Underwater (cont.)

“Are you sure you want to do this?” “Absolutely,” Maria reassured her. “From what I have observed, whatever that it is down there, it only takes people who are alone. I will attach the camera to myself so, whatever happens to me, it will be recorded. You will wait for me at the beach. Understood?” “Sure. Whatever you say, but I don’t like this.”

The next morning, the two women came back to the park and set up the equipment that Maria would take with her. Whenever people were “taken,” they would return to the shore after 10 minutes, so if Maria did not come back in that time, Elizabeth would bring help. There were not a lot of visitors that day, so it was easy to spot Maria while she was swimming towards the platform.

Once she reached, she turned back and gave Elizabeth one last sight. Maria jumped into the water and everything became dark. It was like something  was dragging her. How long has she been down there? How come she could… breathe? A pair of thin hands received her at the bottom, and took her inside a room. Maria felt like it was a dream; like it was one of those extra-corporeal experiences.

She was put on a stretcher and taken to a second room. Maria could not see who or what was moving her. In the room, there were four people, if “people” is the right word. They were tall and their skin was gray-ish, big eyes, and no sign of mouth. One of them inserted a needle into Maria’s neck and blood went into a small tube. They took hair, cut a nail, took her fingerprints. These creatures were scanning her with devices that she has not ever seen.

After looking at their screens, the creatures assented in agreement. Once again, Maria was moved to another room. A tray with instruments was right next to the table; it looked like an OR . Maria was moved to the table, and the last thing she experienced was the sharp pain of a scalp cutting through her chest.

Elizabeth was growing impatient at the beach. More than ten minutes have passed, but there was not sign of Maria. She was about to make the call when she saw it. The water had washed out the submarine camera. Elizabeth watched the last minutes of the tape and ran towards the water. She swam all the way to the platform and started looking for Maria. Less than a minute later, there were the invisible hands. She was going down.

It was after 7 p.m. when the beach closed. Nobody saw or heard anything. And over there, in the sand, only a pile a clothing, two purses, and a camera remained. The footage was found the next day by a kid who thought it was just a movie. Eventually he gave the device to his parents who also watched the last minutes of the clip The gray creatures looked disappointed. Apparently, the experiment had gone wrong. The were removing Maria’s body while another one was coming in: a woman in a red swimming suit.

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Underwater (cont.)

Underwater (cont.)

“What do you mean you don’t remember swimming back?,” interrupted Maria. “I… I mean… I just remember jumping into the lake and then next thing I know I’m walking out of it. I don’t even know how long I was in there.” “I would say ten minutes.” “Ten minutes? I should have drowned, right?” “Technically, yes. But you didn’t, and I want to know why.”

The woman in red started to look annoyed by Maria’s impertinence. “Anyway who are you? Water police or something?” “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. My name is Maria Miller, and I’m a journalist. I work for…” “Of course you are… whatever… I’m Elizabeth James and if you want to find out what’s in there, be my guest. I’m not coming back.”

Maria attempted to talk more with Elizabeth but, at that point, she noticed the other woman was clearly bothered. It was better to let her be. “Here’s my card in case you remember anything or just want to talk, okay? Seems like all your friends are gone now.” “I came by myself, thank you.” And with that, Elizabeth took the card and walked away.

Two or three days passed before Maria’s received a text from an unknown number. It was almost 11 p.m., and she was not on call,, so it could not be from work.

Are you free to talk? E.

Maria called back.

“I’m sorry to disturb you. I just didn’t know what to do.” Elizabeth sounded edgy. “Are you alright? Did you remember something?” “I found something in my body…. like marks. It looks like one of those times you get blood drawn and you can see the exact point where the needle punctured.” “Interesting. Where do you have those marks?” “I have a pair on my wrist and another pair in my neck.” “Let’s meet.”

30 minutes after they hung up, both girls were talking in the parking lot of a 24 hour drugstore. Elizabeth explained that she noticed the marks two days ago and, for some reason, they were not healing. The marks were tiny, but you could see them as fresh. “Have you seen a doctor?,” Maria asked tentatively. “And what do I say? ‘Hey, doc, I was swimming and then blacked out, and now I found these in my body?'” “Well,  yes!” “Forget it. Just let them be.”

“Elizabeth I went to the beach the day after I met you and… and the day after that. I saw three people experiencing the same thing: Getting into the water and then coming out around ten minutes later.” “What? Did you talk to them? What happened?,” Elizabeth started to sound excited. “Just to two of them; one was a kid. But the story is the same: Jumping and then nothing.” “I think we should call the police then. This is not normal!” “No!,” Maria interrupted. “I think we have a story here, and I think I’m going into the water myself tomorrow.”

Underwater (cont.)

Underwater

It was the perfect day in the beautiful neighborhood of Madison. Summer was at its peak, and people were flocking to the public beach. Over there you could find every color, shape, and form: Teenagers, young adults, moms, dads, babies, grandparents, hipsters, and no hipsters, you name it. It was the perfect setting for people watching.

The temperature was unusually high, so it was not rare to see many people in the water. Maria was not one of them. She was sipping a coffee in a café whose terrace was pretty much at the beach. She had a book in her hand, but every once in a while she distracted herself with the splashing sound of kids jumping into the water from the public trampoline.

Maria could see how they immersed themselves and then come out again laughing and splashing some more water to their friends. She thought that maybe it would be a good idea to invite some people the next day and swim a little. There she was when she saw a young woman in a red swimming suit jumping and then… Five seconds, ten seconds, fifteen seconds passed and nothing. Maria did not know if she should get the lifesaver or just start screaming because nobody seemed to notice.

She grabbed her stuff as fast as she could and ran towards the beach. People started to stare at her because she was dropping things on her way: Bag, book, sunglasses, shoes… but above it all, she was running into the water fully dressed. When Maria reached the platform, there was still no sign of the woman. She submerged herself once more and could see nothing. That was unexpected. She was hoping to see what you normailly see under the water: some algae and dirt, but over there the water was sort of murky. It was like there was fog in there, if that makes any sense.

After a few seconds, Maria emerged again. She thought about moving further when she turned around and saw the woman getting out of the lake. Astonished, she swam back and, when she finally made it to the shore, she thought about approaching her but immediately discarded the idea. She felt like a complete idiot and thought that the woman might find her a little bit too creepy, so she decided to just let it go. She kept herself close though because something was not connecting.

While she was collecting her scattered belongings, she noticed that the woman in question was acting weird. She was just standing there staring at the lake. Maria had to talk to her. She did not want to scare her, so she walked slowly and asked her softly, “Are you alright? I’m sorry, I couldn’t help seeing you jumping and then you just wouldn’t come out again, and I…” “I don’t remember swimming back here,” the woman replied. “It was so dark.”

To be continued…

Underwater