By Casey Tingle
“What is it?” Sally asked, crouching over the edge of the clear blue lake that sat in the woods several feet behind her house, the tips of her long, curly red hair just brushing the surface.
“Don’t get too close!” her twin brother, Peter, said as he flung his arm out, slamming it against her chest and making her fall back onto the ground.
“Ow!” she yelled, shooting a glare at him. “What’d you do that for, jerk!”
“Jerk? I just saved your life!”
Peter pointed toward the brightly colored red and purple creature floating toward the surface of the center of the lake. “That’s an urchin,” he explained, a wicked smile slipping onto his face as a plan unfolded in his head.
“What’s an ur..chin?” she asked, struggling to pronounce the foreign word.
Peter’s smile grew wider as he turned to face his sister. “You mean you never heard of an urchin before?” Sally shook her head. “Well,” Peter continued, his voice in a low whisper, causing his sister to lean closer, “an urchin is a creature that lives in bodies of water and feeds off unsuspecting humans.”
Sally’s eyes grew wide.
“Yeah, and you know what they like best?” Sally shook her head again. “Well, I don’t know how true this is, but I’ve heard that they particularly like little girls.”
“Not uh!” Sally shouted. “You’re lying!”
“Am not!” Peter replied. “Go out there and touch it if you’re so sure.”
“I would, but mom will be mad if I come back with my dress all wet.”
“You’re just scared.”
“Oh yeah? I’ll show you!” Sally stood and hesitated for a minute. She looked down at her new white and purple checkered dress before setting her eyes on the urchin and kicking off her sandals.
Sitting at the edge, she dipped her feet in and found that, even though the water was warmer than she thought it would be, goosebumps still crept up her arms and sent chills down her spine. Slowly lowering herself down, she was immediately in waist deep water. The ends of her dress floated on the surface before becoming weighed down and sank to her sides. The water was up to her chest by time she reached the urchin, which was still floating just below the surface of the water. Now closer, she could see that the urchin was oval-shaped with purple spikes protruding from its red body. She stuck out her hand, sending ripples across the lake, and left it hovering just under where the urchin floated.
She looked over her shoulder at her brother who was no longer smiling, but looking nervous. Her heart was racing as she closed her hand around the urchin, but it didn’t prick her like she thought. In fact, the spikes were soft and seemed to retract at her touch. Lifting the urchin from the water, she held it close to her face, where she could see an oily substance secreting from tiny pores on the urchins body.
Turning back toward her brother, Sally called out, “Told ya!"
Without warning, the urchin flung itself at Sally and latched itself onto her neck. A high pitched screech emitted from her as she grabbed at it, trying her best to rip it off, but it only buried itself deeper into the nape of her neck.
“Sally!” Peter screamed.
She could feel the urchin pulsing, sucking at her skin, trying to get under it. What she thought was oil turned out to be acid, and it burned her skin as the urchin released it on her. Within seconds her vision became blurry and her head grew light.
Peter watched from the edge of the lake as the water swallowed his sister up. “Sally!” he screamed again. Falling to his knees, Peter stared into the depths of the lake, but the once clear water was now foggy with a mixture of his sister’s blood and the urchin’s acid. “Sally!”
He sat there until well after the surface of the lake became still once more. It seemed as if hours had passed, but it really couldn’t have been more than twenty minutes.
“Sally,” Peter said again, his voice weak. Tears stung at the corners of his eyes and his throat was tight. “I was only joking.”
He was trying to figure out how to explain to his mother exactly what had happened to his sister, when her pale, slightly purpled, hand reached up from the depths of the lake, dragging him down.
- - -
Casey Tingle (nee Murphy) has been writing since the fifth grade. She currently has several short stories published in print and online. In 2013, her work was featured in HelloHorror, The Were-Traveler, and The Siren's Call: Women in Horror edition.
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