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The moon shone high above Sweetwater Lake, the sky faded to dusk, and the frogs croaked in the bush. The lake was just behind an old house, a former plantation. The house belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. They were a young couple, married only a couple years. They were quite ordinary too: went to church on Sunday, went out to eat twice a week, headed to work on weekdays. There wasn't a single peculiarity about them.
On this humid Friday night, Mrs. Margot Taylor found herself to be restless. So she went out back to the lake for fresh air and the peaceful scenery. She walked across the wooden dock in her pajamas and bare feet, careful not to catch any splinters. She sat at the end of the dock, rolling her pants up, and dipping her feet into the water. Margot loved the way the night sky reflected on the water's surface like a mirror. After relaxing for a half an hour, she decided to get back to bed before her husband began to worry. She placed a foot on the dock, steadying herself with her hands, but she obviously didn't do a good job. As she arose, a wooden board completely broke off and sent her tumbling backwards into the lake. Margot wasn't the best swimmer, so she tried to calm herself as she slowly propelled herself to the surface. She reached an arm up onto the dock when she suddenly felt something on her ankle. A sudden force pulled her down below. She couldn't decipher what it was, but she didn't exactly have the time to think about it. She kicked, punched, twisted, and turned. Her chest felt like it would burst if she didn't get air soon. Her head, for just a split second, popped above water. She let out a shriek, but ended up choking on water as she plunged into the dark depths yet again. She would surely die.
Warmth, heat. That's what Margot felt as the morning sun beamed through her bedroom window. She was comforted by the aroma of fresh coffee, meaning her husband was awake. She sat up, wiping the sleep from her eyes, before getting a flashback from the previous night. Her pulse quickened as she felt around, reassuring herself that she was really there. She was. But, her pajamas. They were dry! Last night's events could have only been a few hours ago, there was no way she could have been completely dry.
Knock, knock. Margot's husband, Evan, knocked on the open bedroom door. He was already dressed for work as he let himself in. He was holding his morning coffee in a poorly-painted ceramic mug. She had made it for him when they were still only dating. He sat on the edge of the bed, kissed her forehead, and said he had to go to work. But, as he stood up, his face contorted into that of disgust. "Do you smell that?"
"Smell what?" she asked.
But he just shook his head, "It's nothing, I got to go now."
He ruffled her hair and left quickly.
The day went on, and Margot had convinced herself that she only had a night terror. Her boss gave her the day off, so she spent the day doing chores: dusting, mopping, dishes, etc. She didn't mind doing chores, but she wasn't too fond of doing dishes. She wore rubber gloves that go up to her elbow to avoid those soggy pieces of food that nobody scrapes off of their plates. As she removed the gloves, she felt a light itch on the palms of her hands. She examined her limbs, and saw large patches of rough skin on her palms. The skin was dry and peeling, but underneath was a strange discoloration, and it was somewhat slimy. Margot just shrugged it off and told herself she would search for an ointment at the pharmacy later.
That is exactly what she did, because by three PM the rash was in patches all the way up her arm. The entirety of her palms were greenish-blue, and what she would describe as "scaly." She put on a long-sleeve sweater in the heat of July to rush to the pharmacy. The girl who rang her up looked at her like she was a maniac as she bought three different brands of over-the-counter ointments. The moment she got home, she lathered her whole body in the stuff, whether it had the rash or not. But that isn't where it ended.
Margot didn't think too much about the rash, other than the fact that she might have to speak with a dermatologist. When her husband returned home, she didn't bother telling him about her skin or the abdominal pains she'd been experiencing since lunch. She brushed them off as menstrual cramps, but they worsened as the hours ticked by. Evan didn't even bother asking about the sweater or gloves she was wearing as they ate dinner. A few minutes into eating their Salisbury steak, Margot had to excuse herself. Her abdominal pains had gotten so bad; she insisted that she was fine as she hobbled off into the bathroom. She immediately fell to her knees in immense pain. She crawled over to the toilet, holding the curly black nest of hair out of her face, and vomited. It wasn't just her dinner that came up though. There was a concerning amount of blood, and long strands of seaweed as well. She let go of her hair and stood up, but noticed something strange and looked down. Long, black, curly hair in the palm of her hand. She rushed over to the mirror, frantically combing her hands through her hair. More and more hair fell out onto the floor and sink. She had lost a significant amount of hair and was nearly bald. She had a sudden sneezing fit—more blood with each sneeze. She looked up into the mirror and was horrified. Her eyeballs seemed to bulge from their sockets. She screamed, like a horror movie scream. What was this creature she saw?
There was rapid knocking on the bathroom door. She almost hadn't realized she even screamed.
"Are you alright?" Evan never sounded worried, but now he did. She couldn't let him worry, couldn't let him see her like this.
"No, no, I'm fine, I'm alr--AAH!" She fell in pain, grabbing at her throbbing calves.
Evan pounded on the door, jiggled the locked handle as Margot let out a blood-curdling scream. She was in agonizing pain. When she looked down at her leg, it looked as if something was trying to emerge from her legs. Within minutes there were green fins protruding from the sides of her calves.
A few more knocks.
"I'm going to call somebody!" Evan ran off to call an ambulance, she thought.
She wiped tears from her eyes. What was happening to her? She listened and couldn't hear her husband, so she silently opened the door and snuck out to the backyard. She needed to hide from everyone. She limped off—her legs still hurting—onto the dock. She slipped into the lake and hid under the dock, keeping her head above water. It was silent for a while, just her thoughts and heavy breathing. She eventually heard an ambulance pull up, and her husband shouting her name. She went completely underwater as she heard people approaching. To her surprise, she never felt the need to come up for air and her vision wasn't blurred underwater at all.
Hours had passed, voices eventually stopped and multiple cars were heard leaving. Evan probably went to search for her elsewhere. She felt oddly content floating in the lake, but the sun had now disappeared, so she swam up to the surface. She hoisted herself up onto the dock, planning to find somewhere to escape to. The moment her abdomen was out of water, she felt an intense pain. She was struggling to breathe, and her lungs felt as if they would explode. She fell into fetal position and wrapped her arms around her sides in pain, but this caused her to fall back into the lake. She felt instant relief. It was the water!
Margot suddenly felt confused as she let herself sink to the bottom. She didn't know who she was, couldn't think of her name, where she was, or who she was hiding from. She couldn't form a coherent thought much at all. She swam up to the surface, this time only revealing her head. Her eyes scanned around. She didn't know what she was looking for, but a figure on the dock caught her eye. A man: Evan. He saw her. He had been kneeling on the dock and he looked upset, but when he saw her he sprang up onto his feet. He looked terrified. Her mind couldn't process who this familiar face was, and a tear fell from her eye.
He whispered a name, "Margot?"
Evan began shaking his head. She swam a little closer, but he stepped back and then ran off. She watched him run into the house and pick up his cell phone. That was the last time she saw him, because she went back under and ventured farther out into the giant lake.
This would be a tale to go around town for decades. The story of a young couple torn apart by tragedy. A beautiful woman's encounter with a mysterious creature leaves her with a morbid disease: the mystery of Sweetwater Lake.