Read The Black Lake: Tales of Melancholic Horror Online
Authors: Jon Athan
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror, #Occult, #Short Stories
The Black Lake:
Tales of Melancholic Horror
Copyright © 2016 Jon Athan
All Rights Reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
For more information on this book or the author, please visit
. General inquiries are welcome.
The moldering trees howled with the chilly breeze. The decrepit tree branches and sparse bushes groaned with each gust of wind. The crackling autumn leaves sprawled across the floor rustled and whooshed. An orchestra of soothing crepitations reverberated through the barren woodland. An achromatic gloom doused the forest with melancholy – a black-and-white woodland, like a classic silent film.
As the stiff leaves cracked beneath her grubby bare feet, Sadie Lewis whispered, “I'm so cold. I'm so lonely. The world is...
” As her bottom lip quivered from the nippy weather and accumulating sorrow, Sadie crossed her arms and vigorously rubbed her shoulders. She continued, “Someone, please help me. Someone, please rescue me. Someone, please forgive me.”
Sadie Lewis stood with a petite figure and stature. She had a naturally timorous posture – feeble like a newborn pup. She wore a plain white dress down to her ankles – a somber garb reflecting her forlorn state. Her long black hair reached down to the center of her back. Her dull brown eyes were brimming with brackish tears. A single blink would cause a wave of sadness, like opening a floodgate after a brutish storm.
As she slowly traversed the dreary forest, Sadie glanced over her shoulder and whispered, “No one is coming to stop me... No one cares, so why should I? Why should I care about my life when the world has abandoned me?” She grimaced from the emotional pain, scrunching her face like if a knife had been stabbed and twisted in her back. She turned back towards her imminent destination and said, “No one cares for the sad woman. No one
cares for the hopeless soul.”
Her plodding steps thudded on the dirt ground as she tottered forward. She constantly swayed to her left and right as she quietly wept, trying to distort her cries with her trembling hand to no avail. The woeful cries echoing through the desolate woodland were enough to send chills down the most unwavering spine.
Abruptly, Sadie stumbled forward. Her teeth chattered as she gazed into the lake ahead –
the Black Lake.
The small, secluded body of water was surrounded by withering trees. The water had inexplicably blackened, creating a despairing abyss of nothingness. Dark like crude oil but free-flowing like water.
Sadie stared into the lake, peering into a distorted reflection of her tormented soul. She trudged towards the edge of the ground as the water majestically rippled towards her. She loudly swallowed the anxiety clogging her throat as she gently shuddered.
As she stared into the water, Sadie said, “I've come here for one thing and one thing only. I've been treated like nothing for too long. I've tried to endure the pain, but it's too much for me. I can't handle the loneliness. I can't handle the rejection. Depression is a terminal disease. It might go away for a moment, but it will always linger at the back of my mind until it finally strikes. A fatal blow. I don't want it anymore. I'm tired of waiting. I give up. You win... You win.”
Sadie's eyes swelled with tears and her body trembled. The uncertainty of death was trapped in the deepest and darkest crevices of her brain. The dubiety of her decision to commit suicide was overwhelming. Yet, she couldn't help but feel compelled to move forward – there were no other options.
Sadie tightly clenched her eyes shut and stretched her skinny arms away from her body. She slowly stepped towards the lake, each step more ponderous than the last. Her breathing intensified as she gradually approached. Abruptly, she opened her eyes, then gasped.
As her teeth chattered, Sadie whispered, “Hello? Is... Is someone there?”
From the edge of the ground, her toes wiggling over the water, Sadie could see a body floating face down towards the center of the lake. As the waves crashed beneath her, the body drifted towards Sadie. Sadie fell to her knees as she inspected the figure.
The floating body appeared to have a head of long, sopping black hair. The ominous figure donned a black dress. The body was unidentifiable from its current location. A sudden stench of death wafted through the bleak woodland, pummeling any neighboring nostrils with an atrocious miasma. Sadie pinched her nose and scrunched her face as she whimpered.
Sadie furrowed her brow and murmured, “Is she... Is she still alive? No, she... she can't be.” She weaved and bobbed her head for a better view. Sadie cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted, “Miss, are you okay?! Is this... Is this some sort of prank?”
The body continued to float in the lake. Sadie scanned her immediate surroundings as she hopelessly searched for a detached branch, but to no avail. A forest of dying tees, but not a single loosened branch in sight. She grabbed a filthy rock form the ground, then heaved the pebble towards the floating body. The water
a meter away from her head. The person in the lake did not respond.
Sadie whispered, “She must have killed herself. Someone else couldn't handle the pain.” She swallowed the lump in her throat like swallowing a can of tuna, then said, “It's okay. Don't worry, miss, I'll... I'll still do it. Your death won't stop me. I'll join you. We can die together.”
Sadie staggered to her feet as she gazed at the eerily gloomy figure in the lake. She protruded her arms away from her body as she stood at the edge of the ground. She nervously bit her bottom lip as she stared into the unusually daunting lake. The inky water suddenly became forbidding, like a black hole waiting to swallow her soul. The doubt swept through her timid figure once again.
As her left foot hovered over the water, a man's hoarse voice reverberated from over her shoulder: “Suicide. Accident.
It could be any of the above, don't you think? It would be quite foolish to jump to conclusions at a time like this. Quite foolish, indeed.”
Sadie firmly planted her foot on the ground as she contemplated the man's words. Her stomach turned with apprehension as frightful thoughts stampeded through her fracturing mind:
I'm not alone. Who is this man?
The man's voice was capable of momentarily stopping her suicide.
Sadie slowly turned towards the voice, then inspected her uninvited guest. The senescent man stood a towering six-four with a lanky figure. He had gnarled wrinkles on his face – the cavernous creases drooped on his countenance. Thin white hair protruded from beneath his black bowler hat. He donned a black suit with a blue tie and polished black dress shoes.
Sadie clenched her jaw, then nervously stuttered, “Wh–Who... Who are you? Wha–What do you want from me?”
The man looked down to his gleaming shoes and said, “Well, you can call me 'Todd.' Just 'Todd.' What's your name, little lady?”
Sadie gazed into the man's vibrant blue eyes and responded, “It's not 'little lady.' My name is... My name is none of your business. What the hell do you want from me? What are you doing here?”
“There's no need for the attitude, little lady. No need for any hostility. I'm not a friend or foe. I'm passing by. I figured a young woman like yourself, under these peculiar circumstances, could use some company.”
Sadie shook her head and said, “You... You're wrong. I don't need your company now. It's too late. Come back in ten minutes with the police if you'd like or... or just go home. Mind your own business, mister. I don't think we'll need any assistance from you.”
Todd doddered forward, sluggishly limping as he approached the ominous lake. He sniffled as he leaned on a feeble tree trunk. The tree groaned from his weight. Todd gazed at the floating body as it slowly meandered towards the duo, sailing at a snail's pace.
Todd rubbed his forehead with his spindly fingers and said, “Such a sad sight, don't you think? Regardless of the circumstances, death is
a sad sight to behold. Suicide, accident, or murder. It doesn't really matter, does it? At the end of the day, it's still death.”
Sadie scowled at the man and asked, “What do you want from me? Huh? Did someone send you to stop me? If they did, I don't care and I don't...”
Todd chuckled as he waved his arms in repudiation. He said, “No one sent me here for you, little lady. I like to wander this forest every now and then. It's something of a... a
I suppose. It's something I do.” Sadie looked down at her torso, like if she were utterly disappointed. Todd asked, “You wanted someone to stop you, didn't you? You wanted someone to carry you away from the madness and misery, correct?”
Sadie absently gazed at the floor and shook her head as she responded, “No... I... No, I just wanted... I don't know what I wanted. I guess I wanted to die in peace.”
Todd nodded and asked, “Like her?”
Sadie turned towards the floating body in the lake. A deceased woman surrounded by an impenetrable darkness – surrounded by the unnatural waters of dolor. Her body was drenched by anguish and suffering. Her soul was trapped in eternal loneliness. She was the focal point in a portrait of sorrow.
Sadie nodded and responded, “Yeah, just like her.”
Todd coughed to clear his throat and said, “You know, this lake wasn't always like this. This lake turned black because of people like her. This lake has been
by the countless deaths it has delivered. Suicides, accidents, and murders. It used to sparkle with the sun, but the sun seems to have vanished behind the clouds. It feels like I haven't seen the beautiful sun in ages. The world becomes gloomier as people become sadder...”
Sadie staggered to her buttocks and gazed into the lake. She asked, “Why are you telling me this? What do you really want from me, mister?”
“I told you: call me 'Todd.' I suppose I don't want anything from you. Well, in fact, I would like you to listen. I'll get to my business when I'm done, but I'd like to tell you some stories. Some stories that reflect this very lake's resonating sorrow. Would you do me the favor and lend me your ears? It won't be long, little lady.”
Sadie glanced at Todd with narrowed eyes – her eyes glimmered with blatant curiosity. Todd leaned back on the tree trunk, then slowly slid down to his buttocks. He inhaled deeply, then turned towards the blackened lake. In a movement of acceptance, Sadie followed suit – she gazed at the rippling black waters.
Sadie asked, “What kind of stories do you want to tell me, Todd? What do you mean by 'they reflect this lake?' I don't understand...”
Todd nodded and answered, “I want to tell you tales of intense melancholia. I want to tell you tragic and horrific stories. These are stories I've heard from people like yourself and stories I've actually experienced in one way or another. Please believe that. Listen carefully, little lady. I'm not here to stop you because I
stop you. But, sometimes we need a break. This is my break. Will you listen to my stories? Can you lend me your ears?”
Sadie responded, “Okay. Sure, I'll listen.”
Todd demanded, “Promise me you will not stop listening until the very end. Keep me company. Wait with me until this body reaches our shore, so I can fish her out and give her the peace she deserves.
” Sadie sighed, then nodded. Todd smiled and said, “Good, good... The first story is about a struggling novelist with a deep-rooted problem...”