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Shallows Of The Damned

by Ziah Miller 7 months ago in monster · updated 6 months ago
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Water never truly wipes away the past

Who wants to live in a swamp? With water knee-deep in the streets, ankle-high in the houses. The townsfolk could rebuild, elevate their houses on platforms above the slow-flowing water, but until they do, they are forced to dwell in the murky, fungus-harboring shallows.

Before the flood, few townsfolk visited the dam or the lake-size reservoir; many of those too curious had gone missing over the years. Rumors circled it was because of a town of vengeful ghosts, an old mining village at the bottom of the lake the dam had created. The poverty-stricken residents had refused to leave, and the city council back then had let them drown. Legends soon emerged that the dam and reservoir were cursed.

Park rangers insisted the missing were not victims of a silly curse but drunks who'd fallen into the lake and gotten sucked into the dam's generator intake.

When the dam crumbled a month ago, the initial floodwater spread too slowly to do much structural damage. No one died.

Yet, the town is slowly dying, even with stubborn townsfolk who stayed to try and rebuild.

Kelly tries her best to sleep in the hot Mississippi summer night, wishing she could turn on her ceiling fan. With power no longer produced by dam generators, she and her neighbors receive limited power from the hospital's emergency generator. However, the night heat is not what is keeping her up; it is whoever is outside carelessly mucking about in the shallows disturbing everyone. They better have a darn good reason for being out there this late. She can hear them moving through the water, closer to the house, splashing as they move. It's only a matter of time before they wake her dad. He is a brute of a man; always up for a fight. She usually tries to diffuse him, but this time, she hopes the splashing wakes him, and he chases off whoever it is.

Whatever is splashing is getting louder, which means closer. They sound near enough to touch the house. What neighbor would do so without calling out to signal their presence? A burglar checking out places to loot? She keeps her eyes riveted to the window. If they get close enough, the light of the full moon should reveal who it is. The silhouette coming towards her does not displace water like someone would when wading; it flows effortlessly in her direction. Whoever this is, they wear a crescent-moon grin.

She lunges to close her window before it reaches her then fumbles her bedside lamp on. The moment it lights up, the light and her reflection beam back at her and blocks her from seeing the figure in more detail. She is about to scream at whoever is out there but realizes she would be the one to wake her father. She holds the fear inside as she backs off her bed and away from the window, her feet splashing the shallow water that covers the floor. Her father may be awake already from the sound of her slamming her window closed.

She hears the splashes outside stop right at her window; the crescent grin is the only thing visible from the outside. Whatever it is, it came to her room for a reason. She grasps and unplugs the power cord drooping from the ceiling for the lamp. The light cuts out. Moonlight pours through her window, yet no one is there. She is about to plug her lamp in again but hears water splatter coming from inside the house, by the front door. She did not hear the door open and knew it was locked.

Her mind then connects a reason someone would not need the door to get in. The living room skylight is open, and whoever came in is closing the skylight behind them. She tries to convince herself that might be a good sign. Maybe whoever came in is not expecting to leave. Perhaps it's her cousin, Floyd, back from the search-and-rescue to find the missing park rangers, looking for a couch to crash on…. Her heart sinks, knowing that is very unlikely the case. Worse, maybe it's someone who doesn't want others to escape.

She hurries to lock her door as she hears feet swishing through the water down the hallway. This must have gotten the attention of her father. She smiles. At least it will be the intruder and not her who faces his wrath.

"Who the hell is up at this time of night splashing about?" Her father yells from the other room. "Damn it, Kelly, is that you making all that ruckus?

The movement in the hallway stops as the door of her father's bedroom opens. She sees a flicker from a flashlight through the cracks of her door. Dad grumbles to himself as he walks, his feet stomping in anger, splashing louder than the intruder. He walks all the way down as if no one else is in the hallway.

There is the sound of the kitchen pantry opening and closing with a slam; he thoroughly inspects the house for whatever is causing the noise. How has her father not spotted the intruder? She hears him reach the front door and open it, still grumbling and agitated that he'd been woken. If he doesn't find anything, he'll blame her. A door slams. Her father turns off his flashlight. She fears the worst. He's coming to discipline her. Would it do any good to tell him what she saw?

She gets on her bed, looking at her door with unease. How did he not see anyone in the hallway? And now he is going to take out his frustration on her. All she can do is wait for him to open her door. She wishes she hadn't locked it. It sounds like he's working himself up into a first-rate hissy-fit.

She tilts her head as she realizes she doesn't hear her father's steps anymore. She hears splashing, but not the type her father would make with his stomping about. No, this is frantic splashing. The gurgling noise is what twists her stomach and helps her understand what is going on out there. Someone or something is drowning her father in shallow water.

She screams as she rushes off her bed to her door, "Mother, someone's killing father!"

"What are you going on about?" Her mother shouts back.

Kelly frantically yanks open her door. She flings herself into the hallway, going down a ways. The hall is barely lit by moonlight. Her father is face down in the water, struggling to get up. A dark silhouette has its foot on the back of his head, smiling down at the drowning man.

This close, she can just make out a few of the features. It's human but barely. It's tall but hunched. It is covered in mud and lake moss. She knows it has a face but can't make out the fine details. Where eyes should be are only sockets.

An ear-piercing scream comes from Kelly's mother, who had just walked into the hallway. The creature snaps up its head to look at the now frantic woman running at it. It grabs Kelly's father by the leg and pulls him into the closest door, down into the depths of the flooded basement.

On watching her husband vanish beneath the murky waters, Kelly's mother runs past the basement door and into the living room closet, where she pulls out the family's shotgun. Kelly follows close behind, eyeing the water in the basement door for movement.

Kelly feels the water on her legs become tougher to tread through; looking down at her feet, she can tell the water is rising. Slowly, maybe unnoticed by her mother, but clearly inches higher than when she first got into bed tonight.

With a quick check of the shotgun shell chamber, mother turns to Kelly and grabs her by the shoulder, forcing them to lock eyes. She says, "Get the cell phone, call the neighbors. Tell them the curse is real!"

"Then tell them to help us, right?" Kelly asks, concerned why her mother would not ask for help first.

Her mother's face is cold and emotionless; a slow head shake communicates help will not do much for them. She then grits her teeth and passes Kelly, eyes focused on the now rippling water from the basement; Kelly feels anxious she took her eyes away from the shallow depths of the basement, the dark waters the creature descended to.

On reaching the basement door, mother aims the barrel of the shotgun towards the deeper floodwaters. Kelly is about to head to get the cellphone when she notices the ripples on the floor; the waves are originating from Kelly's room.

"Mother!" She cries in a warning.

Her mother cuts her off, "Get the phone and make the call!"

"No, behind you!"

The creature was low to the ground, its hand around mother's ankle using the shadows as cover. Before mother can swing the gun around, the creature rips mother off her feet and pulls her towards Kelly's room. Mother's finger tightens on the shotgun trigger, firing it, and it flies off into the foggy water of the basement. Kelly leaps for her mother, grasping her hand tightly. They are both dragged across the hallway floor into Kelly's room.

Before she can be pulled fully into Kelly's room, mother, with her other hand, grabs the doorframe screaming at the pain of being pulled violently. Kelly braces her feet against the frame, then tries to pull her mother free with all her might. The creature is fixed on dragging her mother under the bed, which is now almost submerged underwater.

Mother locks eyes with Kelly one last time before saying with a defeated tone, "Get out." Then let's go of Kelly's hand and vanishes into the darkness. The water ripples chaotically while gurgling sounds emanate.

Kelly gets up and rushes to her parent's room for their cell phone. Escaping is not an option with waist-high water surrounding the house--now knee-high water in the house. Finding the phone, she peeks down the hallway as she dials her neighbors; they would get here faster than the police.

Something emerges from her room on all fours, trudging through the water, and she slams her parent's door shut as the phone rings. "Please pick up!" she begs and backs away from the now-locked door. She can hear the water swishing from limbs dragging across the floor, heading for her. She clicks on her parent's lamp, pulls her dad's revolver out of his nightstand, and gets on her parent's bed and out of the water, ready to escape out the open window.

The phone still rings; who would pick up at this time at night? Better to call the cops. But they'd never make it in time.

The door begins to open as if the lock had no function. The phone slips from her hand and it bounces on the bed, almost falling off. She is grateful it did not touch the water, but this gives her an idea. She grabs the lamp next to her and tosses it towards the door and into the water. Sparks fly from the lamp, and electricity pulses through the shallow water, and she sees electric charges fluctuate through. A giant pop comes from the breaker box, and smoke pours from the lamp. The house goes quiet; there is no sound at all.

Kelly fights past her fear, grabs her mother's flashlight from the nightstand, and then points it at the door as she stares helplessly. The phone still ringing on the bed--she is hoping someone picks up and that she killed whatever it was. Water is still rippling, and the door continues to slowly open with nothing in the doorway.

Kelly listens with dread for any movement in the water, her finger on the trigger of her father's gun. The ripples begin to fade, and the water is now calm, like a reflective pool. Nothing is moving about, and no noise is heard.

She is about to sigh with relief when she notices something: her reflection in her parent's dresser mirror and the figure behind her in the open window. She spins towards it, ready to fire.

"Whoa!" her cousin, Floyd, barks out, throwing his hands up in defense. "Easy there, Kelly! I heard the gunshot. What's going on?"

"Oh, Floyd, I am so happy to see you! Something is in the house and killed my parents!" She replies, relief filling her, and she turns the flashlight back at the bedroom door.

Her drunken cousin climbs through the window, trying to act sober but falls onto his back into the water. It takes him a second to get back up and he asks while uselessly squeezing water out of his coat, "Are you sure?"

She nods, eyes still locked on the door with a finger on the trigger. "I am being serious, and I do not know if I got it."

He steps between her and the doorway. "You want me to go check?"

She nods again, still trying to gain control of her emotions. "I will be right behind you, just in case it's still alive."

She hands the flashlight to him and sighs with a little bit of relief. To her confusion, the moment he gets his hand on the flashlight, he turns it off. She looks up at him perplexed, only to see his eyes roll into the back of his head, his appearance change, and his lips curl into a crescent-moon smile.


About the author

Ziah Miller

I am a Game Developer, Artist, and Author who loves telling stories. My debut novel is Maggie Truncoat was able to snag the tittle Amazon Best Sellar. I work with other authors lending my talent to help them produce content.

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