Deep Water
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Deep Water

An accident drives brothers apart.

Deep Water

I don't like to swim in deep water.

The lake outside beckons, dark and inviting. From where I sit its surface looks vast and mysterious. It is a beautiful place, but I am content with where I am, drinking coffee on the deck as storm clouds roll in.

I have left those depths to braver souls.

When I was younger I had brothers. There were three of us. My older brothers, Jim and Carl, were the adventurous ones. Myself, on the other hand, was a sickly child who often fell ill from even the slightest chill.

I admired them; my brothers. Though I could rarely join in their games, I felt close to them until the end.

Yet they hadn't believed me then when I told them what I saw. Of course, it wouldn't have been the first time that I had fabricated a story to impress them. This tale did quite the opposite. After I told them about what I saw by the road, they looked at me like a stranger, and although they probably didn't mean it, I became an outcast.

What I had tried to tell them about was an accident that I had seen on the way home from one of my doctor's appointments. There had been a small car, flipped on the roadside. Next to the little car was a police cruiser. The officer was arresting someone who was screaming about his innocence, and how he didn't know why he let go of the wheel.

My mother had slowed down to avoid the wreck. As we passed, I saw rescuers drag out the passenger. It was a young woman with blonde hair stained with crimson. Her eyes were open even though her neck was twisted at an unnatural angle, revealing a set of bruises around her throat.

At this, the man who had been driving broke out weeping and I saw something strange. Something like a pale shadow seemed to rise out of him like a cloud of steam. The thing began drifting over towards the rescuers, but before I could see more, our car had resumed its speed and we were zooming away from the scene.

We were sitting on the dock when I told them my story, sipping soda as the sun sank. When I'd finished, Jim didn't say anything.

"Of all the things to make up, why would you pick something like that?" Carl asked.

"I didn't make it up. I saw it with my own eyes, clear as day."

"Right, and the cop didn't see your ghost floating all over."

"Well, no."

Jim stood up. "Then stop talking about it or I'll tell mom that you are seeing things."

"You wouldn't."

"I might if I feel like it. But in the meantime, you're going to stop telling us tall tales."

"I told you it's true!"

He shook his head and left. Carl followed, leaving me to fume in indignation.

The next day, I saw something else. The postman walking up to our mailbox had no face. A blank, skin-colored blur filled that area, but I could see no defining features at all.

I realized that I was staring. I started to turn when I heard Carl speak up.

"Why are you staring at Mr. Johnson?" Carl was staring at the mailman now as well.

"Does he look funny to you?" I asked cautiously, before turning away from the strange sight.

Carl continued to watch for a moment longer before replying, "Well, that is one creepy smile he has, but that might just be because of the missing teeth."

"Alright then." I turned to walk away before he could question my sanity.

Later, as I sat down for dinner, I heard Carl talking to our Father.

"Does the mailman look weird to you too?"

I gulped and began piling mashed potatoes onto my plate.

"What do you mean?" he replied.

"I'm not sure, something seemed off about him today is all."

"I heard someone stole some of his gold teeth." Jim offered.

"Now, where on God's earth did you hear that story?" Our father demanded.

I looked up from my plate and almost choked on the potatoes. Because just like Mr. Johnson this morning, my father had no face.

"Are you alright, Roger?" he asked.

I nodded vigorously, enthusiastically wolfing down more food. Maybe I was just losing my mind, I wondered. Maybe I was given the wrong medicine. Either way, I managed to eat the rest of dinner without looking at any faces for fear of being surrounded by blank-faced people.

That same night, I was woken up by a hand covering my mouth. Blinking in terror, I saw that it was just Carl. He pressed a finger to his lips.

"Jim's by the lake. He says he needs to talk about something serious."

My mind spun. Had they, or at least Jim seen what I saw? I hastily got dressed and followed him outside, where it was softly drizzling. By the dock, I saw Jim's figure, wearing a raincoat.

He motioned for us to follow him to our boat. I shivered. Even in good weather, I was never comfortable in our rowboat, let alone on a rainy night.

"We have to get away from the shore. That's the only place we'll be safe to talk."

Carl and I gingerly followed him into the boat. Jim rowed with his back to us, with each stroke, we moved farther away from shore, away from the faceless thing.

The rain turned into a downpour, but finally, once we were a few hundred yards out, Jim stopped rowing.

"Okay, what's happening? What's with the hiding?" Carl asked.

Jim, still facing away from us replied. "It's one of you."

"What are you talking about?"

Jim turned to us, for he could not face us, could he?

I gasped scrambling against the edge of the boat. Carl shouted, moving to equalize the weight on the other end.

"I guess it was you all along." Faceless Jim stood up and drew a knife from the folds of his coat.

"Jim, what the hell are you doing?!" Carl yelled as the boat rocked under Jim's shifting weight.

"I can't have any witnesses. You must understand," said a gravelly voice coming from Jim's body.

There was a second when everything seemed to stop. I felt myself freeze in shock.

Carl flung himself at Jim's body, and whatever was speaking from it. As they tumbled overboard, there was a flash of lightning and I saw the gleam of the knife being swung.

The boat rocked back and forth in the waves, as I hung on for dear life. In the water, I heard thrashing, and Carl screaming in pain. There was a wet thud as a hand grabbed onto the side of the boat. For a moment, I felt a flare of hope, and then the faceless thing raised its head over the side.

It looked as if it was going to climb back in, then it shuddered and lost its grip. I looked over the edge. The thing was thrashing with its arms but looked like it was sinking. Carl was nowhere to be seen. Then I realized, someone was dragging it down.

Reaching for anything, I seized one of the oars, lifting it up like an executioner's axe. I brought it down on the faceless- on my brother's head. There was a horrible cracking sound, and faceless Jim went limp, slipping into the depths as Carl's death grip dragged both bodies under.

The waves thrashed around me as the oar slipped out of my fingers. The last thing I saw was a flash of lightning overhead before a wave knocked me against the bottom of the boat, unconscious.

I was sick in the hospital for a week, before spending a month with psychologists. My brother's had taught me well enough, and I learned how to say the right things without mentioning the faceless spirit.

I live by this lake, watching and waiting to see if the thing will ever come back. The bodies were never recovered, and sometimes, I've had a terrible thought of them fighting under the water still.

And that's why I prefer to stay out of the water.

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