While looking at the map, Lizzie noticed that every trail in the park, including the path she tread upon ended in the same crossroad: the heart of El Diablo. She felt like prey that was guided though the furrows like lambs to the slaughter, to be drowned and dined upon by El Ahogado.
“Look, we’re finally here!” Diane shouted, pointing at the lake. “Even though I sound like a broken record at this point, I must say, I still can’t believe that I finally convinced you to come along with me.” Diane laughed like a hyena that finally conquered its quarry. “So Lizzie what do you think? The lake looks so beautiful today, doesn’t it?”
It doesn’t. To Lizzie, the once sanctified, crystalline waters had been defiled into a murky swampland. Waves of bile slash onto the jagged teeth that outline the shore, the water bubbles like stomach acid, waiting to digest whatever dares to fall in.
“Yeah, it looks… nice,” Lizzie reluctantly responds.
By the time they got to the lake, the day had departed with the only proof of its stay being a lavender field burned by the crestfallen sun. Lizzie stared at the moon, and the ivory eye stared back like a hungry daimon.
“So, when do you want to get into the lake?” Diane asks her.
Lizzie shrugged, “I’d prefer to stay on the shore, it’s much nicer over here anyways.” Lizzie sat down onto the sands of the beach, her feet prodding at the waters of the lake. “See, this is good enough, isn’t it?”
Diane sighed, “You really don’t want to get in the water do you?” She slouched next to Lizzie and patted her on the head. “What has gotten into you kiddo? For the past few days, you haven’t been acting like yourself. I know I’m not the most keen on social cues, but even I can tell something is wrong.”
Lizzie looked away from Diane, “I can say the same thing about you.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Diane snarled.
Lizzie quivered, “It’s just that, nevermind.”
“It’s just that, what?” said Diane as she loomed over Lizzie like a vulture.
She then stared into Lizzie’s ashen eyes, “Oh, I see.”
Diane grappled Lizzie into a tight embrace, “I think the forest is getting to us. Look, we can-”
Diane clutched her stomach. A ravenous growel can be heard permeating throughout the forest. “I don’t think those sandwiches I made are sitting well with me. I’m going to go to the bathroom real quick. Lizzie stay put, please.” With a slight moment of hesitation, she ran off into the forest.
Alone, Lizzie stared off into the lake. A sense of feral quietus is all that accompanied her. She noticed a yellow blob floating on top of the lake. Partially, she stepped into the waters to grab the object that she was looking at, then it came upon her.
****Was that mother’s hat?****
Step by step Lizzie and the lake became one and the same, a fandango of the bull and toreador, where the wanton fighter toys with its victim until it seizes the kill. Once most of Lizzie was consumed by the lake, a slimy appendage grabbed ahold of her, smashing her against the bottom of the lake’s floor. The only thing that Lizzie could see was the mossy tint that covered the lake, and she seemed to make out what appeared to be two yellow eyes hidden within its depths.
Lizzie started to kick at the creature, attempting to break free from the hunter’s grasp. The more Lizzie flailed, the tighter the appendage’s grip became. Eventually, her vision began to blur, her attacks became weaker after every kick. When she was on the brink of losing consciousness Lizzie felt a force lift her up from the lake and carry her onto the shore.
By the time she came to her senses, Lizzie felt the protection of the fire and the warmth of her mother. She stared into the sky, she saw that the once oppressing light of the moon became a radiating beacon that colored the world, casting away demons that hid within the umbra. For the first time since her father’s passing, Lizzie was at peace.