Been letting the novel settle a little. So have been writing and polishing a story for Mark Crittenden's Their Dark Master anthology which I'll submit tomorrow probably.
That's all really that's been happening so figured maybe it was time for another 'trunk story'
Fishing at the Falls
By Lee Hughes
Sean was making sure that he didn’t pack up any of his old man’s fishing tackle, he’d a bad habit of losing it.
Jason waited outside. “You gonna get a move on?”
“Be out in a minute, making sure I have everything.”
“Come on.” He booted the outside of the shed to illustrate his impatience.
Sean came out with an old, battered school-satchel. The rod didn’t look as though it were fairing much better.
“Bringing your best gear I see,” Jason said, as he headed to the gate.
They took a short cut through a field to follow the bypass down to the harbour then followed the source of the water. Both were in the mood for fresh-water fishing. Neither of them had a license. Then again, it was only illegal if you were caught.
They went beneath the railway bridge and followed the stream along.
Jason gabbed away. “Getting a knock-off copy of the new Batman film on Monday, you coming around to watch it?” he asked as he kicked the head off a plant.
“Yeah, sure. How far along do you want to go?”
“Up past the waterfall?”
“Sure.” Sean shifted the satchel over to his other shoulder.
After two miles they began to hear the waterfall. It wasn’t large or impressive at roughly seven foot between the top and the splash but it broke up the monotony of the river.
The waterfall was just around the bend but a giggle made them stop. The boys looked to each other and dropped down so they could creep around the gorse and see who was giggling.
The giggle was coming from a woman. She was waist deep with no top on and the water tumbled behind her. To Sean it reminded him of a picture from a nudie calendar. Jay held a finger up for silence, they moved a little closer to get a better view.
This was the first time either had seen breasts for real, bar the television and internet. Though Jay was adamant that he’d gotten to see a bit of Kayley Howard’s left-tit in swim-class last year when she’d jumped into the water; neither was sure it counted as Kayley was in the mong class.
Sean mouthed the word “wow” and Jay nodded in full agreement.
Sean could see a mass of fish swimming about her with a seeming lack of fear.
Jay figured he could happily stay and watch her all day. They kept nudging each other with their elbows; Jay cupped his hands out in front to mimic huge breasts. Sean tried not to laugh.
Sean’s eyes widened, he paled a little. Jay turned back to the water, his hands dropped and he found the word “fuck” hanging in his mouth.
The fish burst into a frenzy. The woman started plucking them from the water and bit their heads clean off.
The boys didn’t know where to look or what to do. Entrails decorated the woman’s tits, spoiling it for the boys. Sean wanted to do a runner; Jay grabbed on to his jumper and shook his head. This was just too freaky to leg it, they’d never get to see anything like it again, ever.
The woman gathered up the dozen or so floating remains and dived beneath the water in the direction of the waterfall. She never came back up for air. Though the boys did get a flash of a few green things that looked a little like tentacles.
“Holy shit,” Jay said.
“That can not have happened.” Sean kicked in.
“Well what else was it?”
“She chewed on live fish.” Sean was still spying all the floating fish heads.
Jay started cussing. He yanked his mobile phone out of his pocket, it had completely slipped his mind to record it on his phone, it could have made him famous.
“I wanna film her, or whatever it is. It could make us a fortune.”
“You don’t even know where she went,” Sean said.
Jay looked at him as though he were a complete Muppet. “It’s a river Sean, not even deep, she didn’t go that way.” He pointed downstream to make his point.
In unison they turned and looked at the miniature waterfall. Jay walked closer to it. “There must be a hole behind the water.”
“And?” Sean wondered.
“And? It means she must be in there.”
“Yeah, she must be in there, a complete lunatic. We’ve just seen her topless chewing the heads off live fish. I think we need to go and report her.”
“Who to? The vet? Those weren’t proper legs, they were green.”
“Maybe they’re infected. You don’t know, gangrene or something.”
“Whatever!” Jay started to strip off.
“You're shitting me? You serious?”
“Yup. One hundred percent. Give me your sandwich bag.” He had his shoes off and was working on his belt.
“My phones not waterproof.” Jay continued to disrobe, all the way down to his under-crackers and then put his trainers back on. Sean dug through his satchel for the lunch he'd brought and took the sandwiches out and tossed it over.
Sean prayed that no one came along. It looked dodgy; him stood there with Jay practically bollock-naked whilst he watched on holding a sandwich.
Jay was already lowering himself into the water. He shuddered at the temperature. “Christ almighty, the water is fucking freezing.”
Sean thought 'no shit, it’s January you buffoon'.
Jay waded slowly over towards the waterfall. He called over his shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’m only going to have a quick look.”
“Whatever. I think you’re. . .” It was too late, Jay was beneath the water.
In the past they had done some dumb things. But this, this definitely had to take the biscuit. He looked at his watch and counted the seconds.
The seconds strung into minutes, after five of them Sean started to worry. At ten minutes he began to root through his pockets for his phone, it was time to call the emergency services.
Sean was about to thumb in the numbers when Jay’s headed poked through the falling water. Jay disappeared into the waterfall again. Sean didn’t know what to do. It must have been safe as Jay had returned and stuck his head out to beckon him in. It was fair enough being safe but Sean didn’t know if he wanted to go mooching in an underwater cave where a nut-job was hiding out from normal society.
When Jay didn’t come back out he knew he was going to have to join him. He bit his lip and started to get out of his own clothes.
Jay’s statement about the water being cold was an understatement. It was freezing, within seconds Sean could feel his dick hiding up behind one of his kidneys.
He got to the waterfall. He wasn’t as brave, or as stupid as Jay so he didn’t dive under blindly. He reached through the white tumbling water, trying to feel where the hole was that led to the hidey-hole.
He could feel wet stone wherever he patted. Then the stone was gone and he went off balance and toppled. He was in the hole and doing a panicky Alice down the mutant hole.
The hole was too small for him to turn around in; he had no option other than to continue. The tunnel was only ten-foot in length and then he was free of it. Just as well as panic had begun to get the better of him. He got through the tunnel unscathed; it was the eight foot drop onto hard rock that hurt.
He landed on his ass-bone and began rolling on the floor rubbing at the throbbing pain. Sean wanted to scream in agony but thought better of it. He sat up and looked around. Scant light made it through the tunnel giving the cave a dusk-like quality.
The cave wasn’t big, twenty-foot by thirty. The only thing in there was himself and half of Jay’s body. From the belly-button up was missing.
Sean knew it was Jay by the shoes.
Sean did a silent screamed and ran as fast as he could, jumping to reach the lip of the tunnel. It was eight-feet up and he was five-feet tall, he failed. Tears welled up in his eyes and he could feel racking sobs growing in his chest. It was through the tears that he could make out Jay’s phone. He grabbed it and saw that it was still on video-mode. He hit play and wished he hadn’t.
Jay had filmed the woman; she was smiling for the camera as she came closer. Jay had made sure to get plenty of footage of her rack. The woman grew closer; Jay had panned down with the camera to record the green tentacle things that she had in place of legs. It was at that moment the angle of the recording shifted, blurred and seemed to spin.
The camera had landed in the direction of Jay. Sean got to watch the woman-thing dive at Jay and start biting into his belly with the same enthusiastic approach she'd applied to the fish. Sean hit stop when he realised how the monster had enticed him to enter through the waterfall and into the nightmare.
Sean dialed the emergency services but there was no signal. He did the only thing he could think of; he started for the lip of the tunnel again. There was no way to reach it and nothing to stand upon. He wondered if there was another way out. But to find that meant going deeper into the cave, and going deeper into the cave meant getting closer to the woman-thing.
Sean ventured deeper, the feeble light from the tunnel refused to follow him. He turned the on the phone’s permanent flash. It would drain the battery but he had no choice.
He tried not to think about what he’d do if attacked.
The ground began to slope downwards which didn’t impress Sean; if anything he wanted to be heading upwards. Upwards meant nearer to the surface and safety, downwards meant darkness and peril. Sean kept stopping every few feet to listen; he didn’t want to blunder in on danger.
He stopped again, this time sure he could hear something other than the drum of his own panicked heartbeat. It was the noise of someone stepping in something moist, making a wet squelching sound.
He killed the light and found himself blind. In that purest of black it was as though the cave had swollen to nearly the size of a small country. Time and space no longer had any meaning; all that mattered was that he could hear.
Sean sent out both hands as he tried to find some wall to guide him. The walls were damp, the air was becoming muggy, it tasted antique in his mouth and limp in his lungs.
After an eternity Sean stopped and blinked, was it just a blind-man’s fanciful wish to have vision, to distinguish between shapes? He was sure there was a dull glow up ahead.
The cavern curved, it wasn’t wishful thinking, there was light ahead and like a moth he was drawn to it. Sean peeked around the corner. Algae was giving off the weak glow. It might have been weak but there was enough of it to show the chamber, to show what had been causing that disgusting sound.
It was the woman-thing in all her misshapen glory. Her human half was holding Jay’s lifeless torso while her rough-looking tentacles were splayed to show she was laying a pulsating egg inside the cavity of Jay’s waist. Sean put a hand over his mouth, the bile in his stomach fought for an escape route.
The woman-thing didn’t notice the voyeur that was peeking in on her mating ritual. From deeper in the chamber, over in the far corner came the sound of light splashing. Sean looked past the woman befouling his friend to the monstrosity in the underground rock pool. It had tentacles just like the woman-thing. But whereas the woman looked half-human this thing was all beast. Above the riot of tentacles played a half submerged glob of soft squid-like flesh with a ring of eyes around its bulbous crown. Everything about it was irregular, lumps protruding here and there like a thumb hit by too many hammers.
The woman-thing was too caught up in bestial debauchery, it was the monster in the pool that spied the intruder. Folds of wet skin began to move and undulate. The folds receded to showcase a beak of dazzling proportions. The top and bottom click-clacking together and demanding its servant’s attention.
The woman-thing looked up, first to the horror and then to the intruder. The woman-thing slid off the remains of Jay and moved with a surprising speed towards Sean. The many tentacle-like limbs propelling her along.
Sean turned and ran back the way he came, knowing that it would be a dead-end just as before. He thumbed the flash back on the phone and chased after the light it provided.
He burst into the original chamber, spotted the waste of Jay and this time had an idea. He grabbed it, ignoring the reality of what he was doing and dragged it over to beneath the high-up exit. Jay’s remains became a macabre step. Sean jumped and this time he managed to grab at the lip of the tunnel. He was glad he didn’t weigh much and had little trouble pulling himself up and into the tunnel.
Never had he wiggled so vigorously. He exploded out of the tunnel to freedom, ignoring the drop into shallow water that winded him. He scrambled for the river bank and only when he’d dragged himself out of the water did he look back. The woman-thing was there, her head poking out through the curtain of water. Her mouth open showing a beak behind her pouting lips.
Shivering he grabbed up his clothes and ran. Jay’s phone was dead from the spill out of the tunnel and into the river. He clambered into his jeans and rummaged in the pocket for his own. He got through to the emergency services.
By the time that the police arrived he was dressed. His legs went weak as the officers tried to get information out of him. He stammered and choked on his words. One of the officers took his shoes and socks off and waded into the river and checked out the waterfall.
“There is a small hole here,” the officer said, whilst the detective on the riverbank scratched at his bald head.
“Feeling up to getting your head wet Wakefield?”
Wakefield shrugged and went into the falling water. He called out, “It’s going to be a bit of a squeeze.”
“Just don’t go getting stuck.’
Detective Treacher turned back to Sean. “You might as well take a seat lad.”
Sean didn’t argue.
Quarter of an hour later Wakefield did come out, he shook his head.
“Anything at all?” Treacher asked.
Wakefield waded to the bank, climbed out and gratefully accepted the towel.
“Sod all. There is a cave behind there, but there’s nothing in it. I searched from one end to the other, the kids are screwing with us.” Wakefield went to get dressed.
Treacher turned, any friendliness disappeared. “Where’s your pal hiding?”
Sean couldn’t find any words.
Treacher tilted his head upwards and hollered. “Jason Young, you better come out from where you’re hiding now, you’re wasting police time!” Treacher counted to ten and no one had come out of hiding.
Treacher shrugged. “I’ve got your address, I’ll be popping around to yours and Jason’s to have a word with your parents.”
Sean blinked. “You’re not doing anything else?” He couldn’t believe it.
Treacher took a breath to calm himself. The one thing he hated was time wasters, that and kids, put them both together and he had zero patience.
“Listen, and listen good. You and your little friend aren’t gonna play me for a dickhead I can promise you that. You think I’m gonna believe any of that shit you just came out with about monsters and murder and a fuck-ton of bullshit in-between the two? Think I’ve got nothing better to do? Next time you go fucking about in the water do us all a favor and see how long you can hold your breath for, keep it up until everything goes dark,” he raised his voice, “everyone back to the station, wasted enough time here.”
Sean was completely dumbfounded. He watched as the police headed off. He didn’t care that the police were going to go to his house to have a word with his parents. They would soon realize that it was no joke and that something really fucking terrible had happened to Jay. He looked back to the waterfall. It was a puzzle, the police officer had gone in there and had found nothing, he’d even taken a torch in with him. There were a few possibilities, the first being that he hadn’t bothered going in deep enough, the second one was the woman-thing had gathered up her mess and had gone and hidden in the pool.
Sean put his head in his hands, it wasn’t right, it wasn’t fair. Jay was dead, no one was going to believe him and the worst part about it was it actually was the sort of prank that Jay would probably pull.
Sean knew what he needed to do, and if meant more risk then that was fine. He looked at the time on his phone, it was just past noon. His father would still be out on the golf course and his mother worked Saturdays, if he was quick he could get home, get what he needed before either of his parents got back.
Sean was back at the waterfall within the hour with a few odds and sods. An old woman walked past with a knackered looking dog, she smiled at Sean and carried on. Sean put the extra gear he’d brought into the satchel and covered it with a bin-liner.
Once he was back down to his underwear he ventured into the water. This time it didn’t seem so bad, but knowing about it didn’t stop him from taking a quick piss in the river through nerves.
He pushed the satchel through first and then climbed in after it. Before he got to the end he tore off the plastic and opened the satchel. He got the can of deodorant out and a lighter he had taken from the mantelpiece. He took a deep breath and then sprayed the mist of perfumed gas into the path of the flame. It got furnace hot in the tunnel, but at lease he knew if there was anything waiting at the other end it now had no retinas.
He moved on, fumbling to get the torch out of the satchel. He shone it about the first cavern, empty. He wished he'd come through backwards, there was no way to land softly and safely when you were coming out of a narrow hole eight-foot up head-first.
He hit the ground with a thud; his arse-bone was intact this time. Sean got to his feet and began tipping out the contents of the satchel. He’d prepared the fishing line with hooks so that at every inch there was a nasty triple-headed hook. He’d added some weights to it and he just hoped that it worked. Sean had it clear in his head what he needed to achieve. He needed to incapacitate it long enough to take a picture or get the police back, hopefully both. He headed back towards the monstrosity and its wench.
The cavern with the pool was empty. No sign of the woman-thing, no monstrosity, no leftovers of his best friend.
At the edge of the pool he shone the light onto the surface.
He turned his back and began to walk away, he would just have to settle for whatever the authorities threw at him.
A dozen feet away from the pool he spun around and threw the line with all the weights and hooks so that it spread out. The woman-thing had snuck out of the pool once his back had been turned. The woman-thing continued, or at least tried to continue. Pure animal rage blistered in her eyes as the hooks dug into the meat of her tentacles and the twine tangled up and restricted her movements. She click-clacked the beak that hid behind human lips in the direction of Sean as she tried to free herself, only managing to cause herself more pain in the process.
Sean didn’t hesitate; he got out the lighter fuel and gave her a good dousing. He quickly realised there was no point in trying to catch the beast. It would tell as much of the truth dead as it would alive.
The click-clacking sounded like fast maracas when he set the flame to her and she became a freak fireball. The monstrosity at hearing such distress broke the surface of the large rock pool. Its noise far louder than the din of the woman-thing. The monstrosity’s tentacles journeyed out of the water and onto the rock, purposefully beginning to drag itself out, rocking backwards and forwards trying to gather enough momentum to propel itself free to attack.
It became clear an attack was not what the monstrosity was trying to achieve. It was getting the water from the rock pool to spill its stone banks and wave towards its burning servant. The more it rocked the closer the water got. Sean rushed at the woman-thing with his long filleting knife and parked it in her head, burning his hand in the process. The woman-thing’s click-clacking stopped immediately. The monstrosity on the other hand went into overdrive at the destruction of its servant. It sent out tentacle after tentacle towards Sean. He in turn slashed out with the knife, he realised he was only causing little nicks, for a beast that size they were nothing more than paper-cuts.
Sean backed away.
The blood was rioting through his veins, the adrenalin rocketing through him. He wasn’t even sure what he was doing, all he knew was that he had to act. He delved into the satchel and got the bit of pipe and the firework. Jay had taught him this trick two years ago. He loaded the firework into the pipe, allowed it to slip down until the fuse was out of the bottom and lit it. Quickly he took aim at the monstrosity. With a whistle and a whizz it shot out of the piping and hit the monstrosity with enough velocity for it to tunnel into its soft flesh. Sean turned, closed his eyes and covered his ears.
Even with his full safety precautions of hands over ears the bang was thunderous as the noise had nowhere to escape and just echoed and bounced about for far too long. He turned hoping that he had done enough damage to the monstrosity. The thing was laying still, its soft flesh rent open by the cheap firework. Its beak now doing a lazy dying click-clack soon followed by no click-clack.
The adrenaline ebbed away and Sean sank to the floor beside the rock pool and sighed. There could be no denying what had happened when he brought the police down this time. Everything would come out, no one could deny anything, it didn’t stop Jay from being dead though.
A hand came out of the pool and touched him on the shoulder, Sean nearly jumped out of his skin.
Treacher waited until the door was shut. The chicken-shit kids hadn’t even had the nerve to turn up at home and face the music.
“Yeah Boss?” He asked as they walked back to the car.
“Where do you think those idiots are hiding out?”
“Doesn’t take a genius.”
“Nope, it doesn’t. Let’s go and have a look. I’m in the mood for bringing those pair home personally.”
Treacher got in the car and slammed the door shut.
Treacher nodded to Wakefield.
Wakefield sighed, he’d already been in the cold water once. He knew better than to argue with Treacher. As Treacher was a complete bastard when he was in a good mood, and at this moment he was in a bad mood.
Regardless Wakefield started to strip.
Wakefield was sure that by the time he got home in the evening he would be riddled with pneumonia. He braced himself to go through the waterfall when a face popped through. Wakefield sighed with relief, it was the boy Sean.
“I think you. . .” Wakefield stopped there.
Sean peeled back his lips, click-clack.