I love to watch the lake at night. I love to feel the resonance of the wind as it howls across the water surface. I love listening to the sounds of the cabin creaking and twisting as the gusting force pushes against the aging timber. Hearing the air whistling ghostly melodies through the cracks in the floorboards and filled the cabin with an inescapable, haunting chill. I watch the willows writhe and contort in the midnight gale, lashing the brackish water with their tendrilous branches. The lake tears violently at boats moored to the pier, as if trying to wrench them from their safehold and drag them down into the crushing darkness. Past the pier, the reflection of the gibbous moon rippled softly, with an eerie serenity, its celestial glow providing little light to the surroundings, but casting a clear, luminous echo upon the pulsing black surface.
I pulled my robe closer around me and started clenching and relaxing my fists. My fingers feel numb. I stretched them out in front of the small lantern. I can feel the dull warmth of the light as the muscles started to expand and shake off the icy chill. My research has become staggered as I delve deeper. Information has become scarce and the biting cold is taking its toll on my addled mind.
Glancing at my reflection in the window reveals to me the physical effects of my studious exile. The soft glow from the candle highlights my skeletal features, giving an inhuman depth to the sunken flesh and jutting bone edges. It had been a long 6 months, but I was stuck. I had pored over countless tomes of knowledge, siphoning the unfathomable truths from the glaring falsehoods. The depth that believers will descend in the quest of such knowledge confounds me. Searching for existence of Elder Gods or creatures from beyond, though futile, is an unexpectedly common condition. Religion, at its core, is merely seeking understanding and reasoning for our existence. It is one of the most primal of thought processes, but the influence of the masses dictates the socially acceptable response.
I flicked through pages of a particularly worn book. It was filled with scrawled images and hand written notes, no more articulate than the wandering blather of a village drunkard. As I shut the novel, I noticed a dark figure standing at the pier. I do not know how long they had been there. The wind whipped the tattered robes around their body. They figure was facing the lake, whether watching or waiting, I could not tell. I blew out the candle, instantly plunging the inside of the cabin into darkness. I stood to the side of window while I watched the man, ensuring my body remained hidden in the shadows. The water beat relentlessly against the pier columns, temporarily shrouding the figure in an aqueous mist. He started to walk down the pier. The waves seemed to crash in a rhythmic, almost methodical pace. He continued till he reached the end of the dock. The wind howled furiously, I felt the cabin pressure shift as the sudden increase in ferocity threatened to break it from its foundations. The air whistled louder through the floorboards, each different gap gave a new hollow, ghostly tone as if it was lending its voice to a malevolent, spectral choir. I kept my eyes focused on the man, my heart raced. The waves were higher and more powerful. Each spray of water seemed to envelop him completely, then wash away, leaving him unscathed.
The sound of wood splintering and metal shrieking snapped me out of my trance and the violent outburst was quickly replaced by the overwhelming, dreadful howling of the wind screamed through the empty frame. I rushed to the front and found the door snapped and flailing on its last hinge. I grabbed the pieces and started to pull them back towards me. I stole a glance toward the pier. The moonlight had left. I could hear the waves crashing and the pier twisting in agony as it strained to retain its structure against the violent onslaught.
I wedged the door closed, bracing the shattered pieces with fireplace pokers as best I could. I rushed back to the window. The waves had started to die down. The intensity of the wind began to lessen. The man was gone, swept away in the maelstrom. Fool. As the wind died, the water calmed. The willows gently stroked the glassy obsidian surface, the slight midnight breeze whistled through the floorboards. The moon’s luminous glow reflected in the lake’s centre. The night fell into a peaceful slumber.
The next morning I woke to the unfamiliar sight of boats patrolling the lake edges. Upon speaking to the somewhat skittish villagers, I learned the man was a Mr Prathroe, the local butcher. Though I did not admit to seeing the event, it was clear I was not the only one aware of his peculiar actions. He was a family man, and left behind his wife and 2 daughters. He was a happy man, one with no real reason or purpose to partake in such a seemingly deliberate sacrifice. Though the lake was a small body of water, by sundown, Prathroe’s body had not been recovered.
However uncommon the circumstances of his disappearance may be, the villagers does not seem to be perturbed, or even bothered by such an aberrant event. Tonight I will return to my studies, though my mind will surely to wander in an attempt to seek meaning from this curious experience.