The brothers wind up staying down by the res’ until dusk. Cooper didn’t want to be caught walking back at night, but he didn’t say anything to his brother. He didn’t want to seem like a weenie, if he seemed like a weenie his brother might stop fucking with him. And if that happened, there wouldn’t be anyone left except his parents, and they’re the biggest weenies of them all… but still, it’s getting so dark out.
“Hey Dave?” Cooper asks, reeling his line in.
“Wassup man?” Dave has since changed from a surfboard lure to a bobber with a hooked worm.
“Can we uh, can we go back? It’s getting kind of late, I don’t think we’re going to catch anything.”
David shrugs. “Yeah, sure. I’m not gonna lie, I only haven’t said anything because I’ve been dreading walking back up that hill we ran. Here,” he says, handing Cooper his pole. “Wrap mine up and gimme yours, I wanna take one more cast.”
“Because I’m still dreading walking back up that hill we ran. Shit’s steep, dude.”
They share a laugh, the very last laugh they will ever share, quite possibly the very last laugh Cooper will ever experience, but we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, aren’t we? After being loaded with a worm, the lure, a little greenback jobbie with black spots that almost resembles a fish, hits the water, and David counts to ten in his head to let it sink. Then, he begins to reel, slowly at first.
Cooper, with the handle of the pole in his left hand, angles the thin end perpendicular against a tree and then walks the pole into collapsed form. He caps it with the hard plastic thing that keeps it from… well, it doesn’t keep it from opening up by itself, because there are no springs in the pole. Cooper’s not really sure what the cap is for… maybe to keep it intact when it’s in the backpack?
“Hey dude,” he asks, turning back towards the water. “What’s the cap for?”
“Whah?” David says. “I dunno, probably just for the sake of being there. Kind of like I was to Spencer.”
“Oof,” says Cooper, and he smiles again.
Then, something almost rips the pole from David’s hands.
“Woah!” he shouts, falling back on his ass for leverage. “Yo, I think I got something, dude! It’s fuckin’ big!”
Cooper runs to the backpack, throws the pole inside, and pulls out the folding knife his Dad probably didn’t realize he left in the bag the last time he took it down here. He snaps it open and grips it so the blade extends outwards from his curled pinky finger, just like a knife fighter. “Reel it in, David! We’ll gut that fucker like a fish and eat its ass for dinner!”
“It is a fish, ya nut, and I’m trying!” David isn’t lying either – his hand is spinning like the tires of his car rolling up Fricker, the collapsible fishing pole is bent like the crescent moon under which Spencer unceremoniously ended their friendship last night– in the same spot they first smoked weed together, too! Heartless! – and the Wanaque’s waters are rumbling like their house when Cooper was working out this morning.
“It’s comin’… it’s comin’… I got ih–”
A moment of silence as his eyes grow wide and his bottom jaw droops low. “What the fuck is that?!”
Cooper isn’t totally sure, as it’s difficult to see under the light of the rising moon, but it almost looks like a fish. Not a lake fish, but some terrible deformed thing living at the bottom of a deep-sea trench. Its eyes are bulbous, empty, and a ghostly pale, its skin is orange in between the bones, and the bones – the everbleached bones of the thing! – are on the outside of its body. It has teeth longer than the blade of Cooper’s knife, and squirming out from beneath its gills like the worm on the hook of David’s fishing lure are a whole mess of writhing black tentacles. It stands tall over the water, its body legless and armless with trillions of tiny little fins arranged like the scales should be if this thing even had scales. The boys don’t know what to do, they’re paralyzed with fear – how fucking long has this thing (which will be referred to as The Serpent by Cooper when he finally sees a therapist about this grim fishing trip) been living in the Wanaque Reservoir?!
A thought dawns in David’s head, the last thought he’ll ever think: ‘Is this why trespassing in the Wanaque is so illegal? Is it because of this thing?’
As if it heard him, The Serpent opens its mouth and screams a terrible banshee’s wail. One of its tentacles, a particularly plump and juicy one, extends out like the fishing poles and wraps itself around David’s neck.
Then, David is gone, lurched into the water without time to even yelp.
Then, Cooper is alone in the darkness.
Then, Cooper is fucking angry, and the darkness assumes a reddish tint.
He sprints into the water, gripping the knife so hard that his knuckles are as white as The Serpent’s bones, and wades through the shallows until he can dive into the depths. It’s so dark, the water is so murky, but he opens his eyes anyway and through the sting of the sand and grit he sees what looks like the creature’s tail, and he stabs it. Cooper stabs it over and over and over again, putting more holes in the fucker than a slice of swiss cheese, all the while screaming, “Give me back my fucking brother you piece of fucking shit!” but the thing is not moving. It’s not flinching, not recoiling, it… it’s a piece of wood. Cooper is assaulting a fucking sunken log.
Cooper bursts through the water’s surface and gasps for air, his lungs burning like David’s cheeks when Cooper called him out for smoking in the house. He starts to flail, he punches and stabs the water, his pulled bicep tries to get him to stop but he doesn’t listen – not until he realizes that The Serpent is still in the water with him, and that all this commotion might just attract it back.
When Cooper hits dry land, he doesn’t stop running until he’s all the way up that hill David was dreading so much. He realizes he forgot the backpack, but it doesn’t matter, it’s too late. He has to get home, he has to tell his parents. He has to get out of these fucking woods.
Cooper rips down the trails just like his brother taught him to, praying David left the keys in the car so he can get his autographed DIBKIS CD that David got him as a birthday present, praying that his parents are home, praying against reality that his older brother doesn’t meet the same fate as the older Johnson brother who went missing in these woods, too.
Alone in the darkness Cooper prays and prays and prays, and is only answered by the heavy beating of his heart, the mad thumps punching loudly through his ribcage like booming bass through uninsulated ceilings.
Hello Commons, this has been the last subchapter of the fifth story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here OR you can buy the ebook for even cheaper here.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~