's 2018 Horror Write-off:

Summer at Fairhaven Lake

Submitted by Shieldman (email)

I remember the way the dock felt as I sat on it. I was afraid of getting splinters from the old wood. If it had ever been lacquered, it had washed off a long time ago. So I sat with my hands on the rubber padding on the side of the dock, trying not to touch the wood, my legs swinging freely below. It was a couple of feet above the surface of the water, just high enough that you couldn't see in because of the reflection. Far off in the distance, I could hear my grandfather fighting with the portable grill, trying to get it to light. Lunch was supposed to be soon, but I figured I could sit out here and wait, away from everyone else. I would just sit here and watch the boats sway in the breeze.

Then a boat twitched. Its mast moved away from the rest of them and the water surged upwards. The crack of wood and the heavy, slurping noise of water flooding into an unseen gap smashed the silence. I felt my chest tighten and my legs froze. Something pulled on the boat and it was gone. The surface of the water, once glassy, now rolled with waves of its own surprise. The surviving boats drifted awkwardly away from the scene of the crime.

"What the hell was that?" My mom asked, loud enough to hear from where I was sitting. No one had an answer. After a few moment of confused murmuring, my family returned to their cookout. I sat on the edge of the dock, frozen stiff. I didn't move my legs at all in case it saw me too. I didn't go swimming that summer.