Dusk | Convenient Incidents Excerpt

The brothers wind up staying down by the res’ until dusk starts to creep over the horizon. From the start Cooper wanted to not walk back in the dark, but he doesn’t say anything to David. He doesn’t want to seem like a weenie, if he seems like a weenie his brother might stop fucking with him, and if that happened, there wouldn’t be anyone left except for his parents, and they’re the biggest weenies of them all… but still, it’s getting so dark.

“Hey Dave?” Cooper asks, reeling his line in.

“Wassup man?” Davoid has since changed from a surfboard lure to a bobber with a hooked worm.

“Can we go back? I don’t think we’re catching 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. Here.” He hands his pole off to Cooper. “Wrap mine up and gimme yours, I wanna take one more cast.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m still dreading walking back up that hill. Shit’s steep, dude.”

They share a laugh, the very last laugh they will ever share, quite possibly the last laugh with subconscious intent behind it 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 trunk and walks the pole into collapse. 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.

“Hey dude,” Cooper asks, turning back towards the water. “What’s the cap for? On the fishing rods.”

“Wha’?” 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 with the blade pointing opposite his thumb, just like a knife fighter. “Reel it in, David! We’ll gut that fucker like a fish and eat it for fuckin’ dinner!”

“It is a fish, ya nut! And I’m trying!”

David isn’t lying, either – the reel spins like the tires on his car rolling up Fricker, the collapsible fishing pole is curved like the crescent moon Spencer ended their friendship beneath last night – he did it in the spot they smoked weed together for the first time! Heartless! – and the Wanaque’s waters rumble like their house when Cooper was working out this morning.

“It’s comin’… it’s comin’… I got i–”

A moment of silence as his eyes grow wide and his bottom jaw droops low. “What the fuck is that?!”

Cooper isn’t 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, a ghostly pale; its scales are 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 behind the elephant ear fins on either side of its head, squirming like the worm on David’s hook, are a half-dozen writhing black tentacles. It lifts its head high above the water, its body legless and armless with trillions of tiny little feeler arms twitching all over its belly. The boys don’t know what to do, they’re paralyzed with fear – how fucking long has this fucking thing been living in the Wanaque Reservoir?!

A thought dawns in David’s head, the last thought he’ll ever think: ‘Is this why fishing in the Wanaque is illegal? Because of this thing?

As if it heard him, the serpent opens its mouth and screams out a banshee’s wail. One shiny slick tentacle extends like the fishing poles and wraps itself around David’s neck.

Then, David is gone, lurched into the water without a yelp.

Then, Cooper is alone in the darkness.

Then, Cooper is fucking angry, and the darkness assumes a reddish tint.

Coop’ sprints into the water, gripping the knife so hard that his knuckles turn as white as the monster’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 and stabs it and stabs it again, puts more holes in the fucker than a slice of swiss cheese, all the while screaming, “Give 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 sunken fuckin’ 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 whatever it was 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 sprinting until he’s all the way up that steep hill David was dreading so much. He realizes he forgot the backpack, but it doesn’t matter, it’s too late now. 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, praying that his parents are home, praying that David left the keys in the car so he can get his autographed DIBKIS CD David got him for his birthday, praying against reality that his older brother doesn’t meet the same fate as the older Johnson brother who once ran the trails in the woods around Fricker Drive.

Sprinting alone through the dark, Cooper prays and prays. His only answer is the beating of his heart. It punches through his ribcage like booming bass through uninsulated ceilings.


This project was fun, came out real solid. I wrote a good chunk of it deep in the forest up the road from my parents’ house. It’s kind of a cross between a novel and a short story anthology, mixes the mundanity of backwoods life and the inanity of folklore, legend, cryptid, myth. Hope ya dig it (-:

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