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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Contest Entry · #2266206
Two teens, a boat, and something in the water. Written for Chapter One Contest
Mermaid Tail

Zeke and Chad, best friends since fifth grade, had taken Chad’s boat out on the lake to see how the motor would run. They had completely rebuilt it in their eleventh-grade shop class and now finally had a chance to try it out. Chad was in the back running the motor, Zeke was in the front, settling in on the front seat after pushing them off from the dock.

It was a calm day and the water provided a mirrored image to Zeke as he leaned over the front. He was half lost in thought when he realized a large fish had just swum under the boat. He quickly stood and leaned over the port side to see it better, but all he saw was a huge tail vanishing into the dark shadows of the deep.

“Holy Crap!” He exclaimed as it vanished beneath them. “That’s the biggest fish I’ve ever seen.”

“What kind was it?” Answered back, slightly irritated by Zeke’s outcry which had startled him. “A sunfish!” Chad answered his own question sarcastically.

“I don’t know, all I seen was the tail diving deep. But it was as long as the boat is wide, maybe longer.” Zeke saw the, “Ya sure it was” look on his friend’s face. “I shit you not, it was at least four feet long and as big around as my waist, well the part I could see.” He was excited and rambled on, “It didn’t look like any fish I’ve ever seen, it was like the scales shimmered and held all the colors of the rainbow.”

“Man, I think you’re full of it. You’re just imagining it, like a big tuft of seaweed or something.” Chad had already turned the motor and was steering the boat back over the area they had just passed. He let up on the throttle and the boat slowed. He shut off the motor and let it drift over the glassy water as he gently stood up and moved carefully towards the front.

The boat dipped in the front from the weight of the two as they looked over the front trying to see what they had passed over. Chad was sure it would be nothing more than a bunch of seaweed, but Zeke was sure it had swum off and nothing would be there.

Suddenly, before either could speak, something passed under the boat. It was a fish, a huge fish. “See,” Zeke cried out, “It’s as big as I am.”

“I seen it, but I don’t believe I seen it. There aren’t any freshwater fish that big.” Chad was looking towards the rear of the boat, where the fish had vanished from view. “Maybe it’s a huge catfish, I heard they could get that big, even bigger!”

“Yea, maybe, but catfish don’t have scales, and that thing has scales!” Zeke explained. “Look, here it comes again!”

Chad turned to the port side and sure enough, the huge fish was swimming towards them, very quickly. “Zeke, what the hell is it carrying in its mouth?” Before they could tell, the fish went deep and out of sight. They both leaned over further on the port side trying to see it as it passed under the boat. Even as the boat dipped to port, something hit the underside of the boat’s starboard side, and over it went, spewing both boys into the cold water.

Zeke came up about ten feet from the drifting boat, now floating upside down, and looked around as he spat water from his mouth. Chad was nowhere to be seen. “Chad!” Zeke yelled in a panicky voice, but even as the name left his tongue, his friend’s head popped out of the water about four feet away.

“Swim to the boat!” Chad yelled out to him as he started dog paddling towards to capsized craft. Zeke stretched out his arm and began swimming towards his friend and the boat as well. Chad, being closer grabbed hold of the upside-down boat and looked over his shoulder to see where Zeke was. Even as he saw him, swimming strong and fast towards him and the boat, something brushed against his legs; something huge! It almost tore his grip away from the rail of the boat he was clutching, and in horror, he saw what looked to be a person swimming under him and towards Zeke.

He was sure he had seen long red hair and the bare skin of her back, but then he saw the tail, the same fishy tail they had witnessed from the boat. He tried to cry out to Zeke, to warn him, but only a grunt came from his fear-stricken voice box, then Zeke was moving away from him and away from the boat.

For a brief minute, Zeke continued to swim but instead of moving forward, he was going backward. Then, horror-filled his eyes and he went under the water. Chad forgot his fear and swam towards his friend, or where his friend had been. He dove and looked but saw nothing. He surfaced just long enough to gulp in some air and dove again, and again. He went as deep as he could and thought his lungs would burst, but all he saw were weeds, rocks, and sand. Zeke was just gone.

He was swimming towards the surface, but he couldn’t hold his breath any longer. He kicked as the last bits of air blasted out from his burning lungs, then he felt water filling his mouth, he was choking, and then it was black.

He opened his eyes and looked around. At first, he didn’t remember, but then as memory flooded back, he tried to sit up and began calling for Zeke. The paramedics held him and gently pushed him back down. He started telling them he had to get to Zeke, but they hushed him and told him to relax. He fought a bit longer, then felt the darkness swallowing him up again.

When he woke again, he was in the hospital and his mother was sitting beside him. He looked at her and croaked out, “Zeke?”

“Rest Honey, the police are out searching. He must have swum to shore and they’ll find him.”

“No, something grabbed him and pulled him under.” He tried to explain, but she told him to hush...

He tried numerous times to tell numerous people what had happened out on the lake, but nobody would believe him. They explained how he had hit his head and suffered a pretty bad concussion when the boat flipped. The boat had drifted in the current until someone out fishing spotted it and called the police. Meanwhile, some kids on the beach by the landing had seen him lying on the shore, unconscious, and also notified the police.

The official story was that the boat had tipped, Chad had hit his head and went under. By all accounts, he should have drowned, but someone had pulled him out of the lake, resuscitated him, and then left him lying next to the water; no one knew who, they didn't stick around. Zeke had also drowned and they were searching the lake for his body.

He told his story to the police, who never recovered a body. They believed, in time, Zeke’s body would surface, but it was a big lake with a lot of currents, he could even have drifted into the river and been washed miles away. After a month, all the searching was called off; no body was recovered! Zeke’s parents, who needed closure, decided to have a funeral without a body. The first time Chad left the house after the accident, was to attend his best friend’s memorial.

There were a lot of people at the small cemetery that sat alongside the lake, the very lake that had taken his friend from him. Chad had given up trying to explain what had happened since everyone thought it was all hallucinations from his concussion, but he knew something had grabbed Zeke and pulled him down. He often had nightmares related to the accident, and in his own mind, he assumed whatever grabbed Zeke had probably eaten him.

One at a time, various people stood beside the marker that would be his friend's grave, if and when a body was found, telling different stories about Zeke and how they remembered him, Chad looked out at the lake where he knew whatever remained of his friend still lie. His eyes began tearing up and he wiped them with his sleeve.

At first, he didn’t even notice, but then he became aware of someone wading out of the lake towards the congregation of people. He wiped his eyes again, this time to clear away the haze from crying… Yes, there was someone walking out of the lake. He was almost to the shore now, dripping wet, hair plastered flat, seaweed hanging from his naked body --- It was, "Zeke!"

© Copyright 2022 Tj Jingleheimer-Demented Elf (callmetj at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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