The River

Noon.
My mom took us out to the river with her, while she collected data on certain birds for her new experiment. I was happy, out there. I would always skip rocks and catch certain fish in the deeper parts of the river. My sister wasn’t so happy to be here, though. I would always swim around, while she stood on the shore, afraid to come into the water.

Yuna was always a little skittish, and she was a perfectionist, and you could tell that by her appearance. Her black hair had to be perfectly combed and braided, her outfit (usually a skirt and t-shirt) had to be stainless and ironed, and her skin had to be lacking in any sort of blemish.

I was the exact opposite, though.  I liked to take risks and was always being sloppy. My skin was darker and full of cuts and bruises, my hair was scraggly and frizzy from the river water, and I wore a pair of torn and stained jeans with a tattered white tank.

However, even though we were polar opposites, we would have lots of fun together, on the shore or in the forest that surrounded the river, but when it came to water, she refused to step one foot into so much as a puddle.
But today, I was about to witness the impossible.
I was on a small patch of land, in the center of the river, when I saw my sister, barefoot, and looking down into the water.
“Are you finally going to swim with me, Yuna?” I called, stepping to where my knees were under the water.
“I don’t know, Quinn, it looks scary.”
“Don’t be scared, it’s as easy as riding a bike, and you do that fine. In fact, all you have to do is step in the water, and I’ll be impressed.”
“It’s not that, I just can’t stand getting wet. Water has always been my enemy.”
“You’re not a cat, Yuna, AND you’re eleven years old. There’s no need to be afraid of it. We’ll take it easy, just take one step.”
She lifted her foot, slowly lowering it to the surface of the water. The skin just barely grazed it.
“Come on, plant your foot down. Finish what you started.”
She squeezed her eyes shut, then shoved her foot down, the water covering her ankles. When she opened her eyes, there was pure terror in them.
“Good! What about the other foot?”
She gave a small scream, as she quickly stepped into the water. She stayed there for a second, then quickly ran back to the shore.
“I think that’s enough progress for today!” She told me.
“Yeah, I guess.”
She wandered further down the beach, while I swam to shore to tell mom about Yuna’s progress with her fear.
I found her on top of a large boulder, watching some colorful bird through a pair of binoculars.
“Mom! Yuna came into the water!”
“What?! I’ve been trying to get her into water since she was an infant, and you’re telling me she just stepped into the river like it was dry land?”
“I know, but ask her yourself, she stepped into the water!”
“That’s unbelievable! Go find her and bring her here, please.”
“Ok, I’m on it.”
I ran back along the shore, in the direction Yuna walked in.
Nothing.
I couldn’t find her, and began panicking.
I ran faster, looking hard and calling her name at the top of my lungs.
I finally found her, but the sight made me believe it was a nightmare.
She was in water – completely submerged from the neck down.
“Yuna, get out of the water! It’s dangerous in these parts!”
I knew this didn’t help her fear, but it was true. Where she was standing, there were a lot of snakes and underwater bugs. Just my luck, she wasn’t responding or moving at all.
I took a deep breath, then began wading towards the spot where she was.
I walked through the water, to where the middle of my thighs were submerged, and began reaching out to her.
I stretched my arm and strained to reach her.
Slightly closer with each second, my middle finger finally just grazed her shirt.
WOOSH!
A child’s bruised, bloody, pale hand appeared from underneath the water, tightly grabbing my wrist and not letting go.
I struggled in the grip, trying to get myself free, when Yuna spun around.
I almost vomited, when I realized that her eyes had turned into glazed, almost glowing, white dots.
“Why so scared?………

I awoke screaming and kicking in bed. My mom and Yuna were at my bedside, trying to calm my fit of terror.
“Quinn, what happened?” My mom asked.
“It was just a bad dream. A very, very, very bad dream.”
(Later that day)

It seemed like a normal day. Yuna and I finished our morning schedule, and I was alright, and forgetting about the so-called ‘night terror’ from last night. That is, until mom said she had to stop by the river for an hour.

I was sceptic, about going there, since the dream had seemed so real. I was reassured that nothing would happen, since Yuna was her usual self, and refused to get near the river.

I sat on the very edge, my feet in the water. I didn’t want to swim, because for once, I was being paranoid.

“Is something wrong, Quinn?” Yuna asked me, appearing out of nowhere. “You’ve been sitting here all day, usually you’re swimming through the water like a fish.”
“I’m just not in a swimming mood, today.”
“Is this about the bad dream you had, last night?”
“A little…”
“Why don’t you talk about it?”
“I dreamed…” the memory made me nauseous and gave me a headache. “I dreamed…that you were in the water, and when I tried to get you out…something stopped me. Something that I don’t even know was human or not.”
“That dream’s far from coming true! You can’t pay me to get into that water!”
“That’s true enough.”
Mom’s voice sounded from the area she usually hunted for birds in. She was calling for one of us to help her. Yuna began running off, ready to help mom.

I stayed put, figuring she could handle it. I continued watching the small ripples in the water’s surface.
I looked up, and thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.
On the small island in the center of the river, I could see a small boy, about eight years old, standing there. His dark brown hair covered his eyes and his skin was extremely pale.
His hands.
His hands had bruises and blood, just like the hand that grabbed mine, in the dream.
“Go away…” I muttered, attempting to hide the mix of terror and anger in my voice.
He still stood, silent.
“Go away!” I yelled.
He refused to respond or move.
“What do you want from me?!”
He glanced up at me, his eyes the same glazed white as the ones in my dream. He slowly lifted his hand and pointed to where Yuna had just run off.
“No! You can’t have her!”
“Quinn, what are you doing?!”
Yuna came running to me, noticing the hysterical screaming.
I looked back, and the boy was gone. He had disappeared into thin air.
“Quinn? What happened?” Yuna asked me.
“Nothing. I just thought I saw something.”
“Alright, I guess…”

Midnight

I barely fell asleep, dreading the thought of another terrifyingly realistic nightmare. Much to my dismay, I eventually dozed off, slipping into a light sleep.

Unfortunately, I woke up inside another dream…at least, I think it was a dream.

I was at the river, again. Only this time, the time and weather in the dream matched that in the real world. Dark, cold, and slightly cloudy. There was a layer of fog covering the place for as far as the eye could see. The water was murky and dark, and I couldn’t see the bottom.
I looked around, not knowing if this really was a dream.
“Yuna? Mom? Is anyone here?” I asked, looking around.

For once, I began quivering from fear and dreaded the cold and dark environment. The lack of people or animals was frightful and the thought of being alone, in this place, gave me goosebumps.

I then noticed a shape in the fog. It was a child, looking about Yuna’s age.

“Yuna? Is that you?”

No response.

“Please don’t play games, now, I’m actually creeper out, right now.”

She began running in the opposite direction.

“Yuna? Why are you running away?” I pursued her, running in the same direction.

She actually had surprisingly superior speed. I could see her shape, in front of me, so I kept running. I was getting nowhere close to her, keeping the same distance between us as we ran through the crisp fog.

As I ran, I saw the shape of another child appear, but I ignored and passed it, intent on getting me and my sister out of here.
Another child appeared, then another, then another.
Soon enough, there were the silhouettes of children everywhere, surrounding me. I kept bumping into a few, but I kept running.
I kept running, but I couldn’t tell who was Yuna and who wasn’t.

Noon

I didn’t get any sleep, after I had awoken from that awful nightmare. I just wanted to go into a dreamless sleep and never wake up. And just my luck, Mom was on a ‘breakthrough’ with her research. Which meant another day spent in paranoia and terror with that damnable river. For real, this time.
I didn’t even want to look at the water, but Yuna was wandering down the shore, again, and I did not want to lose her, like in the dream. I followed her all day, making sure that there were no children besides me and her.
So far, so good. It was just me and her, and no sight or sound of other children.

However, Mom called for us and Yuna ran off, telling me to wait here. She disappeared before I could reply.

I did not want to be alone, and I did not want to be this close to the edge of the water.
I looked around, afraid that the boy which I’ve been seeing would appear.
No.
I’m sick of living in fear, in a place that once brought me happiness. This damnable child has made my mind a living hell and wants my sister to become whatever the f**k he is. I want justice. I want vengeance.
“Show yourself!” I threw a rock into the river. “Face me instead of hiding, you coward!”
I saw the boy, standing in a deep spot of the river. Water concealed anything below his chin. His white eyes glared at me as I threw another rock.
“Leave us alone!” I yelled at him.
He slowly shook his head in disagreement.
“B*****d!”
Without warning, I leaped into the water, and wrapped my fingers around his neck. I forced him underwater, and squeezed the tender muscles, until I felt thin strands of meat snapping from underneath his skin.
“Leave us alone! Leave us alone! Leave us alone! Go away!”
I felt the boy’s small, frail body go limp, under the water.

“…what have I just done? I’ve killed a child….”
I pulled his body to the surface, then vomited in my mouth, and gave a blood curdling scream.
I cried and screamed as I looked at the body of my dear sister.

  • Kimberly Schutt

    Wow amazing! Very well written. Had me at the edge of my couch lol. Did not expect that twist at the end! Major props to you. Wish I could write that well. Really painted a picture. Keep it up! <3

  • Celine Pascale

    That was such a plot twist omg😱

  • Bryan Nelson

    Very good story. A good plot for the paranormal/supernatural Genre. The character development, and the overall flow of the story needs a bit a work but that can be hard to do when cramming slot of information in a short amount of words.

    Overall it was well thought out, and the twist at the end was quite pleasing, and chilling. It revealed the main character either has psychological complications, or paranormal activity is involved.

    The cut off was perfect for a short story. Keep writing. You only get better. Thanks for sharing.