Westward to Strange

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Lu works to unravel the gruesome mysteries plaguing her beach town. Can she succeed before falling prey to coastal urban legends? Or will she be the next victim to give herself up to the Dark Water? Have you ever wondered about the dark water? Talula "Lu" Burke never had, despite being born and raised on the Florida coast. But when dead animals start showing up on the shores of Salerna Beach, and Lu spots a mysterious boy in the shark-infested waters of the cove late at night, she’s forced to search the dark water for answers. When a school assignment leads to information about a sea-monster-worshipping cult, Lu can’t help seeing connections to the animals being found on her beach. More disturbing are the links she uncovers between her own family and the violent legend. Soon enough, more about Lu’s world starts to seem unreal: she gets into a knock-down drag-out with her BFF, is plagued by insomnia and chronic exhaustion, and can’t seem to fight the urge to pounce on the new kid in town who is all of a sudden very sexy—and very interested in Lu. Taking cues from her newfound instinct—and a strange alliance with the moon—Lu knows she alone must uncover the truth, or risk becoming part of the legend herself.

Horror / Humor
Ray Litt
Age Rating:





I sit back and bring up my knees, feeling the hopelessness of my nightmare blanketing my shoulders. “I had the very, very worst nightmare last night, Sarah. It was so bad. I had to get out of my house, take a ride around the island. It was around one in the morning.”

She puts my sandwich down and turns so she can face me and put her hands on my knees. She pushes my hair back, and the gesture pulls at her flannel shirt, making her necklace tumble out, the rose-gold starfish coming to rest like a ninja star in her button. I smile and take it, rub it between my fingers.

“What do you mean? What happened?” she says.

I take a deep breath, shaking my head. “That boy I told you about. The one in the cove. Morgan.” I shudder, just saying his name. “He took me underwater, into a place beyond the dark water where evil…I don’t know, evil mermaids live. And there was this huge coral filled with corpses that were shining this light, and all the mermaids were worshiping it or…I don’t know, basking in it, feeding from it. And Morgan told me to look, and there was this creature with markings…”

“Beyond the dark water?” Her mouth is pursed, her eyes concerned. “What do you mean, ‘beyond the dark water’? That doesn’t sound like you at all, Lu.”

I take in another short breath, searching her face for a moment. “Morgan said that to me. He said, ‘Do you ever wonder about the dark water?’ Like it’s an actual place.”

“Lu,” she says softly, taking her hands away. “You know I’d believe anything you say. But this is starting to sound like a problem. Are you positive you weren’t drunk? Absolutely, totally positive? Because if not, somebody’s really fucking with you, and we need to do something about it.”

“No, I…” I cross my arms and look to the sky, frustrated. “I don’t know, Sarah. I feel like I’m going crazy. I can’t stop thinking about him.”

“Well,” she says slowly, reaching out to rub my forearms. “If I have to choose between Billy and flamey merboy, I gotta say I’m cool with it.”

I laugh and wipe at the tears building in my eyes. “Shut up. You’re such a bitch.”

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