Rick had always been fascinated with the water. Even growing up in the Chicago burbs, where Lake Michigan was a poor substitute for the world’s oceans, he loved the beach. The lake was the closest thing to the endless sea he desired. He made the most of it and spent his summers out on the pontoon with friends, sandgrabbing. It was where he’d met his wife, Lana.
“This is stupid,” she’d said.”You guys are gonna drown this way.”
Rick and Jonny had laughed at her and kept paddling. “Hasn’t happened yet.”
“Always a first time.” When they’d moved out another dozen yards from shore, Jonny stopped.
“Okay, that’s far enough. Again?”
Rick nodded. “Okay.”
They pulled in their oars and stood up on the taught pontoon tarp. “Deep breaths,” said Jonny as he started inhaling huge gulps of air and blowing them out quickly. Rick did the same. Between gasps he grinned at Jonny.
“You’re…. breath… going… breath… down…!”
“You both are,” scoffed Lana. “Straight to the bottom.”
Rick and Jonny didn’t respond, the pair of them panting like dogs. They were just out of high school, tall lanky boys. A few years of college and they’d transform all the way into men, but not yet. Rick lifted his hand and raised his fingers, one at a time. On three, both teens dove into the water.
Even now, Rick could remember that dive. Eight feet from the surface and the temperature dropped as he sheared beneath the layer of water that the summer sun had warmed. At twenty feet things began to dim and he couldn’t see well. He didn’t need his eyes anymore, so he closed them. He kept kicking with his legs and stretched his right hand down into the murk, reaching. He had no sense of Jonny, had no idea if he was even descending with him anymore. All he felt was the increasing cold, the pressure in his ears.
At some point, he should hit bottom. His hand would connect with the sandy lake bed, he’d grab a handful of grit, and he’d rocket to the top; sandgrabbing. Either that or he’d run out of air, chicken out, and turn around. two things always happened. Sooner or later, they went out too far and the water got too deep. There was no shame in that. But he’d be damned if he didn’t go deeper than Jonny. Not when Lana was watching. He kicked harder and ignored the bucking spasms in his chest, clenched his jaw shut, and dismissed the ringing pain in his ears.
Rick had no idea how deep he was when he felt it, something other than the bottom. It was hard, slick, and moving. He recoiled immediately, but it rose up to meet him; big, scaled, alive.
What creature from the deep did Rick encounter as a teen and how will it change their lives forever? Find the rest of the story HERE on my Patreon!