They bounced across the top of the water, sometimes jumping high, reveling in those moments when they caught a larger wave and felt the Wave Runner surge beneath them as it hopped above the water, catching air.
Violet felt so free. She could hear Jay laughing from behind her as he held on tight. She spun the craft first sharply to the right and then quickly to the left. He knew she was trying to buck him free, testing him to see how long he could hold on to her before being tossed into the frigid water of the lake as she maneuvered the miniature speedboat back and forth. But he was stronger now than ever before, and his reflexes were sharper. He seemed to know which way she was going to go even before she did.
After a while, Violet slowed down near a floating dock in the lake and parked the Wave Runner.
“Do you want to jump in?” she asked as she pulled the key from the ignition without waiting for an answer, making it more of a statement than a question.
Jay stood up and hopped from the Wave Runner onto the dock. Violet joined him and instead of diving into the water, she sat down and dangled her feet in.
“It’s quiet here,” he commented absently. He sat down beside her.
“Mm-hmm,” she sighed, kicking her feet and splashing up water.
“How are your knees?” He reached out and brushed his fingers across the damp bandages.
Violet shrugged. “They’re fine…” and then she added with mock adoration, “…thanks to you, of course.” And to show her gratitude, she kicked water in his direction.
He nudged her with his shoulder but didn’t say anything. They stayed like that for a while, enjoying the silence of being alone and enjoying each other’s presence. It was easy…and comfortable.
Violet sighed when it started to feel like too much time had passed. “We should get back. I’m sure someone else is waiting for a turn.”
Jay stood up, silently agreeing with her, and Violet reluctantly followed. Without asking if he wanted to trade places, Violet again got on in front.
They took their time getting back, meandering lazily along the shoreline and staying out of the way of faster vehicles. It took Violet longer than it should have to realize that the path she was taking wasn’t random at all, that she was being pulled…drawn.
Something was calling to her.
She didn’t say anything to Jay, mostly because there wasn’t anything to say yet. Instead she concentrated on where it might be coming from. It was strong, whatever it was, stronger than she would have expected from something out here in the water, and she wondered if that meant it had died recently. Today, even.
She followed the pulling sensation, the tugging that had propelled her almost without her awareness, as she scanned the waters for some sign, some sensory input to guide her. She didn’t taste or smell anything out of place. There were no unexplained sounds coming from any direction…at least not that she could hear over the engine of the Wave Runner.
She thought she saw something in the water ahead of her. It looked like a large oil slick licking across the top of the lake’s surface. It was near a thick stand of grasses and reeds that sprang up from the waters near the shore. It wasn’t completely out of place there, a boat could have leaked the substance into the water, but she eased forward anyway, wanting to get a better look.
Jay didn’t ask her what she was doing; he was just happy to be along for the ride, as usual.
But the closer Violet got to it, the less it looked like oil. It had the same greasy sheen as oil, casting a rainbow of hues across the plane of the water as it was rippled gently by the waves. But there was something different about it, something she couldn’t quite put her finger on.
Until she was practically right on top of it.
She was careful not to catch the weedy plant life in the Wave Runner’s engine, and she leaned over the edge as she slowed down to make sure she didn’t take the craft into the too-shallow water.
She needed to see what was there.
“What are you looking at?” Jay finally asked with only a little interest. He was used to Violet’s wandering ways.
“I don’t know” was all she answered, too caught up in her curiosity to attempt any more of an explanation than that.
Violet stood up on the watercraft as she came to a stop. Multihued light seemed to be radiating up from beneath the water, centered among the reeds, and then diffusing outward as it reached the surface. Violet had never seen anything like it, and she knew that the spectrum of light was defying its very nature by behaving in that way.
It could only be one thing.
There was something dead down there.
Her first thought was a duck or maybe even a large fish that had drifted into the cluster of grasses. The vibrant light continued to play off the waves from below, fading into a fine, colorful mist as it broke through the surface of the water and then vanished into the air. Violet strained to see through the plant life, as it grew thicker where it reached toward the water’s edge.
She thought she saw something bobbing in between the weedy greens, but she couldn’t be sure, so she hopped off and waded toward it. She felt a sharp twinge of fear, but still couldn’t stop herself from moving forward.
“What is it, Vi?” Jay asked, and now his interest seemed genuine, concerned even. “Come back here. I’ll see what it is.”
But it was too late. Violet had already seen it. And she was in the water, wading toward whatever was hiding among the reeds along the lakeshore.
Thick, pale, and bloated skin surrounded milky-white eyes that stared out at Violet. A deathly echo created a halo of watery light as long hair radiated in tangled waves from the girl’s head.