The water was still. Not smoothed over like “glass,” as they called it, but it was the middle of winter, so there were no boats and the wind wasn’t more than a light breeze where Jack stood on the dock. There were ripples moving over the surface of the lake, as there always are with a living body of water, but they were small enough to only make any given line of reflection dance back and forth a little without breaking.
It wasn’t the fact that he could clearly see the reflections of the far bank on the surface of the water that made him strain his eyes, looking out over the surface, while feeling his pulse slowly climb in terror. The glass hadn’t surprised him at all; that was normal, maybe even expected, this time of year. No, Jack’s eyes flitted around the surface of the lake in panic because of the disturbance he had seen way out there. If it was closer, others may have assumed that it was a fish, but as the rings spread out from that one violent splash, he made the estimation that it had been at least a thousand feet off shore. For him to have noticed it at all, it had to have been big.
The feeling of that cold tentacle slithering up his leg and taking hold crept into his mind. He tried to think of other things, but its sickening grasp was fast this time, unlike that summer when he had been a boy; that summer when five kids had gone missing over the course of a month, pulled down into the depths, their bodies never recovered. He had been the lucky one, the one that, for some reason, the creature had felt and not taken. Perhaps he lost the creature in the murky water when he swam for shore, or perhaps his scrawny legs hadn’t had enough meat on them. He wasn’t sure, but he knew he was luckier than at least three boys and two girls that summer, whatever the reason.
The disappearing children had been attributed to changing downwelling in the lake. Jack had known better, he had felt that slick appendage wrap around his leg and tug slightly before letting go. The rash of drownings had only happened that one summer thirty years before, that Jack could remember, but he had done some digging in the archives. It happened like clockwork, every three decades.
This was the year.
He could tell somebody, but who would he tell, nobody believed what was coming, and thus, nobody could stop it but him.
As he dumped his dive gear and harpoon gun into the front of the boat, Jack reminded himself that he still had a few months before the tourists started showing up and recklessly zipping around the lake. The tourists that were loud, obnoxious litter bugs with no respect for anything; the tourists he was struggling to save.