Below are the first couple of pages from my debut novel Out of the Dark. They are raw and unedited, so please read with that in mind. More to come as I churn the pages out 🙂 The above pic of Nessie is by Brent Droog.
“That which is clearly known hath less terror than that which is but hinted at and guessed.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
We’ve all experienced the kind of hot, late-summer night that brought Ray and Doug Hall to the lake that fateful August. The cloudless sky with a full moon. The air hot and thick, but a slight chill in the hint of a breeze that suggests fall isn’t far off.
It’s the heat, and the kind of dare that only exists between siblings, that prompted Ray, 15, and Doug, 12, to leave the comfort of their beds and trek through a stand of trees to the beach with boogie boards in hand. Ray made the dare, and Doug — everyone called him Dougie, because of course they did — agreed to it because what younger brother wouldn’t.
The boys were as close as brothers could get, but a pecking order had long been established. Ray, who loved his baby brother more than words could say, pretended to tolerate the younger boy. That’s what tough guys and older brothers do. Dougie looked up to his big bro with bright-eyed intensity, wanting to do everything Ray did with equal flourish. He wanted to go where Ray went and do what Ray had done. To belong. To be one of the tough guys.
Ray slid into home base on a line drive, so Dougie learned how to pay baseball. Ray helped dad cut fire wood — and could split a log in a single swipe — so Dougie started cutting firewood too. Ray took Lindsay Wallace to the movies . . . well, Dougie wasn’t quite ready for that yet.
And Ray had swum out to the far buoys in the middle of the night, stories of the lake monster be damned. Now Dougie wanted to do it too.
About that monster.
Stories about the beast rumoured to dwell within Lake Oginawa have been told around campfires and in books and news articles since the early 19th century. They were first told by local First Nations and then the settlers who eventually moved into the region, which is a couple hundred miles from the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
Naitaka, a Salish word for lake demon, is supposed to be a 40 to 50 foot long sea serpent with many humps and a head like a dragon. And yes, it’s been known to eat people, hence young boys and their dares to take a late-night swim out to the bouys.
Never mind that Lake Oginawa adopted the creature as it’s official tourism mascot a long time ago, and gave it the friendly sounding name Ogi (pronounced Og-eee for tourists). This beast is a man eater in the minds of local youngsters.
“Come on,” Ray said as his feet splashed into the water. But Doug stopped where sand and water met, and shivered a little. “This was your idea.”
“I don’t know,” said Doug, with no hint of confidence in his voice.
“This was your idea,” Ray said again, making sure to emphasize each word for dramatic purposes. “Don’t be a scaredy cat.”
That last bit was added not to wound, but to provide the right amount of motivation for Doug to get his ass into the water.
“I’m not scared,” Doug said, defiant. “The water looks cold.”
“It’s not, stupid. Now get in here or you can’t come to the drive-in with Stevie and I on Saturday night. You don’t want to miss Shrek do you?”
Doug did not want to miss Shrek indeed. Mike Myers was his favourite comedian and Austin Powers, in his young mind, comedic gold.
“Then get your ass in here, Dougie”
“Don’t call me Dougie!”
“Get in here then.” Ray was actually feeling a bit exasperated.
Doug strengthened his reserve, tightened the grip on his boogie board, and charged into the water, quickly passing his brother. A brief smile appeared on Ray’s face, the kind that comes when one sibling feels pride in the other.
Such sentiment is always short lived, though, and Ray knew he had to take the lead in this adventure. It was his duty as the older, wiser and, in his mind, better looking of the two. Besides, Doug was his responsibility, and the boy was already well out over his head.
Ray took three long strides and launched himself into the air. He slipped the board beneath him and half hit, half slid along the surface of the lake. A few good paddles with his hands and he was almost caught up to Doug.
Doug looked back and saw his brother gaining on him. The younger boy grinned ear to ear and quickened his paddled. An unofficial race started between the two, and they cut a dark path across the lake’s moonlit surface. Both were laughing and gasping for breath by the time they reached a couple of bouys a good 100 feet from shore.
The latest contest over, Ray and Doug floated on their boards. Doug grabbed the nearest bouy, just in case. Ray spun himself around by playing his left hand through the water.
“This is awesome,” said Doug.
“No you didn’t,” Doug said, because Ray had honestly said no such thing, and Doug hated it when his brother stated an untruth.
“Easy kiddo,” Ray’s smile couldn’t be concealed by the words.
A moment of silence passed between them. But for the Ray, the time was spent contemplating whether or not he should verbalize the question he had in his mind. The debate didn’t last long.
“You aren’t scared of the monster, or are you?”