The Lurking - Chapters 1 and 2

The Lurking

By: David Serra

Chapter 1

John Hawthmeyer had seen many immoral things in his life but that night would be added to the other things that haunt him. He sat on a log around a campfire in the making, the sounds of summer nightlife such as crickets and toads filling the air. He watched as the young campers gathered around on logs as a counselor ignited the fire pit with a match. John gave a wry grin at the campers who were chatting with one another around the fire. One camper, a slim boy called Ben, sat quietly on the verge of tears. He could tell he was deeply homesick but said nothing. John cleared his throat and the campers all turned towards him. He produced a compass from his pants pocket and opened it up to show them.

“Thank you all for inviting me here,” John spoke. “The story I’m about to tell you is not for the faint of heart.”

Most of the campers snickered in response, but Ben remained somber.

“On one of my voyages across the Atlantic Ocean, we were told that something had been spotted in the water that day,” John looked around to make sure everyone was paying attention. "At the time we thought it could’ve been a submarine or some kind of whale. Of course, it didn’t slip my mind that we know more about Mars than we do about our planet. The ocean is a mysterious place, both beautiful and dangerous. No one knows for sure what lies beneath the surface. My fellow crewmates and I were on our guard that day. At first, we saw nothing, then in the distance, there was what appeared to be an enormous white orb bobbing up and down in the water. We steered closer to get a better look; at first, we thought it could’ve been a dead and bloated whale. But as we got closer something didn’t feel right, as if we were heading into a trap. Just like how an angler fish uses its light to lure in unsuspecting prey, we felt the same. The captain immediately steered the ship hard to starboard and the so-called orb submerged beneath the surface, only for the waters to erupt in a massive watery explosion. We barely made it out alive that day and we never did find out what was it that tried to lure us in. One thing’s for sure, whatever it was it wanted us for dinner. Tales of sea monsters have been told since mankind was able to take to the seas. The question is…”

Before he could finish, Ben took off running for the woods, in the direction of the exit to the camp. A counselor, Llewellyn Wallace, grabbed him in a bear hug and pulled him into a cabin. Richard Orik, another of Ben’s counselors excused himself from the group and headed into the cabin. Even though they were inside, John heard everything.

“Now you’re either going to sit and listen to the rest of the story or you are going to do push-ups for the rest of the night,” Llewellyn commanded. “I’m not accepting this shit from you and neither is anyone else. Got that?”

“You’re wrong!” Ben shouted in tears.

“Shut up and get your ass back to the group!”

“Llewellyn,” spoke up Richard, “I’ll handle this, and you just go for a swim or something, please?”

There was a moment of tense silence before Llewellyn stormed out of the cabinet and towards the lake. He ripped his shirt off and headed into the water. John watched before a woman counselor came up to him and asked, “Please continue, John. The commotion’s over.”

John thought for a moment before saying, “Perhaps another time, it’s getting late.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’ll finish this story some other time.”

She nodded and signaled to the counselor who ignited the fire-pit to put it out. The campers were led back to their cabins as the counselor poured a bucket of water onto the fire. Richard emerged from the cabin while the other campers were led in by the woman counselor. John was watching Llewellyn swim out a few yards away from the docks. Richard came up to his side, before he could answer John said, “It wasn’t that kid’s fault.”

“I know.”

“Just take care of him please.”

“We will.”

There was a loud splash that came from the lake. John and Richard looked out at the lake; Llewellyn was nowhere to be seen.

“Llewellyn?” Richard called out.

There was no answer. The first thought was that he was heading back to the cabin. Llewellyn erupted from the water in his blood by the docks, screaming in agony. John and Richard bolted for the docks; Llewellyn appeared to be dragging across the surface from something below. The two men sped up the docks; Llewellyn was slammed up against a pier. They reached over the side to grab his flailing arms. They tugged at him but something below the water had him in a firm grip. They pulled and pulled until there was a sickening crunch that came from Llewellyn. They pulled him out of the water and laid him on his back. The bottom half of his body beneath his waist was completely gone. Richard staggered back in horror; John looked him over with a puzzled and shocked look. Llewellyn grabbed John’s shirt collar, startling the two men. The dying man tried to say something to John, but all that came out was a mouthful of blood.

Llewellyn went limp, Richard lost his cookies, a crowd began to gather on the docks and John could only stare at the lifeless man in front of him.

Chapter 2

Anton de Vod watched the woodland trees pass by the car’s window with a vacant stare. He noticed his mother, Eileen, at the wheel, also lost in thought. He could tell she was worried about him, as he was anxious yet curious to be staying with his Uncle John for a few weeks. He wasn’t dreading the trip but he also wasn’t sure about it.

“It’s only for a few weeks,” Eileen said. “I heard Uncle John is happy you’ll be staying with him for a while.”

Anton managed a half-smile and a slight shrug.

“I know I just want to better myself.”

“Anton, you’re doing a great job. Don’t be too hard on yourself.”

“Yeah, I’ve been taking a lot of notes lately.”

His way of relieving stress and anxiety was to write down in the many notepads and journals he had. He already brought a couple of notepads and a journal for the stay; he wished he could write in them now.

“That’s great, I’m glad you’re doing that,” Eileen replied. “It sure is beautiful up here. Hope you take lots of good pictures and send them to me.”

“I will, I will.”

They pulled into the driveway of the small house and passed a mailbox that read: J. HAWTHMEYER. The place was surrounded by endless miles of woods like they were in the middle of a lush jungle. To its left, a few miles down was a landscape of more woods and an enormous lake. To its right were more woods and a path that lead to a distant town. Anton and Eileen got out at the same time the door to the house swung open. Anton looked up from the trunk of his mom’s car to see a tall and slender man in faded gray pants and a baseball cap stroll out of the house chewing a toothpick.

“Hey, Eileen,” John said, “Haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Hey, John did we make good timing?” Eileen asked with a smile.

“Oh yeah, hey Anton how much stuff do you have?”

Anton took out the two big suitcases from the trunk and his backpack from the backseat of his mother’s car and started to head up to him. “Just the usual, nothing special you know.”

“Hmm, say Eileen I just made some coffee would you and Anton like to join before you have to hit the road.”

“Oh, I wish I could but I got work early tomorrow.”

Anton stumbled his way towards the house when he felt John take one of his suitcases. “Here, let me help you with that bud.”

“Thanks, it’s only for a few weeks.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Anton, John, and Eileen headed up onto the front porch with John heading into the house with the suitcase. Anton turned around to face his mom; they embraced for what felt like a few lingering minutes.

“Remember, I’m only a phone call away,” Eileen assured him.

“I’ll be fine.”

“I know you will.”

They broke the hug at the same time John came back outside. He and his sister shared a quick hug before she headed back to her car. Anton watched her until she was out of sight.

“Well, how about some coffee?”

Anton nodded in response and followed him into the house. He took a minute to take in its surroundings. The place was homey yet unique in a weird way. The walls were filled with photographs and plaques from when Uncle John was a sailor. On the overhead of a doorway that lead out of the living room and into where a bedroom, a guestroom, and the bathroom were there was a large stuffed bass mounted above it. The scent of fresh coffee and limes filled his nostrils as he entered the kitchen area. Uncle John was already pouring himself and Anton a couple of mugs of coffee.

“How do you take yours?” He asked.

“With milk is fine.” Anton replied.

Uncle John got a gallon of whole milk from the fridge and poured it into one of the mugs. Handing the mug to Anton he held out his own full of black coffee, expecting a toast.

“To five weeks.” He proclaimed.

“To five weeks.”

They lightly clanked mugs together. Anton sipped his coffee, it tasted delicious. Uncle John downed his mug in one gulp.

“All right, take a minute to go over the house rules that you’ll find on the fridge.”

Anton scanned the list of rules that was tapped up on the refrigerator’s door. Seemed like standard stuff: In bed by 10:30 pm. Help out around the house. The list went on.

“Oh hey uh Anton, I have one more rule.”

He turned towards his uncle who had a look of seriousness on his face.

“Whatever you do, stay away from the lake.” John continued. “There was an accident there a couple of nights ago.”

“What happened?”

“A camp counselor was killed there while swimming. They already sent the campers home, the authorities are investigating it as we speak.”

“Do they know what happened?”

He waited for his uncle to answer as he thought for a moment.

“Let’s just say it was some kind of animal attack.”

“What kind of animal?”

“They,” his uncle stared blankly for a minute, “They don’t know yet. Just stay away from the lake until they figure it out, OK bud?”

“Sur-sure, OK.”

John smiled and patted his shoulder. “C’mon, I’ll help you unpack.”

He followed his uncle into the guestroom, thinking about the lake the whole time.