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Violence

Mortem

by Azathoth


Beams of sunlight stream through the blowing leaves of the tall trees. The warm breeze makes them rustle and makes a calm and subtle song. Dragonflies mingle with flies over the lake as they try to escape the mouth of a frog. The viridian water gently moves with the warm breeze and slowly moves sticks through the forest in the liquid. A small cabin near the lake creaks as a piece of the roof falls off. It is old and decrepit and constantly neglected.

The boat floats quietly in the murky water, its once bright red paint, now faded and chipped away. A small bird with brown feathers and a yellow beak chirps as it softly lands on the side of the boat, causing it to move slightly and make the water ripple.

The man in the boat swipes his hand at the bird and it flies away nearly instantly. His bushy beard and red flannel shirt move as he sits back into his boat. He looks down with pain in his eyes and stares at a picture of a woman, smiling against the backdrop of the very lake the man floats in and a fully loaded gun.

The more he stares at the picture the more his eyes start to well up with tears. His shaking hand holds up the picture as he begins to cry, everything flowing out at once. He can’t contain his emotions but still, he sits in silence for he has no one to talk to. No one to listen to his woes. His tears slip through his thick beard and fall to the bottom of the point. He sits, in his cold, lonely, silence.

Fortunately, he is suddenly pulled away from his pain as something hits the bottom of his boat. It shakes and makes the water ripple. He looks out into the lake to look and see if he can find anything. To his left, there is nothing but empty water, flowing in tiny waves. To his right, a line has been carved in the liquid, a trail showing him the direction of whatever hit his boat. It keeps moving, getting further away before it stops entirely.

He slowly moves his hand down towards the gun, his hand shaking. Whatever is beneath the veil of water that conceals it, starts to move once again, leaving a trail in its wake. It turns around and begins to move to the boat. It moves faster than anything the man had seen before and it was far larger than any regular fish, he was terrified. His hand touched the side of the gun, the cold metal rubbing against his skin.

The thing in the water stops. It sits right next to the man’s boat. He picks up the gun and carefully moves closer to the edge of the vessel. The man peers over the side and sees something beneath the gentle ripple of the lake, something that he cannot see through the wall of liquid, something the size of the man himself.

The dark green water begins to bubble and swirl and move in illogical and unnatural ways, twisting and turning like a tornado, but it does not pull him in, nor does it move the boat at all. He sits perfectly still. Watching, waiting, and clenching his gun with a primal fear that has taken over his body and mind.

The water slowly begins to rise and eventually breaks and burst open to reveal a human. A woman. She rises up from the lake and walks on the very water she once swam in. The woman is the most beautiful person the man has ever seen, her golden hair shining in the sun, not a drip of water on her, despite the fact that she was fully submerged just moments earlier. She starts to wander closer to the boat, casually, as if she is not walking on a liquid.

“Greetings.” The woman speaks to the man. “What might your name be?” She leans in closer and observes the man as if she is remembering his face.

“H-H-Hugo is my name ma’am.” The man responds, his bearded face becoming ghostly pale.

“Hugo, darling.” The woman continues. “I need you to do something for me.” Her blue eyes stare into Hugo’s very soul.

“Yes, a-anything, of course,” Hugo replies, stuttering and stumbling over his words.

The woman whisper’s in his ear “Bring me a human, anyone, maybe one of your friends? That would work perfectly.” Hugo stares at her, his entire body shaking. He drops the gun to the bottom of the boat. Hugo was scared out of his mind, not because there was a woman standing on water in front of him, but because she was completely perfect in every way. Her eyes, an unnatural purple colour, pierce his very soul.

“Y-y-yes, of course, I can do that ma’am!” As soon as Hugo agrees with the woman, she drops back down into the water, and she disappears into the lake once again.

Hugo rows the boat to the shore as quickly as possible, with sheer determination and focus in his eyes. He steps out of the boat and runs through the dirt, turning it into mud with his wet boots. Hugo makes his way to his car as fast as he can, not stopping to get anything to take with him. He opens the door and slams it shut as he grabs his keys and turns on the ignition.

The car roars whilst he rolls hastily down the road, not another car in sight. The vehicle speeds along the dirt road, kicking up dust behind it the entire way. He turns off the radio as soon as he can and looks at the road in silence. Hugo sits in the driver’s seat, staring directly ahead and sweating. Sweating from the heat, but also sweating from his stress and determination.

The red car, covered in dirt, drives past the small houses and businesses throughout the small quiet town. The sound of life is absent from the town, except for the very few people who are out of their houses. Hugo sees a little girl named Delilah that is the daughter of one of his friends. He looks around frantically for a certain bar that he used to be a regular at. Eventually, he finds it and his car pulls up to the side of the road and Hugo parks, without much regard for how good his parking is.

He shoves his door open and walks up to the bar, leaving the car running as he does. Hugo walks into the bar, his movements stiff. He walks through the small crowd of people, drinking and talking loudly with each other. Every time Hugo walks by a group of people, they all stop talking and stare, followed shortly after by whispering about how long it's been since he’s been in town.

“Two months” Some of them would whisper “Two months since his wife passed.” Hugo ignores them all and continues making his way through the building. The harsh sunlight hits the stained glass all around the bar, illuminating the entire place in a colourful mesh of light. After an awkward walk through the room, Hugo finally stops, standing in the middle of the bar.

“Steven,” Hugo announces loudly and unnaturally. “Would you like to go to my place and have a few drinks?” He speaks far too formally compared to how he usually talks to people.

Steven, a tall blonde man, standing in the corner of the room and drinking with his friends looks over at Hugo.

“Uh, yeah, sure man… are you okay?” Steven asks as he walks over, drink still in hand.

“Of course, I am. What gives you the impression that I am not okay?” Hugo starts sweating even more, as he stares directly into Steven’s eyes.

“It hasn’t been that long since Mary passed man, you don’t seem well. Are you sure you're up for talking with people again? I mean… you should… it’s just that you don’t seem like you right now man.” Steven grows ever more concerned about his friend's well-being whilst he puts his hand on Hugo’s shoulder.

“Come with me, Steven. I really need you right now.” Hugo begins to act slightly less like alien and talks more solemnly. He isn’t acting as strange as before, but he isn’t acting completely normal either. Like an extra-terrestrial trying to pretend to be a human.

“Alright Hugo, sure, I’ll come with you, as long as you’re sure you’re up for this.” Steven agrees with Hugo and slowly takes his hand off his shoulder.

Hugo says nothing as he turns around and starts to walk out of the bar and steven follows behind, still not sure if he wants to go along with him.

They each sit next to each other in complete silence on the car ride back to the lake. Hugo continues to stare straight forward, almost unblinking. He keeps sweating, no matter what he tries, from the pure stress of his situation.

“Why does she want one of my friends?” Hugo thinks to himself “And why did she describe them as a ‘human’? What is she going to do with Steven? I know something is off but… I just can’t stop. I don’t know why, something about her… she looks so much like Mary. I have to stop thinking about it.”

He pulls up to the driveway and hops out of the car as soon as he can. Steven looks at Hugo suspiciously as he walks over to the edge of the lake. Steven unclips his seatbelt and leaves the car. His feet slam onto the dry ground and he carefully makes his way over to Hugo.

“What’s going on man?” Steven questions as he quietly walks up behind Hugo.

“There’s someone I want to show you, Steven.” Hugo stares into the water as it sloshes from side to side.

Steven looks over at Hugo, with a puzzled look on his face “Okay, so where are they? Why are we at a lake Hugo?”

As soon as Steven finishes speaking, he sees the water move and contort, just like before, when Hugo met the woman for the first time. Out of the murky lake emerges the beautiful woman once more. She looks at Hugo, with a face that not even the most trained psychologist could decode. No emotion and yet so much emotion at once. She then turns her head to Steven and stares directly into his eyes.

Very quickly, Steven begins screaming. He screams in a pure agonizing, blood-curdling terror, so loud that Hugo jumps at the very sound of it. Steven screams so loudly that birds in the trees fly away into the clouds. The only way to describe such a sound would be… primal. Something ancient, something that comes from times when humans were nothing but prey. Something horrifying.

As the woman starts to walk closer to him, Steven falls onto his back and tries to crawl away, but his arms stop. His legs stop too. His entire body stops moving as he is frozen still, yet he still screams. The woman grabs Steven by the hair and drags him along the ground and into the water.

He becomes submerged along with the woman, and the only thing he is able to get out before he is dragged underneath is “SIREN!”

His screams can still be heard by Hugo before the bubbles stop, and the viridian green of the lake becomes crimson red. Hugo can hear several objects snap, bend and tear from beneath the water.

The liquid ripples and splashes before the woman comes up from the lake. She steps forward as she wipes some leftover blood off of her mouth which splatters onto the ground next to Hugo. She puts her hand underneath his chin and whispers into his ear.

“Very good darling, but now, I need something… younger.” She licks her lips and walks back into the lake once again.

As Hugo watches the woman wander back into the water, his expression is of complete shock and terror. He stands in silence, water covering his clothes and blood on the ground next to him.

“What have I done?” Hugo thinks in his solitude “Why would she do that? What did Steven mean when he said ‘siren’? I know I’m not the most educated person ever, but how could I not know what the hell a Siren is? I guess I’ll have to figure it out while I’m getting the next perso-.” Hugo looks up at the sky, unblinking and unmoving. “What am I talking about? The next person? Surely I wouldn’t ever let this happen to someone else. But I want to, I really want to… I need to. What the hell is wrong with me?”

As Hugo stops thinking to himself, he finds himself inside the cabin, phone in hand. “When did I get here?” He says to himself out loud this time. “Damn it.”

He walks over to a chair nearby; the floorboards squeak with every step he takes. He slowly sits down on the chair and puts the phone to his face. Hugo leans over and dials in a number, getting the wire tangled as he does but untangling it once he is able to.

The phone rings in his ear over and over again as he waits for the person on the other end to pick up. Over and over the same sound drills into his ear the more he hears it. Finally, they pick up.

“Hello?” A woman’s voice greets Hugo on the other end.

“Hey, Sarah, it’s me, Hugo,” Hugo speaks to Sarah, a little less stressed now that he doesn’t have to see anyone’s face while talking to them. He closes his eyes while he sits in the chair.

“It’s been so long since I’ve seen you. Was there something you wanted to talk to me about?” Sarah asks Hugo in a certain tone. A tone that only some people know. The tone that is heard by someone who is grieving. The voice that someone puts on, the act they put on when they are pretending that they care. Pretending that this event affects their own life in any way at all. Hugo has gotten all too used to the tone already.

“Yes, I was wondering if Delilah needed any… babysitting. I am free after all.” Hugo starts sweating once again, he thought he was over the stress, but he is not, and it is apparent.

“Umm… yes, of course, that would be very helpful. I was actually going out tomorrow and it would be a pleasure if you could help me out. Are you sure that you’re okay?” Sarah asks him, while dishes are cleaned in the background of the call.

“Yes, I am perfectly fine.” Hugo hangs up on her as quickly as he can after his short response.

He opens his eyes again and looks at the roof. Hugo takes a heavy sigh as he begins to fall asleep on the very chair he sits on. He falls into darkness. Darkness that feels like it could be eternal if he is lucky.

A loud noise rattles the cabin. It continues as the sound slivers through the small wooden house and up to Hugo. A bang on the door awakens him. His eyes open, to the sight of the roof and the sound of somebody at the door. He slowly gets up out of the chair as it squeaks in harmony with the floorboards. He walks up to the desk beside him and places the phone back in its place.

Hugo makes his way over to the door and pulls it open. The first thing he lays his eyes upon is an incredibly tired-looking woman standing behind a little girl. The girl’s dress was sickeningly pink and colourful, something you would never expect from somebody living as far away from any city as her.

“Thank you so much for doing this Hugo, I really appreciate it,” Sarah says, the bags under her eyes saying it all for her. She kneels down to Delilah’s level and says goodbye to her. Afterwards, she leaves as soon as she possibly can, never looking back.

The girl turns back around and looks up at Hugo. “Hello, Mr Hugo.”

“Hello, Delilah” Hugo looks at her before noticing something to his side. In the lake, something moves. “Now Delilah, I have something I want to show you, how does that sound?” He doesn’t look at her or kneel down to her level at all.

“Okay, Mr Hugo,” Delilah responds, still fixed on his face, even though he is clearly not looking in her direction at all.

Hugo quickly walks over to the edge of the lake, Delilah trying her very best to keep up with his long strides. He stops and stares into the water, his entire body shaking as the little girl walks up beside him. She looks around at the lake, filled with curiosity.

“What did you want to show me, Mr Hugo?” Delilah asks her as she looks up at his face.

Hugo says nothing as he looks directly at the lake, right where Steven was taken. The water slowly sloshes and moves, thrashing about over and over. The woman slowly rises up from the lake, looking at Hugo, the exact same way as before, or at least he thinks so because he was never able to tell what look she was giving him in the first place.

Delilah looks on in shock and wonder at the woman. Shock and wonder that changes very quickly into shock and horror. Her face drops, her mouth opens, and she begins to scream. A primal scream, a scream from an ancient time. She stands still, staring at the woman’s eyes, never moving and never getting quieter. Hugo carefully moves his hand over to Delilah and covers her mouth with his hand as tears stream from his eyes. He doesn’t look at the woman, only at the water. Just the water moving from side to side, trying to find any form of comfort from the situation.

The woman takes over from Hugo and drags her fingers along his hand before covering Delilah’s mouth herself. The girl looks over at Hugo, her eyes saying a million things at once. The woman begins to drag her over and into the water, her pink dress becoming dirtied by the muddy water. She slowly begins to be submerged until Hugo can only see the top of her head.

Delilah expects this to be the end. She stares at Hugo, her tears never stopping and mixing with the water. She expects this to be the end before she hears a noise. A horrible noise most of the time but a comforting one, given the situation. A bang. A loud bang, cracking in her ears. The woman’s grip on the girl is released. Hugo reaches over for Delilah and drags her back to the shore whilst he holds the gun, smoke still emanating from the barrel.

The two look over at what once was the woman. Within the blood, dirt and water of the lake, something can be made out. Something primal. Something ancient. Something from the time when humans were prey. A siren.

Delilah cries and holds Hugo in her hands, and he does the same. “Run Delilah.” Hugo says to the girl “Run home and never speak of this again. Never speak of me again.” She does exactly what Hugo tells her to, and she begins to run. In the distance behind him, Hugo can make out the faint voice of the little girl.

“Thank you… Mr Hugo.” Hugo cries even more, not able to stop the tears. He drops to his knees and falls to the ground.

Later on in the boat, Hugo sits. In the exact same place he started. He sits and stares at a picture of his smiling wife, his best friend, and a fully loaded gun.


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79 Reviews

Points: 7948
Reviews: 79

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Fri Mar 17, 2023 1:11 am
cookiesandcream123 wrote a review...



Hi there! Cookiesandcream here for a review.

First off, wow, that ending was a punch to the gut. It really comes back full-circle to the beginning, except the situation's worse than before (like... by a lot), and I love that. It has that fun, bittersweet tragedy that hooks readers in. RIP Hugo. Also, I can tell the plot is really well-thought out.

Now, the pacing as a whole feels pretty balanced. There's a clear start, middle, and end, and I don't think the events are dragged out at all. However, for constructive feedback, there might be a few individual sentences (and maybe descriptions) that can be shortened.

Ex:

It turns around and begins to move to the boat.


I notice you use the phrases "starts to..." or "begins to..." a lot. In some places, though, you can just remove them to make the sentence stronger.

"It turns around and moves toward the boat."

A loud noise rattles the cabin. It continues as the sound slivers through the small wooden house and up to Hugo.


Here, I think the second part can be shortened to...:

"The sound slivers through the small wooden house and up to Hugo."

...Since you've included many descriptions already. All in all, just a few little things!

Some words were repetitive, like "walks" when he was entering the bar, or "looks" when Delilah was following Hugo. It's not super important though, and I was still immersed in the story.

Love how you described the setting, the siren, and Steven's death. That scene was chilling, especially when the water turned red. Overall, awesome job! I really enjoyed this story, and I would love to read more of your writing!




Azathoth says...


That you so much for the review, I will certainly take your feedback into consideration next time.



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365 Reviews

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Reviews: 365

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Thu Mar 16, 2023 7:02 pm
Fishr wrote a review...



Hello, there. Welcome to YWS.

I’ll be honest straight off before I begin, I was not satisfied with the story, and here is my reasoning.

There is far too much-telling readers actions such as the character did this and did that. After a while, a story will become monotonous, mundane, and very dull. The only detail that marginally saved the plot was the mysterious creature hidden now the deaths of the water. After that, it becomes jarring and confusing. Who was this strange woman and why did she require sacrifices? And why did Hugo agree to the murders? Like, what?

All this said, I quite enjoyed the descriptions are the beginning of the story about how nature reacted to a presence of a human invading their space. Very nice.




Azathoth says...


I appreciate the feedback, I will try to do better next time, thank you.




The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.
— Aristotle