Alone At The Lake – Becky Brewster

BeckyHe creaked as he softly guided his legs out of his truck, he stood… surveying the lake in front of him. Then he shut the door… it creaked as well, slowly folding into the truck until it latched.

He moved slowly to the small trailer attached to his truck and began un-fastening the ropes and lowering it to the ground. A small two person canoe was its cargo — blue, not old like I suspected but with a distinct newness to it. A new hobby I thought.

He stood back to look at the canoe and scanned the lake once again. He opened a backpack and started removing some carefully placed items — first out were two rubber ducks, one with a straw hat, one with a bonnet. He affixed them to the front of the canoe and gave them a long stare. Next out were a pair of water proof trousers, he leaned against his truck to put them on — one leg, so carefully creaking, at a time. He rested.

He reached deeper into his pack and pulled out a life-vest — he put it on, meticulously, checking all the straps, tugging at it to ensure a proper fit. He rested again. He stood silently beside the canoe still on the trailer and gazed at the lake as if to see if it was ready for him.

Once again he reached in to the pack and pulled out the last item — a book. He tucked the book inside the vest, bent down to grab the rope hanging from the trailer, and began the walk down the ramp towards the awaiting lake. At the edge of the water, he pushed the canoe off the trailer and settled it halfway in the lake — he was almost ready.

He walked from one side of the canoe to the other — deciding his best point of entry. He chose the right side and lifted, first his left leg then his right leg, hanging on to the sides of the canoe as he did — I heard a creak. He settled into position and let out a breath. He rested.

He grabbed the oar from the bottom of the canoe and paused only momentarily to look out over the tip of the canoe — he used the oar to push himself and the canoe away from shore — once… twice… three times and he was free from the sandy slope that led to the open water. He rested the oar across his lap as he gently floated away from shore. I heard his breath exhale again.

He floated farther and farther from shore without using the oar — the calm lake waves were carrying him out to the peaceful center of the open water. He reached deep into his vest and pulled out the book — he gazed at the ducks still affixed to the front of the two person canoe that only held him and he began to read, and he was gone.

Disappeared.

No wake left in his absence.

No ripples where his canoe should still be.

He was gone.

I blinked, not knowing if he had ever been there.

But the ducks, the plastic ducks that had, only seconds earlier, been strapped to his canoe, were now floating where he once was… where he was supposed to be.

… and I watched them from the shore, floating away from me with his story.

~~~~~

I’m a single mother to three children and two dogs.
I’ve been working in public education for… well, way too long to count. I specialize in working with children with autism, that is my passion. I am one of those lucky few who love and are passionate about their jobs. And then, there’s writing… when I grow up, I want to be a writer.
I share my poems, prose, and stories on my blog, First Pages. Come visit!
Happy Halloween, y’all.

Hell Hound – Becky Brewster Sain

HellHound

She looked down from the hill, her hair matted with the stench of several days worth of deaths, her skin pale and translucent, the straps from her backpack cutting deeper into her skin with each subtle movement she made, making a vile concoction of sweat and blood that would not stop dripping down her arms – unable to remove her backpack, glued to her skin in some demonic prank. She had been circling the hotel for what seemed like days, but time didn’t really exist anymore. She would have to go in eventually, what waited for her inside must be far worse than a mixed up time space hell continuum and a demonized backpack – what waited for her inside was her best friend, the only living thing to love her unconditionally, the dog that did whatever she commanded… which was usually, “Kill”.

She could see a man near the front door of the hotel, she knew it was her turn, her time, her reservation was ready. Her backpack guided her down the overgrown path, through every thorny bush and broken branch, until she walked up to the front door. The door opened quickly and a tall thin man with long white hair reached out with both his hands and grabbed her bloodied shoulders, the backpack finally fell to the ground, releasing its grasp on her – the cuts across her shoulders were deep and wet with blood, slightly blackened like rotting flesh.

She knew this place must be the entrance to Hell, maybe she had to check-in, was hell really that formal? She knew why she was there; she had commanded her dog to “kill” 9 times in less than two years. Her victims were random people, she didn’t know them or the lives they led or the people they loved or the people they were yet to become… she didn’t care. She had complete control over their destiny, their death. She would watch them for a few days, with her dog at her side. When the time felt right, she would softly whisper “kill” into her dog’s ear, like a lover whispering a poem. She had trained the dog so well. It would walk towards the person, silently, holding its breath, camouflaging its footsteps… and for a brief unnoticeable second, it would pause and stare at the kill – a toddler left unattended just long enough, a boy walking home after sharing his first kiss, a retired teacher lost in the beauty of her roses. It noticed these things, these human things that made each person unique, but only briefly, its purpose was to entertain her, to “kill”.

No words were ever spoken between her and the man in charge of the door. He turned to walk down a brightly lit hallway with beautiful wallpaper and perfectly framed works of art. The air smelled clean and fresh – a game, she thought, a game where she gets to stay in a nice hotel room for a while before moving on to hell.

The doorman stopped at room number 107 and turned the handle. He gave her a tremendous shove into the room and she fell onto the floor, or rather, it wasn’t a floor, it was a backyard. A beautiful backyard enclosed in a black wrought iron fence, the grass was perfectly mowed — the yard was littered with toys, a trampoline, a clubhouse, a tire swing. She began to recognize this place, from somewhere, a memory stored away in a part of her mind that tried to easily forget… forgetting made everything easy. She began pacing the yard, faster and faster, trying to remember this place, trying to remember why she was here… and then, a voice. A cherub like voice asking if she wanted some ice cream. She was startled, growing afraid, no one was there. Again, the voice sounded out in angelic tones to ask if she wanted some ice cream. She turned quickly, looking, finally realizing it was coming from inside the clubhouse.

She took a few small, cautious steps towards the clubhouse but stopped when she could see someone moving inside. A small chubby hand came out from the dark of the clubhouse and grabbed the door, that’s all she could see, this small chubby hand belonging to a small child, maybe three or four, she thought. She didn’t move towards the clubhouse, instead letting the child come out on his own – slowly, the child emerged. He grabbed the opening to the clubhouse with his other hand; it must have been a hand. It was round; there was no skin, only shreds of muscle and tendon. On the top, there were two small bones protruding – maybe they used to be fingers. She covered her mouth to keep from screaming, she was in hell.

More of the small child slowly came out of the clubhouse – he was scooting on his bottom, using his one good hand to pull himself. One leg was in similar condition as his hand… stripped of its skin, muscle and tendons hanging in a disjointed puzzle, blood and puss oozing everywhere. His other leg was gone, just gone. His pants were soaked with blood near his hip – it looked like an ax cut through it, no sign that bone or flesh or muscle or anything living had ever been attached to that spot. He scooted further out from the clubhouse, in full view, sitting directly in front of her. His clothing was barely recognizable as clothing – dripping with blood and tears and intestinal fluids, and one more smell she recognized right away… dog slobber, it was her dogs slobber soaking the boys shirt. She backed away from the boy looking up at her from his place on the ground when she heard another movement coming from within the clubhouse.

Her dog slowly walked out of the clubhouse towards the boy, she closed her eyes, unable to watch what she thought would happen next – the first time she watched her dog kill the boy, it was from a distance… she could look away when she wanted, she couldn’t hear the bones breaking and the flesh ripping or the mother screaming. But, now, now she had no choice but to watch… to be a part of it. She opened her eyes when she heard the boy giggling, as she looked up, the boy was stroking her dog with his bloody nub – leaving her dogs fur matted with blood and dirt. Her dog started licking the boys grotesque wounds, her stomach churned as she watched streaks of slobber and blood slowly fall from her dog’s mouth onto the boy.

The boy looked at her, and then pointed to a backpack at her feet. He scooted over to the backpack and began to crawl inside, leaving a trail of ooze behind him like a wounded slug. He pointed up to her shoulders; she understood that to mean she should put the backpack on, with him inside. The backpack immediately became glued to her shoulders, once again cutting deeply into her flesh. Her dog stood, facing her, staring at her, not blinking, not breathing, not moving – the two of them, face to face, not moving.

She had almost forgotten about the boy on her back when he moved and the straps of the backpack cut into her shoulders more, though she didn’t dare take her eyes off of her dog. The boy leaned forward, placing his mouth directly on her ear, the putrid smell that surrounded him was inescapable, and in the most angelic loving voice he whispered to her, “run”. She didn’t comprehend what he was saying at first, he giggled in a way that so many mischievous little boys do, and then she saw her dog lower his head and growl.

She ran.

Just as the boy had commanded her to, she ran.

She darted behind the clubhouse and jumped the fence in a quick movement. She headed down the middle of the street, unable to see her dog, but she could feel him… his hot breath on the back of her legs, nipping at her calves – just enough to draw blood. Then she could feel his warm slobber dripping onto her neck, his teeth just barely breaking the skin. He was toying with her, waiting to kill her, perhaps for the boys command. But, the boy seemed to be having too much fun, laughing at all the raucous behavior happening around him as he raced through the streets in her backpack.

She ran, never stopping, her dog right there out of sight, but inches from her flesh, ready to kill. The street turned into an overgrown forest that looked all too familiar – broken branches jumping out at her and roots rising up to trip her, then it happened. Her dog clamped down on her calf with the full force of his monstrous jaw, ripping away pieces of flesh. She fell and tumbled over and over, screaming in pain and being knocked around by trees and stumps and bushes. The boy, still in the backpack strapped ever tighter to her bleeding shoulders, giggled like he was at an amusement park. Her dog continued to run beside her as she tumbled, taking bites out of her. She came to a stop as she crashed into a door, the door to her hotel room, room number 107. She stood up quickly and opened the door only to find the tall doorman waiting for her. He reached out his lengthy arms and grabbed both her shoulders, the backpack was automatically released. He picked up the pack and gently placed it in the arms of a small woman – who walked away with it.

The door man guided her back to her hotel room, she wasn’t done yet, there were others she needed to bring out. She begged him not to make her go back in there, to fix her wounds, to let her rest, anything… he gave a heavy sigh and pushed her back into hotel room number 107.

She turned around and was in the most amazing garden she had ever seen. It was a beautiful spring day, butterflies and hummingbirds were everywhere. The smell of roses filled the air – it gave her a sense of calm. She noticed an older woman in a corner of the garden kneeling down, working away at pruning and watering and feeding the roses. The woman spoke without turning around, she asked if she liked her roses. But before she could answer, the woman turned to face her and the horror of her hell was again real. The woman’s face was gone, nothing but bone on the right side. The left side was mangled, her lips were hanging by a single piece of skin, her scalp looked as if it had been removed with a chainsaw, and her single eye was dangling by a thin muscle past her cheek swinging back and forth like the pendulum of a clock.

She looked at the ground were the woman had been sitting and saw her dog, staring at her…

*****

Becky Brewster Sain lives in the Nashville area with her three joyfully imaginative children and two large willful dogs, or is that large willful children and joyfully imaginative dogs? She writes poetry and prose on her blog, First Pages ( http://bsain.wordpress.com/ ) as well as a few scattered short stories. She is feverishly submitting poems and stories and trying to expand her creative boundaries. You can stalk her on twitter @beckysain or follow her Facebook pageFirst Pages.

She also wrote a story for us last year. Feel free to check it out here.

A Perfect Night

by Becky Sain

The dogs bark constantly. They see a cat and bark. They see a squirrel and bark. They see a bird, a bug, a leaf blowing, a child walking… they bark. This gives her comfort, a living security system. She feels safe on the nights she stays up late editing the campus paper – the only freshman to have ever been named editor. She stays away from the sororities and fraternities, no late night trips to the local bars. Her world doesn’t involve friends or people even… her world is here, in her little house at the end of the street, in front of her computer with no one to bother her… just her and her dogs.

The dogs always stay at her feet while she sits at her desk, springing up and running to the window, barking at whatever catches their attention. Each night is the same as all the nights before, her school newspaper is all she is interested in, a doorway into the world of journalism. She doesn’t notice the world all around her, her world revolves around her computer –here, she is lost in her own words.

She sits in her chair at her hand-me-down desk, typing away. The words flow effortlessly this night. It is magical. Every thought makes its way to the computer screen flawlessly, no misspelled words, no unnecessary words, no pausing — just perfect writing, as if she is being taken over by something, something no one can see but she can feel.

It is Fall. A chill has just recently begun to show itself in the nighttime breeze. She has her windows open; it’s so quiet on her street. All the houses are tucked in and sleeping, the street lights are faintly bright, no sounds in her neighborhood. The absence of outside noise means her dogs haven’t jumped up to bark in hours — she is lost in the writing and has forgotten about their nightly walk until one of her dogs barely nudges her leg, bringing her out of her hypnotic state.

She looks at the clock and is shocked to see it is 2:30 am. She has been sitting at her computer since 7:00 that evening — never moving. She reluctantly pulls herself away from the computer, grabbing the leashes as she opens the door. The dogs smile and turn in circles with excitement, biting each others tails. She starts down the street on her usual path around the neighborhood, her thoughts are back at her desk, designing her next sentence, naming her next story — she smirks as she thinks about how amazing this writing session has been. She walks once around the block and heads back down towards her little house at the end of the street, barely visible under the fading street light. She thinks her house looks unusually dark from the street, she pauses before going in.

Settling back in, she grabs a bottle of water and positions herself into her chair, reigning over the computer in front of her — this is her kingdom — hoping she can return to the unbelievable writing zone she has been in that night. She pulls herself close to her old desk and looks hopeful at the screen, then begins typing again — once again the words flow effortlessly and she is lost in her own arrogance.

Barely 15 minutes has passed since they returned from their walk when the dogs jump up and start barking. She reaches down with one hand to calm them while still staring at the screen and typing with the other. They stop barking and put their heads back down. Another 5 minutes passes and the dogs start barking again. Again she calms them with the touch of her hand while never taking her eyes off the screen filled with the words she is creating. Almost instantly, the dogs jump up and start barking once again… this time with sharp growls and snarls, their hair standing up on their necks, rearing back on their haunches.

The anger in their barks startles her as she rotates her chair around to look at them… their barking grows louder. She walks over and closes the window she has open, hoping that blocks out the mysterious noise that is creating havoc for the dogs. She looks intently into the night to see whatever cat is causing her dogs to be so alarmed, but there is nothing. The streets are bare. As she turns around, expecting the dogs to be beside her, staring out the window at the phantom noise, she realizes they are still standing next to her desk, staring at her computer, their ears perked, their teeth bared, the bright glow from the computer screen making their eyes flash with anger.

She kneels down to pat the dogs as she eases back into her chair and begins to write… again the dogs bark wildly, gnashing their teeth, nipping at the air. She turns quickly to look at them, still unaware of what is making them so upset. She touches their heads and they stop snarling, look at her, then back to the glowing computer screen… their ears are perked.

She turns to look at her computer, not at the perfect words that she has been typing out all night, just to look at the screen — a spider maybe. She could feel her neck pulsate with each beat of her heart, she tries to hold her breath, listening and scanning for the cause of the nervousness that now envelopes her entire house. There is nothing, she sees nothing; she takes a deep breath, and begins her writing again. Immediately the dogs become vicious with their barks, baring their teeth, jumping at the screen, protecting her from something that isn’t there. She jerks around to quiet the dogs once again, it doesn’t work. They continue their assault on the air in front of the screen. She turns back to the screen, staring at it, moving her eyes from corner to corner, up and down, examining the screen so fast it makes her dizzy… trying desperately to see something only visible to the dogs.

There.

A flash, something moving across the bottom of the screen.

A face.

She leans in closer to the screen, wiping her eyes, wiping the screen. The dogs’ barks are becoming increasingly louder, they are frenzied; drooling, jumping, and rearing back.

There it is again, a blurry form, not quite a face – something more distorted.

She turns to the dogs but they are no longer willing to quiet at her command, their animal instincts more prominent than their domesticated obedience.

Quickly reeling around to face the screen again, the words are gone… all her flawless words, gone. The only thing there is the cause of all the frenzied behavior — a blurred outline of a face darting around on the screen, too fast to decipher its age or if it is a man or a child, too fast for her brain to register what it is. The dogs’ agitation heightens as she jumps out of her chair, tripping over them, falling clumsily to the floor.

The dogs continue their attack, trying to get in between her and the screen. She scrambles on the floor, crawling towards the front door, her legs refusing to allow her to stand. But, it’s too late, the distorted face grabs the back of her neck by its abyss of a mouth, and with a movement too quick to time, it pulls her into the screen, into the stories she is effortlessly typing out.

The room is quiet.

The computer screen glows.

The dogs stop their raucous attack immediately, confused, whining, whimpering — licking the screen in hopes of bringing her back.

They nestle down at the foot of her chair, waiting for her to return and type out the rest of her stories, waiting for her to take them on their next walk, waiting…

***

Becky Brewster Sain lives in the Nashville area with her three joyfully imaginative children and two large willful dogs, or is that large willful children and joyfully imaginative dogs? She writes poetry and prose on her blog, First Pages ( http://bsain.wordpress.com/ ) as well as a few scattered short stories. She is feverishly submitting poems and stories and trying to expand her creative boundaries. You can stalk her on twitter @beckysain or follow her Facebook page, First Pages.