In her University appointed apartment, overlooking those very same docks, was a girl, ignorant to the legend that brought in such popularity with the tourists.
Her name was Lora. Hair the same, deep blue eyes, the same crisp brown, she was the spitting image of Loreley from all those years ago. Lora was completely unaware. She knew nothing of the tale, nothing of the tragedy that had taken place.
In her own blissful ignorance, the young woman lived out her days the way any exchange student might. Lora was lounging in the window of her living room, the warm sun filtering through the canopy of leaves outside. It was late September, the semester starting only a few short weeks ago and she had finally been able to get an apartment with her friend, Jenny. It was a small apartment, with a beautiful view of the campus, and quiet neighbors. Lora was in her third year of school here at the local pop art university and was finally able to live off-campus.
Her parents had passed away when she was a child and she had been raised by a reclusive aunt since then. It wasn’t a normal childhood since her aunt lived in a small cliff-side cabin outside of the bigger city. She could still remember the smell of mint from her aunt’s candy dish and the mewling of her three fat cats.
Unfortunately, her aunt had passed away during her first year of college and, when Lora went back to aunt’s home to pack up her belongings and family heirlooms, she found that the cats had gone missing. Among her aunt’s things were some important family documents that she felt should be kept as well.
The first was an old bible, dating back to the seventeenth century, with the names of all the family members starting with her mother’s great-great-great-great grandparents. The Bible contained birthdays, death dates, and locations; Lora was quite surprised to find that her family had always been seafarers and fishermen in the Portland region. What also surprised her was the detailed recipes for random tinctures and potions stuffed into the back of the holy book. She could barely make out the scrawled, almost incomprehensible, language written on old pieces of parchment and paper.
The second item that she made sure to keep was a small photo album. It was from her mother’s side of the family and had been passed down, from mother to daughter, almost as long as the bible had. The first photographs were from the late nineteenth century but before that were sketches, notes, and more random recipes for tinctures and apothecary potions. Lora had found this odd but took the books with her to her new apartment anyway, unwilling to part with distant relatives that were now all gone.
However, her student two-bedroom apartment with her best friend was wonderful. They had been used to living in dorms together, but it wasn’t until now that Lora truly appreciated how tidy and well-organized her best friend was. Jenny, like Lora, took her schooling seriously and wanted to set herself up for a prosperous, and easy career. Jenny’s father carried her bills and she also was popular with several talented and good-looking male students who had frequented their apartment recently. Jenny, unlike Lora, wasn’t ready to settle down in a relationship and opted for casual dating instead.
Lora was still looking out the window, contemplating the changing leaves outside and the distant beaches beyond, when Jenny came home. She had her bag over her shoulder, she looked tired but greeted Lora with the same smile she always did.
“How were guitar classes this morning?” Jenny asked, setting her bag and coffee down on the countertop of the kitchen before sauntering over to the couch and flopping down on it.
“Good,” Lora nodded, loving that all her classes were before noon throughout the week. “This semester will go well. I’ve got the best of the same professors from last year.”
“I expect you’ll ace everything,” Jenny chuckled, folding her arms under her head like a pillow. She kicked off her shoes then, letting them fall to the floor from the end of the couch as she lounged there comfortably. “So, did you get your boyfriend aboard?”
“He’ll be flying in two days from tomorrow,” Lora smiled, feeling a blush spread over her face. Jenny noticed and giggled, turning on her side to prop herself up on her elbow.
“Do we need to talk about the danger of first fly?” Jenny teased, making Lora blush brighter.
“No,” Lora affirmed, knowing exactly what Jenny was talking about. “I think I’ve got this.”
“Anyway, it‘s not my type,” Jenny smirked, glancing out the window. “I‘m tired. Want to order some food, before we start tonight?”
“Sure,” Lora nodded, standing from her chair near the window. “What do we want?”
“Whatever you are in the mood for,” Jenny nodded, watching Lora cross the living room toward the corkboard where all the menus were hanging. “I’m hungry so I am up for anything.”
“I think we should just order ourselves something simple,” Lora mused, grabbing the menu for their favorite Thai place. “An order of vegetable Lo-Mein and some rice.”
“Sounds amazing,” Jenny sighed, lying back down and staring at the ceiling. “So, the boyfriend’s name is Jack, right?”
“Yes, and he’s an artist from Pennsylvania,” Lora confirmed, picking up her cellphone to dial the order in. When she was done and had gotten the cash out for the delivery, she sat back down at the window, smiling sheepishly at Jenny. Jenny, on the other hand, looked positively roguish. She had a wide smirk and her eyebrows were raised in curiosity as she contemplated her friend.
“So, the first time ever meeting after a year, huh?” Jenny asked, watching her friend from her position lying on the big comfortable couch. “but you are still a virgin, and nervous?”
“Very,” Lora admitted, tucking some hair behind her ear. “I mean, we’ve talked a lot and have video chatted so many times that it doesn’t even feel like this is our first full meetup. It is scary and exciting all at the same time.”
“I hate men, but he seems really nice,” Jenny nodded. “And he’s handsome too.”
“You think so?” Lora asked, looking down at her phone. Her background picture was Jack, waving at her from a tourist monument in Pennsylvania.
“Are you kidding?” Jenny asked, looking positively bewildered. “Have you seen the man?”
“I have,” Lora grinned, admiring the picture of her boyfriend now. He was tall, wired blond hair with green eyes and beautifully tanned skin. His jaw was square, his shoulders wide, and his muscles were intricately toned. He wasn’t overly buff nor was he bulky; in fact, Lora thought he was quite average and that was her reason for being attracted to him in the first place. She had always found the beauty in things that to most people looked average. To her, he was a piece of art but apparently, Jenny even thought he was handsome.
“We’re going to have to dress you up before you meet him, huhu,” Jenny smirked, sitting up on the couch. “I’ve got a lovely underwear that I think would work beautifully with your figure. Show off all the right curves for them.“
“I’ve got the perfect outfit picked out,” Lora informed, crossing her arms over her chest. “I don’t want to show off my curves anyway.”
“You better show him your curves in a more private setting,” her friend chuckled, reaching over and patting Lora’s shoulder. “Don’t worry about anything. He’ll be so happy to see you that it won’t even matter.”
“I’m so excited,” Lora admitted, looking up at her friend thankfully. “And nervous.”
“What could you be nervous about?” Jenny asked, placing her hands on her hips. “You’re gorgeous so it can’t be that…”
“I don’t know why I am so nervous, but I’ve been on edge ever since he told me he was coming to make it happen,” she sighed, watching the sun setting outside their window. “I am so on edge these days…”
“Just relax,” Jenny nodded, sitting on the arm of the couch to look at Lora. “You’re just high-strung. It has been a rough couple of years for you since your aunt passed. You’ve been focused on your schooling and maintaining your relationship and it has completely worn you out. Just take a break or drop an extracurricular course if you want. You need some time for yourself or you’re going to end up losing your mind.”
“I know,” Lora admitted, looking up at her friend. “It’s just this foreboding that I can’t shake. I haven’t felt this way since I was a kid, you know?”
“You think the visions will return?” Jenny questioned, tapping her chin gently as she folded her arms across her torso. “Have you had any since your aunt’s passing?”
“No,” she sighed, looking back out the window. “Just the one but it was so real…”
“You need to relax and forget about all of your worries,” Jenny ordered, standing from the arm of the couch. “Can you get out of an extra-curricular?”
“I could probably drop my afternoon tutoring writing songs,” Lora reasoned. “I only have a few words down, but I like the theme of my new song.”
“Then do it,” her roommate smiled, stretching her arms above her head. “We could benefit from free afternoons and weekends this semester. How long is Jack here?”
“He has taken off for two weeks and saved all of his summer pay for the trip,” Lora surmised. “He said he’d like to stay at least a life…”
“Perfect,” Jenny smiled. “You can take him on weekend trip to Wacken Rockfest or the Lureberg… wherever you want really. Spend some time and enjoy. It’ll do you some good.”
“We could probably afford that,” Lora drawled, thinking of the modest savings she had from her summer job as a free singer.
“Awesome,” Jenny nodded, turning to her bag on the table. She pulled out her wallet, grabbed a handful of bills, and stuffed it back in her bag. “My father sent me a bonus allowance for the semester, but I won’t need it all. Henry has offered to take me to Switzerland for Christmas, so I’m set. Take this for your trips with Jack.”
“Oh, no,” Lora said, shaking her head at her friend’s outstretched fist of cash. “I couldn’t take that from you, Jenny. I can barely afford my half of the rent and utilities.”
“Nonsense,” Jenny sighed, walking over and placing the cash in her hand. “It’ll get you some decent plane tickets and a weekend somewhere nice. It is the least I can do.”
“Thank you,” Lora smiled, tearfully jumping to her feet and hugging her friend. “I don’t deserve you.”
“Oh, hush,” Jenny chuckled, hugging her friend tightly. “You’re fine. Besides, we’re Rely – it means best friends. If I can’t share my good fortune with you than what is the point of having money?”
The doorbell rang at that moment and Lora grinned, pulling away from her friend and grabbing the money from the counter for their food. After she grabbed the bags from the delivery boy and paid him, they both began to eat hungrily, laughing and enjoying a good bottle of wine with their noodles and rice. Lora loved her best friend like a sister and had always confided in her when she felt afraid or alone. After all, Jenny was the only person living that Lora had told her story to. She was the only person on this planet that knew about Lora’s childhood nightmares and how vivid and dangerous they could become.
After their dinner, Jenny went to bed early, stating she had some homework to finish when in all reality, she was probably going to be talking to her current boyfriend, Henry. She’d been dating him since the semester started and since he was a rising rock star of the university’s rock musicians, he was constantly on the road during the weekends to different concerts as pre-band. This didn’t seem to bother her too much since she rarely lacked for companionship.
Lora had decided to tidy up her room before jumping into a relaxing hot bath. She put her dirty laundry in a hamper, tidied up her bed, and made sure all her notes were in order so she could study them whenever she pleased. She also made sure to comb her hair before gathering her simple lace and linen nightgown into the bathroom. She undressed slowly, enjoying the cool water of the shower, scrubbing herself gently before washing out her long blonde hair. When she finally felt clean, she started drawing herself a bath, content in the warmth of the bathroom now. It acted like a sauna, hot and full of steam as the tub filled.
She sat in that steaming tub of water for a while, allowing her muscles to fully relax as she lay there. It was the first time in a long time that she truly enjoyed a bath and she could feel the tension in her neck and shoulders fade away with the heat engulfing her. Her mind was truly at ease, thinking of only the relief she felt in that moment. Of course, the warmth surrounding her was also stimulating, recalling the last call she had with Jack last week about his planned flight.
He had told her what time he would be landing and then started to describe to her all the things he’d like to do when they met. Of course, Lora told him to wait until they could be alone in her apartment but the thought of being touched like that for the first time was a tantalizing one. She’d never been with a man and Jack was the only one she wanted. Getting to know him first as a friend, then as a lover, was something she looked forward to immensely.
She was still mulling over her relationship with Jack when she heard an odd noise coming from the living room. It sounded like Jenny was out of her room, walking around the apartment.
“Jenny?” Lora called, watching the door of the bathroom curiously. “I thought you were in..?”
There was no answer, so Lora got out of the bath, pulling the plug of the drain and dabbed herself dry with the fluffy white towel. Her hair was dripping so she started wrapping it in the towel on top of her head to dry it. She then slipped on her thin white gown and opened the door, the steam rushing out into the cooler hallway leading to the living room. Lora followed it, walking out to find that no one was there, the lights still on and the apartment door still latched and locked. She looked at Jenny’s bedroom door and saw it was closed and her light was still on. Then, out of the corner of her eye she saw a puddle of water and then another.
She slowly started to realize they were wet footprints leading from the bathroom where she had just been toward the window of the living room. It was a massive window that overlooked the drive that was three stories down and the university which was only a couple of blocks to the north. However, the shades were drawn and that is where the footprints stopped. Lora looked at them curiously, then looked at her own drying feet, unsure what she was really seeing.
It was when she reached out to raise the curtain that she felt it. A shivering cold had crept up her spine creating goosebumps all over her legs and arms. She yanked on the string now, pulling the curtains back to reveal that outside the window wasn’t the starlit sky and the rising moon beyond the horizon. It wasn’t the typical canopies of changing trees and the lights of the university and city beyond spreading out before them. The scenery had changed entirely as if the entire building was submerged in water.
Outside the window crept large fish with glassy eyes and slack jaws. Among them were smaller schools of fish, swimming in the dark and frightening waters beyond. There arose large creatures, passing by the window like foreboding shadows intruding on her once safe home. She could hear the rush of water before she felt it, the clamoring thunderous rush of water as it sloshed over her feet and up her shins. The apartment was being flooded and soon the glass that held the horrifically dark and unknown world beyond would engulf her entire world.
She tried calling out for Jenny, but a loud crack rose above her voice, the window starting to shatter into hundreds of uneven lines and bolts of glass. She panicked, sloshing her way through knee-deep water toward the front door. She could feel the turning and sliding as the building seemed to sway with the unhindered violence of the water beyond the shattering window. It was like they were floating in the ebb and flow of the deep lake and soon, she would be sucked out into that dark abyss to await her unseen death.
She cried out again as water came rushing into the room from the front door, making her slide backward through the now waist-deep water. She managed to grab onto the kitchen counter, but it was made difficult as the entire building seemed to rotate. Down was up and up was down, and below her the water pooled on the glass of the window. She felt the fear take over her entire body, almost paralyzing her as her fingers desperately clung to the lip of the countertop. The water was rising and with a loud thud and a thunderous crack, the window below broke, letting the flood of water stream. She could feel it touching her toes now, wrenching her legs upright to try and cling closer to the countertop.
It was no use as the apartment around her entirely filled with water, her last breath too short as she struggled to remain anchored to the countertop. She was desperate for air, desperate to be out of these unknown depths where creatures waited for her to finally lose consciousness. Then, she spotted a sight that paralyzed her where she clung. Deep within the depths, staring up at her with glowing eyes was a creature. It watched her every move and Lora could feel it’s gaze as she clung there, refusing to look back down at the frightening sight that awaited her.
Then, she let out a yelp, the last of her breath lost as cold painful water rushed into her mouth, causing her to lose her grip on her anchor. She drifted helplessly, clinging at her throat and kicking as she sunk deeper, beyond the broken window and into the depths of the black-eyed monster’s clutches. She kicked and screamed, felt the water rushing into her mouth and lungs as she clung to life and tried to push her way to the surface. It was then that she felt it, a sharp piercing hook in her left shoulder that clung heavily, dragging her swiftly into the depths.
She saw it, a gnarled hooked claw that dug into her shoulder deeply as she was drug further down. She could feel her throat burning, her nose rushing with the same burning sensation as the pale claw grasped at her. Blood pooled and rushed by her as she sunk, her ears popping and her body thrashing in pain as she drew closer and closer to those black eyes below. That pale scaly claw that hooked her like a fish was grimy and covered in barnacles and horrible deformities that pulsed and scratched her as she started to lose consciousness. Everything was fading, the water rushing past her, her ears popping loudly and painfully as the strangulation of cold water clasped her throat like a vice. She was dead, she knew it, and she only hoped she died before she reached the jaws of this massive and unforgiving creature in the depths.
Lora raised her head with a scream, finding herself in the bathtub. She ignored the warm blood running down her spine and the chill that overtook her as she realized it was just a dream. She was breathing unevenly, trying to calm herself but the fear and cold had overtaken her and she was shaking erratically. She ran to the bedroom and collapsed sideways onto the bed now, feeling lightheaded. Lora was desperate to catch her breath and as she lay there, deeply inhaling the sharp cold air.
She felt the burning in her throat slowly start to subside and could clearly see the dark room around her come into focus. She was taking deep breaths through her nose, exhaling through her mouth as she tried to calm herself. Once the adrenaline had subsided, and the sweating had stopped, her body had started to regain function. She was able to stretch her legs out and her body had stopped shivering. When it seemed like everything was calming down, she realized her shoulder was stinging and burning and she slowly raised her hand to figure out what was going on.
She felt the sticky warm substance on her shoulder and froze, feeling the burning sensation intensify. She lay there motionless, trying to understand what had happened, wondering how her dream could have had real-world implications. She must have done it unconsciously, scratching herself in her terrible nightmare. She slowly began to move now, placing her feet on the floor and lifting herself shakily from the bed. She wandered from her bedroom across the hall to the bathroom, turning on the light to see that she was frighteningly pale, sickly looking, and blood had stained the strap of her dress and her shoulder. There, a long cut was shining scarlet across her shoulder and down her back, her eyes straining to see all of it in the mirror behind her.
She started to shiver again but steeled herself, slipping off the garment and grabbing the medical supplies from the cabinet. After twenty minutes of trying to patch and clean the wound, she was able to dress it and switch to a different long t-shirt to sleep in. She was still shaken as she switched the light back off and went back to her bed. She didn’t bother looking at the clock, lying on her opposite side and staring at the door of her room thoughtlessly, fighting sleep with everything in her. She feared the nightmares from her childhood had returned and she only hoped that she could find a way to overcome them before it got out of hand.
She lay there in bed, staring at her door until the bright beams of sunlight peaked over the horizon through her blinds. She didn’t know how long she had laid there but the pain in her shoulder had only dulled as she watched the room lighten into day. The sounds of life outside her window woke Jenny who sauntered into the bathroom unaware that her roommate was laying, fearfully paralyzed, on her bed just on the other side of the wall.
Eventually, Lora got out of bed, looking at her phone and realizing it was almost noon. Jack had texted her and she hadn’t even acknowledged it, setting her phone back down and sauntering out of her room. She didn’t expect to see Jenny cleaning, something delicious cooking on the stovetop. Lora eyed her curiously, her roommate oblivious to the fact that she was being watched. She was busy mixing the new soundtrack on her laptop.
Lora just grinned, turning from the living room to the bathroom, cautiously glancing at the window. It wasn’t cracked, wasn’t abnormally broken, and overlooked the familiar campus and river beyond. She sighed in relief, going into the bathroom to look at her bandage and change it. She pulled it off, noting the little bit of blood that had stained it before redressing the wound. When she was done, she got dressed, throwing on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt before emerging back into the living room. By then, Jenny was done sound mixing, checking the food on the stove in the kitchen.
“I see you’re finally awake,” she drawled, grinning at Lora. “Up late texting Jack?”
“Not really,” Lora sighed, sitting down slowly on the couch. “It was a long night.”
“Didn’t sleep at all?” Jenny asked, putting the lid back on the pan and moving into the living room. “What’s wrong?”
“I didn’t get a lot of sleep,” Lora admitted, leaning back against the couch slowly. “It’s nothing… like you said, I need to relax.”
“You’re so wound up,” Jenny said, lounging next to Lora on the couch. “What’s going on, huh? What’s got you stressed out?”
“I don’t know,” Lora admitted, sighing loudly. “I just don’t understand. Everything is going great, there is nothing to stress about and yet I’m on edge.”
“Is it our new song, or is it Jack? Are you nervous about meeting him?”
“No,” Lora said, shaking her head. “I want to meet him, I want to be with him. I don’t have any fears when it comes to our song. Maybe that is it? I’m so confident and happy about us that I fear something must go wrong. Nothing can be this good?”
“Now you’re just creating your own problems,” Jenny reasoned, placing her arm over Lora’s shoulder. She winced and Jenny immediately noticed, searching her for the injury. When she spotted the large bandage of gauze and tape, her brow knitted in confusion.
“It’s nothing,” Lora said, looking up at her friend sheepishly. “I just hurt myself is all.”
“That’s all?” Jenny asked, moving to see just how bad the injury was. She stood up, leaped over the back of the couch and lifted Lora’s shirt. She saw that it went across her left shoulder and down her back and she groaned, inspecting it closely. “You need to clean this better. Come on, let’s go to the bathroom.”
“I don’t really know how I did it,” Lora confessed, feeling guilty. “I woke up and it was there.”
“You could have done it to yourself unknowingly,” Jenny suggested, setting her friend down on the closed toilet seat as she addressed the bandage. She took it off slowly, both girls silent as the wound was cleaned properly and dressed with a decent bandage. Once she was done, she cleaned up, helping Lora back to the living room slowly.
“Just relax,” Jenny instructed, going back to the kitchen to check on her food. She stirred it, shut off the pot, and moved it to another burner before returning to the living room to sit across from Lora on one of the armchairs. “So, tell me what happened.”
“I took a shower and bath before bed, I had a nightmare, and I woke up with this cut on my shoulder,” Lora explained, unsure how to make it sound believable. “I don’t know how the cut happened, but it did, and I stayed awake all night trying to figure out how.”
“What was the dream about?”
“I was drowning,” Lora whispered, remembering the terror that had paralyzed her. “I was in our apartment when it became submerged in water. There was a horrific creature lurking in the depths and it got me, dragging me down. I was so afraid and when I woke, I was drenched in blood and shivering from head to toe.”
“It was just like the other visions, wasn’t it?” Jenny asked, leaning forward to take Lora’s hands.
“More intense,” she replied, feeling sleepy. “More ferocious and real, like I was actually drowning in this deep water. There was a claw in my shoulder, right where my wound is at and I just don’t know how it happened. I don’t know if I’m hurting myself or if it‘s just a coincidence. It frightens me…”
“Breathe,” Jenny encouraged, placing a hand on Lora’s head. “It could be some sort of trauma working its way to the surface or an untreated illness. I don’t know but I think you should arrange an appointment with a psychologist. I know a few great ones here in the city that could help you, if you chose to go.”
“You think it could be a mental illness?” Lora asked, fearful of what that could mean. “I don’t know much about my family, but that kind of thing runs in the family, right?”
“Not always,” Jenny smiled, nodding encouragingly. “But we can find out together.”
“I’ll make an appointment later today,” Lora nodded, agreeing that something had to be done about these horror visions. They had vanished for so long when she lived with her aunt but now, they had resurfaced just like when her aunt had passed. It was something she couldn’t fathom and knew that something had to be done about it. She didn’t want to hurt herself.
“Go, lay down,” Jenny offered, standing to help her to bed. “I’ll keep watch on you and I’ll keep the food warm in case you wake with an appetite, alright?”
“Thank you,” Lora smiled, taking her friend’s arm. “I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“You’d be fine,” she chuckled, leading her into her bedroom. “You’re smart and resourceful. You’ll do fine but for now, you need me to look after you. Don’t worry, I’ll be diligent.”
“I wish I had a sister like you,” Lora smiled, sitting slowly on her bed.
“I am your sister, you idiot,” Jenny smirked, helping her to lay down in bed as she covered her friend with her blanket. “I’ll turn on some soothing music, okay?”
“Thanks,” Lora smiled, snuggling deeply against her pillow and comforter. “Please, wake me in a couple of hours. I don’t want to be up all night again.”
“Will do,” Jenny smiled, leaving the door propped open as she disappeared back into the living room. Soon there was relaxing instrumental music wafting through the air and it made Lora yawn. She was ready to nap and forget her horrible vision and fears. She knew that there was truly nothing to fear and that soon, she could get the help she needed to avoid the progression of these horrific visions.