‘It feels like I’m being drawn in.’
‘Drawn into where?’
’Not into where, into what…’
Interview 27, Patient JM06/07.
Adrenalin plunges the boys deeper. The water parts easily, the elder boy leading the way down: down into the inlet where the girl had led him. A black-ribbed tunnel of flowing vegetation emerges from the gloom to engulf them.
They must be ten, fifteen feet down and still the other boy leads him deeper. Just when his friend is about to turn back he sees her: pinned against what look like railings, the girl hangs: paused in slow motion. Her unconscious body sways, the current billowing her clothes around her. She floats towards them, eyes closed, face white and puffy. Dead, he thinks, shocked: I’m seeing a dead person. But then the dead girl opens her eyes and her face seems to scream. The boy feels sudden warmth around his legs.
She grabs his arms and he is horrified as she starts to draw him further downwards. But it isn’t just her: she pulls past and still he is falling. And now the elder boy too is struggling. He is trying desperately to reverse and the younger boy realises with horror that the two of them are being sucked into some sort of drain. For a fleeting second he thinks of a giant plug that will reappear in a story he will write twenty years later.
But it is no plughole he sees beyond the railings: from the deep muddy depths a familiar horror materialises, the thing with the opening head and a throat containing something much worse.
He kicks; his friend frantically does the same but to no avail. The thing is opening; water is being sucked into the craggy orifice and what look like gills on either side: fleshy flaps ripple and curl at the water’s passage, spirals of mud betraying its path. The boy’s chest begins to convulse; he beats at the water with frantic palms, desperate to turn. His lungs begin to tighten and then his diaphragm clutches violently, a reflex trying to force the next critical breath.
No, no, no! he thinks, please no…!
For a split second he is pulling away. His head moves upwards and the boy can see a light, the distant surface, a faint ball of sun… But then tentacles feel his body, tighten around his waist; and the boy feels something begin to probe…
* * *