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Children of the Pond: Flash Fiction by cam

Updated on June 30, 2016
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Chris has written more than 100 flash fiction/short stories.Working Vacation took 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

Girl in the Woods, Vincent van Gogh

Source

Children of the Pond

Jennifer stood on the shore of the pond watching the investigation unfold. Dredging equipment stood ready to go into action after scuba divers made preliminary observations. She felt as though her sanity were on the line. No one had believed the outlandish ghost tale of a ten year old, and she hoped today her story would be taken seriously. Thanks to the county voters, there was a new Sheriff for her to work with, and he was behind all the activity that was going on around her. Jennifer allowed her mind to return to a summer night, twenty years earlier.

###

Jennifer and her parents spent the week in a forest cabin. She was ten years old and prone to wander in search of anything peculiar such as a web building spider or a beaver gnawing on a tree.

Her parents were relaxing on the porch late one afternoon when Jennifer wandered into the forest. Not one to stay on the main trail, she took a path that branched off into the darkness of the trees. Something bright, colorful, yet small caught her eye. Jennifer loved collecting pretty stones so she picked up the red oval object. A jelly bean? A step farther, she found a green jelly bean, then a blue one, next a yellow one. Soon her pocket was bulging with the colorful candies.

Source

Her jelly bean collecting had led her farther afield than she had intended, but then she heard the voice of a child calling from the shadows. She and her parents had been in the wilderness for several days and hadn’t seen anyone, so she was surprised to hear the voice of another child. She walked until she was standing on the shore of a pond. She looked to her left, but no one was there. She looked right and was startled to see a man, standing ten feet away, exhaling twin jets of smoke from his nose as he held a cigarette in one hand and a bag of jelly beans in the other.

“I heard a child calling,” she said to the stranger. “Did you hear it?”

The man said nothing, but flicked his cigarette away. Jennifer watched the butt arch through the air, sparks falling into the dry, mid-summer grass.


“You shouldn’t do that. You might start a fire,” she said. When she turned back, the man had disappeared, but the cigarette continued to smolder. She walked over and stomped until there was no sign of smoke.

Source

“Where are you?” she said, speaking to the child who continued to call out, its voice coming from the water. The sun was setting, lengthening the shadows of the trees, casting her in gloom. She waded into the pond until something surfaced, swimming toward her leaving a wake behind. She backed toward the shore, but too slowly to escape.

The man rose out of the water, standing on its surface. He was smoking another cigarette. As smoke rolled from his nostrils, the child’s voice came from his mouth.

“Help me,” he mouthed. “Come to me and help me.”


She was standing in water up to her chest when the surface began to churn as if boiling. Dozens of hands and arms rose from the roiling pond, reaching for her with bony fingers partially covered with decaying flesh, grasping as they moved in her direction. Jennifer screamed, as she backed away from the oncoming horde.

As the water became shallower, heads emerged with vegetation growing out of empty eye sockets and nostrils. Mouths opened and closed, releasing guttural sounds, befitting orcs and goblins. The ghosts of the dead children could be seen moving in and out of the corpses, as if they were unable to fit into their own bodies any more. The man’s hands grabbed her shoulders, lifting her from the water and from among the rotting children. “Daddy?” she cried. A burst of laughter on a fetid wind and a cloud of smoke was her only answer.


Jennifer was thrust downward until she was completely submerged. She kicked and tried to scream, succeeding only in inhaling gulps of pond water. She fought to the surface and heard the strange man still laughing, only he was no longer a man. Claws clutched each shoulder, driving her down with irresistible force. She opened her eyes as the hands of murdered children gripped her arms and legs, pulling her down toward the muddy graveyard of these innocent victims. Jennifer succumbed to the lack of oxygen, ready to allow her fellow captives, slaves of the creature, to escort her to her own place among the undead.

Suddenly, she was being pulled upward again. Her face broke the surface and she drew a renewing breath. She kicked against her unseen foe, thrashing in the water, screaming for her father.

“Jennifer, stop fighting. Jenny, it’s me, your father.” The child ghosts sank back into their dark world as gentle arms embraced her.

“Jennifer, are you okay? What were you doing out there in the pond?” Her father held her close as he carried her to shore. She rested her chin on his shoulder and hugged his neck, eyes locked on the pond. The heads of the children reemerged and their calls resumed. The stranger, suspended above the pond and appearing human once more, sank into the muddied water.

“Did you hear them Daddy?”.


“The spring peepers? Yes, I heard them,” he said as he carried his daughter down the path to the cabin.

##

Jennifer received the scuba diver’s bag from one of the crew. It contained the bones of children. As she scanned the worksite, a man caught her attention. He walked along the shore of the pond exhaling twin jets of cigarette smoke from his nose. He tossed the cigarette into the pond, and Jennifer’s eyes followed its trajectory. When she looked back, the man was gone.

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    • johnmariow profile image

      John Gentile 13 days ago from Connecticut

      This story is more than creepy and scary. It can be downright frightening for any parent. It carries an implicit warning for parents.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 20 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Ruby and Mary, I am so happy to hear that you felt the creepiness in this story. While I don't think I achieved the response of fear, creepiness will just have to do. Thanks for reading and letting me know what you thought.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 20 months ago from New York

      Write on Chris! This was great. I could almost hear the "silent screams" of the children, not to mention the monster rising from the pond.

      Creepy, suspenseful, and fun to read. This was a great response to the challenge. You'll have to let us know how well it was reviewed, because I know it will be well received.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 20 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I don't think I'll be going around any pond in the near future. Scary and foreboding. The creep with the cigarette needs to stop smoking. Hee.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 20 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Larry, thanks for reading and I'm glad you found the story suspenseful.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 20 months ago from Oklahoma

      Very suspenseful.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 20 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      MsDora, We all need a good scare now and then. I'm glad I could provide it for you in this little tale. Thanks for reading my story.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 20 months ago from The Caribbean

      As frightened as Jennifer. Good, scary job!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 20 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Thanks Bill, I appreciate that. I've discovered in the NYCM challenges that it is one thing to write well, but it is an entirely different thing to write in the genres correctly. What does that mean? I'm not quite certain. It appears that there are parameters, guidelines for the genres and when you step outside those boundaries, you're finished, no matter how well you've written. I'll explain my first round SciFi story when I get the judges' feedback, which will happen any time now.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm certainly familiar with the film. Chris, you write these as well as anyone. Best of luck in the competition.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 20 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Ann, if you aren't familiar with the film "Creature From the Black Lagoon" check out the Wiki article. That was the perfect monster for my story, at least for when the man turned back into the monster. I like your ideas for motivation.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 20 months ago from SW England

      The motivation for killing could perhaps be local children had taunted him badly? Or maybe pushed him in the pond to drown? Or maybe it went hand-in-hand with his more sinister crimes? I'm sure you've thought of those already. That photo of the 'monster' diver is still haunting me!

      Ann

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 20 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Becky, I'm happy to give you a creepy beginning to your week. Thanks for reading.

      Ann, I think water may be the best for hidden terrors, or at least second to darkness. Nice to see you at the beginning of a new week.

      Shauna, I have a lot more background on the pond and the children. Yes, the creature with the cigarette is responsible for their deaths. They serve him. What I don't have is the creature's origin or his motivation for killing.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 20 months ago from Central Florida

      Jennifer will never be free of that creepy experience! She must have been terrified when the bones of lost children reached out to her. Was the man with the cigarette responsible for their deaths?

      Thankfully, she was spared.

      Creepy story, Chris. Good luck in the contest.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 20 months ago from SW England

      Definitely creepy. Anything to do with children and ghosts adds an extra fear-factor for me. Water helps the 'hidden terrors' side of things too.

      Well told, Chris, with the chilling possibility of continuation at the end!

      Ann

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 20 months ago from Hereford, AZ

      This was very creepy and would be terrifying for a child. I would have been terrified.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 20 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Christine, I'm glad you liked the story. It was definitely a challenge to write. it's nice to see you here.

    • profile image

      christinemariezzz 20 months ago

      Chris,

      Nice preamble

      ...she felt as though her sanity were on the line....she hoped her story would be taken seriously..."

      These opening sentences took me on board right way; keeping my interest to the tales finish.

      I liked it; read it more than once actually.

      Thanks,

      Christine

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 20 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Hi John, Thanks for being the first to comment on this story. I tried to ratchet up the "creep" factor on this one as high as I could in one thousand words. I'm glad you found it to be creepy.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 20 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Wow! Chris this one had a real "creep" factor. Had me hanging on every word, and loved the ending too.

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