Dreams in the Lake House
Written by Kristopher Middlebrooks
Adapted & Edited by Salim Almumin
The night fades and gives way to the following day. As the sun begins to rise over the horizon the old buildings of the city of Arkham seem to tower over the distant dawn. Arkham, Massachusetts has historically been known for being the pinnacle of the American Dream; the American ethos being at the forefront of its conception. Such industry was dreamt out of Arkham...such a shame to see how time has taken its toil on this once proud and majestic metropolis. The old streets sit now in a dirty and gritty state of decay. No one in the city ever seems to dream anymore, for too many people with other dreams are now moving in.
As the morning presses on, the people of the city take to its interwoven streets. The only remnant of nature is the wind itself. A soothing breeze blows upon the citizens as they go about the hustle and bustle of their busy day-to-day lives. The cramped streets are littered with filth as the citizens step over the abundance of homeless cluttering the sidewalks and street corners. Some offer money while others walk by averting their gaze as they make their way to local shops or jobs. Standing outside an electronics store, a homeless couple peers in through the display window watching the morning's news broadcast. The news anchor is delivering a report on the influx of immigration within the city. Recorded footage plays showing a local inbred being punched to the ground by some the city's disgruntled denizens. As the video continues to play the homeless couple stare on blankly at the screen. Despite the grisly spectacle unfolding before their eyes no emotion appears to escape from their faces.
The sleepy city has come alive now with cars and people moving quickly here and there all throughout the busy boulevard. The sheriff department sits nestled deep in the heart of downtown. Inside the building, a middle-aged woman sits at her desk typing on her computer. The sound of people working echoes throughout the halls of the small building as the smell of coffee, donuts, and breakfast burritos permeates the air. The woman listens to the radio as she works. Eventually the music she is listening to gradually gives way to a calming transition from the song to a local talk show.
“Things never really are as bad as they seem. Comforting thought really. This is Terrence Macklin here and welcome back to the show. That was the Pied Pipers who played this song live, interestingly enough, on this day in 1945 at the Majestic on April 27th.. A real jazz classic for sure. Well, today, I have someone on that disagrees with the Pied Pipers. He thinks things are really as bad as they seem. That’s right! Introducing the local legend, the man himself, the one whose responsible for the purist water in town. John McKay of McKay Water.”
“Thanks for having me on Terrence.”
“You’ve been causing quite the stir lately. Fighting for small business all while standing up to the Marsh's overreach and being one of the hardest critics of the Mayor. Your criticism seems to be met with disdain from most media outlets as well as the Marsh's conglomerate. I am curious to know. What you think the root of our city's problem really is?”
“Well, Terrence, I think the root of the problem we are facing is that the mayor seems to not care about this city anymore: its history or the Arkham legacy. The people of Arkham used to dream big. I mean we were once the beacon of American industry. Now Arkham industry is dying. Do you know how impossible it is to compete with conglomerates absorbing everything around you? If you don’t accept a buy out from these mongrels. Then you just won’t survive. I mean even the middle class is struggling to make income. They’re about to be nonexistent at this point. They're becoming homeless. Ever since the mayor's new tax plan homelessness has sky rocketed. I think-”
“I don’t mean to interrupt, but some argue that the Mayor's tax plan has given the lower class a fighting chance. Giving the homeless not only medical but housing. If times are tough for a businessman like you. Imagine what the Mayor's tax plan is like for them.”
“I am not trying to say we shouldn’t have programs to help the less fortunate. What I am trying to say, Terrence, is that the mayor's tax plan has really only created more disadvantages for everyone. It’s only helped the bigger businesses out. Look, it's simple! Mayor Howard has sold Arkham out to the Marshes. The last thing we need is for their new factory to be built. There is too many people in Arkham already. It’s unsustainable. We are on the break of collapse. This new facility is only going to cause more people to move to this city. Too many from our port cities are deciding to come here as it is. I think we need to-”
“But wouldn’t the Marshes new factory actually boost our economy for the better? You accuse the mayor of not caring, yet he has allowed a major company to settle here. It will only add jobs not decrease them. Of course more people will want to come in. They want to work. I don’t see the problem of allowing more migration from our port cities to the main city at all. What are you suggesting exactly? Are you sure you’re not just jealous, because McKay Water didn’t get a tax break?”
“Look, I am just suggesting that we stop letting the Marshes buy us out! I mean just look what happened to the Wyatt’s. Their paper company is gone now. They didn’t get tax cuts either by the way. I just don’t want my business to follow suit! The Marshes are already looking to absorb any businesses they can. Their monopoly is unacceptable! They’ve already bought up most of the city’s water companies as it is. It’s apparent that their trying to privatize the rest of this city’s water companies. I won’t have it! I will not sell my business! My family worked hard to create this company...to offer the purest water around. The McKay legacy will not be trashed or made into a villain! The mayor is-”
Suddenly the woman looks up from her desk to see an officer walking over to the breakfast table. She switches off her radio watching as the officer takes the last burrito. A light sigh escapes from her lips. The officer removes the foil from the breakfast snack and baptizes the burrito in sauce. Taking a huge bite, he then looks to the woman at the desk and says,
“Thanks Samantha! You’re the best!”
“Enjoy.” Samantha says putting on a half-hearted smile.
In his office, Sheriff Ryker sits at his desk hard at work. The top of his desk is covered with missing people reports and unsolved cases. Ryker picks up one of the case files from his desk. This one contains a picture of a 24-year-old woman named Deborah Wood. Sheriff Ryker turns the page to review the data on the report. He turns to the next page and shutters in horror upon seeing the pictures of the woman's dead body---she has been mutilated beyond recognition. His concentration is then broken by a knock at the door.
“Come in.” he says in reply.
Samantha proceeds to enter the room holding coffee and donuts and says,
“Hello Sheriff. I thought you might want some coffee and donuts before it's all gone.”
“Always, thank you Samantha.” Sheriff Ryker responds giving her a warm grin.
“Those boys out there are locust I swear it!” Samantha says walking to his desk.
Sheriff Ryker smiles as he attempts to cover up the images of the mutilated woman, but his hands aren't fast enough. Samantha sees them anyway as she reaches over to hand him his coffee. She stops, takes a deep breath, and forces a smile before asking,
“Is that the file that officer from Pineburyport brought you?”
“Yes.” Ryker says in reply.
“From those bear attacks?” Samantha asks.
“Yes, I am sorry you had to see that. I should have covered all this up before you came in.” Ryker answers.
“No, it’s alright. It’s just so sad that such beautiful young women had to have their life ended so cruelly. I can’t imagine how horrific it must have been to be ravaged by a bear. I’ve been trying not to think about it, but I saw last night on the news how another woman has gone missing in Pinebury. It’s so awful.” Samantha says shaking her head.
“Yes, it’s strange how women keep going missing though, don’t you think?” Ryker says with a squint in his eye.
“Yes, but you know some of them Pinebury folk are strange, inbred the lot of ‘em! Soon enough the whole city will have them mongrels walking aimlessly about! I’ve been hearing on the news on how their kind are moving away from the port cities! Especially now with that new Marsh facility! Them from the port cities just ain't right...so deformed and- ” Samantha carries on; practically on the verge of ranting.
Sheriff Ryker gives Samantha a look that seems to say that he wants to get back to work. This makes Samantha feel a bit embarrassed so she composes herself, and then says,
“But I guess that doesn’t make them suspectable enough to fall prey to wild animals though.”
After a slight pause, Samantha walks closer to Sheriff Ryker's desk and places the donuts down. She looks over the gore and mutilation of the female victims as the Sheriff takes a doughnut. She looks at each picture in horror. Sheriff Ryker smiles at her in an attempt to calm her nerves, but after a minute Samantha looks to him and says,
“Sheriff, is some there killer about?”
“I don’t know yet, it’s highly possible. Officer Anthony seems concerned and I think I need to go down there and have a look. Maybe it will ease his mind.”
“Well, I will leave you to your work then.” Samantha says turning to leave.
Sheriff Ryker nods at Samantha who smiles in return. She approaches the door, but as she places her hand on the handle she stops and looks back him. The sheriff takes a bite out of a doughnut and looks back down at the file on his desk.
“Ryker please be careful down there. Pineburyport is not what it used to be. Nothing is like what it used to be really. My grandmother told me such terrible tales about the port cities. There is always a hint of truth in those old tales. So please be careful. Just...be careful and enjoy your breakfast.”
“Thank you, Samantha. I appreciate your concern and all that you do for this office. I’ll let you know if I decide to pay a visit to Pineburyport.”
Samantha smiles as she leaves Ryker to his work. He is so much like her husband---always working. A wary smile hides her growing concern as she closes the door behind her.
Ryker takes another bite from his doughnut as he looks back to the file. Upon closer inspection, he notices that Ms. Wood's wounds are very deep. The width of each gory laceration seems much larger than that of a bear's claw. His concentration is again broken, this time by the phone ringing. Ryker looks at the phone, and then over to the miniature statue of Michelangelo’s Pieta, "The Pity", positioned beside it. The Blessed Mother is holding the dead body of Jesus, her son, in her arms. This statue and image have always helped Ryker remain focused during times of hardship. As he sits gazing at the statue he feels a bizarre sensation, as if something ethereal is calling to him, but he soon shakes the feeling away coming back to reality. He quickly picks up the phone and says,
“Sheriff Ryker here. How may I help you?”
“Sheriff, it’s Officer Anthony.” the voice on the phone says.
“I am glad you called. I wanted to ask you some questions on the missing persons file. The report you sent me. Some of it seems well...I think in some parts you may be on to-” Sheriff Ryker begins explaining, but Officer Anthony soon cuts him off.
“Sir, there is another one...or two I should say.”
“What?” Ryker exclaims.
“We found a vehicle at Lake Hadad. There is blood everywhere. I think you should come look. Something is not right here. Please come down. Sir, I am begging you.” Anthony pleads.
“I’ll be there soon.”
The Sheriff hangs up the phone and looks back at all the files on his desk. Nearly all of the of the missing persons are female. Ryker gets up, puts on his coat, and leaves his office. Not long after, Sheriff Ryker is making his way down the road heading to Lake Hadad. It’s about an hour's drive from the city to Pineburyport. This leaves Ryker with plenty of time to think on all he read in Officer Anthony's report. It is true that bears attack people, but never this frequently. Sheriff Ryker sees a trio of road signs coming up on the road: Dunwich 15 miles, Pineburyport 22 miles, Innsmouth 42 miles. Ryker is getting close to his destination.
Once Sheriff Ryker has arrived at Pineburyport he looks up to see that a mass of dark dreary clouds shroud the port city in an oppressive darkness. The Sheriff turns right leaving the main street. He soon exits the port city area heading to the lake, but before he leaves the city limits he passes by an apartment complex. As Sheriff Ryker drives next to the apartment building he starts to feel deeply disturbed. Coming to a stop sign, he looks over at the sickly structure. Ryker stares at the building with a pensive gaze, inspecting it closely. There is some form of black oil which stains the east wall. There is also a strange manner of shadow that drapes over the place; very peculiar seeing as it is the middle of the day. Some movement near a broken window catches the Sheriff's eye putting him on edge. From a partially broken boarded-up window an obese deformed naked body peers out with a cold and menacing glare. Ryker sees the outline of someone standing there in that window. Whoever it is appears to be watching him. The sheriff drives ahead worried about what awaits him in Pineburyport.
Before long Sheriff Ryker drives past a sign that reads "WELCOME TO LAKE HADAD". A few moments later, the sheriff arrives at the lake and parks near the shore. Sheriff Ryker steps out of his patrol car and walks over to meet with Officer Anthony. Anthony is accompanied by two other police officers who are all there surveying the gory scene lain out before them. It looks like a typical crime scene. Anthony steps forward to greet the sheriff and the two men shake hands.
“Officer Goss called it in 40 minutes ago. He said he saw a truck out at the lake, and that there was blood and guts everywhere. We ran the license plates and it's old Donald's boy, Jeremy, the local drug dealer in town.” Anthony says gesturing towards the truck.
“Who else?” Sheriff Ryker asks without pause.
“Richard Hemmings. His mother called in this morning, said he wasn’t at home. I am sure you can guess who he was last seen with.”
Officer Anthony leads Ryker over to inspect the gory scene. The Sheriff surveys the area and finds lumps of human flesh, a finger, guts, and blood stains strewn about all coming to an end at the water’s edge. He looks in the bed of the truck and there spies a bag of weed, chips, and an unopened 24 pack of Arkham-craft beer called Gibbous Moon. He crouches and looks beneath the truck to find one of the boys cellphones landed underneath it. Sheriff Ryker gives a frustrated sigh before standing back up to his feet.
“Do you really think it’s a bear attack, Sheriff?” Anthony asks the Sheriff after a long silence.
Sheriff Ryker rubs the back of his neck and replies,
“I don’t know...it doesn’t seem right.”
“You think it's murder?” Anthony quickly asks.
“Could be, or it’s something else.” Ryker answers as his attention begins to stray.
“Like what?” Officer Anthony inquires desperate for an answer.
At that moment, Sheriff Ryker looks out upon the lake. Out in the distance, he catches sight a volcanic stub vulgarly jutting up from the watery depths. Its uncanny visage fills Ryker with a deeply unsettling feeling. The very image alone seems to cast an ominous spell over the sheriff's heart and mind. The sickening sensation is so oppressive until it gives Ryker cause to pray. His fingers clasp the tiny cross that he wears around his neck as he continues to stare at the blasphemous formation. Finally after an uncomfortably long pause Sheriff Ryker responds,
“I am not sure, but I am going to stay in town for a while...to look into things.”
“You are? Good. Bears my ass!” Anthony replies.
Officer Anthony joins Sheriff Ryker in staring out at the stub in the middle of the lake. As he stares at it, he too feels compelled to prayer in an attempt to ward away the overwhelming feelings that wash over him. Both men sense what the other is feeling.
“You feel it too? The Evil?” Anthony finally says.
Sheriff Ryker nods and says,
“Yes, for the time being let’s get all this cleaned up and taken care of. We'll talk later.”
“Yes sir.” Officer Anthony replies nodding back.
Anthony turns to carry out the Sheriff's orders, but stops when he hears Sheriff Ryker call out to him,
“Sheriff?” Anthony responds turning back around.
“Let’s keep this quiet.” Sheriff Ryker says putting his finger to the side of his nose.
Officer Anthony nods and walks off as Sheriff Ryker turns to look back over the lake. Once more he takes note of the trail of blood leading to the water. He looks out to the stub of the ancient volcano trying to imagine what could have possibly happened here.
Meanwhile, in the lake house on the opposite side of the lake, Liam lies passed out on the living room couch of his newly inherited domicile. There are bottles of wine, wrappers, and leftover scraps of food scattered everywhere around. The cuckoo clock by the front door begins to sound off the hour causing Liam to awaken with a start. He looks disoriented and disheveled as the clock finishes chiming two more times revealing the hour to be three in the afternoon. Liam shakes his head and gets up to go to the bathroom. After relieving his bladder of all the toxic booze he drank the night before he steps over to the sink to wash his hands. He momentarily stops and begins to examine himself in the mirror. A moment passes before he releases a deep displeased sigh. Lifting up his shirt to see his belly he can barely stand the sight of himself. He feels so fat and ugly. He must have gained at least 2 pounds. Ever since his parents' death he has really let himself go. Liam looks up at himself again. He is hungover and the feeling of dizziness is beginning to get the better of him. He sighs at himself once more before looking over to the bathtub. The sight of the tub evokes another memory from Liam's childhood.
Liam sees himself there as a small boy playing with his old rubber ducky in the tub. His mother is knelt down beside him rubbing shampoo into his hair. The cloud patterned sky-blue walls of the bathroom give a stark contrast to the all-black clothing his mother is wearing. His mother smiles and says,
“My beautiful boy, you’re so precious.”
Liam looks up and laughs.
“I love you, Mommy.” he says with a cheerful smile.
Liam's Dad then walks in to the bathroom. A look of concern weighs heavy upon his face.
“Heather, my dear, I need to speak with you.”
As the memory fades, Liam stands there still peering over at the same old tub from his youth. Even the rubber ducky remains to serve as a painful reminder of that which time has stolen. Liam walks over and picks up the old toy. Staring down at it nestled in the palm of his hand, Liam sighs deeply.
“I miss you, Mom.”
A few moments later, Liam enters his parents’ old room. Within the Wyatt’s antiquarian room there sits a cozy-looking bed, and there next to that bed sits a table upon which rests several books and a set of candles. The desk contains some of his mother's makeup and his father's old record player. Liam smiles as his memories go to his father who loved to dance to old-fart music. He picks up a bottle of his mother's perfume and releases mournful sigh as the smell makes its way up his nose. It is as if their spirits still linger within of walls of this room; the place where they spent their most intimate moments. Liam feels as though he can almost see them---but alas, there is nothing there. For in Liam's mind, he knows there is no life after death nor is there some heavenly father who resides above, so in order to quell his burdensome thoughts he walks over to the record player and turns it on. The song that plays is called "Dream of Witches’ Sabbath". Liam picks up the case of the record. The cover reads Berlioz Symphone Fantastique Monteux/Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The cover art strikes Liam as strange for it features "The Temptation of St. Anthony" by Callot. Liam winces out a smile and says,
“Still works, but Dad I am afraid our music tastes were very different.”
Liam exits the lake house into the backyard and heads down to the dock. He walks to a quaint little boat hitched at the dock holding a cooler in hand. The boat is an old sturdy row boat with long oars on both sides. Liam sets the cooler down inside the boat and gets in. Taking the oars in hand, Liam rows out into the lake---but not too far. After several minutes of rowing, Liam stops and takes out his dairy. He then proceeds to write down his thoughts amid the somber tranquility of his surroundings.
“The memories of this place are placid as its waters. I am taken back to what it meant to be a child. The embrace of the mother; the comforter, the protector, and provider. All these things she was to me growing up. The most important thing of all was she was my friend. I remember how she would talk business with father. Having to leave me to my own devices usually in the library. My father; the hard worker, strong and wise, instilling within me honor and chivalry. He was always working hard to ensure that our family and town had economic prosperity---ambitious to continue the family legacy by extending the business beyond Arkham. The family business, the Wyatt foundation, or so they called it was responsible for distributing the paper out of Pineburyport to the city, from Arkham city to Dunwhich, from Dunwhich to Kingsport.( Or, so, that is how the business started) it later branched out to Innsmouth and then to the rest of America and the world. The Wyatt foundation made itself into a global company built up from riches that the trees of Pineburyport provided for the Wyatt dynasty. I had to sign away the company even though I could not stand the idea. It is what mother and father wanted in their will. I knew this was decided because I failed at keeping the family legacy alive. I am a derelict, you see. So, I sold it to the Marsh Energy Co. to form a global conglomerate. I feel as if all that was of my family is now being taken away, little by little, with the only remains being the old house by the lake of Hadad.”
As he finishes writing the last sentence in his journal, a lump begins to form in Liam's throat which he promptly washes back down with a heavy shot of whiskey. He then directs his attention to working on his novel, taking out his laptop and flipping it open. Presently he is in the midst of completing chapter 13 of his second book; which he hopes will be published in October of next year. Once Liam has finished his work on the chapter, he turns off his laptop and decides to return inside and to take a shower.
Night has fallen by the time Liam returns to the lake house. Once inside, he decides to take a shower in his old bathroom where within Liam takes a moment to painfully examine himself in front of the mirror. Although he looks to be overweight, he doesn't quite classify as obese. The steam from the shower soon fills the air. Liam finishes washing himself and then begins putting conditioner in his hair when a sudden queer sound catches his attention. The peculiar noise is accompanied by the flickering of the bathroom lights. Liam looks around trying to figure out what's going on when suddenly a black murky water begins to shoot from the shower head raining icky dank filth down upon him. The inky substance smells rancid like rotting eggs forcing Liam to gag and cough in disgust. With something obviously being wrong with the water, Liam shuts off the shower as quick as he can. Daunted and bewildered, Liam attempts to get out only to slip and fall inside the tub.
“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!! It smells like shit!”
It takes a bit of a struggle, but Liam eventually manages to get up and exits the shower. Whatever this slimy black liquid is it is extremely slippery causing Liam to fall again. He lets out another frustrated scream before standing back up and grabbing a towel. Liam uses the towel to try to remove the grimy muck from out of his hair and from off his face, but he also got some of it in his mouth as well. Liam starts trying to spit it out gagging violently. He feels as though he might just throw up. He makes his way over to the bathroom sink and turns on the faucet in the hopes of retrieving clean water, but it is to no avail. The water that fills the sink is the same as from the shower.
“Nooooooooooooo!!!!” Liam screams in disbelief.
Liam runs from the bathroom screaming. In desperation, he bolts from the house bounding down to the shore of the lake. Without even a moment's thought or hesitation, he leaps into the water as if he were a man ablaze seeking to quench the flames of Hell itself. Frantically, Liam begins scrubbing his naked body with his bare hands trying to purge himself of the disgusting filth that clings to his flesh. It takes several minutes, but Liam is finally clean; freed from the dark black gunk that escaped from his shower. Liam is drying off from his lake bath when he takes a moment to sigh in relief. He then turns to look out onto the lake. The lake at night harbors a truly haunting beauty. Lake Hadad from the lake house looks serene yet built with a purpose---a purpose that modern man has forgotten. The back of lake house seems to be positioned perfectly to align with the moon and the stub of the dormant volcano stemming from the ancient lake. Its blasphemous past is all but a distant memory lost to the Sands of Time. Looking up into the sky, Liam notices that the stars seem to be unusually close together; almost as if they're waiting to be in perfect alignment. It is a strange, but spellbinding sight to behold. However the beauty of the night is abruptly ended when Liam looks back down at the lake to see the sudden visage of a corpse washing onto the shore.
The horrid sight sends Liam's mind for a loop, but his senses soon return to him and he quickly comes to realizes that what he sees before him is reality. Liam rushes over to the beached body and looks in terror at the maimed lifeless remains of a 20-year-old man. The body of Richard Hemmings has been cast forth from its watery grave. Hemming's body is a ghastly mess: his left arm is gone, his right eye has been ripped from its socket, and his throat has been punctured like a slaughtered pig! Horrified by the carnage he sees lying before him, Liam runs back inside the house to call the police.