Okay so I recently moved to a small island just off Washington, thought it’d be a good change of pace for me, a writer. So I got me a small cabin and moved in with my wife. The weirdness starts, really, a few weeks before I actually bought the place.
I was speaking with the landlord of the cabins on the island, and when I inquired about purchasing the first thing he asked was “why”. I was confused, because I read that barely anyone bought houses such a ways out there, so I thought he’d be thrilled. I told him about my writing but he only got more and more reserved about the whole thing; but he did seem particularly interested about my wife, for some reason. I was eventually able to persuade him, only after offering a higher rate than what he posted. I needed this peace, this silence; damn, if I knew, I would have even burnt the phonebook where I found his number. He relented, gave me the info I wanted to hear, and then, before filing away the agreement and the time for me to meet with the papers guy, he left me with one more sentence before hanging up. “Don’t swim, it’s not allowed,” he said, and then the line went silent.
I had half a mind to call him back up and tell him to keep his rules to himself. I wasn’t renting, I was purchasing. The nerve, right? I really, really wish I took him more seriously.
So me and my girl, married only seven months and the bulge in her stomach’s gotten pretty big now, took the ferry, more like a small motorboat, over to the island, looking about ten-so miles across, and then found our home.
It was a small, humble cabin down a dirt pathway; very pretty amidst those lush evergreens. It was perfect. We got our stuff, waved the ferryman off, who was quiet for the entire trip, and then unpack our things. Between the two of us, there wasn’t a soul to be found.
The first three nights were pretty cozy, me and my girl lazing about, played around lightly; you know you need to be gentle with the kid, and I got more work done in those three days than I had in my typical month. I took some time walking around some of the paths on the island, but was turned around often as most of them were in disrepair, covered in branches, bracken and forest shit. But on the third night, I was out for a quick walk around the woods, and I saw some lights way up on a tall, tall hill through the treeline. I felt like an idiot; I never once noticed that hill.
So I started up to see what it was about. Getting closer, I started to hear some barks, like people breathing out really, really loudly. I slowed down a bit to quiet my footsteps because it was obviously night time and would guess they’d think it weird for some random guy to pop up and crash their party or whatever. I just watched them for a while and guessed it was a tribe of pagans or something; pretty hardcore, I thought. Their drums and barking started to creep me out though, so I turned around and went back home.
I returned to my wife’s crying. She was weeping and groaning like she was dying. I tried to calm her down but she just kept screaming something about “the calling” and just that, over and over. I had no idea what to do, so I just gave her the usual meds for the pains and went to sleep. If I were smarter, I would have called that ferryman up and had him carry us right back to Washington. God I’m an idiot. It’s just that she’s had a mental history with breakdowns and such, so I thought it was just another episode.
The next morning I checked my wife, and she looked like she was in as much pain as she was before bed. Tears were streamed down her face, and her stomach looked really irritated and red. I knew I had to contact someone for help, and the boat was two hours both ways, so I thought the witches, being the closest folks I knew of, would be my best shot. I went up the hill, a really steep climb for what it was, I was exhausted by the time I got to the top, and I found it was sort of a cut off dirt mesa; never seen anything like it. Even weirder, there was a huge, murky lake in the center with a tiny island in the middle of that. Just barely, I recalled the landlord’s voice.
“Don’t swim, it’s not allowed.” He didn’t need to tell me, thinking back on it. The water around there’s too cold, and I was never really a fan of swimming, not after the day when I was ten and a shark swam close to me; never touched open water again.
I saw a hut in the center though, with the remains of what seemed to be the bonfire from last night. Naturally, I called across to the island at the top of the hill, but no one exited the hut. I called, yelled until my vocal chords were dry, and then knew I had to take the plunge. I estimated that it would take me around half a minute to swim across.
The water around there was really dark, couldn’t see more than a foot in, but it was obviously freshwater, so all that scary stuff you see on the internet wouldn’t be in there. I eased myself in, an regretted it instantly. The small slide into the water drops off immediately, I couldn’t touch the bottom, and I’m six foot seven. I steeled myself and started paddling my way across. It was weird, I could have sworn that all the birds, insects, breeze, everything went silent with the exception of the water flowing across me.
It was then that I felt it. I cringe at the thought of it now, but I think I know what it was now; those hands. I felt some things lightly brushing and nipping at me. My fear of water was instantly revived when I felt something stroke what felt like a hand around my ankle. I picked up speed and finally made it to the island.
I relished the warmth of the sun for a moment, and then went up to the wicker hut. My legs were itchy, but I didn’t even think to look at my legs. I called at the hut one more time, received no response, and thought I might as well let myself in. I only stuck my head for a second before I tugged it out and started running. Every inch of the hut held the burnt corpses of fetuses and women with bloated bellies.
I couldn’t hold myself, and threw up on the ground before I could hold it back. I dashed for the water to swim across and call up the ferry man, but then it hit me. I would have to swim across again, and I wasn’t at all willing too. I could have sworn, staring down into that muddy abyss, a slight, thin sliver of white, like a mask, hovering up just a moment before submerging again. I was through. I was frozen in horror, because I knew there was no one who could help me. There was something in the water, and it wouldn’t let me go next time. I went to the hut, tore it apart, and began fashioning a large roll of wood to drift on; whatever I did, I would not submerge my legs into the water.
I threw the makeshift raft onto the water, and eased over to the edge, leapt, and caught it. I buoyed for a moment, and then began stroking my way across the water quietly. Everything was calm until most of the way across, I heard the rushing of water behind me. I gave only a glance and saw there was something underwater that was traveling my direction. I knew I had to get to the shore before it got to me. I paddled with every sinew I had, forcing my arms to unbearable pain. I couldn’t hear it amidst my frantic paddling, but made it to the shore just as I heard a sharp emerging sound from out of the water, like something reaching out. I didn’t look back, and ran all the way back.
Finally after what felt like hours I had arrived, back to the screaming of my wife. She was awake and squirming in bed, holding her stomach, now a bright, cherry red. I gave her more of the meds and called up the ferryman. He said he was busy, but this couldn’t wait. I told him I’d pay him triple if he came ASAP, and he said he would be there in about an hour thirty.
It wasn’t quick enough.
I locked the doors and windows, making sure none of those cultists would break in while we waited. It was especially cloudy that day, so it was darker than usual. We were only waiting for a few minutes before I heard something I still try to tell myself I didn’t. I could have sworn I heard rushing water. I ran down stairs, ignoring my wife’s pleas to stay with her, and pressed my nose up to the window. There was goddamn water flowing from the hill, it was ankle deep for as far as I could see. I thought I was going insane, the murky lake at the top must have been some kind of spring, and now it’s swelling.
I didn’t think I’d ever have to use it, but now seems like the time. I wearily pull out my .50 from its case and load it.
Not even after loading the last shell do I hear that loud, almost bark-like exhaling from the trees around our cabin, I look up and look at confusing, bracken-woven people with bleach-white masks emerge from the pines, staring forward with black, inkwell eyes. Even stranger, was that I spotted no women among them; all of them were of decidedly male shape, from boys to men. There were hundreds, all of them looking right at me through the windows, even the walls, as if they could see through my slit in the curtains.
The only sounds were the rushing of water and the screams of my wife; yelling on and on about “the calling”. The stares of the pagans were so horrific, so soulless, I knew somehow that if I looked away, they’d run right through the windows. Their bodies look more like wood and twig than real flesh, again, I was sure if I looked away, they’d have no problem punching through, and killing us all.
It was here that my wife began screaming louder and louder. I yelled for her to quiet down. I needed to be able to hear them coming, but she disregarded me, and began crying with the pain of what sounded like someone being dragged to hell. I couldn’t look away though. The cultists were mesmerizing, beyond comprehension, but of a quality of such thick terror I was compelled both to shoot them and myself with the gun in my hand.
Then I heard a deep, painful opening sound with my wife’s final scream. I’ll miss her voice. It sounded as if her body had split open, doing damage that could never be repaired. I didn’t care about the cultists anymore; something was obviously wrong. I turned around and bolted up the stairs, and I saw my wife with her stomach looking as though it was punched through, and a small, crimson fetus standing in her core.
I lost my stomach again, and lost consciousness.
Time passed, I’m not sure how long, but when I woke up it was dark outside and the ferryman was shaking me. He was yelling at me to get up and out of here. He was an older man, so he couldn’t pick me up himself. I muttered something about my wife and kid, wasn’t sure what, but he tried to hold me back and kept telling me to come with him to the boat. I wouldn’t, I knew they had her, our . . . I can’t imagine what happened to our boy.
I burst out of the door, gun in hand, and dashed like a madman to the woods, but then I heard the cocking of a gun behind me. I looked to my six and saw the old bastard pointing a pistol of his own at me. He said “I’m doin’ this for your own good, son. Get on the boat,” he said, pointing it at my chest.
He made a mistake, threatening someone like me.
Looking back on it, I knew he wouldn’t have shot me, that’s why I was brave enough to pull my gun on him and shoot him first. He fell to the ground, writhing in the enormous, island-wide stream, freeing me to save her. I took his gun along for my other hand, and started through the woods and up the hill. I could hear that damnable barking and drums again.
I got to the top, and my wife, barely alive, tied to a stake as they kindled flames under her. I yelled for them to stop, but they paid me no mind until I shot at them. It was by a wide margin, so I hit someone I wasn’t aiming for. It was then that they began screaming and banging their instruments together with a completely different tune. The first song sounded celebratory, this one sounded angry. By now, my memory becomes a bit blurry on it. I kept shooting at them, put a few down, but the music continued. For every one of them that I shot down, three more came crawling out of the water in the lake up to the fire, successfully lighting the kindling and setting the wood around my wife on fire. I could see the glint of the wedding ring around her finger in the flames. I wouldn’t let up, I kept shooting until both guns were completely empty, and then pushed away my sanity just enough to jump into the water. I started for the black murk, but stopped short the second I saw the same, very large body under the water approach me. It made no sound in its approach, but I could see it traveling closer amidst the fire light. I made the only choice I could. I yelled “I’m sorry!” to her, and turned around, stumbling down the hill and tripping on a root, twisting my ankle. I looked behind me, up to the hill, and saw a massive, gaping jaw, larger than our cabin, grinning at me from the top of the hill; it’s rows of teeth shining in the aura of firelight. It slowly began down the hill after me, carried by a hundred silent appendages.
I leapt, struggled and limped my way to the boat and got on. The old man was dead, and I knew there wasn’t anything left for me here. I started up the boat and started for the mainland. Only a minute later I could see the titanic horror crawl its way past the cabin, and into the ocean.I did make it back, but I’ll never go near water again.