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Judel
Man in the Lake
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Man in the Lake
I knew it would happen tonight.  I’d noticed earlier that the water was incredibly still, like it was a pane of glass on the ground. Stranger still was there was no reflection. The full moon shone brightly in the night sky, but the lake looked like a black hole, sucking in all light and leaving nothing behind.
The first time it happened I thought I must be dreaming.  What else could explain this man walking out of the water, fully dressed, and being completely dry when he stepped on shore?  I’d snuck out that night for a solitary swim but held back when the water shifted, going black and still as ink.  That was most unusual, especially since there was an overshot water mill across the lake that constantly churned it, leaving small wakes on the surface throughout from one side to the other.
I glance across the surface to see the water mill frozen, its giant wheel no longer moving, the water that usually fueled it no longer flowing. The same thing happened last time, so it wasn’t surprising to see it again.  It was then I also noticed a bird, frozen in flight, its wings spread out but no longer sailing across the lake looking for fish. I kept waiting to wake up, but it didn’t happen, and then the man returned to the water, and the event finally ended, and I went to bed.  I even pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t asleep.
So now I sit patiently waiting for him to return.  I’d been so shocked the first time that I didn’t utter a sound.  I doubt he even knew I’d been there, but this time I fully intend to make my presence known and speak to him. I need to know who he is, and why he seems to live in the lake.
The surface of the lake breaks as a head emerges. I hold my breath as his neck, shoulders, torso, lets and then feet appear as he walks toward shore.  It’s then I stand and approach him. He spots me and freezes, and I wonder if he’s going to turn and run back into the water. The moon doesn’t reflect off him either, so I can’t make out his face.
I hold out my hand and smile, knowing he must be able to see my face. The moon is bright and certainly illuminates me just fine.  “Please don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.”
He chuckles. “Shouldn’t you be afraid of me?”
I gasp, somehow assuming he wouldn’t speak English. I can’t detect any accent.  “Where are you from?”
I’m finally close enough to see his face, but it’s heavily shadowed.  It’s so eerie how no light reflects off him. His features are muddied, and I can’t focus on anything, not even his eyes.  I get the impression he’s smiling. 
“The lake.”
“The lake,” I reply with a grin. My gaze drops to his clothing, which is skin tight and made from a strange shimmery fabric. I can see that better than any other part of him.  “Do you mind if I touch you?”
There’s a pause before he shakes his head. “No, go ahead.”
My hand is shaking as I reach out to him, my fingertips gently stroking the material at his shoulder.  It changes color as I touch it, though I can’t recognize the shade.  “It’s beautiful.”
“So are you.”
My cheeks heat at the unexpected complement.  He’s right though, I should be afraid of him. Why aren’t I?  “Do you have a name?”
“None you would understand.”
I nod, gesturing to the lake with my head.  “How do you live there?  Can you really breathe underwater?”
“Would you like to see?”
I shake my head briskly, finally afraid that he might grab me and take me under the water with him.
“It’s only a doorway. There is no water beneath the surface.”
He can’t be serious, but how else can it be explained? He’s dry, and it’s as if time itself has frozen.  That makes me wonder why I’m aware of it, since everything else has stopped.
“Am I dreaming?”
“If you are, there’s nothing to fear.”  He slowly holds out his hand.
I look at it for a moment, knowing I should go home, but I did come back hoping to see him again. Maybe this would be my last chance to see where he’s from.  I reach out and slide my fingers up his palm, and his fingers close over mine.  I feel a jolt as our skin meets, and I’m no longer afraid.
He turns and heads back out to the water, and I follow beside him, never looking away from his face. Just before we slip in over our heads, and I gasp to see he has no face. “Oh no,” I open my mouth to scream but then we sink lower.
--
Jude
Oh, this is so creepy. Didn't expect that ending.


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