's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"Deep End"

Submitted by Glumdrop

If you were "lucky" enough to have a public pool in your area, you probably remember it. I think ours used to be part of a YMCA, but they bulldozed the rest and kept the pool. I really hated it. Everybody in the neighborhood would pile in on hot days to the point that you hardly had elbow room. Nobody really cared though, it was a pool, in summer! Every now and then you'd hear somebody found a condom, or something disgusting like that. Kids peed in it all the time. My germophobe friends never went near the thing.

A net divided the pool in half, keeping kids away from the deep end. We didn't need it, nobody wanted to go there. The bottom of the pool slanted down slowly, then dropped off sharply into the depths. It was painted pitch black. Even on a sunny day the deep end looked like it just went down forever. It seemed like that forbidden place where the little kids dare not go. I liked to swim, actually. That was my goal, to get good enough to reach that abyss and explore it. I ended up braving it a little earlier than my friends. Soon I could almost dive to the bottom, even if I couldn't actually see it. I knew it was there because I could see the drain below. That silver disk was my goal.

We actually used to call this thing the Monster. When it got too hot, we'd always say we were going to the Monster, and enjoy the weird looks we got from the adults in the room. Seemed appropriate, it was huge and dark and gross, and the filter made the most horrible gurgling noise. It only stopped when people were in the pool. We'd dive in and go "Feed the Monster!"

"Monster" brings to mind something scary but physical, that you might be able to fight or flee from. It's just possible you stand a chance. But then there are things, beings I guess, that just happen. Call this a paranormal experience, or some kind of weird, near-death hallucination if you like. Either way, I didn't really get away from the Monster in the end. And for what it's worth, I'm glad this nightmare came to me.

In Fall, the crowds started to thin out and I would have some real space to swim. It was never enough, though- I had to get the pool to myself. I wanted no distractions, just me and the water. I snuck in one night when the pool had closed. It would still be warm from the heater. Perfectly serene. I already had my shorts on under my pants, it was going to be a few quick dives and I would head home.

The moment I entered the pool room I thought I heard something. A quiet splash. Have you ever been down near a pond at night, and heard the splashes of frogs and fish? It was like that, like something saw me coming and hid. The moonlight coming down through the skylight showed the barely noticable ripple. I looked down into the pool itself, but all was dark down there. I wouldn't be so easily deterred. For all I knew the Monster might have had its own frogs, dirty as the thing was.

I wasted no more time- it was off to the high diving board. I couldn't get enough of this thing, but I could never use it during the day. Several times I almost landed on someone. Now I was scrambling up the ladder, treated to a view of my private ocean. I moved closer to the edge of the board and smiled. I got to feel that weightlessness for a few long seconds, and then I went down.

Before I hit the water, the filter made one of its rumbling sounds. It plunged into my eardrums before I cut through the water.

I kept going down, into the blackness of the pool. There was the drain, shining like another moon at the bottom. I got closer and closer, kicking frantically. I reached out to touch the drain, and was suddenly aware of how powerful it was. I didn't even realize these things can kill kids. Years later I heard about Abigal Taylor. She was this little girl in Minnesota who got her intestines sucked out when she sat on an open drain. Other kids got stuck against the grate and drowned. I was just going to touch it, just a fingertip. I had to, I wouldn't fail when I was this close!

I didn't. And as my hand touched the grate, it gave way. It began to rust outward from where I'd touched it, cracking apart like a pair of jaws before the entire thing fell away. Suddenly the pull was much stronger, dragging me down. I turned upward and swam toward the surface, but I could see it getting further and further away. It was impossible- It was trying to pull me in. And it would. I remember my feet getting stuck together, the thing was stretching wider. Soon I'd get crammed into the drain pipe, somehow not crushed altogether, but trapped completely.

My arms were stuck upwards, my whole body squeezed by the pipe. I kept sliding deeper- occasionally I'd struggle again and get stuck. The hard plastic of the drain would suddenly contract, like some living thing, and crush me downward. I could hear that gurgling sound whenever it did this. It was so much more clear, disturbingly more organic. I'd already realized that this was a throat, and I was a piece of food being swallowed.

There was nothing I could do, the filthy water sucking me ever downwards. At one point I thought I'd gotten myself firmly lodged, the pipe unable to get me loose. It didn't matter, it was only a matter of time until I would drown. I wasn't going down without a fight. That's when I felt something grab my ankles. One pair of slimy hands, then more seizing my legs, pulling me deeper. I could barely turn my head and look down at the rotten, puffy fingers holding me. I wanted to scream, but I kept my last bit of air inside. That might have been all that kept me concious.

Suddenly the pipe opened wider, and I fell hard against a rusty metal surface. The pool pipe had dropped me into a slanting metal shaft, the water crashing down from above in a filthy waterfall.

There was air in here, somehow; stinking, hot, rotten air, so that breath was barely a relief. No sign of whatever was just grabbing me. This had to be some kind of sewer, I thought. I knew that was insane even then, but it wasn't over. The current was sending me down into the depths of the pit. The rusty walls were caked with slime, so deep and thick I thought I could bury my fingers in to stop my slide. That's when the growling started up again. This time it shook the entire pipe, making it groan and shudder so violently I was tossed and slammed against the sides. It was tenderizing me some more. I could see a huge valve coming up at the bottom of the shaft, and I knew it was now or never.

As I fell in, I somehow slammed my arms and legs against the walls of the last tube. Battered and with the disgusting water crashing down over me, I slid until my skin burned and my muscled ached, but I stopped moving downward. The pipe led out into an enormous, rusting metal tank. A stomach.

There was no way out, but I still held on with all my strength. I'd managed to brace my back against one side of the pipe and my legs against the other. I don't know how I could still see in the darkness, but the algae pulsed with some faint, sickly light. That or it just wanted to make sure I could see the Hell where I was going. I had to risk losing my hold to crane my neck. I had to look.

Below me in the tank was a mountain of corpses. Dead kids. Drowned kids, bloated and rotting in this pit. The further down the pile I could see, the more decayed and ooze-like the bodies became. Eventually they just melted into the mess of sludge filling the rest of the massive tank. And the slime.. a mix of water, decay, bodily waste and garbage. That's where I first noticed activity.

The muck was bubbling, starting to lap at the walls. The bubbles grew larger, some of them growing huge and lingering, black specks forming at the center. These disgusting "eyes" looked at me until they burst to form again. The structure trembled with a deep rumble now. It was angry, denied its meal. So it woke up its other residents again.

Hundreds of pairs of dead eyes suddenly set upon me. The bodies stirred, slowly at first, then suddenly in a fit of activity. Those that were most intact clambered messily to the top of the heap, every step eliciting a wet squeltch. Opening their swollen lips they made thick gurgling sounds, almost identical to those of the filter. Some of them tried to climb up the sides of the tank, only to slip back down after almost reaching me. The one at peak of the mound was a few years younger than myself, just staring at me with most of his face sloughing off. He just opened his mouth and tried to say something.. All that came out was the slime and a pathetic burbling. He was shortly trampled by the rest of the former children, all reaching and gasping for me, like I was the air, the life, they wanted.

The tank was getting hotter as well, gas bubbles bursting and filling it with stinking, burning miasma. I could feel my grip loosening. The bile was rising up to claim me and add me to its mass. The more buoyant corpses splashed and lunged up at me like predatory fish. I was just going to let go. I'd given up, their hands finally taking me, when I felt a hand grab me from above.


I woke up in the hospital. According to them, one of the pool staff was staying late and arrived just after I had dived. He found me floating there. They said I must have just hit the water badly and knocked myself out. I never even reached the drain. They said they couldn't believe how much water I had in my lungs, and how quickly they must have filled up. And as I told them then, I wouldn't screw up that badly. I wasn't a bad swimmer, I didn't have a fear of heights. And this whole thing? A dream, of course. A bad trip.

But it's brilliant, isn't it? A child drowns, and who would know any better? Of course they find the body. What about the rest..?

The bodies. No way they were all from this one pool. Maybe it moves around. The Monster could pop up anywhere, couldn't it. But it waits, it waits until it thinks it knows you know its safe.

After this.. whatever you want to call it, my crazy bullshit story, you might think I'm put off of water forever. Not even close, honestly. I love swimming more than ever. It's the only thing I can do to help others, to try to starve it.

Lifeguard on duty.