| COURSE FIVE: HORROR
Author: Wyatt Earp
Date: 05-26-12 08:34
In Wessex Falls they had a saying: "When there is a red moon before snowfall, beware." Of course it was a very old saying and no one knew where it came from or why. Old man Bernard Everard had heard it from his pop, and his gramps, but those were old timers and things were very different in the old days. Hell, when it starting snowing for the winter they were holed up in Everard Hollow and didn't come down until thaw. That was just the way of it. So who knows what folks got up to isolated on their farms during the winter a hundred years ago? Maybe it was like a werewolf thing only folks were going stir crazy? Of course who ever even heard of a red moon? Bernard had seen it yellow or even blue once, but never red.
That was until tonight. Tonight he was out on Lake Mekwek ice fishing. This year in Wessex Falls it had been colder than a witch's tit, and tonight was no exception. The ice was good and thick, and it was so cold that Bernard decided to drive his truck out on the ice to his fishing cabin instead of walk. In fact it was so cold that once he was out on the ice he realized he was the only one. Even with their little shacks and heaters it seemed like no one wanted to spend a night out on the lake.
"Chicken flatlanders," grunted Bernard, even though he knew full well that his neighbors and fellow fisherman were all natives, but Bernard liked to blame everything on flatlanders with their SUVs and their propensity for 'improving' things.
The ice was at least 8 inches, and the mercury read 15 below, and it was probably even colder if you counted the wind chill factor. Before Bernard entered his shack he looked up at the sky. It was always the clearest nights that were the coldest and tonight was no exception. On top of that it was a full moon and she was as big as a pie plate up there in the sky, and red. Really red. Bernard hadn't heard that old saying in years, most of the old timers that remembered being dead and in their graves, but now it came to mind. Beware of what though? It was cold, that was for sure, but it never snowed when it was this cold. Off the ice the landscape around though was covered in a thick blanket of the white stuff. It was just like when Bernard was a kid, not like these modern wishy washy winters since the global warming or whatever it was.
Bernard ducked into his shack, got his heater going, and baited his Tip-up, and got it set in place. Then he sat down on his camp stool to wait, a nice flask of brandy in his mittened hand to help pass the time. It was a few minutes past midnight when the ice started creaking around Bernard. At first he was dozing lightly and he didn't notice, but as his consciousness returned to him, he found himself thinking it must be the spring thaw. But that was only until the last shreds of sleep slipped away from his mind. Then he sat up bolt upright in alarm. Why was the ice cracking? It was eight inches thick and the mercury still read in the low teens. Spring was still months away. Even if it suddenly warmed up twenty and more degrees it would take a lot longer for the ice to melt on the surface of the cold lake. Bernard stepped outside.
The moon was an angry red eye glowering at him from the sky, and all around Bernard could hear the ice cracking, louder and louder. He fumbled in his pocket for this truck keys. He would need to get it off the ice. Even if it was freezing something was going on and the ice was going. Already he could see cracks growing with alarming speed closer to the middle of the lake, racing towards him, exploding like gunshots in the woods. He paused for just a second to take in the awful scene, his heart a hammer in his chest, his breath coming in short gulps as the panic started to really hit him. None of it made sense his mind protested but his senses screamed at him to run. He turned to make the dash for the truck. What he saw next made even less sense than the cracking ice. A huge tentacle, thicker than a tree trunk, pushed up a slab of ice, than another and another, and with these great suckered arms something, something monstrous and huge, grabbed Bernard's truck and pulled it under the ice and the water.
Yelping in fear Bernard broke and ran for the shore.
He didn't make it. Before he'd gone a yard the tentacles were back, breaking through the ice all around him. The first wrapped around his ankle, starting to drag him. He tried to break free, clawing futilely with fingers muzzled in mittens, desperately wishing he hadn't left his axe back in the shack, but the thing was powerful and he was pulled off his feet and dragged over the ice, which tore through his down parka like shards of glass. Bernard started yelling, his arms flailing around him, but there was no one to hear him except the kraken under the ice. As it pulled him under the last thing Bernard ever saw was the red moon over Wessex Falls.
A few hours later the sky had clouded over and the snow began to fall, covering up all traces of Bernard. In the morning folks would marvel at the state of the lake, but nature could be fickle, everyone in New England knew that. In the spring they would find Bernard's truck a mile away in the Wapek river.