Aphelion Issue 257, Volume 24
December 2020 / January 2021
 
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Horror at Willow Lake

by Isaac Lowry




David Leech sat in his car listening to the sound of the rain beat the roof. He turned and looked at the crooked and run down old house. It was 12:04 AM, but all the lights were on. David looked back down the dark street through his wet, distorted windshield. Many of the old street lights were out, only one still shined - a singular pathetic light - washed out by the pouring rain. David rubbed his hands together and then rubbed his temples. He checked the address he had written on scrap paper. The front door of the warped old house opened and a greasy man came jogging out to David’s car. He tossed the scrap of paper aside.

‘Roll down your window!’ the man mouthed as he got closer.

David did as he was told. The man held one hand on his hip, undoubtedly resting on a gun, and leaned inside the car window.

“You Leech?” he asked, squinting to keep the rain out of his eyes.

David nodded.

The man smiled to reveal his teeth were just as skewed as the house, “Well then, come on in.”

David followed him up the rugged, wet gravel walk. Once both inside, David kept his head low and his eyes to the ground. Forty-two years old, David reached inside the jacket of his patchy, second-hand, black suit and pulled out a handkerchief. He began dabbing his balding head. The man with the crooked teeth slapped David on the back and motioned to the living room.

“This your first time?” he asked, smiling.

David shook his head, “No.”

“Good, good,” the man’s grin refusing to fade, “well have a seat.”

The man motioned to a ratty couch and then left the room. David looked around at the dilapidated living room and remained standing. Murmuring, music, and moaning could be heard throughout the house, matched in volume by the sound of the rain. David saw no one.

After some time the man returned to the room with a woman whose beauty had been traded for hard drugs, hard alcohol, and hard times. She was smoking a cigarette. He was leading her by the waist with his hand.

“I’d like you to meet Holly,” he said, subtly pushing her forward.

David kept his eyes locked with the ground. Without looking up he began shaking his head ‘no’.

“What’s wrong, man, not your type?” he asked David. “Michelle, get in here, this man wants to meet you!” he yelled into another room.

Another weathered looking woman began to enter, but David immediately shook his head.

“Not her.”

The greasy man approached David, threateningly. He put his long skinny arm around David’s stocky shoulders.

“What are you out here for, huh?” he said closely in David’s ear.

David stared out a broken window and watched the rain intently, he imagined himself somewhere else.

“...too old,” he finally murmured.

“Well, now we’re gettin’ somewhere!” the man shouted excitedly, throwing his arms up, startling David.

He walked over to the lady named Holly, “Could you go get Lucy for me?” he asked lovingly.

The lady named Holly puffed her cigarette and left without saying a word.


*****



David opened the door to the motel room and they both shuffled inside out of the rain. David reached over and turned on a lamp, Lucy went over and sat down on the bed.

“Nice room,” she said, gliding her hands over the sheets, “You from around here?”

David, who was now making sure the curtains were closed, paused for a moment, before continuing without answering.

“You may be quiet, but you seem a lot nicer than a lot of the guys I’ve met.”

Lucy stood and walked to David, she began embracing him from behind.

“You don’t gotta be so paranoid,” she said, and began trying to kiss his cheek.

David softly pulled away and turned towards Lucy, his eyes still at the ground. He glanced up at her for a moment, taking in the features of her face. She was young but very pretty, with light blonde hair and hazel eyes, she had dimples and soft lips. ‘She looked so innocent, and so lovely,’ David would think to himself when remembering that night. David remembered all the girls.

“Excuse me, Lucy,” he said to her nervously. David then exited the motel room and returned to the rain, he closed the door behind him.

“Oh, okay,” Lucy said, but it was already too late, David had already left.

Lucy went and sat down on the bed again and began relaxing. She heard the bathroom door rattle, but it could’ve been her imagination. Lucy sat up and looked to the door David had exited through, she sighed. She heard something fall over in the bathroom, but it could’ve been a rat. Lucy got up and began pacing the room aimlessly. She heard the bathroom door rattle again, for sure this time, but it could’ve been the storm. Lucy began approaching the door.

“Hello?” she asked, “Is anyone there?”

The bathroom door slowly shifted and creaked in its frame. Though hard to tell at first, a shadow progressively grew around the door, as if whatever was inside was sucking in the light. Lucy felt like there was a force pulling her body closer and closer to the door. The bolt on the front door snapped locked. The shadow grew bigger. A strong smell of mold filled the room as the lights flickered. Disoriented and unable to breathe, unable to pull herself backwards, Lucy saw the bathroom door open. It could’ve been a nightmare, but it was a monster. It was evil.

David sat in his car listening to the sound of the rain beat the roof. It was 12:37 AM, and the street lamps in the empty parking lot glowed orange but offered no light in the storm. A muffled scream came from inside David’s motel room. He looked at the building’s old run down sign: Shady Brook Motel. No longer able to focus on the rain he turned on the radio. David lit a cigarette and began to cry.


*****



David rolled in bed under his ratty covers. The musty motel room was cramped and lonely. He looked at the clock on his nightstand; it read 11:59 AM. David hadn’t slept. The evil that had once been in David’s room had left. It left, along with all evidence of Lucy, into the dark water logged forest. The only impression left by Lucy in that room were the thoughts in David’s head. So David laid in bed, uncomfortable and nervous. He thought Lucy looked so innocent. He thought she looked so lovely.

David shivered as the thrashing storm outside beat his windows. He arose from his bed and turned on a smashed lamp that struggled to illuminate the room. He walked through the stuttering, campfire like light, to the old wooden dresser that sat across from his bed. David turned on the radio. A romantic jazz ballad crackled through his room. He pulled open a single drawer and withdrew a bottle of vodka.

After some time David stood dancing, swaying and twirling around. He did his very best to imagine a new life. Maybe he was at a club, romancing a beautiful woman; or perhaps at his delusive daughter’s wedding, taking the first dance. It didn’t matter, at least he wasn’t at the Shady Brook. As his delusions faded, David howled and sang along; every word adding to the weight in his heart, every word knowing precisely how he felt. He was a man aware of his mistakes but lacking the conviction to change. He continued on and on, circling the carpet, until the bottle was empty.

David hunched with his hands on his knees, panting. He leaned out onto the dresser for support. In doing so, he glimpsed a picture tucked in the mirror’s corner above the dresser. David beamed at the faded and torn picture of an angry, stalwart woman, with a young set of twins in front of a beaten shack house. The woman had a cheap pipe in her mouth, a thick leather belt, and various, home done, tattoos. The music of the radio bellowed on. David pulled his gaze to himself in the mirror.

Thump! He shot to his feet. David opened another drawer in the dresser, he grabbed a pack of cigarettes and pulled one out with his mouth. David retrieved a match from his pocket. As his eyes welled up, his heart raced. He wiped his fatigued eyes, before lighting his match and subsequently his cigarette.

Crash! Thunder rumbled outside as the rain battered the windows. David took a long drag before reaching back into the drawer, this time pulling out a revolver. David checked the gun, there were two bullets. He closed it again and stared at himself in the mirror. His breathing became shaky as he puffed his cigarette. His eyes came to capacity with tears. David pointed the revolver with a shaking hand at his reflection. Staring it deeply into the eyes; David hardly breathed. He was waiting. He shut his eyes with anticipation.

“Come on, come on,” he mumbled to himself. David opened his eyes, he shrieked, “come out!”

David promptly swung the cool barrel of the gun around to meet his now boiling temple. His cigarette dangled from his quivering lip. David gawked at his reflection, doing his best to see it through the accumulated tears. His heart beat throughout his body.

Slam! David smashed the gun onto the dresser and backhanded the radio off. His hands gripped the wood of the dresser top, his elbows trying not to buckle under the weight of his body. David’s back heaved and knees shook as he held back tears.

David groaned softly and then louder, and louder still; over the sizzling and broken tunes of the smoking radio. David let out a pleading shriek, his temples strained, as his face turned red, he lifted himself clutching the dresser. Panting, David slowly grabbed the heavy gun with a weak hand and slipped it into the pocket of his cheap suit. David looked back at his reflection, it promptly changed. Its hair thinned, its teeth fell out, its eyes sunken and bloodshot, skin paled. A manic grin now on its face. The reflection looked like David, but it wasn’t. It looked through him. David took in the horror- he heard the laughs, and the laments, the pleas, and the punishment, echoing in his head.

Crash! With one last bit of rage David punched the mirror, shattering it, slicing his hand.

David crumbled to the floor of his motel room, quickly losing his boiling blood through the gash on his hand. David felt cold as he watched the blood spread and soak through the weathered carpet like a sponge. He saw his still lit cigarette sitting in a small patch of burnt carpet, the swell of blood barreling toward it. David rolled over and plucked the cigarette just in time. He placed it in his mouth as he cleared his throat. David wiped his teary eyes with his sleeve, while holding his injured hand. He crawled to the bathroom and grabbed a hand towel, he tightly wrapped it around his wound. The storm howling and the broken radio still limping to carry a tune, David laid there on the bathroom floor, breathing heavily and smoking his cigarette; he thought about Lucy. David closed his eyes, he didn’t move.

However, very directly, the phone began to ring.


*****



It was now a quarter past five. After a long bit of silence, the door to David’s motel room opened. A pale, weak man stumbled out. He shuffled one scuffed shoe in front of the other, into the drowned parking lot. He leaned on a light post and looked up to see a thin young man jogging towards him, through the current drizzle.

“Hey,” he called, “Mr. Leech!”

David slowly raised his feather light head as Oliver approached.

“Oh, hello, Oliver.”

“Listen, we received more noise complaints today.”

“Oh, I-I’m sorry, it won’t happen again,” David battled to make eye contact.

Oliver took in David’s state, he noticed the crimson tinged bandage around his hand. He noted David’s white complexion.

“Are you okay?”

“Oh, of course,” David shyly chuckled and waved with his injured hand. “I’m fine.”

Oliver wiped the rain droplets from his forehead, he lowered his voice, “Listen, David, I-I see you bring girls in and out of here all the time. And really, I don’t care what you do with prostitutes, that’s your own business, but if you’ve gotten yourself in deep I…” Oliver trailed off. “Well look, I can lend you some money.”

Oliver reached into his back pocket to retrieve his wallet. David shook his head.

“No, no, I really don’t need your money.”

“Really, it’s okay.”

“Oliver, please.”

Oliver looked at the slouched, wet man before him, whose eyes could no longer bring themselves to find company. He put his wallet away.

“I guess I’m just trying to say, if you ever need help, David.”

“Thank you, Oliver.”

Oliver trudged back toward the motel office, David still leaning on the light. He lifted himself off. He barely felt strong enough to walk as his head spun, but he walked on.

David was doing as he was told. Nothing would’ve suited him more than to stay home, at that, if he had his way he’d still be on the bathroom floor. However, David was told to go out, so that is what he did. He was told to enjoy himself. So he got in his car and started it up. He only took a moment or two to rest his eyes at the wheel, before lighting a cigarette, putting it in gear, and pulling out of the parking lot. David was told to enjoy himself, and so he tried. He was headed to the Crow’s Club Lounge.


*****



The Crow’s Club Lounge, once a prosperous establishment, was now home to the drunk, lonely, and lost. In Willow Lake, it was never empty. Selfish and violent men packed the dim red velvet lounge, consuming. Stale smoke filled the air, empty bottles riddled the floor, and lonely hands violated innocent bodies.

David sat at the bar - perched upon his stool, guzzling cheap beer and snapping cheap shots. David would only leave his steady seat and brave standing, let alone walking, to journey to the restroom every 20-40 minutes. He would void his bladder or perhaps his stomach, then return to his perch. Other than that, he remained seated, thinking. He thought of Lucy. He wondered what her family life was like. He thought about all the girls, and then he drank to forget them. David would go off on a drunk tangent, then repeat the process all over again.

“Having a hard night?” a woman’s voice asked.

David looked up to meet the prettiest pair of green eyes he’d ever seen. She was already getting David another drink. David admired her soft, pale skin. He found her small stature charming. He imagined his arms wrapped around her.

“Yeah.”

The lovely young girl placed a beer on the counter and smiled, “Well, this one’s on the house.”

“Thank you,” David smiled as he grabbed the beer.

The beautiful bartender looked at David’s hand as he pulled the heavy glass toward him. He focused on the glass and avoided the gaze of her beautiful green eyes.

“Is your hand ok?”

David laughed sheepishly, “Yes, ma’am.”

“You’re too nice for this place,” she joked.

“Oh, I don’t know about that.”

“What’s got you down, sweetie?”

“Uh, I guess you’d call it family issues,” David chuckled.

“Mm, I know how that goes. My mom can be a real bitch sometimes, but in the end they’re all you’ve really got, right?”

David hung his head, thinking on the statement. “I suppose, ma’am.”

“Well, there you go again!” she laughed at his politeness.

“Hey, sweet ass!” a gruff voice called from down the bar.

The kind, young girl turned and looked over at a greasy, overweight, drunk. He waved at her and banged his empty bottle on the bar. She sighed.

The young girl looked back to David, “if you need anything just look for me, I’m Claire.”

She smiled and walked away down the grimy bar, like prey toward predators. David couldn’t stand to watch and so averted his eyes. He reached for a bowl of nuts only to find it empty. The loss of blood and abundance of alcohol in the remaining, again, caught up to him. David’s floating head began to spin, his bar stool tower no longer a stable haven. He quickly stumbled to the squalid restroom.


*****



The time was 8:23 PM on a murky night in Willow Lake as David purged sweet poisons from his spoiled body. His bloodless hands squeezed the rim of the stained bowl as David’s body seized again. He lifted his head from the ceramic gutter and wiped his chin as the bathroom door crashed open. He heard the voice of a man and a woman as footsteps shuffled over the tiled floor.

“Come on, baby, relax,” said the voice of a gruff man.

David sat himself on the toilet and lifted his feet. He resigned to listen to the words of encouragement and opposed pleas of civility, as he had many times before; lest he exit the stall and risk confrontation. So he sat, silent, on the seat of the toilet, listening to the struggle and mumble of unwanted affection.

Though through the conflict, David heard the pleading cry of a familiar angelic voice.

Claire cried, “Please don’t do this!”

David recognized the sugary tones of her voice even through the shroud of panic. He immediately sat up. He could feel all of his muscles tighten as his blood flowed like electricity. His heartbeat reaching through every inch of his body. David became increasingly conscious of his light, unsteady breath as he worked harder to suppress it and listen to the struggle.

“I really don’t think we should do this, please stop,” he heard Claire implore.

However the boorish man just kept coming, “It’ll be fine, come on, you been flirtin’ with me all night.”

David heard Claire cry, “Please stop, I’m a virgin.”

“Shut up, I’ll show you what to do,” he grew more aggressive.

“Please! Stop!”

“Be quiet!”

Smack! The sound of a filthy hand chastising a pure cheek rang in David’s ear. His blood was pumping so fast it was impossible for his body to not shake. As his temperature rose, so did his rage. David listened as the conflict grew more violent. He became more and more aware of the weight of something dragging down his jacket pocket. David reached his trembling hand into his dirty jacket and felt the cool steel barrel of his revolver. David pulled it from his pocket and tried to hold it steady in his hands, gawking at it as if it were burning his palms.

Inside David’s head a battle was being raged about the risks and rewards of the action in question. He thought about the morals he held in his heart, then the practices of his life. He considered how an action like this may affect his family; he reflected on his family. David stared down at the chilled steel and wrestled with himself. All while the assaulting cries of a heartless man trespassing in a young woman boiled him to a point of detonation.

Three words uttered in the shuffle hung in David’s ears. He can’t remember much before or after, but David heard them distinctly.

‘I’m only fifteen.’

David found himself outside the stall. Between the loss of blood, abundance of alcohol, and blind panic, David couldn’t keep track of his actions. David exited with his gun and began screaming. It may have been words, or maybe threats and curses slurred together. Perhaps just animalistic sounds, propelled by David’s exasperation.

The man stumbled back in surprise, his toxic lust turning to shameful ire. He defensively collected himself and moved towards David. Her shirt half on, Claire struggled to gather herself. She covered her bruised face and shrieked, slipping into pure shock.

With his injured hand, David squeezed his hardest, the butt of the gun pressed deep into his gashed hand. The man stopped as the hammer flew. David braced his arm for the force of a small canon to rock through it.

Click. The ugly man still stood frozen in place, the ugly man still stood. No cracking boom polluted the sound of Claire’s fearful screams. The chamber David had fired was empty. David opened his eyes and quickly checked his gun. David saw two bullets seated inside, far from the hammer’s wrath. He fought off double vision as he turned the cylinder to put them into a fatal position. As David lifted his aching head to look back at the vile man, he heard the door closing. The bathroom was empty.

Things slowed back down now for David. His heart was still pumping a mile a minute, but he was regaining control. He turned to Claire to see her still cowering in the filthy corner. He moved close, slowly, with his hand out.

“Claire.”

“Don’t touch me!”

“I-I…”

“P-please, leave me alone.”

David hung his head. He could feel his spine shiver as the all too familiar, and all the more unwelcome, feeling of loneliness seeped back into his body. He felt his eyes begin to well.

“I’m sorry, I just-” David reached back out.

“Leave me alone!” Claire begged, cowering in fear.

David stood, his vision tunneled though he dared not linger. He grabbed the sink to turn- one slow, assisted step at a time, and made his way to the door. He could feel tears draw lines down his cheeks. David wiped them away.

He returned to the deafening lounge, filled to the brim with music and yelling. David stumbled back to the bar and plopped down onto his stool. He grabbed the beer Claire had left for him and drank. David lit a cigarette and blew the smoke up toward the ceiling. A man from down the bar approached holding a phone. The cord stretched far to reach.

“You Leech?” he asked.

David nodded.

“There’s a man named Hollis on the phone, wants to talk to you.”

David’s eyes widened, his heart stopped. David reached out his hand for the phone. The man handed it to him. David did his best to stabilize his grip as he lifted the phone to his ear. His thoughts racing through all the possibilities of what it could be, though deep down there was only one thing David could think of.

David pressed his ear to the phone and listened. He heard slow breathing.

“Hello?”

Slowly, Hollis said, “Get Claire.”


*****



Much of the next hour was a blur for David. After his beer, he again snapped some shots. After some time, the sound of the tiny glasses slamming back onto a wooden bar would be replaced by the sound of banging from his trunk.

David found himself at the wheel, swerving back and forth on the slick leaf caked road. The commotion in the trunk grabbing his attention.

“What am I doing?” David repeated the question to himself over and over again. Each time losing more and more control of his composure. With great disdain, David had always known the inhumanity of his actions, lacking the conviction to change. He was a scared, lonely man, telling himself over and over again, ‘This will do it.’ A statement that inevitably would lead him back around to the style of self interrogation he was now subject to. No progress had ever been made, and David knew it.

The rain droplets streaming across the windshield matched the image of tears on David’s face. He tried to light a cigarette with a shaking hand and a gasping breath, nearly swerving off the road.

Upon reaching the Shady Brook, David pulled his car up in front of his room. The clouds in the distance warning of another great storm, as the lightning battled within them. The parking lot was as empty as ever, as David scanned the surroundings.

David opened his trunk as the storm drew closer. He saw Claire’s beautiful green eyes, stricken with fear. They looked at David the same way they had the man at the bar. David’s heart was swallowed up by his stomach. His insides felt like they were too much for his body. At this time, life felt claustrophobic.

David heaved Claire’s tiny, wriggling body from his trunk. He avoided her eyes and screamed toward the dripping sky as his weak arms tried to drag her into his room.

Claire did her best to tear out of her binds, moving her body violently. David dragged her off of the wet pavement and onto the dank carpet. Claire’s eyes darted around, taking in her surroundings. She saw the blood, the broken furniture, and burn marks on the floor. She began crying harder. Through her gagged mouth, Claire attempted to plead with David, however he refused to look at her. After a moment Claire heard the door close and found herself in the dark room all alone.

Laying on her stomach, she rolled over and sat up as best she could; David was nowhere to be seen. She animalistically tore at her binds, loosening up her feet. Claire scanned the room slowly. A noise came from the bathroom, whose door was ever so slightly ajar. Claire’s breathing struggled to break through her gag as she kept her eyes locked with the door.

Very subtly the door creaked open a sliver. Claire attempted to remove her gag with her shoulder and yell to whoever may be inside.

“Hello!” she managed to muffle out.

The door slowly, as if blown by the wind, closed itself back to a crack.

“Please! Someone kidnapped me!” she cried through the cloth around her mouth.

The door opened again slightly more than before, Claire stared deep into the dark void beyond, looking for someone, anyone.

“Please!”

The little ambient light in the room tried to penetrate the void beyond the door. Claire’s full attention now on the mystery of what lay on the other side. The matte void remained still and calm until an indistinct ghost of a face moved amongst the shadows.

Claire gasped and shuffled herself away in her binds, “Hello?”

The door creaked fully open, Claire’s eyes gaped at the sight. Gradually out of the darkness crawled an indescribable creature of a man. His fingers and limbs were skinny and long, his clothes tattered to rags, he emitted the smell of mold and decay. This spider of a man crawled his way out of the bathroom and towards Claire, a thick leather belt in hand. The thoughts in her head raced a mile a minute, taking her breathing along with them. She watched, appalled and dismayed. The look of fear only further enticing the creature, contorting his face into a toothless smile. The face of David Leech.

However, David was at home with his family. His wife in the kitchen making dinner, his kids running around playing. Or so David was imagining, while in reality he was sitting in the driver’s seat of his beat-up car. The wind and rain threatened to break in. Faint screams, mixed with the howling of the wind, tried to tear David from his fantasy. His eyes squeezed harder shut and, he began to rock slightly. Blindly, David reached around his passenger’s seat for a cigarette. He drew it to his lips and raised a match to light it.

Tap! Tap! David nervously fumbled his cigarette and match. His eyes opened to see Oliver standing outside his car window.

David rolled down the window. “Oh, hello Oliver,” he tried to say over the roaring wind.

“Mr. Leech, I-I gotta say,” Oliver stumbled over his words nervously, avoiding eye contact.

David’s body tensed up.

“Mr. Leech, I saw you...just now, with that girl,” Oliver sounded almost apologetic.

Thunder clapped in the parking lot as lightning ran up David’s spine, “Oliver, no, no...it’s not…” He felt the competing negativities of the being exposed and being alone spreading their roots throughout him.

A distinct scream cut through the sounds of the wind. Oliver’s head snapped towards David’s motel room.

“Hello! Are you okay!” Oliver began banging on the door as he fumbled with his maintenance keys.

David slowly opened his car door and stepped out into the storm, Oliver turned to look at him.

“David, stay back!” he said, searching through his keys.

Smack! Another loud hit and subsequent scream came from within the room. David approached Oliver, tearful and weak. He walked with his arms open, sobbing.

“Stop, Oliver, p-please stop” David begged as he got closer.

“Help! Please!” Claire belted through the commotion.

David grabbed Oliver’s arm and practically hung from it; he begged, and pleaded, and blubbered. Oliver, all the while, attempted to shake off his weight as he became tormented by the cries of an innocent girl. The storm beating them both.

“O-oliver, I’m begging you, please.”

Smack! Another scream. Oliver grabs David’s stocky shoulders and thrusts him to the puddled ground. Oliver turned his body back towards the door and readied himself. He swung his foot.

Bang! The wind tore at the forest, the rain beat the trees, and David Leech’s motel room door laid flat on the ground, as did Oliver. David laid on the ground, panting as the weather punished him, smoking gun in hand.

The storm raged around them, though to David the parking lot was still. David gawked at his hand, in awe of his own action. He crawled himself over the wet pavement to get a better look inside. He saw Oliver’s muddy boots laying askew on top of the door, his bloody body beyond that.

Claire’s whimpering continued, but the whipping had stopped. David’s eyes searched further into the room. He saw the pale figure standing crookedly. The battered man turned and looked at David, smiled at him with his own smile, and then ignored him with his own eyes.

In this moment of pause, Claire promptly leapt past the pale man and out of the door. She landed on top of Oliver’s limp, wet body, and managed to free her ankles. Claire clumsily and violently crawled herself out to the parking lot. David, still in shock from his own action, watched her through teary eyes, and did nothing. Weeping, Claire glanced back at David for a moment. He took in the features of her face. He remembered her glistening green eyes and pristine skin. He was sickened to see her body bruised and her eyes struck with fear.

Claire scrambled to her feet and ran. She crossed the parking lot and headed for the woods. David watched her as she left and felt a sense of relief when she disappeared into the trees. A feeling David was not quite accustomed too, a feeling that would pass quickly. On all fours like a hound, the disgusting pale man chased after her.

David struggled to lift himself, each joint felt like a weight and each muscle as if it were on fire. His vision was shaky and his head was a balloon. He struggled and heaved himself forward. David’s chest burned.

He found himself stumbling against tree after tree.

“Clarie!” he called out through the roaring, doused, woods. “Claire!”

David’s progress was slow, slipping and sliding over the leaves and mud. The water logged forest floor attempting to steal his shoes. David cried and wailed as he traversed the wooden maze. David thought of Claire, he thought of Lucy; he thought of Wendy, and Megan, and Julia- David thought of all the girls. He remembered all of their features, their styles, their scents. He remembered all the details he could about them. He thought of Claire and her mother. He wondered how this would affect her. Through it all was the inescapable, underlying, self hatred that had plagued a majority of his life.

“Claire!” he pleaded and sobbed again.

David collapsed against a tree, holding his chest. His left arm feeling weak.

Claire, body throbbing, heart racing, and mind panicking, broke through a cluster of trees to find herself at the water’s edge of Willow lake. The lightning striking over the water and the winds sweeping the trees into its banks. Claire dropped to her knees and cried profusely. Her body quivering from shock and the storm, Claire rubbed a collection of welts, cuts, and bruises.

“Claire!” she heard David cry through the forest. She scanned the forest’s edge but saw nothing. Claire retreated from the bank and nestled herself under a fallen tree.

“Claire!” she heard bellow through the forest again, this time closer. “Claire, it’s okay!”

Out of the watery woods crawled the pale man like a centipede. “Claire, it’s okay!” the pale man called out in David’s voice.

Claire held her breath and shuffled down further among the leaves and muck. The predatory man moved one claw-like hand over the other, through the mud, and over the storm dropped wood. He approached closer and closer to Claire’s hiding spot. Her heart had all but stopped.

The pale man froze. He lifted his head and looked towards the fallen tree.

“It’s okay, Claire,” he again smiled in David’s voice.

Claire let out a shriek and began trying to work herself backwards and out the other side of the tree. Nails, long like claws, pierced her wrists as the pale man grabbed a hold of her and drug her back out, cackling. Claire violently kicked and screamed, flailing every appendage and expending every last bit of energy. The next thing she knew, the pale man was on top of her, beating her and tearing at her clothes.

“Please stop! Help!” she grieved.

Slim fingers of the pale man scratched, ripped, and infringed on Claire. His giggles echoing in her ears.

Crack! A sound rang that differentiated itself from the thunder. David stood behind the pale man, gun in hand. He tripped forward as the pale man faltered. The pale man’s breathing slowed as he stumbled to crawl away. He dropped and slowly stopped moving, settling on the ground next to Claire.

David shuffled forward towards Claire as she inched away, his breathing raspy and inconsistent. He tightly held his all but limp left arm with his bloody bandaged hand.

Chest burning, David dropped to his knees in the mud next to the pale man. He held his wrath to his own head and squeezed the trigger. Claire closed her eyes but only heard a click. David was out of bullets.

When Claire opened her eyes again, she saw David collapsed, crying over the pale man. He placed his timid hands on the corrupted body and ran them over the depraved pale skin.

David lifted his tear filled, socially exiled, eyes up to meet the beautiful green of Claire’s.

“I’m so sorry,” he gasped for breath- tears, rain, and spit dripping from his gaping mouth. “I’m so, so, sorry.”

Claire watched in horror and sympathy. She opened her mouth but could muster no words through the trauma.

David looked back down at the pale man. He wiped some muck and blood from his own dead face.

“I’m sorry.”

David, chest burning, looked up over the lake and watched the wind. To Claire he said, “I’m sorry, Claire, they’re just all you’ve really got.”



THE END


2020 Isaac Lowry

Bio: Isaac Lowry, born and raised in Northern Indiana, now resides in Chicago, IL. He is a young Independent Film Director and Screenwriter and has been working tirelessly on various short films and music videos over the past year. Having dealt with addiction and mental health issues throughout his life, Horror at Willow Lake was written as an expression of the mentality and challenges of these experiences.

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