TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:
The townsfolk talked but she didn’t care. Day after day, she lugged her saw, a bucket, a homemade fishing pole, and bait across the frozen lake. Once there, she sat shivering while waiting for the telltale tug from a creature of the deep. This torturous task wasn’t for the fairer sex but what choice did she have? On that particular day, as clouds and a north wind rolled in from the mountains, she noticed two little boys at the edge of the lake, shouting and pointing…
(Stories need only touch on this topic in some way to qualify.)
The townsfolk talked but she didn’t care. Day after day, she lugged her saw, a bucket, a homemade fishing pole, and bait across the frozen lake. Once there, she sat shivering while waiting for the telltale tug from a creature of the deep. On that particular day she noticed her two little boys at the edge of the lake, shouting and pointing…
And for the first time in years she thought of her late father’s ominous warning.
Dad was a construction engineer back in the Fifties when they damned the river and created this lake. Work was hard to find and news of the massive undertaking promised him months if not years of steady employment. She remembered how incensed he’d been when he found out the project wasn’t utilizing local labor and instead the Army Corp of Engineers would be handling the task.
Curious as to why the army would be called in for a job which seemingly served no military purpose, he snuck out one evening to investigate under cover of darkness.
What her father saw that night would haunt him for the remainder of his years and when he tried to warn the townsfolk of the horror he had witnessed the whispers began.
Until then her dad was well-respected in the small mountain community, but afterwards he was treated like a pariah.
The townsfolk didn’t take to crazy-talk or doomsayers and stories about boogeymen and the end of the world qualified on both counts.
The plan was to move far away once Dad passed, but her boys loved it here and she didn’t have the heart to tear them away from the only home they’d ever known. And despite the sideways glances she occasionally had to endure, this was her home too and she vowed to never leave.
She had fond memories of childhood winters spent ice-fishing while her old man kept vigilant watch over the lake while praying that the horror lurking beneath the ice would not roar to life and wreak devastation while he still breathed.
The world was a dangerous place back then and although she was too young to grasp the peril she could see it in her father’s eyes. Even still, they would continue to venture to the lake religiously where he would stand vigil while she sunk a fishing line in to the murky depths hoping to hook the elusive monster so her father would stop worrying
Sensing her fear, he would tell her the horrors below were sleeping and as long as people loved their children more than they loved themselves she would never have a reason to be afraid.
Then he would bait her hook and tell her how much he loved her.
And she would feel safe.
Decades passed and times changed. The world became a safer place and her father spent his golden years sitting on the shore while she continued her ongoing quest to catch the lake’s monster even though he assured her that the time of monsters had passed.
Sadly, dad perished three years later, but on his deathbed he pulled her close and reminded her to love her children lest the horror be awakened, and she promised him she would.
Now, her two boys had taken up her mission and she would recount her dad’s story while they fished for his monster as she stood watch, scanning the lake just like her father before her.
The world had become a dangerous place again. Hate was now preached from the highest pulpit to mindless minions and society had lost the capacity to love.
She feared the horror would awaken and she hoped her father’s ominous prophecy would never come to pass, but when she heard her boys screaming and pointing out over the water she knew the day she dreaded had arrived.
Running in a cold panic on cracked ice, she frantically struggled to reach the shore as crevices ripped through the surface and water erupted at her feet.
Jumping from berg to berg while the entire lake convulsed and ruptured, she finally reached land and her terrified children.
Six nosecones broke the surface and a half-dozen intercontinental ballistic missiles ascended spitting fire in their wake. Waking from their long nap, the ICBM’s tore free from the ice and flew north carrying nuclear payloads which would soon rain death upon mothers and sons who were no more at fault than she and her boys.
Somewhere over the Arctic Circle the northbound missiles would pass the enemy’s southbound ICBM’s.
The end would come quickly but not mercifully.
Knowing their time was short, she found no satisfaction in the knowing the townsfolk would soon be proven wrong.
The fear in her children’s eyes reminded her of her father’s dying words and she knew immediately what to do.
Holding her boys tight she calmed them by pointing out that the horror had left and she baited their hooks while silently praying for their safety.
As the incoming enemy ICBM’s approached on the horizon, she told her boys how much she loved them and kissed them for the last time.
The time of monsters had reached its end.