Below a gauzy sliver of moon stretched a long, deep lake that was black as tar; it’s perfectly still water seemingly impenetrable. No bugs flittered on its misty surface. No loons called out with their haunting night songs. The ancient forest of weathered pines and broadleaf trees stretching out from the lake was still and as silent as the moment after a last breath. The lake seemed to exist in a dead zone where the vestment of nature was merely a façade; a primeval twilight where darkness never completely lifted and past grievances clung like moss on a stone.
As this night progressed, a large bubble rose slowly from the middle of the lake and gurgled once it broke the surface. Then there was another. And another. Soon, something pale white could be seen slowly rising up in the inky water; amorphous and cloudlike at first, it gradually took on a human form the nearer it came to the surface. A gray, ghostly body emerged from the blackness, floating face down, arms outstretched like a skydiver free-falling through space. The lifeless form floated between air and water for several hours, the barely perceptible currents gradually carrying it toward the shore.
A pasty white hand eventually came into contact with a reed in shallow water and fingers curled in as if the slender plant were a candle flame. The naked body stirred, shivered, flexed. Limbs began moving slowly, stretching. Legs curled under the torso and feet were planted in the sandy lakebed. A man rose up, water spilling off of him in rivulets and splattering back into the lake. Opalescent skin, he had a lean, muscular body that seemed to solidify with each breath. He looked down at himself as if seeing his image for the first time, and, with a grim smile, he seemed satisfied with what he saw. His distorted, almost translucent face, looked back at him from the murky, agitated water. Raising his head, fists clenched, he peered intently into the forest before him with murderous blue eyes that seemed to be cutting through the dense foliage like laser beams to some destination far beyond his immediate surroundings.
He appeared impervious to the frigid water, like the walking dead, yet there was intent in his expression. He had a mission, a quest, and it was malice that motivated him. Death and destruction were his driving force. He stepped forward tentatively, then took another step, and another, and grew stronger and more confident with each stride. The man continued walking out of the water and into the brush, twigs crackling under his bare feet, his movements growing more fluid, until he finally disappeared into the forest shadows, leaving Fall Lake behind; for now.
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