The Other Side Of The River

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Cover image: pixabay.com.

The Other Side Of The River

I’ve sailed this canoe down this same river hundreds of times. I’ve navigated the waters through wind and rain and never before had I gone off course, right up until today.

The really ironic thing is there’s no reason for me to have ended up on the other side of the river today. The sun is shining and what breeze there is is a pleasant one. There’s no rain either; in fact there are very few clouds up in the sky.

I can’t put into words the reason for this unease that is creeping up on me. It’s the same river after all. Why should it matter what side I’m sailing down? I don’t know the answer, but I can barely ignore this increasing feeling of dread.

Maybe it’s the way the trees grow on this far side. They seem twisted rather than tall, with branches that reach out across the water. Several times already I have had to duck my head to avoid those that hang particularly low. It’s not that though; perhaps it’s the shadows they spread.

On the right side, the normal side, the water is almost clear. I can’t claim to see right down to the bottom, but I can see down as deep as the bottom of the boat goes. The other side, the side that I am rowing down now, is murky. I feel like I am dipping the oars in some kind of soup rather than flowing water. I hate it. It makes me shiver.

You might be wondering why I simply don’t cross back over. Well, believe me I’ve tried. This is a fast flowing stretch of water, even when the weather is fine it would be tricky to navigate. That’s part of the reason for my concern. I really cannot see how I made the crossing in the first place; I certainly have no memory of doing so.

It's like I've been pulled across by unseen forces and just as that thought enters my mind the oar nearest the bank gets stuck.

Maybe it’s mud from the river bank, except I’m too far out. It can’t be that. Whatever it is has a tight grip and the more I pull at the oar the firmer it gets. If I just lean over I might be able to see what the oar has snagged on. I can’t see anything other than some underwater plant. It looks a bit like seaweed but I’m not sure what that would be doing growing here.

My other oar is suddenly yanked away. Too late, I realize that I’d loosened my grip. I lunge and the canoe tips but it’s too little too late, for all I see now is the end of the oar disappearing beneath the river’s surface.

What the hell am I going to do now? And why is the canoe still tipping? I’ve righted my balance, it should be sitting back firmly in the water but it’s not.

A tendril of this plant sneaks its way across the front of the canoe. I can do no more than watch as it wraps its way around and pulls the front end down. The water is lapping inside now which can only mean one thing – the canoe is sinking and I need to get out.

I’m not a strong swimmer and the thought of striking out in that sludge is a daunting one. I need to jump in but I can’t make myself take the leap. Maybe the weed will break in time for me to save the boat.

An overhanging branch offers me another escape route and without pausing to think it through, I brace myself, stretch up and hoist myself from the sinking canoe. I was hoping that without my weight it would bob back up in the water, but no such luck. The entire thing has been pulled under.

The branch is slippery beneath my fingers. There’s a squelch of wet moss, and the slimy feeling of rotted vegetation. Both of my hands are gripping to it, but both are slipping too. I release my grip with one hand, then grab again, alternating left and right.

The pain in my shoulders is becoming unbearable but that pales into nothing when I hear the creak coming from the branch.

A tickle runs up my leg from my left ankle. I manage to twist my head enough to look down and there is one of those tendrils wrapping it’s way around my leg. Struggling to hold on, I kick out, frantic now. I know what that weed does. I don’t know why yet, but I do know what.

Just when I think I am beginning to make it loosen it’s grip my right leg becomes caught, then wrenched out behind me. What’s worse? The pain in my hip, or the agony in my shoulders? I feel like I am being torn apart.

There is a sharp snap of wood and my branch is giving way. Every impulse tells me to keep myself out of that water but how can I when my legs are being pulled firmly beneath it. My left ankle has gone below the surface, and now my right one has too. Oh, god, I’m going to drown!

Then a searing pain shakes that thought away. The water around me is still murky but the color has changed as my blood flows into the sludge. The weed must have cut through my skin, and yet it has not loosened its hold by even the slightest bit and more blood is flowing.

I can’t describe the agony as something grips onto my knee and suddenly my left side is free. I try to kick upwards but my leg is not obeying me. It takes a few seconds for my mind to process why... it’s gone! My leg, from below the knee has disappeared and the blood is pumping out through the severed veins.

I’m going to die here and I still don’t understand why. And then I do. The tendrils that I thought were seaweed were part of a plant. A hungry plant. A carnivorous plant! And it is just about to take another bite.

 

 


Submitted: November 04, 2020

© Copyright 2020 hullabaloo22. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

Mike S.

A spooky submarine tale, Hull

Wed, November 4th, 2020 10:50pm

Author
Reply

Haha! I'm not fond of the water, never have been; I guess that's why I put it in so many stories. Thanks, Mike.

Sun, November 8th, 2020 6:47am

Mark A George

Gripping piece, Hulla. I think it's my favorite of all I've read of yours so far. I love stories in which living things do creepy crazy things they're not supposed to do. You're so talented in the flash fiction horror genre.

Thu, November 5th, 2020 12:38am

Author
Reply

Oh, thanks so much for the compliment, Mark. This was one of those that I knew exactly where it was going from the start. Glad you enjoyed it.

Sat, November 7th, 2020 1:01pm

CTPlatt

A really good story. Very gripping, pardon the pun! :-)

Thu, November 5th, 2020 12:48pm

Author
Reply

Haha! Thanks so much, CT.

Sat, November 7th, 2020 12:59pm

Joe Stuart

And so, another protagonist will suffer no more. The end of this story is familiar, Hully, but I marvel at your inventive imagination in reaching it each time. This is one of your creepiest stories of late.

Thu, November 5th, 2020 8:57pm

Author
Reply

I'm glad of that, Joe. I always think that there's something very creepy about an enemy that you cannot see.
Thanks so much for reading.

Sat, November 7th, 2020 12:56pm

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