Into The Lake

April 12, 2012
By , Cumberland Center, ME
It was the 2nd week of Camp Grizzly, and Steve was absolutely sick of it.
His parents had said this would be good for him. It was really the opposite. His “father” and “mother” (Steve no longer thought of them that way) said that he needed to “man up” and “find his inner person” because they thought Steve was too much of a girl. He wasn’t interested in athletics, Steve had never belched on purpose, and he had never called out offensive remarks to the opposite gender. Steve kept to himself at school, and had huge glasses and nightmarish skin, so no one would touch him with a ten- foot pole. The only solution, his not-so-paternal figures decided, was to send him to boot camp over the summer. So now every day from June 28 to August 15 Steve would wake up to an obviously fake, loud bear growl broadcast across 20 acres of wilderness. Then The Head (Even his wife called him this, since he was the head of the camp. The watermelon-shaped thing with facial features placed on his shoulders was almost useless however.) would say his customary threat about making knuckle sandwiches out of them if they weren’t up by 4 am.
But Steve was sick of it. He would run away. And he had a plan.
Tonight was the night.


As he pushed off the beach of Moose Lake and across the greenish waters illuminated only by the moon, Steve congratulated himself again on his master plan. It was amazingly simple. He would row across the water to the nearest town, Bluverton, and dock on the Bluverton Public Beach. Steve had 500 dollars his father had elatedly sent him to buy Maxim magazines, but the cash would never be used for that purpose. He would buy some food, then call his sympathetic aunt to come and pick him up. Now was the rowing part. He had all 3 duffle bags he had carted to Camp Grizzly and a journal. Steve planned to write a memoir based on his journey, then sell it to Direct Publishing. In the way he had planned, Steve would be set up for life.

Steve began rowing. The water acted like it had a thing for drowning innocent people, with its giant waves and vicious wind that threatened to tip you over. Steve caught his breath for a second, and the wind blew away his paddle. He saw the paddle blow away a few feet, then sink. Steve knew it would be pointless if he tried to swim, since he had never learned how to swim. His parents thought swimming was strictly for women. It had no violent tackling and usually no severe injuries.

Steve began to write. The lake was eerily quiet, except for the occasional animal calling out to nowhere and the trees rustling. Steve estimated that the lake was a little deeper than Rangely Lake, which is one of average depth for Maine. Steve wrote about the way it was at camp, how the counselors always said men were stronger and smarter than the other gender, how he had gotten beat up a grand total of 2 times by The Head, and most of all about why he was sent there in the first place. Twenty minutes passed. Steve didn’t hear the first beat. After about an hour, he heard the tattoo begin.
Tap.
Tap.
Tap.
Tap.
Tap.
Steve froze. He heard the tapping continue, getting faster and faster until it was almost frantic.
Tap.
Tap.
Tap
Tap tap.
Tap tap.
TAP.
TAP.
TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP.
The boat began to sway from the vibrations, and Steve got such a crazy idea he had to use it. Steve thanked his lucky star that they had taught Morse code at camp.
He tapped back. Steve told, well, whatever it was, everything and more than he had written in his journal.
Steve told it everything from his first memory of his father making him lift weights at 4 because he thought he was too pudgy to the time Lily Karenina laughed in his face at a school dance and then told him he would never be loved by a female, to his most recent memory of his mother sending him some apple pie to camp that his dad had obviously snuck protein powder into before it was sent.
The rocking stopped, at least for a while when Steve told him his story. Then the rapping was at a pace Steve could understand. It spelled something else.
Tap.
The message, when slowed down, said two words.
Come. Now.




The worn boat washed up on Bluverton Public Beach the next morning with nothing except Steve’s waterlogged journal in it. The Head reckoned Steve planted the journal to fool everyone, and he was still somewhere at camp. For the 21 more years he lived, he became quite paranoid and thought Steve was everywhere, waiting to kill him with one fatal blow. For the last 2 years before Head passed away, he made his male nurse check everywhere in his small wood cabin for Steve.

Steve’s parents were devastated, at least until they adopted a kid from quite a few rough foster homes, so he was quiet and tough. Just what they were looking for. Later the boy would become a Secret Service agent for a top secret government project involving the supernatural. The adopted child was probably the one who missed his would-have-been brother and predecessor the most.





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