Beneath Dark Waters
Stephanie L. Morrell
Jena Dillon snuck out of the house like a ghost so as not to wake her sleeping husband, Kyle. She went out into the darkness of the backyard and sat by their in ground pool. The floodlights were usually switched on for night swimming but Jena kept them off tonight. It was well past midnight and she knew that the bright lights would only disturb her husband and all neighbors within a mile radius. Turning on the floodlights would illuminate the block like a baseball field during a night game.
The shadowy yard made the pool water look black and endless. Jena was unable to see the concrete bottom even at the shallow end, but she was brave enough to dip in her toes and test the water.
“Oh that feels good,” she said out loud to no one. “It's the perfect temperature for a late night swim. “I just wish the water wasn't so black.” Jena stared into the deep end of the pool and felt a chill run through her body. Anything could be hiding down there. She thought to herself and let out a nervous chuckle. “This is silly.” She slowly lowered herself into the water and maintained a tight grip on the concrete walkway surrounding the pool.
Jena kept her head above water and surveyed the area before coasting away from the comfort of the poolside. She finally let her body relax and began drifting towards the deep end. The warm water was soothing so she closed her eyes, tilted her head back, and just floated to the middle of the pool.
The night air offered a warm breeze that gently blew across Jena 's face and guided her body across the surface of the water. She was on the edge of sleep when a cold sharp pain brought her back to consciousness.
“What the hell was that?” Jena 's panic filled voice rang out loudly through the silence of the night. Her dark eyes were large and fearful as she wildly splashed about trying to reach the side of the pool.
“ Jena what's going on out there?” Kyle shouted down at her from the bedroom window.”
“Kyle, help.” She looked back and saw some movement in the water at the far end of the pool.
Within a minute the floodlight was switched on and Kyle was helping Jena out of the water. He grabbed her by the hand and pulled her up onto the concrete. She looked behind her and caught a glimpse of something pale slithering away from the pool and out of the light. Whatever it was rustled through the foliage and disappeared into the shadows by the back fence.
“What happened out here, Jena ?” Kyle brushed his dark brown hair out of his eyes and examined the back of his wife's thigh. Her skin was covered in blood so he grabbed the garden hose and rinsed it off.
“I don't really know,” she said in a shaky voice. “I was floating across the water and all of a sudden there was a sharp pain in the back of my leg.”
Kyle looked at the pool and was able to see directly to the bottom. The overhead floodlights revealed nothing but a crystal clear image of an empty in ground pool.
“There's nothing under the water.” He told his wife soothingly. “Just take a look.”
“But there was something.” She stared at the water and started to tremble. “Something was in there and it bit me.” She sat on the grass and tried to examine the back of her leg. “See. The proof is right here.” Her tone offered a combination of fear and frustration. “It's right here.” Her soft brown eyes welled up with tears. “Why don't you believe me?”
“Look at me, Jena .” Kyle lifted up Jena 's face so that she met his gaze. “Relax,” he whispered. “Everything is going to be alright.” His pale green eyes stared deeply into hers. “Let me help you inside so we can get this cleaned up.” His voice was calm and reassuring. “Come on, Jena . Everything is going to be just fine.”
Kyle gently took his wife inside and switched off the outside floodlights hoping that the neighbors wouldn't complain the next day. He took her into the bathroom, cleaned and disinfected her leg, and then bandaged it up.
“Thank you, Kyle, but there was something in the pool with,” she insisted.
“Don't you think it was more likely that you scraped your leg against the cement wall while floating around the pool?”
“No,” she said while towel drying her long red hair. “I don't.”
“I just don't see how something got into the pool, bit you, and then got out before ether of us had a chance to see it.” His pale eyes sparkled under the bathroom lights.
“But I did see it.” She put her towel on the drying rack and looked up at him. I saw it moving in the water and then it left the pool and disappeared.” Her dark eyes narrowed. “That thing did this to my leg.”
“What did it look like?” Kyle followed her into the bedroom.
“I couldn't tell.” She changed into a nightshirt and climbed into bed. “I didn't get a good look at it.”
“Could it have been a snake?” He slid into the bed next to her.
“I don't really know, Kyle. But I think it was white.” She fluffed up her pillow and placed it against the headboard. “It was hard to see.” She sat up and leaned her back against the pillow.
“I just can't see how a snake or any other animal could have gotten out of the pool on its own.” He too sat up in bed and faced his wife. “Animals that fall into pools usually drown if someone isn't there to get them out.”
“Look, Kyle, I don't know what to tell you.” She switched off the lamp on her bedside nightstand and turned her back to him.
“Wait, Jena .” He put his arms around her and placed his lips against her ear. “I don't want to fight with you,” he said sincerely. “I'm glad that you're alright and I don't think you're crazy.” He kissed her on the cheek. “I'm a guy, we like to solve problems and fix things.” He chuckled. “I know that it drives you crazy but I mean well.”
“I know you do.” She turned over and faced him. “And I love you for it.” She kissed him on the mouth. “Goodnight, Babe.”
The next day Kyle went to work as usual while Jena slept in very late, which was unusual. She worked as a second grade teacher and had summers off, but always got up at a decent time and kept herself busy throughout the day. Today, however, would be different. She didn't wake up until two in the afternoon and even then it was difficult for her to focus.
“I have to get myself together.” Jena spoke the words to no one and took a shower in order to rouse herself. While drying off she examined the scratch on the back of her leg and noticed that it wasn't really a scratch. Her leg had a couple of puncture marks on it and that certainly was not caused by scraping against the side of the pool. Something had bitten her whether Kyle believed it or not.
Jena went out into the back yard and the bright light of the sun made her head begin to throb. She grabbed her sunglasses off the patio table and walked over to the pool. The water was crystal clear and flawless except for a few fallen leaves. She skimmed out the imperfections and studied the pool in a more objective frame of mind. Beams of sunlight danced off the water giving it a sparkling glow like diamonds in a jewelers display case.
It doesn't seem so scary in the light of day. She laughed to herself. Whatever I was bitten by last night scared the crap out of me but It's gone now. She sat on the edge of the pool and dipped her feet in. The water was cool and refreshing under the heat from the sun. Jena spent quite sometime at the pool before getting up and examining the back yard. She looked in the bushes where the thing from the pool crawled through and then disappeared. There was no sign of any great disturbance, but on closer examination, Jena spotted a few drops of blood peppered across the fallen leaves.
“Look at that.” She got down on the ground. “I guess whatever got me was injured while climbing out of the pool.” She let out a sigh of relief. “I'm sure it won't be back.”
Jena and Kyle went out that night to dinner with friends and then hit a few bars before coming home. It was Jena 's night to drink so Kyle made sure he was sober enough to drive home. The two of them had a passionate night in bed before drifting off to sleep.
It was almost three in the morning when Jena woke up feeling a little tipsy. She went outside in her night shirt and sat on the patio lounge chair by the pool. Jena was in and out of sleep when an image came to her. Someone or something was rustling through the bushes on the other side of the pool. In her dream the backyard was foggy and unclear. The thing from the bushes crawled across the grass and cast a dark shadow over Jena . A chill ran down her spine and throughout her entire body. The familiar sharp pain in the back of her thigh returned but this time she didn't cry out. Jena was silent and motionless as the sharp piercing sting subsided and was replaced with a feeling of tantalizing weakness. She could feel the blood flowing through her body and intensify at the pulse points. The feeling was more focused at her wrists, her neck and the injured area on her thigh. This sensation was unlike any Jena had felt before and it held her enthralled. She was unable to move or call out to Kyle. If this was a dream it pulled her under deep and would not let go. Jena fought to open her eyes but something would not allow it. There was a power controlling her and it was hypnotic.
Kyle woke up around ten as he usually did on a Saturday morning and saw that his wife was not in bed. He went downstairs to get some coffee and was surprised to find that Jena had not made a pot. She was always up before him with a cup of coffee in one hand and the local paper in the other. Most people read the news online but Jena was among the few who still enjoyed the paper.
“ Jena ,” Kyle called out. “Where are you?” He looked out front to see that her car was still there. “ Jena ?” He then walked back into the kitchen and peered through the window that faced the backyard. Jena was asleep in a lounge chair by the pool so Kyle put on the coffee and brought her out a cup when it was ready. He tried to rouse her out of sleep but she wouldn't wake up.
“What's wrong,” he asked with concern in his voice. “ Jena , please wake up.” Kyle was finally able to wake her. “What are you doing out here?”
“I'm not sure.” She blinked a few times and tried to focus. “Guess I fell asleep.” She turned on her side exposing the blood from the fresh wound on her leg.
“Oh, God. What happened to you?” Kyle put the coffee on the round glass table top next to Jena and bent down for a closer look.
“I can't really remember,” she said in a groggy voice. “I think I was bitten by something again.” Jena lifted up her hand and shielded her eyes from the morning sun. “Can we go in? My head is starting to ache.”
“Of course.” He helped Jena to her feet.
Kyle took care of Jena 's leg as he did the night before and it wrapped it up. This time he took her claims of being bitten more seriously instead of chalking it up to her imagination running wild about things unseen in the dark.
“That's much better.” She gave Kyle a kiss and smiled.
“Did you go for a swim in your nightgown?”
“I don't think so.” She frowned and tried to remember. “I woke up when it was still dark out and felt a little buzzed. After that I went out back to get some air and stretched out on the lounge chair. That's when I fell asleep. I remember having some strange dreams but I can't recall the details. The next thing I knew you were waking me up and it was light out.”
“I'm surprised that you went out there alone after what happened the other night.” He got dressed in a pair of long denim shorts and a dark blue t-shirt with a guitar outlined in black across the chest. “Maybe you should call the doctor and have her look at the wound.”
“Why,” Jena asked while slipping on a black tank shirt. “The area doesn't look infected.” She pulled on a pair of camouflage capri's and slipped into her silver flip-flops. “Do you think it's getting infected?”
“No,” he answered honestly. “I don't but it's weird that whatever got you the first night came back and got you in the same exact spot.” He tied to hide the concern from her. “Maybe it's nothing to worry about but it is odd.”
“I guess so.” She was less worried then Kyle and didn't want to waste the day talking about it anymore. “Let's just forget about it. I'm not worried and neither should you be.”
They went to bed late that night and Kyle was unable to sleep. He was thinking about Jena and worried that she would go outside tonight and get hurt again. Perhaps he was overreacting but there was a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach and it wouldn't go away. I just don't want anything to happen to you. He watched Jena sleeping next him and she looked so young and innocent. Her pale face and dark red hair caught his attention the moment he saw her on campus. They started dating as freshman in college, married one year after graduation, and here they were six years later and still happy as if it were the beginning.
“God, I love you Jena ,” he whispered the words softly not wanting to wake her. “I just want you to be alright.”
Kyle went down stairs and looked out back through the kitchen window. The yard was silent and dark just like every other yard on the block. He went into to the living room and switched on the TV. One of his favorite movies was playing so he grabbed a beer and some chips to snack on. Kyle was very much awake and enjoying the movie when a strange feeling washed over him. It was as if he had been injected with some kind of drug that took him down instantly. He started to blink and tried to fight off the walls of sleep that were closing in on him. The last thing he did was turn in the direction of the sliding class doors. It appeared as if someone or something was standing outside the door. Its eyes were bright and flashing through the darkness outside. Kyle could not look away. He stared at the eyes until it was no longer possible for him to focus. It was then that sleep pulled him under like a swimmer caught beneath a great undertow.
Jena got up out of bed and slowly walked through the house. She passed by Kyle's sleeping body without regard and unlocked the sliding glass door. A dark shadow stood before her with bright eyes and a welcoming smile.
“It's so nice to see you again.” He pulled her close to him.
“Who are you,” she asked in a daze.
“Why I've been your visitor for three nights now.” He spoke the words softly. “Don't you remember?” He toyed with her.
“I'm not sure.” She gazed into his deep blue eyes. “Have we met?” Her thoughts were fogging up and floating away. Jena could do nothing else but stare into this stranger's eyes and listen to the sound of his soft voice.
“Try to remember.” He pulled her in deep with his gaze. “Just concentrate and it will all come back to you.”
Jena continued looking into the stranger's eyes and watched the images coming together before her. She remembered floating in the pool and saw a clear image of what had come up from under the dark water to bite her. The thing was pale, slimy and skeletal, but moved and slithered like a snake through the grass. Next came the creature that crawled to her the following night. It resembled the first but seemed to be a more evolved version. It was pale, emaciated and too weak to walk, but crawled around with more strength then it had the first night. Now it was standing before her but with a different appearance altogether. It was a tall slender man with black hair and deep blue eyes. His strength and healthy appearance was in stark contrast to the first night, but his beautiful face and intense gaze startled Jena all the more. His face was perfectly flawless, but the eyes were his most compelling feature.
Those eyes were such a dark shade of blue that they appeared black. They were dark like the ocean waters at night welcoming you to sink deep until you drown. Jena was drowning in his eyes and didn't want it to end.
“Don't be afraid.” He smiled exposing a mouthful of strong white teeth with rather long and pointy incisors.
“I'm not.” Jena felt the words escape her lips without permission from her brain. She pictured this man in other forms and it terrified her. He came to her as a horrifically deformed creature from the pool and then crawled across the ground to hunt her like an animal. Now he stood more strong and beautiful as any person she had ever seen. “It was my blood.” She spoke the words as if caught in a dream. “It was my blood on the ground in drops.”
“Yes it was,” he whispered through that menacing grin. “I needed to feed but was interrupted that first night by your husband.” He shook his head disapprovingly. “I lost a few drops while scurrying away but that won't happen tonight.” He stared deep into her eyes. “Just be a good girl and let this happen.” He saw that she was trying to speak and placed a long slender finger against her lips. ”Shh. Don't saw a word.”
Jena was lost in his eyes and could not turn away. She simply nodded in agreement and tilted her head to one side exposing the tender flesh of her neck.
“This won't hurt a bit.” He sank his teeth into the pulse point on her neck and began to feed. The blood flowed out freely and filled his cold body with a feeling of strength and life. It was a warm soothing feeling that he could not exist without.
Jena came to and found herself in a dark damp basement with no sense of how long she had been there.
“I see you are finally awake,” said a familiar voice from the dark.
“Where am I?” She asked and feared the answer.
“You are here with me.” The stranger pulled on a chain that turned on a dim bulb hanging from the ceiling above. “My name is Gavin, by the way.”
“What do you want from me?” Jena recognized him as the man in her yard.
“Don't you remember our deal,” he asked.
“What deal?” She slid away from him until her back was against the wall.
“I told you to make a choice.” Gavin got down on the floor and looked directly into her eyes. “Either I take what I need from your husband or take you instead and spare his life.”
The conversation was coming back to her. She remembered the threat to Kyle's life and did agree to be a substitute. The images were breaking through the fog and coming across more clearly.
“I remember now.” She said through teary eyes.
“Good,” he said pleasantly. “You were very brave about the whole thing and as long as you abide by my rules your hubby will stay alive and well.”
Jena spent her days locked up with Gavin in the basement and her nights keeping him company upstairs in the house that they were occupying. As far as Jena new this house belonged to Gavin. One night he told her about an interaction he had with the homeowner and after that the place was his. Jena knew about the powers he possessed and wasn't surprised that he was never bothered by outsiders. He told her that eventually he would go out and hunt, but for now she would do. Gavin kept her weak and for the most part he had her completely hypnotized and under his spell.
On some nights Gavin let Jena out to get some fresh air. They would sit outside and he would tell her about his life over the many years he had been on earth. There were interesting stories of history and people he had known throughout the years. There were also stories about other creatures like himself and the thought of this terrified Jena . She decided to listen and be obedient to Gavin. The last thing she wanted to do was make him angry.
Months had gone by and Jena could see that Gavin not only needed her but wanted her in his life. There were times when he was very charming and on more then one occasion she could feel the sadness hiding inside his soulless body.
Daylight was just on the horizon and that meant it was time to go down to the basement.
“There is something that I have to tell you, Jena .” Gavin put his hands on her shoulders and gazed into her eyes. “This is it for you and I.”
“What do you mean,” she asked nervously.
“I am going to let you go.” His voice was solemn.
“If this is a trick I think it's horrible.” She didn't want to get her hopes up. “Are you being sincere?”
“Yes,” he told her plainly. “Now go before I change my mind.” Gavin turned his back on her and went downstairs.
“Oh My God. He is serious.” She stood in shock and listened as the basement door was opened and then closed. “This is really happening.” She was dizzy and weak from being with him but her adrenalin kicked in.
Jena ran outside and looked around. She heard the sound of passing cars and went to the backyard. There was a small wooded area behind the house and beyond that a main road of some sort. Jena ran toward the woods and stumbled onto the compost pile. Something sharp ripped across her leg and it started to bleed.
“Ouch,” she cried out. “This is the last thing that I need.” Jena climbed back off the compost and limped a few steps away. She looked back at the house and thought of Gavin. “Did all of this really happen?” She thought of the nights they spent talking and how it felt as he drained her throughout the last few months. I was his prisoner, but the draining was an experience I have never known before and never will again. The thoughts were running through her mind until they nearly drove her insane. He will never be completely out of my head.
The pounding would not stop. It went on and on growing louder and louder until he could take no more.
“What is going on out there,” he yelled in the most menacing tone.
“It's me, Gavin.”
“ Jena ?” He was taken off guard. “What are you still doing here?”
“I'm not really sure of that myself but I can't go.” She sounded nervous and unsure. “Please open the door so I can see you.”
Gavin did as she wished. He placed the key in the lock and turned it slowly. He was hopeful that she would return to him by her own choice but didn't want the feelings to show.
“Why did you want to see me once more?”
“I can't imagine ever getting you out of my head,” she told him truthfully. “I will never be over you no matter how many years pass by.”
“What do you want?”
“I want you.” She leaned towards Gavin and placed her hands on his face.
“I want you too, Jena ,” he whispered back.
The two of them kissed and Jena 's mind began reeling. It was as if the mere touch of his lips pulled her under. He had a hold on her and could keep her in that trancelike state forever if he wanted to.
“I don't know what to do,” Jena told him. “I can't just say goodbye and walk away from you.”
“Then don't.” Gavin turned around and looked into the darkness of the basement room where he spent his days. “I have to go inside now but we can talk more about this tonight.”
“I don't think so.” Jena clutched a piece of thick wood that was sharply splintered and plunged it into Gavin's chest. “This is the only way I can say goodbye to you for good.”
Gavin's face turned pale and gaunt as he stared at Jena in disbelief. His body slumped down to the ground and began to dry up right before her eyes. The dry flesh started to crack and break away into tiny bits until there was nothing inside his dark clothes except for a mound of grey ash.
“This is goodbye,” Jena whispered to no one. She quickly left the house and ran to the wooded area outback. The compost pile was a comfort as this was the place where she found the broken piece of wood. “I guess some legends have truth to them.” Silent tears were welling up in her eyes. “See you real soon, Kyle.”
My name is Stephanie L. Morrell and I was born and raised in Southern New Jersey. Writing has always been my greatest passion in life and I am happy to have completed my first book, Notes From a Vampire . The horror genre greatly appeals to me whether it's in films, novels, or short stories and I was fortunate enough to have played Lucy in a theater production of Dracula. I am working hard to get my book published, until then, I am writing a second book and I have short stories running in other online magazines. Another Realm Magazine is running a humorous horror story called, No More Brains for Jack. Horror Bound Magazine published, Catie Benson's Infection. Death Head Grin Magazine will run, Under the Floorboards, in issue # 7 and The Random Eye Anthology will run, Sasha's Red Tea, in their 2010 issue .