These Senior-Highschool Students try an Instagram Challenge they should have skipped.
Truth or Dare
"I mean, I'm still wearing a towel, so technically I'm not naked. The post already has 36likes ... let's refresh one more time." Considering the fact that only about 15,000 people lived in this town, it's fair to say that 36 likes on a picture mean that you are not a nobody. Saige looked outside. A store owner on the other side of the street was busy putting up Halloween decorations: Skeleton body parts and fake spiderwebs. Saige thought to herself: "This is ridiculous." She opened up the app one more time and deleted the post just when the piercing sound of the tiny doorbell rang. Ava, Saige's best friend, came strolling into the small Starbucks in the main intersection at the small city center.
She rushed to Saige's table by the big window. "Hey slut!", she grinned. "What?", asked Saige a little more aggressively than she intended to. "You know what I mean! Just liked your post from your trip to Florida.", Ava sat down in front of her while provocatively stroking over her waistline. "Pff", Saige didn't really know what to reply but still had to smile. Ava said:
"Anyways, so what's the plan for Halloween this weekend? McKenzie asked if we wanted to come to her house but I don't really wanna settle on one particular party that early. Remember last year?! At my place, that was so spontaneous and still the best party around!"
Saige agreed: "Yeah, but this year your parents are home and I don't want to stay home alone either. Literally, nobody does that." "Okay, okay Party Queen!", said Ava calming her down. "I know we should do something, especially after breaking up with Dylan. Ugh." She put her tongue out and pretended to gag. "It would be awkward to run into him.", explained Ava and suddenly leaned over the table, getting closer to Saige's face: "Have you seen the posts on Insta from the lake?" Saige was a little confused with Ava's sudden secrecy: "No... Wait, I've seen a few pictures of people having a picnic. Or being there at night but I didn't really get it." "Well..", began Ava, "It's called the #LAKECHALLENGE. So basically, it's this thing where people go to Lake Shadowcreek at night, take a picture, and post it on Instagram!"
"I don't get it!", said Saige. "I mean, what's the challenge?" "So ... 'allegedly'...", she put up her hands to indicate quotation marks with her fingers. Saige realized that Ava had just recently started overusing this gesture as she was convinced it would help her to appear smarter. As much as Saige hated this, she didn't want to interrupt her. "... there was this student that went to our high school a few years before we went. He drowned orrr was drowned in that lake. I googled it this morning." Saige had to verbalize her despite: "And now, people go there and post a selfie from that place... that's pretty sick, isn't it?! And I don't mean in a good way!" "Oh come on Saige, it's 'dark humor'! Have you ever heard of it?!" Ava imitated quotation marks again. Saige somehow felt that it was not right to turn someone's death into an internet challenge but couldn't help to see the thrill of going to that spooky lake. Now even more so after hearing that backstory.
Saige wasn't what other students called a prude. It wasn't like she hadn't done forbidden things here and there. She’d already had two boyfriends, snuck out to go to an illegal concert with Ava’s sister and got so drunk on vodka playing truth or dare, she had to stay at Ava's. What really bugged her was that this was her last year of high school and she had never really done anything that was actually dangerous. Everyone seemed to know already where they would go to college or the career they wanted to pursue. It was inevitable that things would change, and all that would be left were the memories she made this year.
"Let's do it!", said Saige a little louder than expected. Ava looked at her with her mouth wide open: "Are you being serious?" The waitress approached her table and looked at Ava:" Something for you, honey? Another Cappuccino?" She put a lot of effort into saying the word "Cappuccino" as sarcastic as possible. "No, I'm good.", Ava replied without stopping to stare at Saige with her eyes sparkling with excitement. The waitress rolled her eyes, clicked her ball pen loudly, and walked away.
Now You See Me, Now You Don't
The driveway was covered with yellow and brown leaves. Saige knew that one of two things would happen as soon as she entered the house. One, her father would do one of his 'tricks'. Hee would try to engage her in some sort of buddy talk that inevitably resulted in a father-daughter activity where she had to hold the ladder for him when he cleaned the gutter or point the light for him when he tried to repair his pickup truck; a hopeless case of what once was a car rusting away in the backyard of the house. Or two, her mom would try to make her sit with her to discuss suitable career paths for her daughter like studying politics at university or, on a good day, journalism.
Either way, Saige was not in the mood for either one of those options. She wanted to get a job to save some money for traveling through Europe with Ava - or anything else but staying in this town. When she entered the front door, her mother sat on the kitchen table: "Hey! Good, you're back. There is still food in the kitchen and maybe after dinner, I could tell you about a pretty interesting phone call with Ava's mum today. Did you know Ava applied to CalTech?" "Thanks, mum. Not hungry!", yelled Saige, taking two, three steps at a time running up the stairs. Her father just climbed down the ladder of the attic: "Hey troublemaker, you'd never guess what this old man found up there. If you just handed me the torchlight down there we could ..." Saige had already disappeared into her room and shut her door. She pulled out her phone and opened up the chat with her so-called 'best friend':
Saige: Why didn't you tell me, you applied to Caltech???
Ava: As if I'll get accepted ...!!
Saige: Yeah, what IF you get accepted?! What about europe?!
Ava: We could still do that throughout my Semester Break.
Saige: honestly ... I can't believe you didn't tell me -.-
Ava: OMG you are being so dramatic!!!
Saige: Whatever ... what about tonight? Are we still doing this?
Ava: Sure we are. I'll pick you up at 9pm.
Saige: K bye
Shortly before 9 pm Saige grabbed her jacket and went downstairs. "Mum? Dad?". No response. Usually, her parents would be sipping wine on the couch, or sitting at the kitchen table hunched over some paperwork. But now, everything was abnormally quiet. Saige halted and listened. The lights were turned off except for that one light hanging over the kitchen table down the hall. Did they leave without letting her know where they went? The door to the basement stood open but the lights were switched off. "Mum?", she shouted down the stairs. BANG. A loud noise from outside let Saige jump. She recognized the voice of her mother shrieking outside. Before she could react, something got a hold of her from behind. A hand reached out of the shadows of the basement and grabbed her shoulder.
Saige shrieked. "What's going on?", asked her father surprisedly. "Dad!", Saige yelled out angrily. "What were you doing down there?". "Well, apparently the light needs to be fixed and I got your mum and me a nice bottle of Pinot, and judging from the sound of it, I also better get another wine glass and a shovel." He raised his eyebrows and walked to the kitchen. Saige felt embarrassed for being so startled. "What a great start of the night!", she thought to herself and went outside. Her mom picked up pieces of glass from the front porch. "Hey, where are you going?" "I am out with Ava tonight, will be late!", Saige replied and threw her mother a kiss.
Ava had parked the car on the side of the lonely road by the lake. "So, do we still wanna do this?", she asked. Saige turned on the torchlight of her iPhone and held it under her chin. She spoke in a deep voice while moving closer towards Ava's face:" I don't know! Should we?! ... are you ready to die yet?! Hoooo!" "At least I won't die a virgin muahaha", Ava mimicked the creepy voice. Saige took down her phone: "Hey! First off, I'm not a virgin, and second, I'm actually still mad at you." Ava looked down for a second:
"I know, I should've told you that I applied to Caltech. I'm sorry. It's just my parents put so much pressure on me that I just did it so they would leave me alone. To be honest, I don't really think I would ever qualify to go there."
Saige looked at her and felt silly to be holding on to her anger. "Well, would you want to actually go there?" Ava shrugged:" I think so." "In that case, I think it's good you did. They would be stupid to miss out on someone like you. You are smart and ambitious, Ava!" Ava smiled again: "Thanks!" "Let's finally go, I'm getting cold!" Ava said stepping out of the car.
The forest around the lake was soaked in silver moonlight which made it easy for the two friends to spot the beaten track to the waterfront. For some reason, Saige tried to breathe flatly and suddenly felt the urge to only whisper. Ava didn't seem to care about that at all and stamped on as many old branches as possible. "This is so freaking spooky", Ava noticed, "Do you think the boys would dare to come here?" Saige responded: "You mean like Dylan and the others?" Ava said: "Yeah, he always talked about how he would fight anyone if he had to, but I think he would be the first one to go back to the car!" Both girls laughed. A few meters away something clicked in the undergrowth. They stopped laughing and stared at each other. "Did you hear thi-", said Saige but was interrupted by the sound of loud flapping. A pigeon took off into the night sky. Ava screamed: "What the ... Oh! My! Gawd!" Saige looked at Ava and exploded with a burst of loud laughter.
Only a few minutes later they reached the lake. The water laid black and still, a motionless mirror that granted a perfect reflection of the treetops surrounding the lake such as the clear night sky. Saige couldn't help but notice the beauty of this scenery. Ava bent over to the ground to pick up a stone the size of a fist. She winded up and launched it towards the middle of the lake. The sound of the splash echoed over the surface and disappeared into the woods. "What are you doing?", hissed Saige. She realized how hysteric she must've sounded. Ava just looked at her. Saige stared back at her. Ava's face had changed. There was no provocative expression on her face as usual but instead, her face was completely frozen. Saige realized that Ava's look didn't cross hers but went past her. As if she was seeing something behind her. Saige turned around hectically. There was nothing. She turned back to Ava who couldn't hold back anymore and shook from laughing. "Oh you bitch!", Saige laughed, relieved. The friends laughed for a while. After they took a selfie they went back to the car. When Ava dropped Saige off, she only said "Hashtag Lake challenge!" "Mission accomplished", Saige replied grinning and saluted like a soldier.
Trick or Treat
The next day, Saige's mother had asked her to go shopping after school to buy Halloween Candy for the kids of their neighborhood who went 'Trick or Treating'. As she went through the isles of the supermarket, she spotted Sara Riley. They went to English class together. Sara waved at her. "Hey Saige, are you coming to McKenzie's party?" Saige was happy to hear that Sara would go too since she was quite popular. "I guess", Saige tried to play it cool. "Cool! You should really come.", said Sara and smiled again. Saige wondered if she really meant it.
"Oh, by the way. What did you and Ava do at Lake Shadowcreek last night? Isn't that totally dangerous?" Saige remembered that she saw Sara post about the "Lake challenge" as well and said:" What do you mean? You did the Lake challenge too and went there at night. You know because of the story about the dead boy and everything?!" Sara looked at her blankly:" No?! I don't know what you are talking about. Saige, you are creeping me out, to be honest right now." Saige fell silent. She couldn't think of a reason why Sara would deny it. Was it really her profile she had seen posting about the challenge? She wasn't so sure anymore. Sara made up a reason why she had to go and left Saige standing there.
Puzzled about her encounter with her classmate, Saige went back home. As soon as she arrived, her phone rang. Ava started chatting right away: "You wouldn't believe what happened today! I talked to Dylan's classmate Rhodey, who is super cute by the way, and I wanted to tell him that we also did the Lake challenge-" "... and he denied posting on Instagram or even knowing about the challenge?!", Saige cut in. "Exactly! How did you know?", asked Ava. "The same happened to me today when I met Sara Riley in the supermarket. I swear, it was her post I saw the other day though."
Ava paused for a second and called out in horror:" Saige!" "Yes?!", she responded quickly. "All the posts are gone!" Saige put Ava on speakerphone to check for herself. Ava was right. All the posts under the hashtag #Lakechallenge had disappeared. "This is SO creepy right now," Ava concluded.
After they had hung up Saige pulled out her laptop and threw herself onto her bed. The cursor blinked in the search tab. She typed: "Shadowcreek boy drowning" and hit enter. Forty minutes later she had probably read everything that had been published on the internet about this topic. A boy had drowned there indeed. Seven years ago, her school had organized a camping trip during fall season. One of the students was found dead in the lake after he went missing in the middle of the night. A shiver went down her spine as she remembered the night they were at the lake. It took her hours to fall asleep, and she dreamed of endless isles filled with fog and walking through her school in wet socks at night while the moon was shining through the windows.
It was the day before Halloween and everyone in school was talking about which party they would go to. However, Saige couldn't stop thinking about the "challenge" and everything that happened since then. Things weren't adding up. She walked to her class and took out her phone to text Ava just when someone almost ran into her.
"Woah, what is up with you?", Saige said angrily. Rhodey smiled:" I'm sorry. You seem a little tense though. Not in the Halloween mood yet?". Saige felt her anger leaving her body, making way for something else, a warm feeling rising from her chest to her cheeks. Ava was right, Rhodey was cute, and this wasn't the first time Saige had noticed. "Maybe a little too much actually.", she answered. "Yo, I heard you've been to the lake?!", he said. He seemed amused. "Ehm, yes why?", Saige answered reluctantly. Rhodey looked around as if he was afraid somebody could eavesdrop on them and leaned in: "Look, the lake challenge ... it's not what you think!"
Saige was able to smell his aftershave even though his face did not show the ability to grow a beard. "What are you talking about?", she said. "Ava asked you about it and you lied to her, why would-" "You have to delete your Instagram Post!", he interrupted her with a conspiratorial look on his face. She attempted to say something but he added quickly:"...and you must not tell anyone about this! It's all part of it. Come to the lake tonight at 10. It'll be fun!". The school bell rang and called everyone to class. Rhodey gave her a shy smile and left.
Never Have I Ever
"... deleting the post? ... wait, and he leaned over to tell you to come to the lake?! What a creep!" Ava slowed the car down:" Damnit, I can barely see anything. The road is too foggy. I don't wanna hit a deer or something." "I think they only come out at nightfall.", Saige added. "What?", asked Ava. "Never mind. I think it was here, wasn't it?" Ava stopped the car and tried to make out the spot where they parked the car the last time. "Look, there are other cars as well!", Ava noticed," I know this one! That's Dylans!" Saige looked at Ava:" Should we still go?" "Yes, let's see what these idiots are up to!"
The air was moist and the forest much more silent compared to the last time. Saige was sure they would have lost the way if they had not been here before. After a while, they could scent the mossy smell of the lake. Through the trees, they finally saw it. This time, there was no moon and no reflections on the water. They could barely see further than a couple of meters ahead until the lake and everything around them was being swallowed by a thick white blanket of fog. There was no one there.
Ava opened her mouth but before she could say anything they heard a loud scream. Somewhere on the lakeshore, two girls were screaming at the top of their lungs. Ava and Saige looked at each other. Ava indicated that they should figure out what happened. Saige's legs, however, felt heavy. It took her a moment before she nodded. They turned off their flashlights on their phones and moved along the waterfront.
As they approached the water from where they had heard the screams, they recognized two girls. But they were not alone. They were surrounded by dark shapes that were slowly closing in on them. Saige recognized one of the girls from school. One of the shapes jumped forward and ripped off his dark hood and screamed:" Aaaaargh!"It was Dylan.
The girls had stopped screaming and Rhodey, Sara, and another girl took off their hoods too. They laughed. It was all just a prank and Saige was furious. This wasn't what she had imagined as when she thought about making memories as high school seniors one last time. Rhodey had invited her to be part of some cruel joke and she didn't feel like she wanted to be part of something like this.
"Ha Ha. Very funny, guys!", Saige yelled out sarcastically, storming through the gravelly soil. Rhodey turned around:" Saige! Ava! You guys missed it! We had cloaks for you and everything." He picked up a Halloween Mask and laughed. Ava stepped in front of Saige:"How is this funny?". Dylan jumped in to calm her down:" Come on! It's a prank! And it is fair! I mean, once you get pranked you get to be a part of it for the next person." He nodded towards Sara. Sara smiled: " I am so sorry about the other day, Saige.", she giggled. "But you are not supposed to spoil the prank when someone asks you about it. That's how you get more people to come! Just ask yourself, why did you come here the first time? Everyone came to get a little scared, and you did too!"
Saige had to agree, that they had done it for the thrill of it: "Yeah I guess!" This time, Ava however was still upset:" Where were you when we were here then?" Dylan answered this time:" Yeah sure, that was misfortunate. Would have loved to see your faces though!" Dylan stuck out his tongue in front of Ava and made faces. Now she giggled and pushed him back playfully. "But honestly guys, a boy died here and- ", Saige said and turned around to Rhodey. But Rhodey wasn't standing there anymore. Saige froze, and so did everyone else.
Rhodey floated in the air. His eyes were filled with fear. His cloak waved unnaturally slow as if he would be underwater. Saige's throat suddenly felt constricted and her whole body felt cold from one moment to another. Rhodey's face was oddly distorted as he struggled to say something but he couldn't make a sound. It looked like he was trying to take a breath but no air would enter his lunges.
One of the girls shrieked. Saige was the first to shake off the shock and tried to grab Rhodey's foot. She couldn't pull him down so she turned around to the rest of the group and yelled: "Help me!" But it was too late. She could hear how Rhodie finally managed to breathe and she looked up. Rhodey looked at them and said: "Guys? What the-" Before he could finish his sentence his body was sucked away out on the lake. It was like something pulled him with enormous force. His body disappeared immediately in the thick white fog over the lake.
For a moment there was only silence. Dylan started screaming and ran a few steps into the water: "RHODEY!" Saige sprinted after him and tried to hold him back. "I'm gonna get him!", he yelled. The rest of the group also started screaming Rhodey's name, but he was gone. Nobody answered.
Saige couldn't grasp what just happened. Her panicked look screened the surface of the lake hectically, but it was too dark. There was nothing but fog.
"We need to get help!", Dylan yelled. "We need to call the police, let's go!", Ava cried. They started running. Saige's mind was racing like a carousel and everything felt like a blur. "What happened at the lake? Where did he go? How was anything of this possible?"
20minutes later the forest around the lake was swarming with police officers and firefighters. They even brought professional divers but they couldn't find a single sign from the boy.
1 Week Later
Saige walked along the hallway to her next class. She wandered the halls like a ghost. On every wall, there was a poster with Rhodey's face on it. Students were advised to stay clear of the lake until the investigation was over. The bell rang. Before Saige entered her class, she stopped and took a look over her shoulder. Next to some lockers, she saw two young girls taking a selfie. Saige was sure they would post it online. Saige couldn't help but feel a cold breeze creeping up her neck.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you had a great time reading it and took away some of that eerie Halloween feeling!
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About the Creator
I am a filmmaker, actor, and writer. I am pretty active on Instagram. Usually, I don't enjoy running but I do it anyway and 10 out of 10 times I don't regret it ... It is pretty much the same with writing :)
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