up to Hal. Then they saw Mike slowly getting to his feet, feeling his head and looking at the blood on his hand afterwards. Mike looked to Hal and looked at the gate beginning to open. He tried to push himself to his feet to stop Hal. His arms gave out and he fell face first again to the ground.
The gate was almost open enough for the boat to fit through, Jacqueline and Saul began pedaling to escape, when a tentacle shot out of the water and landed on front of their boat, dipping the front of their boat into the water. They both screamed and feared their lives were about to be over. Saul began pedaling backwards, and Jacqueline joined in, but it was no use. The front of the boat began to bring on water as it was pulled farther and farther down. They looked at each other and up to Hal then back to the water. The boat tipped further down and with a quick motion it flipped upside down. When Saul surfaced he saw Jacqueline swimming for the small sandy beach. They both ran onto shore pushing themselves up against the rock wall looking for any sight of the creature. Looking up they saw Mike getting to his feet again and looking squarely at Hal then to Saul and Jacqueline. A smile came back to his face seeing them huddled against the rock wall trying to wedge themselves into the small cave.
Mike yelled out to them while holding his head. “It’ll all be over soon.”
He started making his way over to Hal who had picked the hammer back up and was ready to defend himself.
Jacqueline said to Saul, “So what is this thing? Is this what you were talking about?”
“I mean yea it looks like it, but I don’t know what it is. Its not supposed to be real. This has to be some kind of alien or genetic experiment gone wrong.” Saul yelled back.
Jacqueline and Saul were watching Hal and Mike continue to fight when they saw them look up into the forest behind the cliffs. Then they heard it, a loud humming noise and the sky grew dark. Soon the sun was blotted out all together and they saw what was making the noise. A large flying ship that moved slowly over the cove. The four of them froze and forgot about the terror that still lurked in the water. As the ship came to stop directly above them, a voice called out saying, “Hey, this might be a weird question but have you seen… OH! Hey Raftar, I found him.” Saul and Jacqueline looked at each other then back to ship. The creature in the water had come back to the surface and was staring eagerly at the ship.
Mike yelled out, “Do you come to pay homage to the great and mighty…” The ship cut him off “pay homage? No man we came to pick up our mutt, he got loose when we were on an exploratory mission here a long while back.” Mike’s face dropped and everyone else just looked confused. A new voice on the ship said, “Yea sorry if he scared anybody, he’s normally pretty nice but he can get cranky at times.”
Jacqueline yelled back, “That guy was gonna sacrifice us to him,” pointing up at Mike. The voices on the ship just laughed, and then the first one said back,”sacrifice you, to Spot? that doesn’t make any sense.” Jacqueline was shocked at this response and yelled back, “Spot?you call that thing Spot? we saw it rip a huge fish in half with its hand and it yanked our boat into the water, what is wrong with you.”The second voice could be heard saying, “Let me answer this,”then clearing its throat and saying, “We don’t expect you to understand, but we’re just gonna collect spot and to make it up to you. How about a gift from us to you?” Jacqueline thought and then said, “What’s the gift?” The second voice then said,”Well, we could kill that guy if you want to get even and give you something off of our ship, hows that sound?”
Jacqueline thought and looked up at Mike who looked defeated, he had fallen back down to his knees and thrown his necklace off. Then she yelled back to the ship, “I’ll take something off of your ship, he can just go on knowing he was praying to a pet named spot and realize he’s and idiot.” The second voice said back, “okay sounds like a plan.” A long tube lowered from the ship to the water and the creature immediately let out a high pitched yipping and swam inside the tube. Then a small door opened and a small object came flying out at an angle to land right in from of Jacqueline and Saul. They bent down to look at it and before they could even get the words out to ask what it was, the ship flew off.
Saul picked up the small round disk and held it, it was light but rigid. there were no markings or buttons of any kind it only had a slight curvature on the outside edge. They stared at it hoping to unlock its secrets.
Pedal Boat of Terror by Joshua McIntyre is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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