When we first posted The Lake Monster story prompt, we were worried that everyone would write about the Loch Ness monster. Boy, were we wrong! The entries we received were fantastically creative! It was a tough decision, but we’re proud to announce the winner. Congrats Joshua Randolph! You’re story had a wicked twist that left us wanting more!
But, we’re not done yet! While we don’t usually choose a second place, this entry really stood out for it’s creativity! We’d like to share with you our second place pick by Emily Sauer! Congrats Emily!
Check out the writing prompt and the winning entries below!
“The lake is a solitary one. It likes to keep its own secrets.” The old man bent to spit over the side of the weather-beaten dock. “You had better respect that.”I paused to wipe the sweat off of my brow. The air off the lake was cool, but the trek to get the equipment to the boat had been a long one.“It’s alright, me and this lake are old friends. I used to summer here with my dad.”“Then you must know the stories.” He stood on unsteady legs and gathered his fishing gear. “There will be no fish today,” he nodded at the darkening sky.
“I’m willing to risk it.”
For this week’s challenge, we’re asking writers to continue this story until the protagonist makes a startling discovery about the nature of the lake and the things that lurk beneath it. Is there a lake monster? Is it supernatural or a hoax?
The Lake Monster
By Joshua Randolph
The old man knew more than just the stories of the lake, though. Long ago, in the days of his youth, he lived those stories. He was the scribe, etching his memories of the cavern at the bottom, hoping to return.
“Tonight, lad, we take a trip to the bottom of the lake,” the old man said.
“Surely you jest,” he responded, “there can be no truth in those legends.”
“Are ye frightened of what’s at the bottom?” The old man had a twinge of nostalgia. “Well, that’s probably for the best.”
Hesitantly, the young man grabbed his gear, looking incredulously at the elder. “I think you’re mad, but at least I’m getting paid for this.” With that, he dove into the water, attached to a rope by which he planned to return. The old man prepared to wait, to help the young man should he be successful. The old man settled in, resting his tired body, preparing to finish this chapter of the story.
Weighted down by his kit, the young boy descended the darkness. After what felt like an eternity searching, and nearly passing out from lack of oxygen, the entrance surprised him. A small cavern, underwater, just as the old stories told. Softly glowing, the cave gave off an ethereal blue light. In the dim illumination, he could make out a small passage perhaps 30 meters away. The light was oddly familiar to him, and he soon realized why. A lichen grew along the edges of the cave, much as grew in the woods near his home.
Setting off toward the path, slowly and stealthily. He didn’t even expect the cave to be here, as he didn’t believe in the old stories. The eerie glow played with his vision, and he thought more than once he heard noises. Silly that must be, he thought, and put it aside. No beasts had been here in a long time, he reckoned, regardless of what the old man and his stories might say. Still, he was hoping the old man was right about that treasure down here.
Moving further down the path, he came upon another opening. This was a bit higher, but not nearly so long as the first. At the end, two paths diverged. Randomly, he chose to stick to the path to the right. It was not a straight path, taking abrupt turns, full of curves, raising and falling. After what seemed like hours, but was really probably only ten minutes, he came upon a small chamber. The blue light glinted off of a small pile of what appeared to be rocks and sticks. Had this pile really been here as long as the old man said? Looking around further, he discovered several chests. Picking a chest at random, he discovered it was locked. Quickly, he grabbed his small set of pins and started to pick it. After a few minutes, the tumblers aligned and the chest opened. The young man had to catch his breath, he’d never seen bars of solid gold before! Suddenly, he was thinking of all the things he could do with this kind of wealth.
He proceeded to open the next chest and the next, finding all manner of valuable thing. He was excited more than he could have imagined! Never again would he have to worry about his bills, or providing for his family.
“I’ve always wanted a nice house in the country,” he thought. “Now I can afford it! Maybe even a horse or two…” and that’s when he remembered he was in a cave, underwater. “How will I get all this out of here?” He was talking these thoughts out loud, but he supposed it didn’t matter. For now, he took a gold bar, stuffing it in his kit. It was heavier than he expected, so he took only one. “This will be more than enough for a long time,” he said, “and I can come back for more when I can carry more.” With that he started his return.
A bit more quickly, he made his way back to the end of this path, to the place where the three paths met. He stopped momentarily, contemplating what must be down that other path. The old story popped back into his mind, of a beast living somewhere in this chamber. As the young lad was strong, and not a stranger to combat, he decided it a good idea to see if the last fact was true. Slowly, he made his way down the other path. This path was mostly straight, so he quickly arrived at the end of it. Oddly, there was no chamber here, but a simple dead-end. Slightly disappointed, he returned the way he came, passing the small room that joined the three paths. Making his way back along the original passage, he stopped short of the foyer area. A bit of blue glinted off something wet, blocking his path forward. It moved quickly toward the young boy, knocking him to the floor. The fellow attempted to draw his sword, but the beast was too quick. With a swift motion, the beast drove his claw into the boy’s heart.
The old man awoke early the next morning. He pulled up the rope, which now had the kit attached to it. Reaching into the kit, the old man removed a small pouch of coins. He counted aloud, “…8, 9, 10.” He marked this in his journal, pocketing the coin and ending this chapter. Slowly, he heads back to town, to tell the old legend again. Without fail, the old story always provides another chapter for his story, another treat for his beast.
Entering the tavern, he starts his tale anew, offering a gold coin and the kit, to the young man who will take on his challenge, and help him finish his story…
For more of Josh’s work, stop in and check out his blog, Arguments for Reason.
The Lake Monster
By Emily Sauer
“The lake is a solitary one. It likes to keep its own secrets.” The old man stood at the end of the dock looking out across the lake, “you had better respect that.”
I nodded, “I spent summers here as a kid, with my dad,” I paused, not knowing how much I should share, “we’re connected.”
He nodded solemnly, “Then you know the stories,” he nodded to the sky, “and you know they’ll be no fish today.”
“I’ll take my chances,” I stepped out closer to the edge of the dock, “I’ll be careful.” The truth was, I wasn’t here to fish. I hadn’t thought of this lake since my 16th birthday, when I’d forced it from my mind with medication and therapy, I couldn’t think of this place without waking nightmares of my dad disappearing below the depths with a smile on his face and a hand outstretched, not as if it were looking for help, but biding me to come with
The pills and therapy had worked, until three months ago, when the dreams began. Each dream was the same, images of this lake. A voice always spoke, but I could never remember what it was that it said when I awoke, but I did remember the feeling of calm it left me with.
“Suit yourself,” the old man shrugged, “but I know better than to tempt her in weather like this,” his gesture swept the sky and lake in one motion.
“I’ll be fine, thank you.” I said more for my benefit than his. He simply nodded and walked back down the dock towards land. I watched him go, then climbed into the boat and set out into the dark water.
I went out to the spot seared into my memory, the spot where my father went under, with a smile on his face, and never resurfaced. His body had never been found. As I arrived it began to rain, but I didn’t move, I stared into the depths, willing time to fly backward, so I could save my father from the lake. Memories began coming back. A soothing musical voice had found its way across the water, into our boat that day, but the words were impossible for me to understand, the sounds, I remember, “Vino vedea cred . Alătură-te nouă aici , pentru că aici este adevărata fericire . Emrace durerea de doar câteva minute pentru o eternitate de pace. Vino acasa”
I whispered these words into the water. As I finished, I saw something move below the surface. I leaned closer to the water to get a better look. What looked like two faces stared back at me, but then the surface broke and an old doll floated where I had seen the faces. It appeared to be made of the reeds surrounding the lake and dressed in old cloth. I reached to grab it, and as I did, I felt another hand brush mine, but I could see nothing.
I made my way back to the dock, the old man was waiting for me. ”Catch anything?” I held up the doll in response, ”Throw it back, it must belong to the children.”
”The children? What do you mean?” I couldn’t remember stories of children.
”The children of the lake, from a time long ago. Their city lies beneath the lake. Throw it back. Don’t make the same mistake your father did.”
”You knew my father?”
”He found a ball. How stupid to accept the toy.”
”My father wasn’t stupid! What do you mean? What do they mean?”
”Once you’ve accepted the toy, they can trace you, to take you.”
”Yes, your father accepted an offer.”
”To die, to sacrifice himself to the monster, no one knows but the chosen, and they don’t return.”
”What kind of monster?”
”They say he has the body of the puma, but larger, and the head of a dragon.”
I threw the doll off the dock and walked back to my cabin and went to bed. A violent storm ensued. When I woke in the morning, the doll was laying next to my head on my pillow. I sat up.
Carrying the doll I went down to the dock, the old man was already there, ”Good day for fishing,” he smiled. The grin turned to concern when he saw the doll, ”I thought you threw that out.”
He said nothing.
I climbed into my own boat and went back out to that spot. I dropped the doll back into the water. As I did, my boat rocked and knocked me into and under the water. A small hand wrapped around my ankle. I looked down. There was a child. I looked up, another child was approaching me pulling something behind it. It looked like a cat with a terrible head and talons for feet. ”This is Dragoste, she wanted to meet you. She knows your soul and wants you back.”
”My child come back to me. Leave the surface world behind, return home. Return to peace. The surface world has only death, I shall give you life.”
”You’re the lake monster aren’t you?”
”A monster? No, I am no monster. A real monster takes joy from depriving it to others. A real monster hurts the defenseless, instead of protecting them. A real monster feeds on paid instead of love. But on the surface a monster is something different from what you know. Come home child, leave that world behind.”
As Dragoste spoke, another child emerged, a child I recognized, though it was impossible to, ”Dad?”
”Yes, I tried to bring you with me years ago, bring you home with me, but it wasn’t your time. Many many years ago, an old fisherman pulled us from the water and forced us to live as surface dwellers. Draining our memories, draining our power. But you can return now.”
”The old man?” he nodded. Then I nodded too.
Peace over came me. I was home.
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