Hannah's Lake is a flash fiction piece I wrote for a Halloween Flash contest in 2010. It was one of the first pieces of fiction I ever put out for an audience. While I didn't win the contest, it did give me confidence to continue my path towards becoming a published author. It has also sparked many ideas for future stories :) I truly hope you enjoy the story.
As the fog rolled over the lake the tendrils reached out like a claw searching for a victim. With every passing second the fog got thicker and thicker until she couldn't see the other side of the lake. Shalah felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end.
Shalah glanced over her shoulder one last time and spotted a figure standing chest deep in the water. The woman was wearing all white and the way the moonlight bounced off the fog she appeared to be glowing. The woman held her hand out to Shalah, beckoning for her to come closer. Her long red locks dipped into the water as she moved further from the shore.
"Who are you?" Shalah asked. "Why are you in the water so late?"
"Come, follow me and you will see," the woman replied as she walked deeper and deeper into the lake.
Shalah watched the woman disappear into the fog. As she started to follow the woman, she heard a faint splashing sound as though someone were flailing in the water. She rushed towards the lake, thinking the woman might be drowning. Through the thick fog she saw a figure bobbing in and out of the water, dipping under the surface every few seconds.
When Shalah reached the water's edge, she again had that feeling she just couldn't shake. Something was very wrong but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. As her feet hit the cold water, she awoke with a start. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she realized she was in her bedroom. Shalah used the light of the full moon to look around her room. Though nothing seemed to be out of place she still had that nagging feeling. She walked over to the window gazing out at the lake. There was no fog over the water, just the shimmer of moonlight reflecting on the smooth surface. Telling herself it was just a dream, Shalah went back to bed, tossing and turning in a fitful sleep the rest of the night.
The ringing of her cell phone woke her the next morning with grim news. A teenage girl from town had been found floating in the lake that morning. Shalah thought if she told anyone about her dream they would think she was crazy, but she knew she had dreamed of the drowning. The more she tried to remember the dream, the more the details seemed to evade her.
She decided to fix a cup of tea to calm her nerves. As she carried her cup to the living room she looked up at the picture over her fireplace and froze. It was the woman from her dream. The portrait had been over the mantle since she was a child and she vaguely remembered a story about the woman from the 1700s. She had never really paid much attention to the story, figuring it was just a family tale passed down from generation to generation to scare the children close to Halloween.
The story was of a woman named Hannah Evans who was accused of witchcraft only because she had hair the color of flames. The town believed that if she was a witch her daughter most certainly would be one as well. They decided to tie Hannah's hands behind her back and throw her into the lake to see if she really was a witch, believing if she was she wouldn't drown. Hannah knew that if she somehow survived, she and her daughter would both be burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft. She decided to sacrifice herself and not even struggle against the ropes to save her daughter's life. As she sank deeper into the water, Hannah prayed her daughter would be allowed to live. Her final thought was one of revenge against the town. The rest of the legend goes on to say that every 28 years, one for each year of her life, on the night of the last full moon in October, Hannah claims the life of a girl from the town by dragging her to the bottom of the lake with her.
Shalah went to the computer and searched the archive of the town's newspaper for any drowning deaths to see if there was indeed a pattern such as the legend referred to. She found that the last girl drowned in October in 1982, 28 years ago. Before that there was another girl who drowned in 1954, also in October. The dates weren't exactly the same but all were during a full moon.
As she continued to research the deaths she felt sick to her stomach. So many questions flooded her mind. Could she have saved the girl last night if only she had followed the woman faster? Would she have been the victim instead? Was it all a dream, or was it real?