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Middle School Kids Horror

My last year as a human began when Mom and I moved back to Grandpa’s farm.

This farm is unlike any I’ve seen before. It’s a massive place, cradled in a valley surrounded by steep volcanic mountains. He grows barley, hops, hazelnuts, and apples. If that weren’t enough, wild berries and apricots grow there, too. It’s a thriving place, and all the local critters know it. Every room of the manor house has a bear rug. Maintaining the property is a full time job for each of mom’s six older siblings. I think there were six.

Since the whole family lives up in the main manor house, mom and I stay in an aging houseboat on Blowout Lake, several yards behind the kitchen gardens. The outside of the houseboat has seen better days, but inside?

Inside, my mom’s handcrafted mosaic floors still shine bright with scenes of vibrant sea life. It’s creative and bohemian, just like her, but grandpa’s new wife hates it. Grandpa’s wife is a very pretty woman, but it only took me about an hour to realize she has nothing nice to say about anyone, especially my mom. What on Earth is Grandpa thinking, letting that snob hang around here? 

I hope I’ll never forget the way my mom sat with me on the dock with her feet in the water.

I hope I’ll never forget the smell of all her colorful tattoos slathered in extra banana-coconut sunscreen.

I hope I’ll never forget the way she’d just shrug and quietly ignore the mean things Grandpa’s wife would say about her. 

I know I won’t be “me” much longer, but still, I hope those memories will stay. 

I just wish I could remember my mom’s name.

It didn’t take me long to notice there’s something strange about the water in Blowout Lake. Fish don’t swim in it. Farm animals won’t drink from it. Blowout Lake feels like water should, but something in my spine shrinks when I touch it. My guts swear it’s not water at all. 

My body used to beg me not to drink it.

Blowout Lake began as a large crater behind my grandpa’s farmhouse. The faded newspaper articles in dusty frames on the houseboat walls claim Blowout Lake appeared after a meteor crashed there in the 1950s. Eventually, when my grandpa was old enough to take over the family farm, he built the dock and installed the houseboat. 

There’s rumors among the people in town that the meteor is still lying at the bottom… just lying there, worth millions, but they’re wrong. I hope they never find out how wrong they are.

I just wish I could remember their names. 

Most lakes around here are crystal clear. Most lakes around here have a sharply visible bottom, despite being well over a hundred feet deep in many places. Blowout Lake is pretty wide, but it’s only about fifty feet deep. The entire surface of the water is like a metallic mirror, which reflects the sky beautifully, but you can’t see the bottom, at all. I used to pretend our houseboat wasn’t on a lake, but floating in the clouds, instead.

We had our own Fresh Start Island in the sky.

We lived in a rusty airship of unlimited possibilities.

I enjoyed living within such daydreams.

…But that was before, I think… Yes. That was before I went beneath.

One of the drawbacks to living in a rickety old houseboat is maintenance. Despite my recent evolution, I don’t understand how the engineering behind it all works, but grandpa spent a whole week teaching me how to scuba safely in the cold freshwater to reach the various valves and such beneath the houseboat. 

At first, I despised the panic that comes from only inhaling through the mouthpiece of the scuba gear. It’s horrible. How do mouth breathers on the surface stand it? 

I used to wonder if mouth breathers are dumber and meaner than the rest of us because they’re not getting enough oxygen to their brains, but now I can’t remember meeting any. 

I’m so glad I don’t need scuba gear to breathe down here, anymore. 

Once old me got used to the newness of scuba gear though, I think I felt like I had a new superpower. I think I couldn’t wait to explore this new world beneath our houseboat. I know I had to see this meteor at the bottom of Blowout Lake for myself. I don’t remember exactly when my grandpa disappeared, but it wasn’t long after. 

I was almost to the bottom before it happened. A tingling began at the tip of my toes, shivering its way toward my skull. At first, I thought I must have a malfunctioning oxygen tank or valve or something, but I was wrong. I was healing, improving, evolving. 

The thing at the bottom of Blowout Lake is not a meteor, but it is round. It is metallic. And its intelligence is powerfully hungry for expansion. Shimmering scales of some kind of technology are slowly spreading from this thing, coating the volcanic rocks on the lake bottom with hungry sentience. I used to wonder how long grandpa has been obeying its orders, but now, it’s my turn to obey. 

The errands it assigns me are different everyday, but I do feel appreciated. I just wish it would’ve stuck to devouring volcanic rocks for fuel. Lately, it’s asking for blood, and my errands are getting not only harder to complete, but harder to hide. 

Despite my recent evolution, I don’t understand how the engineering behind it all works. All I know is it needs me for its tech to grow. 

Every time I bring it a meal, it grows a bit larger, and I change a bit faster. I have to cover my arms and throat with thick makeup now, to hid the silvery scales of technology growing across my skin. Sometimes, to get through particularly bloody errands, I try to dream. 

Sometimes, I dream of my early days, learning to walk in a 77th floor penthouse in the city.

Sometimes, I dream of my earliest days, when I was surrounded by bricks and metal and concrete and glass. 

Sometimes, I pretend I’ll grow to be the type of person who wears pricy business attire and $500 haircuts.

I just wish I could remember my name. 

June 18, 2022 03:46

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