Into the Deep: A Short Story

Photo by Daniel Maforte on

Marcos was excited and honored to be the first among his peers to explore this particular stretch of water. There were others who were better prepared, better qualified for the job, and yet his boss had bequeathed it to him.

“You’ve done well, Mr. Clark,” Mr. Jones said. “The work you’ve done for the company is exemplary.” His boss gave him a quick pat on the shoulder. “I know this assignment may seem daunting, but I trust you. It’s time to go out there and prove yourself. I know you’ll make me proud.”

Drawing some courage from the memory, Marcos, with help from one of the boatmen, slipped into his dry suit. Marcos, although by no means an inexperienced diver, was not used to the stiff and heavy material, and he felt awkward as he moved to the edge of the boat. He was used to lighter material and diving into warmer waters, where he snapped photos of brightly colored coral reefs, exotic fish, and plant life.

This assignment was much different. He was in northern Minnesota, not off the coast of Australia, and the body of water was the cold Lake Superior instead of the warm, tropical waters he was most familiar with.

Marcos took one look at the dark water and suppressed a shudder. There was something foreboding about the lake. A few years back he’d had the pleasure of enjoying a dive at the Great Barrier Reef. The water had been so clear and blue, you could see everything for what seemed like miles. At Lake Superior, the only thing Marcos could see as he sat on the edge of the boat was a black sheet of dark, murky water broken up only by the waves. Even though he didn’t believe the strange stories that had been circling about the lake for a year now, he could certainly understand how some could believe strange creatures lived in its depths.

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The Boneyard: A Short Story Teaser

Last year, it was my intent to enter a flash-fiction contest, but I could never quite get the story to fit into 1,000 words or less, so I tabled the project. Since it’s October, I figured it’s the perfect time to work on it again. Since I’m no longer constrained by such a restrictive word count, I’ve begun to expand it, and I really like it so far. I hope to finish it this month and, afterward, I’m going to look into submitting it to a lit mag.

Here are the first ~500 words of my horror short story, The Boneyard.

The house on 777 Darling Lane was anything but. Whoever had addressed it either knew nothing of its evil reputation or had a sick sense of irony.

Desta was banking on the latter.

She stood on the sidewalk, her face pressed to the wrought-iron gate, and gazed up at the house. It was a large, ugly thing. The red-brick, ivy-covered façade was almost black with decades of dirt and grime, and most of the windows had long been broken. To Desta, they were like eyes, lidless, lashless; the house was watching her too.

Desta scoffed. Nonsense. She was acting no better than the ghost-obsessed townspeople she derided.

She didn’t believe in ghosts, or that the house was alive, or that by standing so close, she was opening herself up to attack. She couldn’t deny, though, that it was a ghastly place, and she understood better why no one in town liked the house. If it was this terrible on the outside, what might it be like inside? There had been multiple attempts to demo it, but the Council always refused the motion. Most people tried to ignore its existence, but it was hard when it skulked on the outskirts of town like a sleeping giant poised to crush them if awoken.

Desta had grown up hearing stories about all the terrible things that happened in and around it—she never heard anything about the family who owned it, though, and this was what interested her the most. No one could tell her who they were, where they had come from, when the house had been built, or if they were even alive. They hadn’t been seen in years, but every so often, a curtain would move in one of the remaining windows, or a light would flicker on and go out just as quickly.

The only thing anyone knew about the house was that the land it’d been built on had once been called The Boneyard.

It was this mystery Desta was so desperate to get to the bottom of: Who, if anybody, lived in the house? If someone did live there, why did they never come out? And because she couldn’t quell all superstitious curiosity, what was the mystery of “the boneyard?”

She pressed her front against the cold bars of the gate. If she was only a little smaller, she could slip through the bars and get closer, maybe even go inside. What wonderful and terrible things must be hiding behind its walls, and what secrets Desta might learn the truth of. The Council would be grateful to her for setting the record straight. The townspeople would hail her as a hero. Her classmates, always so quick to underestimate her, would be awed by her bravery.

She had to get inside.

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