I have never had any interest in fishing. Just… sitting by the side of water, or on a little boat if you’re a prick, and holding a stick whilst you stare in silence for hours and hours, then trek home having caught nothing, pretending you’ve enjoyed your day whilst you go home to drink and cry. Wow, exciting.
So why can’t I stop thinking about it?
Don’t get me wrong, fishing is terrible and I have no interest in doing it, but I can’t shake this urge to try it, specifically at this one spot just outside of town.
Maybe I should take a few steps back. My name is Matthew Wilson, or Ham-Hog for short, yeah, I know. I used to be fat, now I’m muscular as all hell, still got the name though. I’m twenty years old and I roll hard here in Mareth, and if you call me cringe, just be careful, or I’ll make sure you get to say it to my face.
I mostly stay at this tiny crap hole of a house with my guys, gangland 4 lyfe right? So yeah, fishing like some rich boy definitely ain’t right for someone like me. But it’s all I can think about.
Alright, look. About a week ago, a few of the guys knocked over this car some Karen left her bag in. They grabbed the bag, some shiny bangles, and bolted. Problem was, they also got the woman’s phone. They turned it off and sought me out, low rung ‘employee’ that I am, and offered me a cut of the profit if I ditched the phone for them. Sure, just get rid of a phone, easy, right?
We had a few dumping spots we knew of, depended on what you were getting rid of really, but one tiny phone, sure. Outside Mareth was all woods and forests and nature and stuff, and I knew just the dirty, disgusting lake to dump go to.
One morning, I got up all normal, went out, not doing nothing, phone in my pocket, and just went for a little nature stroll. Nobody looked at me twice, then I got out in the woods where there ain’t nobody anyway.
An hour or so later and boom, there it is. Big ass lake, nobody around, nobody to see. The shore was all stones, I bent down, picked up a couple big round flat-like ones, looking around all the while, acting natural. Nobody was there, so I started skimming some stones.
One went, bounced once then sank in. Ah well. I glanced around, wind moving through the trees, sun high in the sky but no, nothing, nobody. I skimmed another stone and damn, got two skips. Not bad.
Another look, to my right this time. Nope, nobody, all good. Then, I heard the littlest splash, a tiny little movement over the water. I look out and just see tiny little ripples going out in a circle from some random spot. I figure, just a fish, so what. Next stone is a little bigger, flatter, and is made of plastic and electronic whatnot. I skim that too and the phone just dives straight under the water, whoops. Ah well. I hang on a minute or two more, skim another rock or two. Then the though occurs.
I’m looking out over the water, I see the river flowing in, see another flowing out at the other end, maybe it was that weird ripple thing but I just think, “I bet this is a great place to fish.”
And that’s it. The walk back, I’m not thinking about the phone, I’m thinking about that water, I’m thinking about sitting there in some nice calm peace and quiet nature documentary with a rod in my hand, why? I don’t know. I have never fished in my life, I’ve punched a lot of people, I’ve shot guns, I’ve driven mad cars, I’ve made plenty money for plenty people but fishing? That ain’t me.
So why can’t I stop thinking about it?
Only one other thing I can think of. See, there’s this guy, one of us, Aiden, went missing a little while back. One day he’s there, next day he’s just gone. The gang’s all fired up, thinking someone must have got to him. We put our feelers out, we ask a few people but damn, if they know they ain’t talking or they’re gonna start fighting.
There is always Aiden’s father but, hell, none of us are going anywhere near that guy.
Let the mystery be, damn it. It’s been a while now but, hell, we were close, you don’t call many people friend in this sort of life but yeah, he was that and now he’s just gone.
So that was about a week ago. It gets weirder.
The next day, well, the day after I suppose, at about two in the morning, my phone goes off. It’s our doorbell, the camera, gotta have one these days.
I look at the phone and I swear I’m still dreaming. There’s some woman, young, hot, in hiking gear, smiling like a nut-job and just staring right into the lens. I stare at it a moment. Now, I don’t know if anyone else in the house is up and I don’t know who this woman is or if she’s alone. All I know is she is full-on smiling like a loon, standing perfectly still.
That is, until she moves her head forwards, leaning in to the camera, doing some weird little sashay, wiggling her shoulders, like she’s swimming her head forwards, damn snake woman or something, getting her face real close to the camera, then she stops still again, smiling like a maniac. I see every damn tooth.
“Who the F-“ a voice comes over the camera’s intercom.
It’s Big Man in the bedroom across the hall, he must have been watching the same footage.
Now in seconds, everyone of us, Me, Big Man, Dealer and Robin are all in the hallway in the centre of the house, all of us packing heat. We’re a couple metres away from the front door, and we can see this witch’s shadow on it. Robin, lil’ boy sidekick, thus the name, still has the camera up on his phone.
She’s still there, staring. Then, I don’t even know, she just, bites the camera. In one second, she pounced on it, not teeth, just big ol’ round mouth covering the camera. Now, we know better than to yank the door open and smack this loon, she could just be distracting us, covering the camera while her guys get in or around the house. While lil Robin is looking at the camera, we’re all glancing out every window we can find, peaking between blinds, standing by the edge and looking round, and not one of us sees a damn thing.
Dealer, genius he always was, has the next idea
“Let’s go back upstairs. Robin, keep watching the camera. If anyone is coming in, we can’t see ’em, so let ’em break in. We go upstairs they can’t shoot us through the window or anything, they come in, we flush ’em back out, why should we go searching for them?”
I guess he had a point. We went back up and waited. We waited and waited, Robin’s damn hands were trembling as he watched this loon just back off of the camera, doing her weird snake shoulders arched back thing as she does.
She’s not smiling now, she’s pouting slightly, lil’ bit of a frown too.
“Damnit” Robin curses.
His phone battery dies. Dealer smacks him upside the head while me and Big Man just leap to the windows. We don’t see anything. No woman, no guys, nothing but empty yard and street.
Nothing else happens that night. But I get to thinking, chick was in hiking gear, wonder if she went by that lake…
Next day I get my cut from the Karen Bag job, it’ll by me some snacks, hardly retiring on it though. As they guys came with the money we were all a little hesitant to answer the door but it’s all good.
We don’t see crazy lady again. Not until the next day when she turns up on the news, missing. Apparently she went out hiking one day and just didn’t come back. Police are asking for anyone with any information to come forwards. Yeah, like we’re going anywhere near the police.
Another day goes by and I am looking at buying a fishing rod online. What the hell is wrong with me! I’m even looking up local bait shops and everything.
That night, well, earlier tonight, I’m up. I just can’t stop thinking about fishing. I’m damn rocking in my bed imagining the fish themselves, their beautiful slender bodies, shiny scales all silver and slippery like, gliding through the water. I have this weird dream, but I’m awake so I don’t know what to call it, of one fish, shinier than all the others, just sitting in the middle of this swirling school of other fish. Have you seen when they do that? Make big balls in the water and stuff. Yeah, and there’s just this one weird fish sitting in the middle of this swirling ball of fish, and Its eye!
The fish is looking all over the place, searching for something. It’s looking at me!
There’s a knock on the door. I check my phone and the camera didn’t alert. It’s not even on. I remember I turned it off about an hour or so ago. Why the hell did I do that?
For another, why the hell did I just… go down and open the door. Why do I care so much about a damn fish!
The crazy lady is there, only she isn’t smiling this time. She, I guess, looks slightly sad, but I don’t know why. Hell, I don’t know why I’m doing any of this. I just walk out into the night with this woman.
I near leap out of my skin. It’s not the woman speaking. She looks dead at me, big sad eyes. I’m spinning, looking all around and there is nobody there. The voice, was odd, it was quiet like, weak, and the way the word was said, it sounded like, you know when someone is learning English and hasn’t quite grasped it yet. Hell if I know the accent though.
There it is again, this tiny weak voice, trying desperately to speak English, meekly getting that word through. I have no idea where it’s coming from.
The woman just stares at me. I meet her gaze a moment, she pauses, then turns and carries on walking.
What the hell am I doing?
I carry on with her.
About an hour or so, wandering in blackness, we get there. How the hell we knew where we were going I’ll add to the list of things I don’t know. I’m… I’m scared. Why am I here? Why did I willingly come here? You know when you’re so confused and you just, freak. What is this!
Me and this woman are stood by the lake side. The moon’s nice and high, bright in the sky, silver moonlight all around here. Wait, wasn’t it pitch black a second ago? What’s more, I’d swear today’s date was the seventeenth, but as I check my phone it says the twenty ninth… and now my battery is nearly dead.
The woman’s gone now. I’m alone here. I’m starving hungry. In my mind I feel a fishing rod, I feel it the wrong way around. My head’s all scrambled.
All I can think about are two things. Aiden, and that fish’s eye.
I… I don’t know how I know this, but I’m being shown mercy. One last act, my own choice, my own will.
Any last words?
My phone’s in my hand. I write a text, a text to a contact who ain’t been replying, one of my best friends. I hope it gets through.
There’s a tiny ripple out over the water.
I know how this sounds!
Beware the water!
Hope you make it where I didn’t!
Miss you man!
The message sends as I pick up a handful of rocks.
I skim one, two skips.
I skim a second, one skip.
I skim my phone, one skip,
I skim another rock, three skips, personal best.
I drop the last stone to the ground. No moon but stars shining all pretty all around me. I exhale as I walk in to the water.
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