Why do people disappear at night on Lost Lake?
Kara stood on the white front porch of Sherrie’s Bed and Breakfast, looking down at Lost Lake. The setting sun transformed the lakes sapphire waters into molten gold. The empty pier emphasized Kara’s loneliness and indecision.
“Beautiful, isn’t it,” said Mark coming up beside her and placing his right hand next her hand on the wooden rail. “Romantic and tranquil, I understand you’re here alone as well.”
“Yes,” she turned to the dark eyed man standing next to her. “You’re Mark Philips aren’t you? You’re staying in the Lockhart Suite, the room next to mine.”
“Yes,” his eyes lit up when he smiled, “and you’re Kara Jenkins, the guest in the Franklin Suite.”
“Tell me, Mr. Philips,” she fixed her blue eyes on the empty pier. “Why do they take the boats in an hour before sunset?”
“Please, Ms. Jenkins, call me Mark.”
“Only if you call me Kara,” she brushed a blonde hair out of her eyes.
“The pier’s owners take the boats in to prevent any of the guests from going on a midnight cruise on the Lake; according to the locals Lost Lake is haunted.”
“That wasn’t in any of the brochures.”
“Neither was the real reason they call this Lost Lake, Kara.”
“I gather the name of the lake has something to do with the reason the boats are taken in at night.”
“Why don’t we walk down to the pier and I’ll tell you the story.” He took her hand guiding her toward the porch’s wooden steps. “Then you can tell me the reason a beautiful woman is staying by herself at a romantic bed and breakfast.”
“I’m come to Lost Lake to make a decision.” At the bottom of the steps, she stopped and looked up into Mark’s eyes. Odd, she thought, I would have sworn his eyes were black, but they look faded blue now. It must be a trick of the light.
“What decision was that, Kara?”
Taking a deep breath, she let him lead her down the stone covered path toward the pier. Along the sides of the path, rose bushes seemed to burst suddenly into bloom. Red, pink, white and black roses filled the air with their sweet perfume.
“I’m engaged,” she put her arm around Mark’s waist, as they stopped at the end of the path. In front of them was a cobble stone road with three forks. The fork directly ahead of them lead to the pier, the other two appeared to skirt the lake.
“And he let you come here alone.”
“I’ve put the wedding off three times this year. The last time I rescheduled, Rodger got very angry. He asked me if I really wanted to marry him and I wasn’t able to give him a definite yes or no.”
“I see,” removing her arm from his waist, he reached under a rose bush, filled with black buds and brought out a picnic basket. “I presume you’re hungry, Kara, since I noticed you didn’t eat any supper this evening.”
“I’m starving, Mark.” Hand and hand they ambled toward the pier, as rose bushes on either side of the road exploded into bloom at their passing.
“So you were telling me that Rodger sent you here to decide if you definitely wanted to marry him.”
“Rodger didn’t send me here, Mark, he thinks I’m in New York.” She smiled at the puzzled look on his face. “My great aunt Lena Franklin sent me here; it’s her private suite I’m staying in.”
“Lena Franklin… and she didn’t tell you about the Legends of Lost Lake?”
“Aunt Lena handed me a brochure and said this was where I needed to go to make my decision.”
“You didn’t argue with her?”
“Mark, when Aunt Lena makes a suggestion you take it as an order. When she gives an order, you just kiss her on the cheek and say: ‘Of course, Aunt Lena!’”
They stepped onto the pier at the same time. Paused to get their bearings and then walked to the far edge. Sitting down on the wooden pier, Mark opened the picnic basket and took out a bottle of sparkling apple cider wrapped in a terrycloth towel. Next, he spread a blue and red-checkered cloth on the pier. On the cloth, he placed bread, sliced roast beef, pickles, tomatoes, spicy mustard, potato salad, utensils and wine glasses.
“Do you love Rodger,” Mark asked as Kara sit down beside him.
“Love has very little to do with my relationship with Rodger,” her brow wrinkled as she began to make a sandwich. Why am I so relaxed with a stranger? I’ve never discussed my feelings for Rodger with anyone before tonight.
“If you don’t love him, Kara, why did you agree to marry him?” Mark studied the expression on her face, and then he smiled broadly.
“When I promised to marry him, I felt obliged to Rodger. My mother had just died and my brothers wanted to dispute her will. They didn’t think she was in her right mind, when she disinherited them three months before she died.”
“Your mother was wealthy?”
“My mother was well off, not rich. She left me the house and enough money to pay the property tax for the rest of my life. The rest of the money she left to an orphanage in Iraq.”
“Rodger was your lawyer?”
“Rodger was my mother’s lawyer. He wrote her will and convinced my brothers it was unbreakable. He courted me for about a month and then asked me to marry him. I think I said yes out of gratitude.”
Mark kissed her gently on the lips. “You don’t want to marry him out of gratitude, that’s understandable.”
“I don’t want to marry Rodger because my woman’s institution flashes warning signs every time the wedding day approaches.”
“I see,” he picked up a slice of pickle put some mustard on it and took a bite.
“Now,” Kara leaned over and kissed Mark on the cheek. “It’s your turn to tell me about Lost Lake.”
“About forty or fifty years ago, Sara Norton, the daughter of a local banker, took a midnight cruise during the dark of the moon. No one ever saw her again, they found the boat she took out the next day, but they never found her body.”
“What’s that got to do with not letting guest go on the lake at night?”
“About thirty years ago, a couple honey mooned here. The groom rented a rowboat for the night. He and his bride wanted to spend their wedding night on the lake. The next day, they found the bride alone in the boat.”
“What happened to her husband, Mark?” Kara watched him spread mustard on a pickle then wrap a tomato around it before taking a bite.
“According to the bride, they pulled a naked woman from the lake. From the waist down, the woman had the body of a fish. The bride said the woman kissed the groom passionately on the mouth and took him back into the water with her.”
“And ever since the superstitious locals have presumed Lost Lake was haunted.”
“Yes, Mark, Aunt Lena said the locals were ‘overly superstitious’, but harmless. Too bad we can’t go out on the lake and open that bottle of sparkling cider there.”
“I gather you’re not going to marry Rodger.”
“Mark, my gut feeling, my intuition, tells me Rodger is dangerous. Right before I rescheduled the first wedding one of my brother’s sent me a letter from Iraq. He said he couldn’t find the orphanage Mom put in her will. Three days later, my brother was killed by a roadside bomb.”
“Why did you reschedule the second and third time?”
“I got violently ill at the thought of marrying Rodger.”
“What does your woman’s intuition tell you about me, Kara?”
“You,” she studied his face, this time his eyes appeared violet and then changed to gold flicked blue. “You’re not what you appear to be, but your not dangerous either, at least not to me.”
“There’s a row boat hidden under the pier, Kara, why don’t we take it onto Lost Lake. If you go with me, you never have to return to Rodger or your life on Earth.”
Well, Kara thought as she repacked the picnic basket, at least, his proposition is different. I’ll have a night to remember when I go back home and tell Rodger, the reason I don’t want to marry him.
Mark helped Kara into the rowboat and then set the basket containing the sparking cider and food in the boat. Unfastening the rope from the pier, Rodger rowed toward the center of the lake. As they neared the center of Lost Lake, the water began to change from dark blue to molten gold. Looking up, Kara saw a saucer shaped object above them.
“What planet are you from, Mark?”
“The proper question, Kara, is what dimension am I from?”