I See the Lake. Part 3
I don’t remember much of Tex, only that he was a regular looking guy with real thick eyebrows that hung low over his eyes. He must’ve circled around the rock shelf at full speed to catch me, but he breathed easy like a man on a stroll. He was butt naked too. A quick peek and I saw his balls tight and goose-fleshed. I considered my chances of out running him and felt like crying. Damn, I’ll be honest, I was crying a little.
The others arrived at a slow pace, Tex yelled them over. Leslie found us first and I was horrified to see her so close, so naked. She was gorgeous, not simply for her body but her eyes slanted down and her full mouth opened in glowing smile. Believe me, I found no pleasure in seeing her so close, her nude body seemed as disturbing as Tex’s furrowed testicles and I turned back into the dirt. Linda and the other girl — her name was Sadie — followed on either side of Charlie, both holding his hand. It was Charlie who told me to stand and I did, as slowly as I could, not daring to brush the layer of soil off my belly.
“Hello sweetie,” said Sadie.
“What were you doing up there, watching us like that?” Linda said and she sounded genuinely hurt.
“He’s a pervert,” Tex stepped closer. I flinched. “Aren’t you? Go on, say it, you were up there touching yourself.”
I couldn’t say anything. My mind hadn’t moved past the fact they were all naked, and the looming night and roof of trees created only a gentle darkness, not enough to hinder my view.
“Not nice, kid,” Leslie grinned.
Linda crossed her arms. She was frail with razor cheek bones and spoke with a dreamy sigh.
“He’s a kid” she said. “Probably here on a school trip.”
“Geez, Linda. I’ve told you, it’s summer break. Everyone is cruising around,” Tex said, and then eyed me up. “But people don’t come down here.”
I glanced at Tex and it was only then I saw. Suppose my brain was beating on a slower rhythm with the fear of it all. Tex dripped with water. I turned to the others and, sure enough, all of them were drenched. All of them. Water glossed their skin, clumped their lashes, shimmered down to their feet, and every hair on my body prickled because all I saw was the lake attempting to claw me again.
“Lemme see him,” Sadie said and stepped so close I could make out the pattern of freckles on her nose. Her eyes were too wide and twitched like she hadn’t slept for days.
She gripped my face and I made a turtle-like movement with my head. Sadie held on.
“Behave yourself, Sadie,” Charlie said.
“He’s not a baby, he’s a big man.”
I wanted to burrow into the mud, not because the girl was terrifying– and boy-oh those eyes were scary–but to hide from the water. Lake droplets made a bridge with her fingers and I watched the water, I damn well saw it gallop towards my face. I was paralysed, expecting to feel arrows of pain and instead felt thick liquid like warm milk on my skin. I thought, the water must be weak in small doses. But the droplets began to fight. They dribbled down, sank into the graze on my cheek and the burn was instant, poisonous. I bit down to stop moaning.
Sadie squeezed. “Tell them you’re a big man.”
More droplets tinkled down to my mouth and wormed into my hard-pressed lips, my gums sizzled and I tasted copper. I scrunched my bad toe to stop from kicking her.
“Get off him.”
Charlie pushed passed Linda. Sadie released me and moved aside, her wide eyes aimed on the ground. Her fingers left a hot imprint.
“Don’t be scared, kid,” he said. “Nothing in the world deserves your fear. We certainly don’t.”
He opened his arms and gestured to his group, or maybe he was gesturing to the world. I’m not sure.
“Tell me, what’re you feeling right now?”
I didn’t understand the question. He’d placed a hand on my shoulder and by some miracle his hand was dry. He stared at me full blast, as if I were the most interesting person he’d ever met. His beard was thin, his hair drying into wavy locks and I realised he was older than the rest of them. The others looked like they could’ve been seniors at my high school but Charlie looked old enough to be a teacher.
He waited, his brown eyes refused to blink. I must hand it to him, he made me feel important.
“I hurt myself.”
Charlie looked down and whistled at the chunky mess of my toe, a paste of blood and dirt. I must’ve sounded like a toddler to them, I certainly felt like one.
“It’s only the meat, kid, and that’s not what really matters,” Leslie said.
Charlie ignored her.
“Hurt, does it?”
“Good, that’s what you get,” Tex said. “It’s how the world works. Do you know anything about karma? It something that makes sure creepers have their toes cut up on rocks. Remember that.”
And I have, most of the time.
“You could’ve joined us,” Sadie said. I shivered. My gums had settled but the bad taste stayed.
Tex crossed his arms. “What’re we doing, Charlie? It’s getting dark.”
Charlie gave Tex a real brutal look then turned back on me.
“What about this young man, will he be able to find his way home safely?”
I nodded fast. “I can find my way. I’ll be fine.”
Charlie crossed his arms and the water on his nose slithered down, onto his moustache. I can’t really explain the disgust I felt as he stuck out his tongue and slurped up the drop. It was damn hard to watch. Look. Given me goose bumps thinking about it.
“And where is it you call home?” Charlie asked. “Can’t be anywhere close to here.”
“I’m camped a little way over there.”
“You here in a RV?
I shook my head. “A tent.”
“Got many people with you?” Leslie asked. Sadie nudged her and giggled. I didn’t consider lying.
“My parents. And my sisters.”
Charlie smiled. “Well, we better walk you back to your tent. Do the good Samaritan thing.”
They nodded in unison, exchanged looks. The idea of arriving back to camp with five naked strangers was enough to send smoke out my ears.
Ash Tudor is a horror writer from Perth, Australia who hides from the sunshine while she scribbles dark tales. She has a degree in ancient history and is a trained ancestry researcher, but now devotes her time to creating nightmares. Her debut short story released last year on Writer-Writer and her work has been shortlisted in several competitions. Currently Ash is writing a collection of short horror fiction and hording werewolf teeth in her attic.
Find Ash on Twitter @AshTudor888
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