Chapter 7: Not So Different
After an hour of research, the pair made their way back to the docks in order to find more evidence. Thankfully for them, they found out that later that day the fishermen were going to have a fish market. Fishermen from all around the lake were going to gather in front of the dicks to sell their goods. However, the market wouldn’t set up till an hour they arrived, so the kids had to spend their time until then.
Rick had an idea to waste the time, for he wanted to find the beach the original witness saw the monster. According to the old article he had, KW Brewster saw the monster on a stretch of beach called Turtle Neck Beach. Why was it called that? Nobody knew. Regardless, Rick wanted to find it and see if there was any chance to see the monster there.
Caroline, on the other hand, didn’t want to part take in the search. So she just sat her butt down on a bench near the docks and went back to reading Anatomy of Quackery. Rick didn’t care, for he didn’t want Caroline to come along any ways.
The beach was actually not too far from the docks. It required some maneuvering around a plot of trees, but Rick was able to find it. The beach was small, but had a great view of the lake. Rick spotted a Getty of rocks that would be the perfect spot to observe the lake.
As he could approach the chain of rocks, Rick could see a small party of older teenagers walking his way. Rick instantly recognized them as Bridgetown Height kids due to their fancy clothing. They were also the only people Rick ever saw that wore sweaters around their waists like a belt.
“Erm... Excuse me!” snapped one of the teens, walking up to Rick. “This is private property! No one is allowed on our beach besides us! Beat it!”
Now, usually Rick would be all for caving in to demands by others, but this time was different. He remembered what Caroline said, about the lake being public property. He then looked around the area. There wasn’t a house anywhere near the beach. Not even a dock or some sort of indication of a property line.
Though it went against his gut instinct, Rick wasn’t goin go give up without a fight.
“Actually dudes, this isn’t private property!” exclaimed Rick, much tot he shock of the pampered teens. “Lake Bish Bash is public property, that includes this part of the lake!”
Was that true? Rick had no idea. But it sounded smart, and that was what he was hoping for.
“Erm... No it’s not!” exclaimed the spokesman of the teens. “My daddy happens to own this part of the lake!”
“All right then... Show me the deed!” said Rick. The boys instantly recoiled after hearing this.
“Um... What?” simply said the teen. Rick smiled and folded his arms.
“You heard me! Where’s your deed? If your daddy really does own this part of the lake, then surely he has a deed to prove it!”
“I don’t need to show you anything!” yelled the teen, getting all up in Rick’s face. “And if you don’t leave right now, I’ll...”
“You’ll what? Call the police?” scoffed Rick. “And what if I’m right? Then you’ll be the ones in trouble!”
The teen stepped back. He turned to the others. All they did was shrug. The main teen just grunted, and walked around Rick. The other followed, and Rick was left all alone on the beach. Rick had done it, he had stood up for himself. He felt great. And what was so bizarre about the encounter was that he couldn’t have done it without the knowledge he had received from Caroline! Needless to say, one good thing came out of their interaction that day.
Meanwhile, back at the docks, Caroline was about to finish the eighteenth chapter of Anatomy of Quackery, when she over heard an argument a few yards away from her.
“I’m not lying!” screamed someone. She looked up from her book and saw a group of kids. One of them was the subject of bullying by the others.
“You’re always lying!” screamed one of the kids. “You’re nothing but a big, fat liar!”
I’m not lying!” yelled the other kid to the tops of his lungs. Caroline tried to ignore the crying child, but found it hard to rad over the sounds of the cries and the other kids chants.
“Liar, Liar! Pants on fire!” chanted the kids, though kid pronounced it “Plants for Hire” like that one Spongebob episode.
“I’m telling you I did see a lake monster!” exclaimed the kid. Caroline suddenly looked up from her book.
“But I really did!” cried the subject of the bullying. Caroline couldn’t help but feel bad for the kid. After all, if grown ups like Dale Freeman still believed in lake monsters, then why was it so bad that this 7 year old did?
Suddenly Caroline felt a compulsion she had never felt before. She slammed her book shut, got up from the bench, and marched over to the kids. One by one the kids stopped their teasing as soon as they saw the big kid heading towards them.
“Excuse me!” announced Caroline. “But what is going on here?”
“This guy said he saw a lake monster, but we know he’s lying!” said one of the kids. The subject of the bullying looked down in shame. Caroline nodded her head and turned to the bullies.
“Listen guys... Hear him out.” Said Caroline, causing the bully subject to look up in shock. “Did you hear what he said? What exactly did he see?”
The kid then jumped at the chance to explain himself in front of everyone.
“I saw something moving in the lake!” said the kid. “It was big and moving!”
“Can you explain a little bit more?” asked Caroline, causing the kid to nod.
“Well... It was very far in the lake. And it was black. And it was scaly. And it was moving!”
Caroline looked up at the lake. That’s when she noticed something on the lake. It was subtle, but she could make out something pointing out of the lake. She watched the waves, trying to see if the current could pull back some water to reveal the thing.
“Did you see it over there?” asked Caroline, pointing to the spot where she saw the strange thing. The kid turned to see where Caroline was pointing. He immediately nodded his head.
“Yes! That’s where I saw it!” exclaimed the child. Caroline nodded again, and observed the water again. Then it hit her what was poking out on the lake.
“I see! It’s a sunken buoy!” exclaimed Caroline. The kids then turned to the lake in astonishment.
“Buoy? What’s a buoy?” asked one of the kids. Caroline was more than happy to answer.
“A buoy are those things that float in the water. You know? You see them by docks sometimes.” Explained Caroline. “They are used by fisherman to track landmarks, like rocks or good fishing spots! If I had to guess, one of those buoys must have blown a hole and sunk. But as you can see, you can still see it poking out of the water!”
The kids looked closer, and could make out the strange object in the water.
“But he said it was scaly!” whined one of the kids. “And that it was moving!”
“It can move. They are attached to the lake floor with a rope and anchor.” Explained Caroline. “As for the scales, he must have mistaken muscles or barnacles that sometimes grow on them.”
The kids looked back at the lake again to try to get a glimpse of these suppose barnacles. Caroline smiled and folded her arms.
“Sounds to me like you kids owe your friend an apology...” sassed Caroline.
“What? Why? He said it was a lake monster! He’s still a liar!” said one of the kids. Caroline shook her head.
“No. He thought he saw a lake monster, but he mistaken a buoy for one. He wasn’t lying, he just didn’t know.” Said Caroline, turning to the starry eyed kid. “And you know what? If you had seen that without explanation too, you’d probably would have thought it was something strange too!”
The kids thought it over, and they realized Caroline was right. The kids looked down in shame and turned to their friend.
“She’s right... We’re sorry, Davey.” said one of the kids. “You’re not a liar.”
“Thank you.” Said the bully subject. Then the kid turned to Caroline. “And thank you! You’re really smart!”
Caroline couldn’t help but blush at this. The kids ran off to continue their fun lake side shenanigans. Caroline felt proud in that moment. And yet a thought came into her head. Was how she treated Rick the same way those kids were treating their friend? She shook off that thought. She just went back to the bench and read her book.
After Rick finished scanning the beach for the lake monster, he went back to the docks to find Caroline. Thankfully for both of them, the fish market was underway. Usually the fish hungry residents of Bridgetown would be all over the place, but there didn’t seem to be any people there at that time.
They saw Dale Freeman standing at a booth with only a few fish out on display. They walked up to him and asked what he was doing.
“A buddy of mine is paying me to sell the fish he caught in the last week or so.” He explained. “He’s been helping me out since I quit the lake life.”
Rick wanted to ask Freeman a few more questions about his encounter, so he was glad they ran into him again. And Freeman was more than happy to answer Rick’s questions, all be it, if they were asked by Rick, not Caroline. The first thing Rick asked him was why there was such a low turn out for the fish market. Freeman gave a reasonable answer; there was a shortage of fish. It was then that the kids noticed that the booths the fishermen sold their bounty on had three or four fish on it at most. Usually they’d have twenty or even thirty.
“Huh... I think there were more fish on that sheet of paper than there are here!” remarked Rick, rather disappointed since he wanted to buy a fish to use as bait in luring out the monster.
“It’s a dark day indeed lad.” Said the fisherman. “It was cause of the shortage that me and my partner decided to fish at night. We thought the fishes were getting nocturnal. Maybe they were. But now I know why, it’s because of that monster! It’s eating all the fish!”
All of a sudden, they heard a loud laugh from the booth across from them. They turned to see a burly looking man holding his gut in and bellowing laughter.
“Eye Freeman, how many people are you going to tell that tall tale too?” said the rude fisherman.
“Oh, go the Hell, Jonathan!” yelled Freeman. “This kid believes me!”
“Oh coarse the lad believes you! Lads believe in anything! Don’t you lad?”
Rick paid no attention to the rude fisherman, and went back to talking to Dale.
Rick was still stunned about the fish shortage. Now this wasn’t just a matter of proving to Caroline that the monster was real, this was now about saving these men’s livelihoods! If he didn’t stop this creature, the fish economy of Bridgetown would collapse and all these poor men would have to work in retail or something! And that was not a future Rick wanted to live in.
As Rick asked the fisherman a few more question, Caroline wandered the fish market, pondering the identity of the mystery animal. She threw out her original theory, for unless rocks could swim, there were no sharp rocks in the area where Freeman’s boat was overturned. And what about the thing she saw? Were they the same? Or unrelated?
“Hey... You want to see the sub?” said a voice. Caroline looked up, and turning around, saw two scruffy looking fishermen standing off to the side of the market. One was younger and hadn’t been out to sea as much as the other, elderly looking man. The older looking man shushed the younger sailor, looked around to make sure no one heard them, and moved their conversation off the docks, where there were no people. Caroline was astonished. A submarine? Was it so simple?
Caroline turned to see that Rick was still chatting with Freeman. Then Caroline turned back to where the sailors walked off to. She noticed there was a statue not too far from where the men were talking. If she could hide behind the statue undetected, then she could eavesdrop on their conversation.
Using all the stealth she had, Caroline was able to sneak out of the fish market and make her way to the statue. The statue was massive, an erect monument to Bridgetown’s first governor, Joseph Tower. Though the conversation was faint, Caroline could make out a few things the men said.
“When can I see it?” Asked the younger man, or what Caroline thought he said.
“Wait until tonight. It’s in the warehouse. Nobody knows it’s there.” Said the older man. “And it has to stay between us? You hear? We don’t want anyone to know the sub’s there. Especially Dale and Chuck!”
Caroline couldn’t believe what she just heard. Why wouldn’t they want Dale and Chuck, the victims of the monster attack, to know there’s a submarine in Bish Bash Lake? She tried to get an ear full more of information, but the two men had walked away, and was no longer in ear shot of Caroline. They headed toward the beach, where there wasn’t any large masses where Caroline could hide behind. Caroline had no choice but to cease her eavesdropping. But she had found what she was looking for, a clue. And if what the men said was true, then all she had to do was find the sub.
“This has to be it.” Caroline said to herself. “It just has to be!”
As this was going on, Rick was still shooting the news with Dale. Dale had repeated everything Rick already knew about the incident. That’s when another fisherman came over to them. Dale turned to him, grinned, and turned back to Rick.
“Rick, my boy, this is my friend Captain Hugh Snowden. He also saw the monster!”
Rick turned to Captain Snowden in shock. The man was significantly older than Freeman, but had a that rough fisherman vibe to him.
“You saw Bishy too?” asked Rick, only to get a chuckle out of Snowden.
“I wouldn’t give the beast such a cute nickname.” Said Snowden. “But yes, I did see something strange out on the lake.”
“Tell him Hugh.” Said Dale. “Tell him what you saw out on that lake!”
Snowden nodded to his comrade and turned to the lake, trying to refresh his memory.
“I was out on my boat one morning, looking for a place to cast. That’s when I saw a massive shadow under the lake. It had emerged from a cave off the coast of the beach. In fact, it’s not too far from here. I thought it was a wave at first, but then I realized the shape was coming from beneath the waves, not above it.”
“An old cave by the beach.” Rick repeated. “If I walk down the beach, will I be able to find it?”
“Yes! Right where the beach ends and the marshes begin, you’ll see the cave! You can’t miss it!” said Dale. “And there’s enough stone around the edge of the cave so you can stand on it. Just make sure not to slip and fall into the water. I’m not sure how deep the water gets in there.”
Rick nodded and took a mental note of the fisherman’s advice. The plan was simple; head into the cave near the evening and see if the monster was in it. If not, then all he had to do was wait until it came back. He would have his camera ready and same bait to lure it out. There was no way it could get away from him. This was a fool-proof plan!