The tree shook with a gentle breeze, creating an almost serene sound as we loaded our boat with nets and bait. The oasis was the entire being of our town. It had been created by The Old Ones when the people split into cities. The force field that bordered our sun washed smattering of houses and shops kept out the monsters. Or whatever lived out there.
I threw a large bag of nets into the tiny “motorboat” I shared with Casey. I surveyed the hazy horizon. Palms surrounded the oasis, but they stopped after that. The sand went on for miles, past the forcefield for all we knew.
My house was visible from the shallow lake. I could see my sister sitting in her wheelchair, carrying large bags into our house. She froze and I could see her expression darkened, even from hundreds of feet away. I barely had time to wonder what was going on before I jumped into the boat with Casey and rowed into the lake.
Despite first views of the lake, it was actually much larger than the oasis that dotted the town, where we got our water. The water in this oasis was cloudy, but it had small fish and frogs. We never understood how they lived there. It was almost uninhabitable. But sure enough, when the sun set, there they were.
I watched the sun sink below the horizon, taking off the swath of fabric that I used to protect my face. It was still hot, but I wouldn’t get burned. When it was pitch black, me and Casey started fishing.
“I still think we should make poles.” Casey lectured as I tumbled into the water to grab a net that I had dropped. His dark face was the only thing visible to me and I snorted.
“Where am I going to get the materials for that? I can barely keep these nets intact.” I threw the net onboard and looked around before climbing on. The night was silent. No one would be up this late.
Me and Casey fished in silence for hours. I noticed he had stopped fishing at one point and I looked over at him. As if feeling my gaze, he looked over at me.
“Have you ever thought about leaving?” He asked, cocking his head. It was my turn to freeze. I took a deep breath and continued working. If I ignored his question he would forget about it.
“Well?” I made a mental note that trick did not work.
“Nothing is out there for miles. The Land In Between is the monsters and people who escaped but never made it here. You would die quickly. And people need us here.”
“Who?” He snapped, suddenly enraged, “Who needs us? My family, the fishing industry, your family?” I flinched.
The last sentence hurt more than it should have. I hadn’t talked with my mother in over two years. And when I did talk to her, it was yelling and insults about how I had to provide for my disabled sister and four year old brother. About how she was an insufficient parent. That was matched with its own hatred as you can imagine. I rubbed the knife at my side, looking for the strength it gave me.
“That was uncalled for. Sorry.” Casey was silent. I could tell he felt bad. But I could see where the outburst came from. His family was worse off than mine. I nodded my head to accept his apology.
“I have thought about it.” I stated. Pulling a net back into the boat, “But it’s been eleven years since my sister was attacked by our dad. I don’t want to reopen that wound.” I closed my eyes to keep the tears from coming.
Eleven years ago today, my dad attacked my sister, Quil. Well that’s what Quil told me. Everyone in our town thinks that a monster came and held them hostage before killing my father and injuring my sister. I know though. My dad is not dead. Quil knows too.
“That long.” Casey said as if listening to my thoughts. I nodded again. Casey didn’t mention the subject for the rest of the night. I was grateful.
We were rowing into the dock when the moon was at the top of the sky, hauling our fish into bags which we would take home. Suddenly the air around us went silent. Like someone was holding a gun on all the frogs and trees.
Casey started to shake. He probably thought it was a monster. I pulled my knife out and scanned the water. It was smooth as glass. Like a… mirror.
Then the girl appeared. Well, her reflection. Another figure was looking over over her shoulder. I lurched back when their faces appeared. Casey screamed bloody murder and we both went flying into the water. Our boat flipped and all the fish went flying out.
“I told you not to scare them.” A woman’s voice filled my ears as the reflection expanded into a holographic women. She was tall and her eyes pierced through my chest.
“I was going to scare them anyway I tried.” The second figure snapped.
“Fine. Which one are we to take?” The women had a devil-may-care tone to her voice. The other figure looked at me and Casey, who were frozen in the water, staring in utter fear.
“It says a child around thirteen.” The figure seemed to be reading off a list.
“Idiot,” The woman slapped him in the back of the head, “They are both that age.”
“It also says a girl.” At this point, me and Casey were wading away from the figures. We both turned and saw the women inspecting us. She pointed to me.
The water below me lit up with a ghostly light. I felt it heat up and wrap around my body. I assured myself it was impossible. I was dreaming.
“What shall I do with the other one?” The figure asked. Casey’s eyes widened.
“Just dispose of him. I don’t care how.” The women disappeared and I started hovering, the water below me lifting me into the sky. I was also getting limp. I was completely conscious, but losing power to my limbs. No! I shouted to myself.
I didn’t hear anymore sounds from Casey, but I saw a plume of blood and his body floating limply. Must fight. I pooled all power to my limbs, I had to grab my knife. Nothing happened. This would be the end.