Blake loved the Summer months. Every Summer after school let out, Blake would get to spend the vacation with his grandparents on Black Lake. They had a beautiful cabin with some acreage, but the best part was the waterfront on the lake. This is where Blake spent most of his time when visiting.
At twelve, he was finally old enough to use the boats by himself and he wasted little time after getting there before jumping into a boat and motoring around the lake. As usual, his grandparent’s dog, Chelsea, came along for the ride. Chelsea was a Black Lab and had been around as long as Blake so they were the best of friends all summer long.
Chelsea had a unique skill that Blake couldn’t wait to test out, even though he had witnessed it dozens of times in the years past. Upon reaching the other side of the lake, about a hundred yards across, Blake let Chelsea out of the boat and commanded, “Stay.” Then he motored back home and docked the boat. He waited…and waited…and waited. Before long, his grandpa came out to see what he was up to.
“What’s going on, Blake?” he asked.
“I’m waiting for Chelsea,” the boy answered nervously. “I left him on the other side as you used to.”
“Chelsea’s on the other side of the lake?”
“Um,” Blake replied nervously, suddenly realizing he maybe should have asked permission first. “I thought it would be ok, um, since we always did it before.” His grandpa laughed and went back to the cabin. He came back a minute later with something that looked like a small flute.
“There’s something I need to tell you, Blake,” his grandpa began. “You see this whistle?” Blake nodded. “Well, this whistle is how I get Chelsea back to this side.” Blake was confused.
“I never saw you use the whistle before?” he asked with curiosity.
“That’s because I always blew it without you seeing.”
“Well then, I never heard the whistle.”
“No,” his grandpa answered. “It has a high pitch that only dogs can hear.” Blake looked at his grandpa skeptically.
“How’s it work?”
“Like this…wait,” his grandpa answered before looking inside another boat. He pulled out some binoculars and handed them to Blake. “Use these and see if you can find Chelsea on the other side.” Blake did and found the obedient dog sitting right where he left her.
“I see her.”
“Okay, while you watch Chelsea, I’m going to blow the whistle now.” He did and Blake watched as Chelsea’s ears perked up before she lunged into the lake.
“It worked!” Blake yelled happily. “She’s swimming over!”
After about two minutes, the happy dog waded ashore and shook herself off before jumping on Blake.
“Hey!” Blake cried, “You’re getting me all wet!”
His grandpa laughed and they made their way back to the cabin for dinner. After dinner, Blake saw some other kids from the window of the cabin as they paddled a small raft along the shore. He ran out to see if he could make some friends for the Summer.
“Hi,” Blake greeted as he approached their raft. There were three kids about his age trying to make the raft go in a straight direction. One was a bigger boy with a mean scowl on his face. He was obviously in charge. The other two were a smaller boy and girl who obviously were brother and sister.
“We can be here!” the bigger boy shouted. “You don’t own the lake!”
“Sounds good to me,” Blake answered.
“Good! Then leave us alone!” Blake sat quietly on the shore and watched sadly as they tried to get the raft moving straight again.
“You need a rudder,” Blake offered. The three kids stopped trying to paddle and Blake could see the sudden recognition on their faces.
“Where we gonna get a rudder, Sean?” the smaller boy asked the leader.
“Where we gonna get a rudder?” the big boy mimicked back. The smaller boy cowered and so did his sister. Blake didn’t like the bigger boy, but he didn’t want to go the summer without friends so he decided to overlook his feelings.
“I’ll bet my grandpa has a rudder laying around somewhere,” he offered. The bigger boy’s face turned from mean to a smile.
“What’re you waiting for?” he asked. Blake ran back to the cabin and presented the problem to his grandpa. His grandpa nodded and went out to the shed for a bit. He came back with an old sailboat rudder and gave it to Blake.
“I have no use for this anymore,” he said as he handed it to Blake.
“Be careful out there!” his grandma yelled from the kitchen.
“I will,” he answered before running back to the shore with his prize. The kids pulled the raft ashore and began to puzzle how to place the rudder. After a few minutes, the bigger boy, Sean, began to get surly again.
“Well, this was useless,” he growled.
“There has to be a way,” Blake responded.
“There is,” the little girl said quietly. Sean scowled at her.
“What would you know, Penny?” he growled again. “I only brought you and your brother Patrick in case I needed help dragging this thing back home.” Blake was having his misgivings about Sean again and didn’t like the way he bullied the other two.
“What’s your idea, Penny?” he asked. Her face brightened up and she pointed to a knot on one of the boards of the raft.
“If you can pop that knot out, it looks to be the same size as the top of the rudder. Blake saw it instantly and clearly.
“Brilliant!” he said and began to push at the knot. Sean pushed him aside and took over.
“It’s my raft, loser.” He managed to get the knot free and the rudder slid in effortlessly.
“Perfect!” Blake said as he patted Penny on the back. She looked away shyly, but he could tell she was pleased. They pulled the rudder back out then he helped Sean push the raft back into the water. As soon as it was deep enough, they slid the rudder back into place and Sean jumped onto the raft. Then he quickly paddled away before the others could jump aboard.
“So long,” he yelled back at them. “I don’t need you anymore.” They watched as he paddled away.
“What a jerk,” Blake muttered. Then he turned to his new friends. “How’d you end up with him?”
“He’s our cousin,” Patrick answered. “We have no choice.” Then he looked at his sister. “I guess we should start walking back.” He looked up to the sky. “We should get back before it gets dark…”
“Oh, no,” Penny answered, “I don’t want to walk in the dark!”
“How far do you live?” Blake asked.
“The other side of the lake…I can see our cabin from here,” Patrick answered. Blake saw their problem. The lake was very long and even though they could see their cabin, it was a good three or four-mile walk to the other side. By boat, it would only be five minutes or so.
“Wait here!” Blake said before running to his cabin to get permission to take a boat. His grandma was worried because it was late in the evening so his grandpa offered to take them across in the speedboat. The relief on the other kids' faces was evident when Blake ran back to tell them they could get a ride. On the way across the lake, Blake told his grandpa what Sean did to them.
“Karma has a way of catching up to people like that,” his grandpa muttered. “Just let it go.” They were quiet the rest of the trip and Patrick and Penny thanked them as they stepped ashore. Blake’s grandpa didn’t miss the shy little smile Penny gave to Blake as she waved goodbye.
They pulled the speedboat in reverse and then began their way back to the other side. On the way, the motor began to sputter and choke and Blake’s grandpa shut the motor off. He went to the back of the speedboat and pulled the motor up out of the water. Tangled in the propeller were some rope and a buoy.
“Damn debris!” his grandpa muttered as he tried to get it untangled. He finally had to use a knife and when he pulled on the rope, more buoys came into view. In the fading evening, it almost looked to Blake like a series of bumps in the water.
“Look, Grandpa,” he said pointing at the buoy bumps, “The Loch Ness Monster!” They both laughed and his grandpa continued to pull the rope until all the buoys were aboard. There were five of them. Then Blake had an idea.
The next day, Blake took the smaller boat and went to visit his new friends. He had Chelsea with him and despite Sean, they had a great time. Before he left, he managed to get Patrick and Penny alone, which wasn’t hard because it was obvious that Sean wanted very little to do with both Blake and Chelsea, whom he was afraid of.
“I have a great idea to scare Sean,” he whispered to them. He spent the next ten minutes explaining the idea and they smiled, clapped their hands, and laughed with glee. Then he and Chelsea said their goodbyes and went back to their boat where they found a sulking Sean nearby against a tree.
“Bye Blake,” Penny said while waving.
“Get home before the monster,” Patrick added as he waved. Just as Blake planned, this got Sean’s attention.
“Monster, hah!” he cried. “You poor babies are afraid of monsters!” None of the others responded until Blake finally replied.
“You haven’t heard of the Monster of Black Lake?” he asked.
“Yeah, where is it then?” Blake shook his head and looked to the sky.
“It has to be a full moon for it to come out,” he said.
“Isn’t tonight a full moon?” Penny asked. Sean went up and pushed her.
“Like you would know,” he spouted before turning towards Blake who had his fists clenched. “And you’re a liar!” Sean spouted again. Blake unclenched his fists when he saw that Penny was alright.
“Fine, if you don’t believe me, I don’t care,” he responded. “Just don’t come out to the water at night. I would hate to hear that something happened to you.”
“Yeah, right! Just cause you’re scared doesn’t mean I’m scared!”
“Is that a dare?” Blake challenged.
“Like you’ll come out at midnight,” Sean scowled. Blake looked at the ground before popping his head up with an idea.
“Hey! Do you guys want to come over to my place and camp out tonight?” They all looked at each other before Patrick ran towards their cabin.
“I’ll go ask!” he cried.
The answer was yes and the kids, except Blake, got their camping gear together and put it in the boat. Sean hesitated at the sight of Chelsea in the boat.
“Can’t the mutt swim?” he asked. “The boat’s crowded enough.”
“Chelsea has more right to sit in the boat than you do,” Blake informed him. “Besides,” he lied, “that’s too far for her to swim.”
“I’ll meet you there, losers,” he muttered as he threw his stuff onto his raft.
“It’s going to be dark soon,” Blake warned him.
“It’s going to be dark soon,” Sean mimicked.
They motored across the water in about five minutes and quickly left the boat to set up their plans. They knew it would take Sean about a half-hour to get across (Blake sabotaged the rudder earlier) and they had to get everything ready before dark. By the time they finished, they could see the raft about fifty feet offshore by using their flashlight.
“Are you okay?” Blake yelled across to him.
“Your stupid rudder broke!” he yelled back. “I keep going in circles!”
“Oh, sorry,” Blake faked apologetically. “Maybe my grandpa can fix it in the morning.”
“I don’t want you or your loser grandpa touching my raft!”
“Suit yourself,” Sean mimicked. It was time, Blake thought, and he looked at his companions before nodding. They nodded back and Blake pulled the dog whistle out of his pocket.
“Here goes,” he muttered and blew into the whistle. He had never used it before and couldn’t be sure it worked, but then he heard a splash in the distance.
“What was that noise?” Sean shouted from his raft. He was about forty feet from shore now.
“I’m not sure,” Blake yelled back.
“What’re you up to?” Sean asked suspiciously. “Where’s my loser cousins?”
“They’re right here,” Blake replied while shining the flashlight on them.
“Maybe it’s the monster!” Penny cried.
“You shut up before I get there and kick your butt!” Sean yelled.
“What’s that!” Patrick cried, pointing to the water about twenty feet from the raft. Blake carefully pointed the flashlight in the direction he indicated. Then they saw it, or more properly, they saw them. There were bumps in the water and they were moving. Sean saw the bumps as well.
“What kind of joke is this!” he yelled. Penny started screaming and Blake ran towards the water.
“I’ll save you!” he yelled as he jumped in. Patrick jumped in behind him and pulled him back.
“You can’t save Sean!” he yelled. “It’s too late! The monster’s nearly got him!” Then Blake moved the flashlight towards the front of the moving bumps. Then Sean screamed before paddling away as if his life depended on it.
“What’s going on here?” came a voice from behind them. It was Blake’s grandpa and he looked very concerned. “What’s all the screaming?”
“It’s karma, grandpa.” Blake’s grandpa looked around before physically counting heads.
“One, two, three…where’s the fourth kid?”
“He decided not to spend the night,” Blake answered. Just then, the dog came ashore, but Blake’s grandpa didn’t recognize her.
“What the blast is that?” he asked as he walked over to her. Then he saw the tail wagging underneath what appeared to be a large hat. “Chelsea?” The dog padded over to him, dragging five buoys behind herself, and tried to shake off the water from her fur but the oversized hat was in the way. “Good Lord, is that Grandma’s hat?”
“Um, sorry grandpa,” Blake muttered. “It was in the shed so I didn’t think she would miss it.” Then they heard a splash and a yell from out in the water.
“What’s that?” Grandpa asked in alarm.
“That’s Sean on his raft, Sir,” answered Patrick.
“Good Lord! There’s a boy out in the middle of the lake on a rickety raft in the dark?” He immediately ran to his speedboat and jumped in. “Get that stuff off the dog! You could’ve killed her!” he yelled before starting the motor. He took off to find Sean and Blake just stared. He thought karma would be more satisfying, but the thought of hurting Chelsea sobered him up.
They took the wet hat off the dog and untied the buoys from her collar, irresponsibly tossing them near the shoreline in some bushes. Blake then spent a little extra time petting the dog before hearing Sean and his grandpa from the middle of the lake.
“Big monster!” Sean yelled.
“Just get in the boat,” Grandpa ordered.
The next couple of weeks went well for Blake. He spent most of his time with Patrick and Penny along with occasional fishing trips with his grandpa. Sean was a little less of a jerk and sometimes even played with the others on his good days.
One night, the kids were all sitting on the shore watching the sun go down and the moon come up. They had spent the day playing pirates and were content to rest before building a campfire to roast some marshmallows later. They were laughing at some lame joke Sean told when Patrick noticed something in the water.
“What is that?” he asked. They all strained to see in the fading light when Blake finally pulled out his flashlight and pointed it in the direction of the disturbance. Then they saw the bumps.
“This isn’t funny anymore!” Sean said while getting up.
“It’s not me,” Blake stated with a trace of nervousness. Sean looked around.
“Where’s your dog then?” As if on cue, Blake’s grandma opened the cabin door and let Chelsea out. She came bounding down to the kids to join them before stopping dead still and looking out at the water. Then she began to growl.
The bumps kept moving across their vision before suddenly turning in their direction like it was headed for the shore. Penny slipped her hand into Blake’s hand, but he hardly noticed.
“Um,” was all he could say. Then he looked at the others and pointed towards the house. “Not that I’m scared or anything, but I think we have popcorn and it looks like it might rain.”
“Yeah,” muttered Sean, “I’m not scared either, but popcorn sounds good.”
“The dog’s scared,” whispered Patrick. Penny just tightened her grip on Blake’s hand who finally noticed and surprised himself by not letting go.
“We should listen to the dog,” she said quietly.
“Yeah,” Sean agreed. “I would stay but I wouldn’t want Penny to get hurt, you know what I mean?”
“Yeah,” Blake agreed. “Let’s go get popcorn.” He turned off the flashlight and they moved quickly towards the cabin, now and then flashing a look behind them.
The next couple of weeks brought rumors of something mysterious in Black Lake. Residents and vacationers talked about reports that something strange was swimming around the lake at night. The local paper did an article and called it “The Monster of Black Lake.” One of the people they interviewed was Sean who revealed that he always knew something lived in the lake and that it bit his raft rudder one night while he was trying to get away.
The Summer season came to a close and Blake found himself saying goodbye to his friends until the next year. He shook hands with Sean and Patrick but then found himself a little nervous when it was time to say goodbye to Penny. She took matters into her own hands and there was very little evidence of her shyness when she wrapped Blake up in a hug and kissed him on the lips. Being inexperienced, they just stood there with their lips together for a few seconds.
“Well,” Sean said as he broke up the magical moment. “This is awkward.” They all laughed and Blake jumped into his dad’s car and left for home.
As usual, at the end of summer, Blake’s grandpa walked to the shore of the lake and sat down with Chelsea to enjoy the scenery. He loved his grandson and hated it when he had to leave. Then something caught his eye from a bushier part of the shore. It was the buoys.
“That kid,” he muttered and chuckled to himself. He looked at Chelsea, scratched behind her ears, and muttered, “We may as well grab those things before they get caught in another propeller, huh, girl?”
They walked to the buoys and Chelsea began to growl. Grandpa slowed down a bit and took a closer look in the bushes before breaking out into a laugh. Then he reached into the water and pulled out what he could only guess was The Monster of Black Lake.
“Here’s your monster, girl!” he said as he approached the now curious dog. In his hands was a large turtle. Attached to the poor turtle was the remnants of a hat and a string of buoys behind it. The dog began to wag her tail. After removing all the cumbersome material from the relieved turtle, he let it go freely into the lake. He watched as it swam away and eventually dropped into the deep water.
“Karma,” he muttered before chuckling to himself as he walked back to the cabin.