Friday, October 16, 2009


Here's the short piece I created for the 4th week of Elephant Words, the flash fiction website created by Nick Papaconstantinou where six creators conceive a new piece of short fiction each week based on a new image. The catch is that, on a rotating schedule, the writers need to have a new piece of fiction up every day of the week, so someone has only 24 hours to write their story while others have six days. It's pretty fun and a great challenge. You should definitely check it out. And before the story, here's the image from which it was inspired:

Keep out of Lake

The Lost
by Chris Beckett

Six children had gone missing in less than two weeks, all of them lost near Big Lake outside of Rumford. A sign warned against going in the lake, birthing its fair share of urban legends through the years, but it had apparently done no good.

The disappearances prompted the Bangor Daily to send a photog to Rumford, but the myths surrounding the lake relegated the assignment to one farther down the pecking order. That was where Darren Fletcher came in. He understood his laughable “role” at the paper, but was determined to make the most of this opportunity. After scouting the area in the daylight, Darren had returned near midnight thinking he could find it again easily.

“Aw, shit.” Mud oozed over his left foot, sucking his Teva into the soft earth. At least the moisture assured him he was close. Darren released his foot with a loud squoosh and took halting steps forward.

A scream from behind made him stop suddenly. He peered into the darkness for the source of the sound, but the clouds kept what little illumination available at bay.

“Eeehh.” A spider’s web stretched across his face. He clutched at his face, wiping harshly down each cheek. It took a couple of swipes before the tingle of gossamer threads retreated.

Once he’d finished clawing through his hair, a faint sound came to his ears. Isolated notes made it difficult to place, but it felt familiar somehow. Darren turned slowly to the left, following the faint notes. Zeroing in on the music, Darren caught a glimmer of light through the silhouetted trees.

Checking that his camera was still on his hip, Darren moved forward with more resolve. Walking quickly, he slashed wildly at the branches surrounding him. The lilting tones were clearer now, but he could still not place them. Pushing through the underbrush, Darren refocused on the light ahead. His heart raced.

“uh–” A sharp hiss of breath as a line of thorns raked across his calf. He thought they might have drawn blood but had no time to check.

Approaching the odd luminescence, Darren was now able to make out the local geography. The music was louder but still inscrutable.

“Shit.” Something buzzed Darren’s ear. A bat, maybe an owl, didn’t matter, he was sure his heart seized for a second. Leaves rustled up high as it alighted on a branch. Darren wiped his brow and took a deep breath. He held it for a moment, then let it out slowly. Release the balloon.

Darren moved more deliberately now – curious, anxious, his stomach clenching as he felt an urge to relieve himself. Pushing that down, he reached for a branch crossing his face and nudged it aside.



The light was blinding. He blinked furiously, willing his pupils to adjust. Finally, he looked up. His jaw dropped.

The lake was solid, but not frozen. Tiny waves rippled against the embankment. A group of children sat at picnic tables on the middle of the water. They were eating ice cream and playing “go fish.” Darren recognized four of the kids that had gone missing. The other two were turned away from him, but Darren knew they were numbers five and six.

They paid Darren no mind and were not those who greeted him. Behind the children, next to a brightly painted ice cream truck (the memorable jingle now audible) stood a group of animated teddy bears. They were apparently expecting Darren, beaming at him, as if anticipating some great feat of magic or dexterity.

Waving merrily, they motioned for Darren to join them.

He was at a loss. He looked down at his camera. Returned his gaze to the scene before him. Considered the most feasible reaction to such a situation. Disregarded that option. And then took one tentative step out onto the lake.

It held.

A smile came to his face as he took another step onto the water. Then a third and a fourth. Picking up his pace, Darren reached down with one hand and pulled out all the spare change he was carrying.


No comments: