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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Returning one year on from a tragedy in an effort to remember what really happened and who was to blame.

Submitted: October 25, 2016

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Submitted: October 25, 2016





I never planned to come back here, especially today. October 31st, Halloween, one year to the day of your so tragic death. And it was here, at this very cabin, in this very lake in front of me, that the accident happened.


Maybe I’ll be able to put it behind me after this, a kind of exorcism of the past. I don’t know if it will work but I think that is why I am here. I’m failing my course, consumed by survivors guilt; if I do not get to grips with it I will never graduate. Perhaps that is how it should be. We’ll see if I manage to come to terms with the past, to accept that it was not my fault. I’m back here to remember and I must do so accurately.


Ben, that’s me, and Jeff, Jeff and Ben – wherever one was found so would be the other. From the age of four, when we started school, we became best mates. You were tall, I was short, it just seemed right that we teamed up. Within a couple of weeks we made regular appearances at each others homes, becoming so frequent it was as though we both had two homes, two families. And this lasted for years.


As we got older, developed our own interests, we still remained firm friends. You got into sport, all kinds of it. Anything that cropped up you’d be there, ready to have a go. Not me though. I was shorter, smaller, not the athletic type. I got more interested in the quieter, less physical activity of art. Painting or drawing, I loved them both as much. But at school we were the science buffs, the ones who knew the answers, who were called on to demonstrate the experiments. It made us friends and it made us enemies. Did we care? No, not really.


Even when we began dating girls we stayed close to each other. Many was the night that we double-dated. If the girls didn’t like it then they weren’t the ones for us. It really was that simple.


College beckoned and we were both majoring in Sciences. You were going for chemistry while I was heading more towards the biology strands. It was okay, though. We both knew enough about each others special interests to engage in lively discussions, to help find answers to the more challenging assignments. And we did it all from the apartment we shared. Sure, we had rows about who’s turn it was to do what, but only the same as any flatmates would. There was no hate between us, no rivalry. And it carried on like that right up until you met Jenny who then introduced me to her friend Carol.


You couldn’t see a problem though, could you, Jeff? You stayed blissfully aware of the fact that not only Jenny but Carol too, only had eyes for you. It didn’t bother me.

Carol was okay to hang out with, she’d always be game for a laugh, but we were not really ‘interested’ in each other. Many times I’d catch her staring at you and Jenny; and the closer the two of you got, the more Carol began to flirt.


I could see that this was a situation destined for trouble. It was so obvious anyone could have seen it. Anyone, of course, except you and Jenny. Was it my suggestion that we all go to the cabin for Halloween? I’m trying to remember exactly who said what, but time and the demon drink have made it hard for me to recall what is real and what my mind has made up. This is crucial though; this will in part determine whether I should really be feeling so guilty.


I thought maybe being here would help bring the memories back. And it is – just not the right ones. I still can’t work out which of us came up with this damn fool plan. Maybe if I ever saw Carol or Jenny, they could help. I doubt it, though. They came along but it certainly wasn’t either of their ideas. Anyway, they’ve both been gone for ages, one moving to one side of the country, the other to the opposite. Yep, it finished their friendship up too.


You’d gone outside, were walking along by the lake. Jenny had come back inside to get changed in to something warmer. I guess Carol saw her chance and, no doubt in part from the whiskey, decided to take it. I could see the two of you from the window. I could see her foolishly fling herself at you. She tripped, you reached out to stop her from falling into the lake. And with perfect timing Jenny went outside.


I would have never have thought she was the jealous, possessive type, but Jenny saw your hand on Carol’s waist and she added it up all wrong -- 1 +1 suddenly made 5 and she just flew down the path at the two of you. I was too slow in pursuit, otherwise I might have been able to prevent it form happening.


It was like watching a movie play out in slow motion. Carol moved back, just in time. But not you, Jeff. Jenny ran straight into you, caught you off guard, knocked you straight into that lake. You could swim; you were a great swimmer! So why didn’t you emerge back from under that water’s surface? By the time I got there, you had been under for well over a minute; you’d still be in with a good chance of surviving though, just so long as I acted quickly. I jumped in, didn’t hesitate. But it was deep, it was cold, the water so murky there was no sign of you at all.


Down and down I’d dived. Somebody, one of the girls, must have raised the alarm, because neighbours began arriving. Off-roaders were facing out to the lake, headlights on full, but they were not much help as far as lighting up under the surface. I was dragged out by a pair of hands. I’m sure I put up a struggle, wanted to go back and continue my search for you. Instead, I was wrapped up, bundled into the back of a car, kept there shocked and shivering.


Questions were asked. The police brought the three of us in for separate interviews. I know that I told the truth, exactly as I saw it happen, but in the end it was decided that it was accidental. Jenny was not, for some reason, held responsible even though it was her hands that pushed you. Carol was not held responsible even though it was her behaviour that caused it. They never did manage to recover your body; perhaps it sunk down into the muck, like quicksand, leaving no visible trace at all.


But I remember now. It was me, Ben, that came up with the idea. It’s playing out clearly in my mind as I look out over the water. You weren’t even that keen to begin with but agreed in the end, because you did not want to let me down. You knew how much I loved this cabin, always had, until that day last year. So there we have it. The guilt must lie with me!


I listen to the ripples of the water and look far out to the lake. What would this last year have been like if you’d been there? I’d certainly not have spent so much time looking down into the bottom of a bottle. My studies wouldn’t have been plagued by failure after failure. I wish......


I didn’t notice. Didn’t see! The splash takes me totally by surprise. And it’s you, Jeff. A bloated, discoloured you, with entire sections of your face, your arms, your hands, eaten or rotted away. But you are still strong, much stronger than me. You grip me like an iron vice, bony fingers digging deep in to my flesh. I don’t have a chance to resist that hand on my arm, that sideways tug that sends me plunging down to join you in the water.


My final thought as I hit the water.....convicted as guilty, at last!

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