Winter was especially harsh this year, even though we tried to keep ourselves warm with heavy wools and jackets, cold was still seeping into our skins. Among many inconveniences at least there was a silver lining – the view of the lake was breathtaking. This lake is kind of important for this recital as the whole story revolves around the lake.
To start with, we moved to this little northern town last summer. Though the name of the town is of no importance, it’s worth noting that the nearby town was 200 kms away. Isolation was one of the attractions that this little town had to offer. Being the youngest child among 3 siblings, I was sent to junior high as soon as we settled in this town. The school term started in the month of June. I was thoroughly intrigued by the local culture, most of it because the kids in this town were overwhelmingly well behaved and silent. As soon as I got introduced to the new class, I made two best friends. They both were local boys of my age, which till now I think was the best age to explore new and hidden places that the town had to offer. Every day, after school, we three venture into the remote places of town and make our own childish story for every wrecked house we see, every oddly giant tree we see and the lake that lay adjacent to the town. Of all the stories, we made, the lake had us guessing and we came up with different stories, that none of us believed, sort of though. Following is the story as recited by one of my friends:
“It’s not a lake, it’s a sanctuary of a lake demon, Octorus. It’s not easy to keep him happy, you see. You may ask, why we need to keep him happy? The answer is we have no other choice. Octorus has been living in the lake for ages now, legend has it, once Octorus ruled the land some thousand years ago. When humans started flocking in to this part of the country, they had to parley with the lake demon, committing humans will present the lake demon with offerings every full moon and in return the lake demon will let the humans live in peace. Since then people of this town give offerings to this lake demon every full moon.”
My immediate interruption was “It’s such a conventional and overly told story”
My friend continued with irritation, “Then I guess, you already believe in the legend. Anyways, to continue, people say no one has ever seen Octorus till now. Every full moon night they just leave the offering by the side of the lake & find the offering gone by next day morning. The night in question, said to be the quietest of all; trees stand still, wind resorts to silence and the mountains stand watching as the night unfolds.”
“That’s spooky!”, I exclaimed.
My other friend spoke quickly with a hint of laughter, “You think that’s spooky. Listen to my imagination then. It’s not a lake, as you may think at the first look. It’s rather more than a lake. It’s a womb of a creature, that gives life to its babies. The little creatures, they move around the town and every midnight they come to drink from this life-giving lake. Though they don’t hurt any human beings in the town, every full moon they crave for human blood. They sneak into anyone’s house with open window or door & snatch one of the family members. To avoid this from happening, the town members decided that every full moon, all the houses must be checked for closure before the night falls. But still, these hungry monsters keep tapping on the windows all night, trying to find a way into the house.”
By this time, I was properly scared & asked them to return back to the town. As deserved, they made fun of me being spooked so easily.
Days and months went by and we three grew stronger friendship bonds. With the start of December, which brought snow with it, our winter vacation started. I was more excited about Christmas than the beautiful frosty days that was passing by. We three friends had so much in common that we never had to decide what to play or where to go, we just had to makeup our minds. One thing was our daily routine, that is visiting the lake. In December, the lake was partly frozen and partly turned into black color. But still the sight of the lake was breathtaking.
Finally, it was Christmas eve and I was excited about receiving gifts at the midnight. It was kind of a family tradition that we exchanged gifts on the break of 25th December. Or more like, our father gave us pretty gifts. Christmas eve dinner was warm and filling. Mother wanted us to be well feed because of the excitement we show around mid-night. Around 9pm we were asked to go to bed. Unknowingly, I fell asleep quickly, hoping mother will wake me up at mid-night.
I woke up drawing a heavy breath. Why? I dint know. I heard someone calling my name. It wasn’t mother, though. I looked at the watch and it was 11:30pm. Being a little light headed I walked towards the door to see if other family members were awake. I heard my name again, someone shouted this time and it came from outside the house. I ran to the window of my room & saw my friends standing near the house’s lawn. I was happy to see them; thinking they have come to wish us merry Christmas, I waved at them. But, something was strange with those two, infact, something was strange with the whole town. I waved at them, again. But no reply, they both were just standing still. I looked around at the town & noticed, not a single trace of wind, trees were as silent as it gets, the moon, it was full phased & staring back from the sky. It was a full moon night! I shiver ran through my spines. I quickly opened the window & shouted the names of my friends. Still no response. They were just standing like some mannequins. I tried focusing at them, dim street light wasn’t much of a help but I saw what looked less human & more demon-like. They both had no eye-balls in their eye sockets & their mouth was parted from ear to ear. I was about to faint, however, I gathered myself and ran to my parent’s room.
I was stuttering more & speaking less. My parents calmed me down, rather quickly. We all were in the kitchen, downstairs, I told them what I saw and the legend of the lake – a monster resides in the lake and little demons move around in the town hunting for human blood, also I told them how these demons search for open windows or doors. Oddly, my father had also heard of those legends. Suddenly, there was a big noise upstairs. Open windows! I forgot to close the window! I gasped and shouted “I forgot to close the window”. Looking at my hysteria, my father told us to go to the car & wait for him. He wanted to check upstairs, I tried stopping him, I cried and shouted, but in vain. He started walking slowly towards the stairway. Meanwhile, we, rest of the family, went to the garage & started the car. It was about 2 minutes that we were waiting in the car, my father came running & jumped into the car. He was panting & dint speak a word. He started the car & drove out of the garage. My mother was asking, “What’s going on? Where are we going?” Father replied calmly “I heard about the legend, that our son spoke of, & never believed it to be true. You will see when we drive by the lake, what exactly is this legend.” I was shivering by the thought of my close friends turning into demons. Whole town was silent; we were the only one driving. Within few minutes we started exiting the town through a hilly road, that gave a clear view of the lake. My father stopped the car, as we were safely away from the town. We all came out of the car and stared at the lake. Few thousand humanly figures were littered around the lake. They all seemed to be kneeling at the shore and drinking from the lake. Suddenly there was a low frequency noise and a figure emerged from the lake. “Octorus”, I whispered. It was a strange creature. Monster, yes, but not a demon. It was like a overblown size of wolf and snake, combined in a single body. My father spoke “Guess, we have seen enough. Time to drive away, as far as possible & try to forget what we saw tonight”. As we drove 200kms to the nearby town, I stared at the full moon & whispered “I will miss my friends”
So, that was my encounter with the demon town. Though we were scared, but we will never forget the beauty that the snowy lake-town held.