Something In The Water

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Cover image: xandro-vandewalle-tcU33sA_FGE- unsplash

Submitted: July 07, 2019

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Submitted: July 07, 2019

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Something In The Water

Summertime, and in the same way as it happened every year, they all gravitated towards the water. Kevin, Phil, Yari and Fergal would be there at the river any chance they had to get away from the seemingly endless tasks that their parents always found for them to do.

There wasn’t much choice of where to meet up, not out in the country. The school was closed and they had seen during previous years how strictly any intruders were dealt with. There was the pub, but they weren’t old enough, and everybody knew that for miles around. That left the fields, or the river. By some kind of silent pact, the girls went to hang out in the fields and the boys went to the river.

They’d climb around, dare and push, then settle down for a while. Subjects generally ranged from games to sports, with the odd movie thrown in. It was only during the last year that the subject of girls was brought up, and then with hesitation and a certain amount of embarrassment. The following year, no doubt, things would be different. They’d be gravitating to the higher ground where the fields met the river and the girls met the guys. Not this year though; there was time enough yet for that.

It was all going smoothly, a bit rougher in the horse-play, a bit bolder in the dares, but Fergal was not playing along. He was breaking the accepted code of behaviour and was wandering away, down to the water’s edge. On his own.

A bit of background information on the river might be called for here. It was no gentle stream, this, or steadily flowing river. It was tidal. When the weather was rough the water was too. It would churn and turn, toss up debris here and there, and would rise up to swallow a lot of the banks. But not in the summer. It was safe in the summer, nearly always.

People had drowned in it. Many accidentally, by slipping, by being caught out by a sudden tidal surge, especially when the city closed off the dam. The water level could rise remarkably quickly then. There were others who were alleged to have thrown themselves in, deciding to end it all by filling their lungs with water instead of air.

The boys had discussed that, just the previous year. One of their classmates had decided they’d had enough, could not take any more and had hung themselves in the woods. They’d left a note, so there was not much doubting that it had been an act of suicide. When the shock had worn off, they had talked about the pros and cons of different methods, and hanging or drowning had tied as the worst, the most painful way to go.

This was another year though, so why was Fergal hanging around down by the water’s edge? Who reacted first was always to be in doubt, but one moment they could see him, the next he had vanished.

Ferg!” Kevin had shouted, “Where are you?”

Phil called out, “Stop messing about would ya!” But he had got to his feet.

Yari said nothing, just leaped his way to the water’s edge, jumped in and grabbed an arm from under the water. There was splashing and thrashing. “Come on, help me here!” Yari had yelled to Kevin and Phil.

It took the three of him to restrain him, Fergal. He fought against their hold, determined to make his way back in to the river and under the water's surface. “Did you see it? Did you see it? I’ve got to go back. Let me go!”

Kevin pulled back his fist and thumped his friend hard enough to get him to stop struggling. That at least allowed them to pull him from the river and on to dry land.

It was a fair walk back to Fergal’s house, made so much further by having to carry their unconscious friend. If only they had thought to remove their mobiles from their pockets first, before jumping in to the rescue, but real life just doesn’t work like that. There was nothing to do but shoulder the burden and keep on walking.

The ambulance took him away. Clearly he had not inhaled too much water for he had been conscious, and Kevin could not help but notice the suspicious glances being aimed towards him.

What is it?” he whispered to Yari when he got the chance. “Do they think we had a fight and I knocked him in?”

Yari had shrugged. Both he and Phil had said what really happened. Fergal just needed to corroborate.

They kept Fergal in the hospital for a couple of days of observation but he seemed to have suffered no real ill effects from either the river or from the punch. He had no memory at all of the time by the water, and although he did not deny that he’d gone in there himself, he could not recall why.

Fergal was questioned by his parents, questioned by his mates, but it did no good. Over the next few weeks he seemed to fail to get his memories back. The time at the river, he claimed, was now a complete void, an empty space, but Kevin needn’t worry for Fergal knew his mate had not been responsible. They were friends, after all.

Later, they were all to wonder if they should have pushed harder, could have pushed harder, for clearly Fergal had not forgotten at all. Instead, on a day of torrential rain, he put on his yellow rain-slicker, walked down to the river and climbed right in. There was no one there to drag him out, no one to save him from whatever it was that he had seen, and it was hours before his body was recovered, way down the river and heading towards the sea.

The strange thing was the expression on his face. It looked so peaceful, not twisted and panicked like one would expect a drowning person to look. His friends remembered how he seemed to have found something before; perhaps it was that which had called him back and perhaps he had found it again.

The pulsating piece of green and purple rock had long since been taken by the ocean’s current. It did not care, for sooner or later it would end up in another river, or on another beach, and it would prove to be just as irresistible to it’s next victim. Once glimpsed, it would take hold, and they would be compelled to seek that which they would never, ever own.


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