Life in the Lake

There was a lake on the estate, at night it was an opaque inky black, the darkness seeping up through the stones and spreading across the water to the shore as evening set in. He had watched it happen. When he was a boy he had tried to tell his parents what happened to the lake but they refused to believe that the clear blue waters which sparkled during the day could ever become so sinister.

There was a folly near the lake. Something that his great grandfather had installed to give the place a feeling of history and importance. When he was younger, Will would pretend that the door was a portal to send him back in time and he would make his sister dress up in their mother’s long skirts and pretend to be a medieval wench. When he was ten he had taken to sitting in the door way of the folly and watching the sun go down. The inky blackness would seep through the water more and more as the sun got lower and lower. Sometimes he dangled his feet in the lake, waiting for the black to reach him but always getting scared and the evening ended with him running up the hill to the safety of the folly before it touched his toes.

Will was nineteen now, and stood firmly with his feet in the water, watching nervously as the sun dipped lower and lower. He needed to know what would happen before he went to travel for a year.

The ink had become visible as soon as the sun turned into a flaming orange ball and spread faster as soon as it touched the horizon. The darkness swirled and twisted out of the middle of the lake, reaching long, oily fingers through the water. A swathe of black silk looked like it had settle on the surface of the water and it shimmered in the remaining light which was slowly being dampened by a mist that had suddenly started to close in.

Will looked back at the folly that should have been behind him but he could barely see it through the dense curtain of fog that now surrounded the lake. He looked around him and saw that the mist had made a cylinder around the lake and the moon was getting brighter and brighter; all of its light focussed on the area around him like a spotlight. He looked back at the water and his heart nearly stopped as he saw that the silky ink was less than a metre away from his toes. He should turn back and run to the safety of the folly, that was what his body wanted to do. No, his mind was convinced that he would stand his ground.

The black ink began twisting and swirling more aggressively as it grew closer and closer to him. He had to open his eyes wide in disbelief as the oily blackness morphed into a pair of hands and his heart beat increased a hundred fold as they reached with the fingers outstretched. His breathing quickened and by the time that the hands enclosed around his ankles he couldn’t remember how to take air into his lungs anymore.

The hands were cold on his skin which seemed to absorb the feeling like a sponge; it spread up his legs and through the rest of his body. He looked down in horror as the oily hands clung to his ankles, the darkness hadn’t extended past him on his side of the lake and didn’t touch the shore. Slowly Will’s breathing became heavier as his body grew colder and colder and his muscles spasmed in a series of shivers.

The oil began to clump together and a pair of arms started extending from the hands, a head shape and then shoulders formed followed by the rest of the body so that it looked as if a shadow was lying face down in the water. The hands that still gripped his ankles became warmer and so did his body. He had to catch his breath as the head lifted out of the water, encased in a thick layer of what looked like dense black oil and glistened in the moon light.

The hands released his ankles and the figure started to stand up out of the water. Once stood, the oil melted off of them back into the lake and twisted its way to middle before sinking down to the bottom. What was left was a girl standing in front of him. She was completely naked but he couldn’t stop looking at her eyes which were completely black.

The girl blinked and seemed to wake up. For a moment they just stared at each other but when she shivered it seemed to break the spell. Will took off his jacket and offered it to the girl. She looked at it for a moment and took it hesitantly, staring at him intensely as she wrapped it around her pale body.

Will cleared his throat but didn’t know what to say. He was just so dumbfounded by what he had just seen that he was sure he must be in a dream.


Her voice made him jump, it was the first sound he had heard for what seemed like hours. The mist had dropped now too and everything around him was visible again.

‘Um, Will.’ He said and she nodded then stepped past him out of the water and made her way up the slight hill away from the lake.

It took Will a while to realise that she had gone and after rubbing his eyes he turned to follow her. She had already made it past the folly and nearly into the trees by the time he had put his shoes on.

‘Wait!’ he called but she didn’t look round, just kept walking.

He ran faster, and caught up with her, putting his hand on her shoulder to spin her round.

Her head whipped round and Will found himself staring straight into her black eyes. She had wanted to scare him away but when he just stood staring at her again, the girl didn’t know what to do.

‘Where are you going?’ Will asked eventually.

The girl flinched at his voice but composed herself straight away, ‘I don’t know.’ She sounded confident in her lack of knowledge but Will still felt like he wanted to help her.

‘Why don’t you stay in that building just back there until you do know?’ He gestured to the folly but didn’t take his eyes off of her face for fear that she would run away.

They stood in silence almost forever until she finally spoke in her soft tones.

‘I don’t think I will ever know.’

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