Cryptid Quest: Shadow Under the Lake

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Chapter 10: Into the Lake

The fisherman’s big warehouse party had just concluded, and men wearing overalls and dirty work shirts piled out of the building, celebrating the retirement of their good buddies. And in the middle of the huddle were the guests of honor, Dale Freeman and Chuck Morris, who had two stumbling fishermen wrapped around their shoulders.

“Three cheers for Freeman and Morris! The sea might take their boat but the heavens may not take their… Um… Souls? I don’t know.” Slurred the fisherman. The other men cheered, though Freeman and Morris were a bit emotional about giving up their dream jobs.

It was then that Rick and Caroline came walking over to the men. In their frantic party state, the men jumped back at the sight of two small people walking towards them, but admittedly perked up once they saw that it was Caroline.

“Hey! It’s submarine girl!” laughed one of the fishermen, causing the others to laugh along with him. Though Caroline did not take kindly to being called “submarine girl” she needed their help in order to capture the monster.

“We need your help!” said Caroline. “Can one of you take us out on the lake tonight?”

“It’s important!” added Rick. “It’s about Dale and Chuck’s encounter with the monster!”

The fisherman laughed again upon hearing the word monster, much to Dale and Chuck’s frustration.

“Go home kiddies! It’s way past your bed time!” said the main fisherman, who Rick recognized as the rude fisherman from the fish market. “If there was a monster out on this lake, it certainly wouldn’t show up cause a single boat was out on the water!”

“And why not? It attacked Dale and Chuck’s boat when they were all alone!” replied Rick, then turning to the rest of the fishermen. “And you know what? If it happened to them, then how do you know it won’t happen to you too?”

The fishermen hadn’t thought about that. While none of them had done what Freeman and Morris did, the catch-less days were making many think about fishing at night. And suddenly, the idea of night fishing wasn’t such a peaceful idea. A sudden shiver ran down the spines of all those fishermen, that is, except for one.

“That’s all hogwash!” yelled a fisherman, stepping out of the crowd. It was the rude fisherman from before, Jonathan. “I’ve been sailing on these waters since I was a babe, and I have never seen any kind of creature!”

“But that’s the thing!” said Caroline, holding up her phone. “It’s not a lake monster! At least, not a Loch Ness Monster like creature. We think that one of your other fishermen accidentally released a Mekong Catfish into the lake.”

The fisherman gathered around Caroline’s phone, where the photo from Rick’s book was displayed, only this one came from a simple google search. The men could not believe their eyes. Many of them have only dreamed of catching a fish that big, and here was seven Thailand sailors holding up such a beast.

“Catfish?” said one of the fishermen, not familiar with the giant species of Mekong Catfish.

“That’s right! And this might also be what is causing the fish shortage! If we can just snap a photo of it, or have one of you back up seeing it, then maybe it’ll get more recognition and the authorities can do something about it!”

“You said one of us released that monster?” asked the rude fisherman. “Who?”

“Um… Do any of you know a guy named Carl?” asked Rick. The fishermen muttered among themselves after hearing this.

“Carl! You mean that snake looking man in the motor boat! Yeah! We know him! But he ain’t one of us!” proudly proclaimed Jonathan. “You’re telling me he’s behind all this?”

“Kind of…” said Rick. “He has a secret fish farm in one of the caves on the beach. We think his prized catch, Big Bertha, is the monster!”

“I knew that snake was up to something…” snarled the fisherman. “He’d always come to the fish market with a butt ton of fish! Meanwhile I’m lucky to get one per day! That explains everything!”

The fishermen didn’t know what to make of this.On the one hand, these were just a bunch of kids who came out of nowhere with no credentials or authority on the matter of sailing or fishing. But on the other hand, everything they were saying made complete sense. Still, they had a long night of partying and none of them were in the mood of sailing, let alone at night.

“Sorry kids.” Said Jonathan. “But you’re on your own. No one is going to take you out on that lake tonight.”

“I will.” Said a voice, causing the fishermen to turn around. To their absolute shock, the volunteer was none other than Dale Freeman. He walked over to Rick and Caroline moving past the crowd. “You two were the only ones who believed me. I’ll be more than happy than to take you out on the lake tonight.”

All of a sudden, Chuck came running over to Dale, putting his hand on his shoulder.

“Dale, are you sure about this?” asked Chuck. “I thought you said you weren’t goanna sail again?”

“It took my boat, Chuck.” Replied Dale, facing not only Chuck but all the fishermen. “And I’m not going to let it take another!”

This triumphant stance moved the fishermen. Suddenly, another fisherman stepped forward.

“You know what? He’s right! There’s something out there! I’ve seen it!” he proclaimed, much to Dale’s shock. “I wasn’t going to tell anyone cause of how Dale and Chuck were treated, but a few nights ago I saw a massive fin emerge out of the lake. I thought it was a cod or something that could have swam into the lake. But now I think it was that catfish! If you need a boat, then use mine!”

“No! Use mine” yelled another fisherman, stepping forward. “I saw the fish too! Right off of Pine Tree Island! Only, I saw only its back tail! But it was the biggest back tail I have ever seen! If you need a boat, take mine!”

Then, one by one, each fisherman stepped forward and offered their boat to Dale Freeman. Rick and Caroline could not believe what was happening. All these fishermen were united together in defiance of being called crazy to help their friend. That left one person, Jonathan. The fishermen turned to the lone sailor, who was sweating up a storm.

“Jonathan…” said one of the fishermen, who Rick recognized as Captain Snowden. “Is there anything you’d like to share with the rest of us?”

Jonathan sighed and nodded his head. “I wasn’t going to tell anyone this… But… Yeah. I did see something odd on the lake. It wasn’t a lake monster! That’s for sure! But… What the lass said… About the catfish. That does make sense now…”

It was then that Jonathan stepped forward and faced Freeman and Morris.

“I’m sorry. I let my heckling get the best of me. And yes… I volunteer my boat too!”

The fishermen cheered at this. It was then that Caroline got an idea.

“Actually!” said Caroline, drawing all the fishermen’s attention. “I think I know a way you all can help!”

The plan was simple. Every fisherman who volunteered were goanna take their boats out on the lake. They would spread out and cover as much lake as they could. That way, no matter where the catfish was, someone would be of reasonable distance from it. And if they saw it, they were told alert the others. The goal was to get a picture of it.

Rick and Caroline boarded a fishing boat called the SS Nemo, which was maintained by Captain Snowden, but on that night, it was piloted by Dale Freeman and Chuck Morris. Right before they set off, they saw Dale and Chuck talking to the other fishermen about something. Some of the other fishermen decided to stay on land, but why they didn’t say why.

Snowden aided the search aboard the SS Cuttlefish, operated by Captain Peters. Though the fishermen agreed to let Rick and Caroline come aboard the vessel, Dale and Chuck asked the kids to not touch anything and to wear a life-vest.

They decided to spend an hour on the lake, for any later and their parents would get worried. Before they set off, Rick wanted to take a picture of everyone together. This time Caroline was all for the selfie, and posed with the fishermen in front of their boats.

Though the kids were smiling in the photo, they were deeply nervous. If they didn’t find anything, then that night would have been a waste of time. But if they did, then everything would be worth it. Rick stood on the bow of the ship, binoculars at the ready, though the dark of the night made it hard to see anything. All they had, was the boat’s high-beam lights and the moonlight.

Yet twenty minutes in, right when no one expected it, a fisherman from another boat yelled something. It sounded like “Over there”! And sure enough, though barely visible by the moonlight, there was a massive black creature swimming about. Though it ducked down beneath the waves, Rick and Caroline were able to get a glimpse of it. There was no denying it was the same creature they saw during the day time. But was it Fisherman Carl’s missing prized catch? They had to get closer in order to know for sure.

Dale stirred the boat towards the area where the other fisherman saw the massive fish. The other boats circled around, ready for any action. Chuck readied the fish finder, this time making sure to keep in on hand, just in case the monster decided to ram the boat again. The fish finder showed no signs of massive wildlife underneath or around the boat. That is, until he moved towards the bow where the kids were. He jumped upon seeing a massive blob appear on the screen.

He handed the finder to Caroline and ran over to the high-beam lights. The lights were on a rotating gizmo, allowing the fisherman to project the light wherever he wanted. He beamed it on the spot where the fish finder indicated the massive blob. Rick and Caroline stood on the edge of the boat looking down, as the high-beam casted over them.

Much to their disappointment, all they found was clear water. But they knew it was there, it was just hiding behind the murky depths. If only there was something they could use to lure it out. All of a sudden, Rick remembered that he still had the shrimp from his cave adventure. He took off his backpack, dug through the containments, and pulled out a plastic baggie that contained the shrimp. Caroline was a bit disgusted that Rick held onto the stinky crustaceans, but knew that was the perfect bait for luring out the mammoth fish.

Rick pulled the shrimp out of the bag, and with one hard swing of his arm, flung a hand full of shrimp into the water. There the kids saw the cluster of shrimp float on the water surface, hoping that was enough to lure out the monster. Sure enough, within a few seconds of the shrimp landing in the water, a massive head emerged from the depths and gobbled up the buffet.

Though Rick had put away his phone in order to grab the fish, Caroline was ready with hers. She drilled her fingers into the phone, taking as much pictures as she could. Just as it emerged, the fish submerged, disappearing beneath the waters. Rick rushed over to Caroline, looking over what she had captured. Did they get it? Or was luck against them?

Caroline opened her photos app, and there it was, about ten or eleven pictures of a massive catfish emerging from the water.

The kid threw their arms into the air in triumphant. They had done it! They had solved the mystery of the Bish Bash Lake Monster. And more importantly, they had proof. But it wasn’t over yet.

A sudden thrust caused the kids to fall to the ground. They looked up and saw Chuck hurrying over to them.

“Are you kids okay?” he asked, helping them up.

“Yeah! I think so…” said Caroline, making sure to put his phone in his pocket. “But what was that?”

They turn to the lake and could see the shadow of the fish circling the boat. Suddenly, Rick and Caroline’s excitement and glee turned to horror. The fish was heading straight for them. It was going to capsize the boat again!

“What do we do?” said Caroline frantically, turning over to Chuck.

“Hang on… We’ll think of something.” Said Chuck as he ran over too Dale. Dale tried to put the boat into high gear and tried to flee from the aquatic behemoth. Rick turned to the stern, only to see the shadow was right on their tail. The fish had chosen them as its next meal, and was getting close.

“It’s gaining on us!” yelled Rick. Caroline and Rick ran into the captain’s quarters, where could they see Dale and Chuck piloting the boat.

“Got any ideas?” asked Caroline, turning back to the stern in fear.

“Well… I got one.” Said Dale, not breaking eye contact with the lake. “I’m going to try to capture it!”

Rick and Caroline looked at each other in confusion, then they turned back to Dale.

“How?” Asked Caroline.

“Oh… You’ll see!” proclaimed Dave. It was then that Rick noticed the surrounding area. They were in the bay in front of the cave entrance where Carl’s fish farm way. Over by the cave opening, they could see a bunch of fishermen with nets and weighed rocks. That’s when Rick realized what that meeting from earlier was about. The fishermen had planned to meet up here and lure the creature inside.

“Okay kids! This is it!” yelled Dale, grabbing hold of the boat’s wheel. “Grab on to something and hold tight!”

“What? Why?” asked Caroline, anxious about what Dale was planning to do.

“Just do it!” he yelled. Caroline grabbed hold of the quarters door handle and Rick grabbed hold of an iron bar that came out from the wall. Dale turned to Chuck, and the two fishermen nodded to each other. Dale then spun the wheel in a clockwise matter. A jolt of inertia from the hard left turn had pushed Rick and Caroline off their feet, but were able to keep steady thanks to them grabbing hold of their positions. Dale and Chuck, however, were flung off their feet and nose dived into the wall.

But by turning a sharp left, the boat was able to dodge the attack by the fish. More so, the fish flew straight into Carl’s cave. On the sides of the cave entrance, several fishermen came out with nets and ropes. They tossed them over the cave entrance, locking the mammoth fish inside. They then hammered the rope and nets to the ground and cave with heavy iron stakes. Once the labor was done, the fishermen were able to look into the cave to see their fruits of their efforts. There, stuck in the cannel of the cave was the giant catfish, Big Bertha.

The fishermen cheered at their success. Dale and Chuck got up from their injury, while Rick and Caroline pried themselves from their locked muscles clinging onto the boat. Though Chuck had a broken nose and Rick was about to vomit, they were calmed by the cheers and howls of their friends, for that meant their plan worked. The Bish Bash Lake Monster had been captured.

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