If the lake doesn’t freeze tonight, sunrise will be ugly.
We went out on the lake despite all the warnings. We went out for one thing─ food.
It’s amazing at how fast the weather changed, like once the oven heated up it couldn’t wait to toast every glacier and iceberg. The dam that held back the water above Centerville gave way faster than a hooker takes off her dress. Not many survived. Most of the bodies rest beneath the water buried in thick layers of silt and mud that swept over the small town in minutes.
The apparitions appeared soon after, always at the same time. The dam burst at dawn catching the inhabitants while they yawned and made coffee. Daybreak. Now it’s a dangerous time to be caught out on the lake.
“I told you we shouldn’t have come out here.” My daughter surveys the expanse of water that surrounds our broken boat.
“We have to eat, Sarah.”
“You should have checked the oil.”
“I did, but you know what a piece of crap the engine is. It’s not like I’m a mechanic.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I’m just scared. You know the stories.”
“They’re just stories.” I fiddle with the engine trying not to think about Jim Harris who had come back to camp with a hand, frost-bitten and black. The ice keeps ‘them’ at bay, but there’s no security in the thought.
“It’s going to be dark soon. What are we going to do?” Terror trips along the edge of her voice.
“It’s cold. Maybe it will freeze.”
Her fear is my fear, because I believe in ghosts. How can the energy of so many people be wiped away in an instant with no remnant of their existence?
Sarah sat silent. It’s said that a crust of ice will keep the lake people beneath the water. It’s possible. The temperature swings are erratic, so there’s hope. It’s our best bet. To be caught out on the open water… well, Jim Harris tells his story.
He had been adrift on the lake, passed out more than likely, and woke up to a cold, fierce grip around his wrist. He claims Mr. Therman, who had been Centerville’s sole liquor store proprietor, had come to collect. Mr. Therman had tugged at him, but even in his belligerent state, Jim had escaped. He lost the hand to frostbite, small price to pay he claims.
You can find the rest of Centerville in Sanity’s Threshold. http://tinyurl.com/zp5h7ap