Fiction Horror Thriller

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

What a fucking asshole, Amber thought as she made her way down the stairs toward the deck overlooking the lake. Last summer we’re hot and heavy and then I come back to find him drooling over that bitch Vicky Baker. I thought he was gonna be around to punch my ticket this summer but I guess he’d rather work for it.

Before Amber stepped onto the deck, she looked back up at Angel’s parent’s cottage. It was a large, wooden A-frame with lots of windows. She could hear an Eagles song being blasted over the sound system and the loud whoops and laughs of twenty-one and twenty-two-year-olds. There were over thirty of them smoking and drinking, the haze from joints and cigarettes so heavy that you almost couldn’t see from one end of the cottage to the other, even with the windows open. 

Now what am I supposed to do? she wondered. She’d spent the school year living like a nun and wanted to let off a little steam before she had to go back and do it again. Finding somebody wouldn’t be a problem, but finding somebody she liked might be. Most guys were more worried about their own fun, but Scott was pretty good at making sure she had a good time too.

She had spent the whole night trying to catch up with Scott, and maybe more, but he was just following Vicky around like a lost puppy. After admitting to herself she was getting nowhere, she just wanted to leave but was stuck at this stupid party with a bunch of people she hardly knew. They were mostly Angel’s rich friends from nearby cottages. 

Amber was relieved that she at least had somewhere comfortable to sleep waiting for her; Angel had told her to take her room while she and her boyfriend John took the master. The two rooms shared a wall and Amber wasn’t thrilled about listening to them have sex all night, but it was a small price to pay to avoid having to sleep on a couch or the floor.

She tore her eyes from the cottage and started to walk over to the railing overlooking the lake, each of her footfalls being marked with a soft thud on the deck board. The moon was high and full and shone brightly on the dark, near-still water as the stars sparkled overhead. 

She looked at the dark shapes of nearby cottages. She was sure the other cottagers on the lake were annoyed with the party noises and too-loud music.  

Across the lake, she could make out the silhouettes of the trees and the rocky shore where some of the least hungover would probably go swimming and cliff-jumping the next morning, in hopes of the cool water soothing their aching heads.

Amber pulled a joint out of her pocket and lit it with her lighter. The pot was a little old but it would still get the job done. 

She started thinking about how maybe going to school was the wrong choice. Most of her friends were working full time or getting married and buying houses and hanging out together. She was just off on her own in University, struggling through classes and working as a waitress.

Now that it was summer, Angel’s dad had gotten Amber a position in his newsroom; he thought it was great that she wanted to work and gain real experience instead of just finding any old job. Sure, it was a lot of photocopying and getting coffee and being leered at by old men having a midlife crisis, but it was real and she felt at least involved in journalism.

Angel’s dad was proud of Amber for trying to have a career in journalism, which annoyed Angel. But their aspirations differed; Angel had said for years that she wanted to “bag a rich husband and be a rich housewife.” Different strokes for different folks.

Amber saw something move in the corner of her eye near the stairs that led down to the dock and boathouse. “Who’s there?” she said, whirling to look.

There was a man on the stairs, the lower half of his body hidden by the deck. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t know there was anybody out here.” He continued up the stairs. 

“You scared the shit out of me,” Amber said, turning back to lean on the railing. “What’re you doing? Just creeping around from cottage to cottage?” she asked. 

The man stopped at the top of the stairs. “No, I left the party. I came with my cousin but I don’t know anybody and got tired of being a wallflower so I went to explore. Is this your cottage?”

Amber took a toke and answered while holding the smoke in her lungs. “No, it’s Angel’s parents,” she said before blowing the smoke out. “Who’s your cousin?”

“Terry.” the man replied.

“What’s your name?” Amber asked.


“Terry’s never mentioned a cousin named Adam,” Amber said.

“We don’t see each other much. I’m from Ottawa,” he replied.

 “He seemed a little weird tonight. He’s usually a little more lively. What’s his deal?” Amber asked.

“I think he’s just tired. I’m staying with him for a couple of weeks and we just got in today. He drove the whole way. He wouldn’t switch.” he said. Amber nodded and took another toke from the joint. “Do you mind if I join you?” Adam asked.

“It’s a free country,” Amber replied. “I’m going back up when I finish this anyway,” she said, gesturing to her joint. Adam walked over and leaned on the railing next to her.

“You didn’t tell me your name.” 

“Amber,” she replied.

“Oh, you’re Amber,” Adam said. “Terry’s told me a lot about you.”

“Well don’t believe any of it,” Amber said. “You’re his cousin, you should know he’s full of shit.”

“He said you were really smart and that you were in University.” 

“I don’t know about ‘really smart’ but I am in University.” 

“What school do you go to?” Adam said as he took off his glasses to clean them on his shirt. Amber noticed just how much of his face they covered; they were large with a double bridge and tinted lenses. His hair was a light sandy colour and hung down to his eyebrows, like that blond guy in that space movie everyone was talking about. 

“Trent.” Amber heard herself say in a faraway voice. She thought it seemed like he was trying to hide his face like he was embarrassed by it. He was handsome (if a little pale) in an unassuming way. He didn’t resemble Terry at all. Terry was short and barrel-chested. Adam was taller than Terry and much skinnier. Neither of them was really her type. Scott wasn’t necessarily her type either, but he was close.

He looked up from his shirt and glasses and into Amber’s eyes. She noticed that they were a deep blue, like the ocean in Nova Scotia that time she vacationed there with her parents for a few weeks. The sand was so hot that it hurt to walk barefoot but the water was cool and refreshing and the salt gently stung her skin. 

The gentleness of the waves belied their strength as they crashed into the rocks, sending large white sprays into the air. Everywhere she went, the breeze seemed tinged with salt, and the freshness of it and the sun's heat made her feel exhausted in the most wonderful way every day. The whole time she had been there, she slept deeply and fully and woke up refreshed and ready for more. She could hear the ocean waves in her ears and longed to lie on the beach and taste the salt on her lips and feel the sun darken her skin and lighten her hair…

“-ing in school?”

Amber didn’t know how long she had gone without saying anything or how long she had been staring at him. He had put his glasses back on. She felt her cheeks flush. “Oh, I, uh…” she sputtered. She looked at the joint, which was almost burnt so low that it was going to start burning her fingers. She flicked it away. “Sorry, guess I spaced out. You must think I’m a freak,” she said with a small, self-conscious laugh. “What did you ask me?” she said. She felt like she couldn’t help but smile at him. 

“No, it’s OK,” Adam said. “You were just smoking a joint. That’s been known to cause spacing out,” he said, stifling a smile. “I asked what you were taking in school.”  

“Oh right, I’m majoring in journalism and minoring in English. I’d like to work as a reporter or an editor. Maybe even as an anchorwoman if I’m lucky,” Amber said. “What about you? Are you in school?”

“Just graduated,” Adam replied. “History major. The world is crying for more historians.” 

Amber smiled. “Yeah, they need way more historians and journalists. There’s definitely not enough of us,” she said, starting to laugh. Adam laughed too but turned his face away.

He turned back and they looked at each other for a moment. Amber felt like she couldn’t take her eyes off him; she found him charming and he seemed even more handsome. 

She saw him look at her cross necklace. “I like your necklace. Is it silver?” he asked. 

She looked down at it and picked it up off of her chest. “No, I’m allergic to silver. It’s platinum,” she said.

“I’m allergic to silver too. May I?” He asked as he plucked it from her fingers. He’s bold, she thought.

“It’s beautiful. Did your boyfriend buy it for you?” he said, inspecting it in the moonlight.

Amber smiled. That was the oldest trick in the book. “My parents bought it for me. I don’t have a boyfriend.”

“You’re not with that big guy? Scott?” He said, letting the cross drop back to her chest. 

Amber shook her head. “We were kind of fooling around last summer but I left for school and I guess he wants to fool around with someone else now,” she said.

“Oh, uh, sorry. I thought- I mean, it looked like-”

Amber smiled. “It’s OK,”

Adam swallowed. “Well, he seems like a jerk anyway. He’s stupid to just fool around with a really smart girl like you.”

“Thanks. That’s sweet,” she said, looking away and brushing her hair behind her ear.

“And you’re really pretty,” Adam added.

Amber laughed. “You’re not very smooth are you?” 

“No, not really,” he said. “Terry was always better at talking to girls,”

Amber put her hand on his. “Well, Terry isn’t nearly as sweet as you.”

Amber felt strange; she never fell for this schmaltzy shit. She just wanted to have some fun. But for some reason, maybe because of Scott, the pot, or the moon, it was working. She wanted to kiss him and see how it felt.

Adam took off his glasses and looked deeply into her eyes. They both leaned in to kiss. Amber could hear the ocean in her ears and smell salt in the air. His lips were full and soft. With some guys, it seemed like you were kissing a dead fish, and others liked to slobber all over you like they were a dog and you were some meaty treat. But this kiss was hot and electric. He tasted minty and fresh, even though she hadn’t seen him chewing any gum or mints. Amber’s head swam; it was the best kiss she had ever had.

Adam raised his hand to the nape of her neck and put his fingers in her hair. She leaned her head into his hand as their tongues began to work softly together. 

He pulled away and kissed her cheek, then her jaw before moving to her neck. She didn’t think he would be so forward, but she liked it. She moved her hands up into his hair. It was soft and feathery. He slipped a hand around her waist and pulled her closer to him.

He continued kissing her neck and she could feel her pulse beat against his lips. It was sending ripples of goosebumps over her body. “That feels good,” she whispered.

He pulled away and whispered back, “I can make it feel even better.”

He returned to her neck. After a few moments, she felt a pinch, like getting a needle. She gasped as pleasure and pain mixed in a warm, harmonious crescendo that spread through her body like a burning shot of whisky on an empty stomach.

A wet warmth ran down her neck and between her breasts. She could feel the ocean washing over her: the salt on her skin, the sun penetrating the cool water to warm her. 

She felt light and heady. It made her drunken thoughts race. Normally, she would be worried about hickeys, but it felt so damn good she didn’t care. Her knees were buckling so she braced herself against the railing. She stared up at the full moon and could feel the power of it over her; it was how the tides must feel when they are pushed to and pulled from shore.

But then, something shifted, like shadows creeping and growing longer and longer, how they did when the sun started to sink below the trees. It started small, in the pit of her stomach, but it was growing. 

The creeping shadows melded into a paralyzing fear that flooded over her. It was a primal fear, the kind that came from that old, ancestral part of the brain. The part that feared being alone in the dark and sought light and that made the hair on your body prickle before you even knew something was wrong. 

The fear cleared the fogginess and her thoughts started to come into focus. There was a voice in her head that was getting louder and louder as if someone had found a neverending dial and was turning it until it was at an ear-splitting volume. “YOU ARE IN DANGER! GET AWAY FROM HIM! RUN! SCREAM!” it shrieked, accompanied by the noise and static heard from an overblown speaker.

She became painfully aware of every vein and artery in her body as they began to burn. She realized she had sunk to her knees in her stupor and felt weak.

She tried to scream, “Stop! Help!” but they only came out in a choked whisper. She tried to hit him but could barely move. 

She could feel her pulse become thready and the sharpness in her mind started to wane and become fuzzy. She was fighting to stay conscious but she was losing. The edges of her vision were beginning to go dark and the pain in her body was fading into numbness. She was gasping for air but felt no relief.

She could feel the depths of the ocean calling to her and the waves slowly pulling her under. She reached for the moon in a final attempt at salvation before being forced to give in to the encroaching darkness and then-


* * *

A mist blanketed the lake, opaque and heavy. Amber lay on the deck, cold and quiet. She looked as though she had drifted into a dreamless sleep, the moonlight caressing her pale body. She seemed at peace except for the dried blood on her neck and the crimson stain on her white shirt. 

Her heart was still, and her veins were dry, but she would rise again, driven by bloodlust. Until then, she would sleep the sleep of the dead. Alone. Under the moon. 

May 27, 2023 01:04

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M.L. Chatten
21:34 May 30, 2023

Spooky! Love the tension and the hints sprinkled throughout! Nice work 📝


C. Charles
22:19 May 30, 2023

Thanks! Happy to hear it was spooky! I tried really hard to drop hints without giving it up right away.


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Mary Bendickson
21:33 May 27, 2023

Just can't trust some people.⚰️🦇🦹


C. Charles
23:39 May 30, 2023

No you certainly can’t.


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