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There are woods just outside of La Pine, OR where strange things happen when night falls. When the last shimmer of light from the days sun fades behind the tree tops, that's when you notice them. My father owned a cabin a few miles out of town, we stayed often through my childhood. My father loved to fish, and I loved to go with him.
We would go to East Lake and sit on his boat for hours waiting for a bite. My dad was in it for the sport, I didn't care about the fish, I wasn't even any good at it. I was there for my dad. He worked all the time, always having to travel to different parts of the state, so I couldn't see him as much as I would've liked. But when he was home he would plan these big adventures for us.
We would stay in that cabin and hike the trails, or collect agates that lay scattered through out the forest. We had delved deep into a few of the caves that surround Central Oregon. Yet we only ever went to the one lake. My father was insistent on it, he told me that lake calls to him.
He was enamored with it, he would just stare at the water, the suns reflection glistening on the surface. It was hypnotizing, to watch the water ripple in an almost rhythmic pattern. My dad loved to do a lot of things, just about anything that involved the outdoors he was fascinated with. But his fascination with the lake seem to eclipse all else.
He loved to night time fish, that's when he could get the lake all to himself. He would never allow me to go along when he went out at night. Saying it was the only time he could really think. There was one night in particular that stood out the most. Recently being laid off from work, he came home distraught. It was only me and him. My mother had passed away from complications of an appendectomy when I was three.
Pacing around in the kitchen, a heavy smell on his breath, which I would only later come to know as whiskey. That would've been my first sign of alert if I had only been older. My mother was an alcoholic in her late teens and early twenties, and around the time she was pregnant with me she had put herself in the hospital from alcohol poisoning. Had my father not been with her at the time she would've died.
It was during this stay in the hospital they found out she was pregnant. Both my mother and father began going to AA meetings, and following twelve step programs. He hadn't had a drink in twelve years, that was the first time I'd ever seen anybody drunk and I was too young and naive to know.
With not a moments notice he was grabbing his back pack and fishing rod, and reaching for the knob on the cabin door. I was used to his solo fishing sessions during the night. I liked to think he was talking with my mother while he was out in that water. When she died, we scattered her ashes in the center of the lake. This was where he had met my mother.
That lake held more significance to me than I had the ability to comprehend at that age. These are things I've only come to know in the years since my fathers disappearance, things that finally make sense. I had fallen asleep on the couch, holding myself as if cold and trying to warm up. I was pretty uneasy about how my father had behaved the previous night, and I though he just needed some space.
When I awoke I was still alone in the cabin. I thought he might be out chopping fire wood, so I flung the cabin door open, and ran to the chopping block. He wasn't there. "DAD" I yelled running though the thick brush that surrounded the cabin. I made my way to the lake, sure that he was out fishing, still thinking.
As I broke through the tree line to the edge of the water, I noticed his boat in the center of the lake. I couldn't make out if he is was in it, his fishing rod still placed in the holders mounted to the rail of the boat. "DAD ARE YOU OVER THERE" assuming he had fallen asleep on the boat, the constant rocking of the vessel in the gentle wave of the water would make anybody tired.
I ran the perimeter of the lake to get closer, only to find nobody inside. I dove in the water not giving it a second thought and swam to the vacant craft. Taking a minute to catch my breath once I got there. I went under the water a few time in an attempt to search the surrounding area. But even with adrenaline and worry I wasn't capable of holding my breath for long enough periods.
One of the forest service workers must have seen me out there alone, because next thing I knew I was lying on a gurney, with an oxygen mask on. Gazing into the water as police loaded up there boats to search the water for my dad. My uncle standing at my side. I must have dove too deep, and couldn't break the surface before I ran out of breath. They never found my fathers body, and I hadn't been back to that lake since.
I stayed with my uncle in Bend, a town Forty-five minutes from La Pine. All I could ever think about is where he could have went, and why he would've left me. Ten years went by, each day passing in hopes of my fathers miraculous return. I began to think about my mother, and how I hardly knew her, I could barely remember the time that I spent with her. But I could remember her face perfectly.
I would ask my Uncle questions about them. Hearing the stories made me feel closer to them. When I was Twenty-Two I decided to go to that cabin. Maybe I would get closure, or at least understand my parents a little more. I hadn't went fishing since my father went missing and I felt like he would be watching me from where ever he was, and smiling, proud that his boy was so much like him.
I was on the water for a good five hours, with not much activity, and what I did catch wasn't worth the effort to real in. I retired to the cabin for the evening. Walking to the room I once called my own, letting out a remiss sigh as I peered through the door way. I came to the conclusion I would use my dads bed, I had outgrown my old room. It was time I felt more like a man, it was time I acted more like my dad.
Laying my head back on the pillow, I closed my eyes an started to slip into a place between dreams and reality. A faint creaking of the cabin floor barely audible as my slowly fading consciousness began. Each squeak acting as the metronome counting down to my somnial departure. I couldn't tell if the creaking was real. But I remember feeling a cold wetness on my chest.
I opened my eyes, and beside the bed was my father, flesh a discolored bluish grey, peeling from water rot and decay. His clothes tattered and soaking. "Dad, wha....what are you doing here?" I asked, my voice shaky from fear. He opened his mouth as if trying to speak, but only algae filled water poured from it, with a gurgling sound as if he was trying to breath. I closed my eyes and said "wake up" then opened them to an empty room. I hung my feet off the side of the bed and placed them on the floor. A dampness pooled on the wooden floor.
As the moon light shined in I could see it reflecting off of what looked like foot prints. I followed them, leading me towards the door. I opened it with apprehension, my brain stirring with possible outcomes. Stepping onto the porch, I saw what looked like the back of my father merging into the brush just ahead. Twigs snapping, and leaves rustling as he moved out of view. I chased after him, coming to a clearing close to the lake. Nothing, I walked the trail to the docks, my fathers boat not tied as I left it.
With the light shimmering on the water, I saw it in the center of the lake, rocking back and fourth. I jumped in and swam in the direction of the boat. I had almost reached it when I felt the tug of my pant leg. Suddenly I was being dragged below, I kicked frantically hoping to free myself. Unsuccessful I reached down to remove the obstruction by hand, glowing yellow eyes looked back at me from deep black sockets.
The face had skin peeled back from the lips, revealing jagged shark-like teeth, in a water logged humanoid face. A bony hand clamped to my ankle, with bits of flesh hanging off of it. From the depths I could see more yellow glows appearing towards the bottom of the lake, and starting to rise. As they got closer, I could make out dozens of rotten human bodies, barely visible in the murky moon lit water. I kicked the face of the creature that had hold of me, and kicked the arm a good few times.Finally I felt it give, and I broke the surface of the water. Not taking a moment to climb the side of the boat and paddle to the dock. As I stepped out I realized that grotesque hand was still clenched to my ankle. I pried it off, and threw it in the water. Running to the cabin, my only worry was to get the car keys, and leave as fast as possible. I peeled out as I accelerated on the loose dirt that surrounded the cabin. Glancing in my review mirror as I pulled away. The corpse of my father standing and staring as I left sight. The yellow glow of his eyes still visible to me when I close mine.
Written by Laughing Jake