Hometown Prologue: Parking by the Lake

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(Caution: The Passage below is R-Rated and may be NSFW)

Jeremy and Lila

 

Jeremy Zerschmitt rolled off Lila Benson and into the driver’s seat with a deep, satisfied groan.  For her part, Lila just grunted quietly as he pulled out of her and watched him go, waiting to see what would happen next.

“Aw, man,” Jeremy sighed as he zipped his fly, “that was incredible.”  Lila took that as his announcement that he was done for the night.

“…yeah,” she said as she pulled up her jeans, peeling her ass off the sticking upholstery so she could get them over her hips. “It was great.”

Her agreement was somewhat less than enthusiastic, but Jeremy didn’t notice. “Yeah, well, you know, when you’ve had as much experience as I’ve had – “ He pretended to buff his nails on the front of his t-shirt. “ – you know what buttons to push.” He stretched as much as the car would allow, then grimaced. “Aw, man,” he repeated, “I gotta take a piss.”

He missed the look of disgust that came over Lila’s face as he said this.  It was dark, but he still might have noticed if he’d even looked at her for a response before throwing the door open and climbing out of the car.

“So do I,” she replied, a new hardness in her voice that he also didn’t catch.

“If you can,” he said, grinning back in the window.  “After that workout your pussy just had, it’s probably sore.”

“I’ll live,” she said as she climbed out the passenger door.

“Maybe not,” he said, his voice suddenly dark and foreboding.  Or his best attempt at it. 

Knowing she was setting him up for the punch line he wanted, she looked back over her shoulder to see what he was talking about anyway. 

She could see that he was trying to force his grin back and make his face as scary as possible.  Trying to. “Don’t go too close to the lake, or Shady will get you,” he warned in a voice that tried for spooky and quavered on the edge of laughter.

“I’ll be careful.”

He pounded on the roof of the car gleefully, then took off.

                                                            *

Grinning, Jeremy all but bounced toward the woods.  Parking on the shore of Black Lake…two six-packs of “Beast” in the trunk, a dime bag in the glove compartment…and he’d gotten lucky.  Oh, yes.  It was a good night to be him.

Gotten lucky.  Huh.  Funny thing about that…

It wasn’t like Lila Benson was that much of a prize.  She wasn’t ugly or anything, but she wasn’t that hot, either: she was kinda skinny with a face that you forgot as soon as you stopped looking at it, her hair was this dirty, mousy blond stuff that just kinda hung from her head to her shoulders and her tits were pretty unimpressive, but on the other hand…

Out of pure habit, he grinned and looked over his shoulder, to see her moonlit shape heading toward the woods on the other side of the car.

…on the other hand, she did have a nice ass.

And it wasn’t like he had any doubts that he was going to get laid that night, either.  Sure, they’d only been going out for three days, but he’d heard about Lila and those – not one, not two, but three! – football players after homecoming last year.  Lila was about as easy as a girl came.  Of course she hadn’t been able to resist The Man.

So if she wasn’t such a prize, and he’d known he was going to get laid, did it count as “getting lucky?”

He was just starting to ponder that when a shiver ran up his spine.

He looked over his shoulder nervously.  Lila was nowhere to be seen.  Probably already in the woods, watering a tree.  Then he looked around.

All yanking of Lila’s chain aside, it was actually kinda spooky up here tonight.  It was one of those chilly nights you sometimes get in late August, mist was rolling in off the lake, and the dew was on the grass (he could feel his sneakers starting to soak through, and they were already starting to squelch when he stepped).  It wasn’t dark; he’d turned off the headlights – don’t want to run out the battery, right? – but he and Lila had still been able to see just fine.  The stars and the almost-full moon shone down out of a clear sky, catching in the mist and making it look like it was glowing.  The black waters that gave the lake its name gleamed like a giant mirror. 

Still.  Spooky.  The dark wall of woods that Lila had vanished into – just like the one that he was about to vanish into – loomed, inky and full of…

Wish I hadn’t brought up Shady.  Night like this, you could almost believe there’s a monster in that lake.

misty lake

Of course, Jeremy knew that was bullshit.  Black Lake was two miles long at the absolute most, and maybe a quarter-mile wide.  It was thirty, maybe forty feet deep at its deepest point.  Nothing big enough to be called a “monster” could survive there, especially not as long as Shady supposedly had.  Sure, there was the Shady River, but that flowed away from the lake, down toward Belford.  Shady wasn’t getting any fish that way, and it was too shallow for anything bigger than a prize-winning trout to swim around in without getting noticed.  Still…

Jeremy knew that his imagination was running away with him, but he couldn’t stop it.  It was fuckin’ spooky tonight.  Even a small town like Belford had a constant background of white noise:  the hum of street lights, air conditioners and fans, barking dogs, the occasional car passing by.  Out here there was nothing but silence.

And damn, but that mist was getting thick.  He could barely see the car.

He reached the edge of the woods and decided to go no further.  It’s not like there was anybody but Lila up here to see, right?  And she’d already seen it.  And liked how it looked, he thought smugly, his confidence returning.  He unzipped his fly and started to drain the dragon, humming tunelessly.  Hm.  Maybe she’ll be up for another round before we dig into the Beast and the ganja. 

And that was why he was so eager to get back to the car, of course.  For another round of fucking.  Not because he’d feel safer in the car with Lila.  As if.  He wanted to get some pussy, not be one. 

Still, that weird, nervous feeling was back.  He looked steadfastly down at his dick, refusing to even glance into the dark, fog-swamped woods even as he scolded himself:

Stop being such fuckin’ pussy.  There’s nothing in those woods, and there’s nothing in that –

Which was the exact moment he heard the first distant splash.

He jumped, almost catching his dick in his zipper, and came down tensed and quivering.  His eyes bulged as he looked around wildly, his heart racing, a thick ball of fear landing in his stomach. “What the hell was that?” he demanded, as if Lila was there to answer.

Silence.

He slowly willed himself to loosen, a hot rush of blood returning to his extremities.  What the hell is wrong with me tonight?  I’m being a total –

A scream.  Where was it coming from?  Was Lila screaming?  Oh, God, it had to be.  Something got Lila!

With a cry of his own, Jeremy spun and fled into the trees.

                                                            *

Lila Benson braced herself against a pine tree as she squatted, her blue jeans once more around her ankles.  She winced.  As Jeremy had joked, it hurt to piss, though not for the reasons he deluded himself with.  Lila knew from personal experience that most boys their age weren’t nearly the men they thought they were, but even by that standard Jeremy was a lousy lay.  He’d mauled her breasts for about three seconds before shoving it in, and he’d been done about a minute later.  She’d spent the whole time staring at the ceiling and listening to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the radio, bone-dry and bored.  And when you’re bone-dry and bored, it hurts even if the guy is hung like a roll of dimes.  Which Jeremy was. 

“Well, what did you expect?” She asked herself bitterly. “You didn’t actually believe all his bragging, did you?  Hell, you got just what you deserved.” 

She started to pull up her pants and then paused to dab at the tacky, drying stickiness between her legs.  That bastard, she thought as – now that the pain was starting to fade a little – she remembered the bigger problem.  That FUCKHe promised he would pull out.  She realized the sheer stupidity of the last thought and smacked herself in the forehead as she leaned against the tree, her pants still only half up, her eyes closed, shaking her head in disgust. “And I believed him.  What a fucking idiot.”  A thrill of terror ran through her, but her only outward sign was a sigh. “I don’t want to have a baby with this fuckup.”

In that moment, her life flashed in front of her eyes.  Not the life she’d already lived, but the life in front of her: chasing snotty-nosed brats around the trailer all day while Jeremy, the shop-class reject, went off to the Mill, her ass getting a little fatter and her tits getting a little saggier and her face getting a little meaner every year.  Bagging groceries to help make ends meet or blowing the landlord every month to get a discount on the rent, maybe both.  Her mother’s life, in other words.  Her grandmother’s life.  The life of everyone in that goddamn trailer park.

Why was she even with a waste of skin like Jeremy Zerschmitt, anyway?  He was a loser of the first degree, even by her own fairly lax standards.  He didn’t do anything.  No job, no sports, no…nothing.  He didn’t even go out very much.  Certainly not with her.  He just wanted to sit in his basement, watch TV, and smoke up.  Not that she wanted one of those damn preppy boys who were in a dozen clubs each and played three sports.  Guys like that made her sick.  But Jesus, get a little bit of a life.  At least go someplace to hang out.  He was broke, too.  The car he’d driven her up here in was his family’s 1976, periwinkle-and-rust Ford P.O.S.  Not that she was hung up on money, either.  But he wasn’t even that good-looking.  He was pudgy – not fat fat, but still pot-bellied and puffy-cheeked, with limp hair the color of dead straw, in a strange cut that clung to his forehead and made his head look completely round.

With a sigh, she hitched her pants up and started back toward the car.  So why was she with him?  Something to do, really.  That was about it.  She’d hung out with him enough this summer – sharing the weed in the basement – that people had started calling her his girlfriend long before they decided to actually make it official three days ago.  Although, come to think of it, maybe he’d been telling people she was all along.  Either way, she really shouldn’t have been surprised when they got up here tonight and, instead of the big field party she’d been expecting, it turned out that they were going to have their own little party.

“Jesus.” She stopped at the edge of the woods, leaned wearily against a tree, and stared blankly out into the fog, not even noticing that she could barely see the car.  She swallowed hard and covered her eyes with her hand, as if she thought she could physically hold in the sudden, stinging tears.  “Mom’s right.  I am just a stupid slut.”

What am I gonna do?

She’d just decided to head back to the car and smoke herself into forgetfulness when she heard Jeremy scream.

                                                            *

Jeremy Zerschmitt ran.  

His mind swallowed by a haze of panic, he flung himself into the woods that he’d been so afraid of just moments before. 

Lila was screaming.  Lila was screaming, and whatever had gotten her would get him if he didn’t run, but he couldn’t see.  It was dark, and there was fog, and the trees kept looming out of the darkness and he couldn’t see!

He cried out in sudden terror as a root hooked his foot.  He stumbled forward, taking great galloping strides and pinwheeling his arms as he tried desperately to stay upright and keep running.  It might have been better if he’d let himself fall.  He didn’t know the significance of the wet “pop” that he heard when he crashed into the tree, but he understood the hot sheet of pain that flared in that shoulder, and the numbness that followed it.

He bounced off the tree and stumbled drunkenly in the opposite direction.  In less than a second, he had completely lost his bearings, but he knew he had to keep running, at all costs, had to get away.

Then he ran out of forest.  And ground.

He struggled and thrashed for a moment as the cool water closed over him, but then the shock brought him back to his senses.  He stood, coughing and spitting, wiping the water from his eyes.

The lake.  I’m in the lake.  Where am I?

It was hard to tell.  The mist had grown thick, and it was difficult to make out any landmarks.  Near as he could tell, though, he hadn’t made it very far, for all of his running around. 

What do I do now?  Is it safe to go in to shore?  Whoever got Lila must have heard my splash, but he probably can’t see me.  But he could be anywhere in those woods…

At some point in the progression of his thoughts, the invisible menace in the woods had become “he” – a hulking, shadowy figure, kin to Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, wielding an axe or some other grisly weapon.  He didn’t dare approach the shore

Splash.

What was that?  Is he in the water – is he coming after me?  No, that came from further out in the lake.  Must be a fish.  Maybe I should stay here and wait until morning.  That way, at least I can hear him coming. 

Another splash.

Jeremy shivered.

Don’t think about Shady.  Shady isn’t real.  That guy, out there in the woods, who got Lila, HE’S real.

Another splash.  Close.  And too damn loud to be a fish.  Something big, and coming fast.

Jeremy turned.

Something huge and dark blocked the moon. 

Jeremy wanted to turn and run for the shore, but the waist-deep water made him too slow.  He only had time to scream.

                                                            *

Lila pelted across the wet grass toward Jeremy’s side of the woods.  Something was wrong.  He was in trouble.  She’d heard him scream, and now he was thrashing around in the woods.

She didn’t have a clue what the problem was, or what she’d do when she got there.  There was just the instinct to help.  Something was wrong, Jeremy needed help, and if this was a joke, she was going to kick his ass and throw him in the lake.

She slowed as she reached the edge of the woods. “Jer?” She called. “You in there?”

Crash.  Crackle.  Thud, thud.

“What’s going on?  You okay?” Pause. “This better not be a fuckin’ joke.”

Splash.

Sounds like he fell in the lake.  All I have to do to find him is go to the shoreline.  She shivered and glanced at the dark, fog-swamped woods.  Good.

She smiled in spite of herself as she heard him thrashing about in the lake while she jogged toward shore. “Just relax, Jer, I’m coming for you,” she called. “Pussy,” she muttered under her breath.

Splash

That wasn’t Jer.  That was…whatever the hell it was, it was big.

That was when Jer screamed.

A block of ice lodged in Lila’s heart. “Jer!” she shouted as she broke into a run.  She reached the shore, but all she could see was fog.  “Jer!  Where are you?  What’s wrong?  Tell me where you are!” She raced first this way, then that, calling to him. 

Then he sceamed again.  And again.   His voice rose to a shriek of mindless agony.

“Holy shit,” she cursed softly, then dashed toward his voice, splashing out into the shallows. “Jer, I’m here!  Where are you?  What’s happening?”

Then she heard it.  The most horrible sound she’d heard in her whole life: a wet tearing sound.  Jeremy’s voice gurgled, then fell silent.

Lila stood frozen, up to her knees in the chilly black water.  Her instincts screamed at her to turn, to flee, to get away, but her mind was locked. 

Until something massive and dark began to slowly loom out of the fog.

The next thing she knew, Lila was sprinting for the car.  She would never remember – if indeed she had clearly seen – just what was in the lake, but the image of two dead, gray-white lights had been burned into her mind forever.

Water splashed from her saturated sneakers and the dew-wet grass, spraying the back of her t-shirt.   A stitch pierced her side, and she couldn’t cram enough breath into her smoke-scarred lungs.

The car appeared out of the mist, sudden as a magician’s trick.  She did her best to come to a screeching halt, but she skidded on the wet grass and crashed into the side of the vehicle.  She cursed aloud and grabbing for the door handle while simultaneously checking over her shoulder for pursuers.  She didn’t think there would be any, she hadn’t heard any footsteps.

The grey-white lights were right behind her.

She didn’t even have time to scream before the darkness swallowed her whole.

 Moon-Night-Lake-Full-Fullmoon-Vampire-Sky-Shadow-Silhouette

 

Welcome to Belford, New York

Home of the Belford Timberwolves

Population 3,153 1

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