I’ve removed the story, as it is under contract now with Mystic Moon Press. I’ve left a few paragraphs from near the beginning so you can see the direction it takes initially ;)
What’s happened? The boy’s dog has vanished beneath the lagoon; the fun has stopped and a small search begun.
‘He went under over there, didn’t he?’ Brad asked over his shoulder. The other two shrugged and kept edging out along the large trunk, now standing chest-high in the water. Like most of the chocolate-brown waterways, the top layer of water absorbed the heat of the day, while the turbid depths remained icy cold.
‘I’ll swim across here,’ Brad said, pointing to where Buster the dog had vanished. ‘You two swim further in, and if you feel him, yell. Okay?’
Marty and Nick nodded and pushed out into the water; Brad watched them go, and then did the same seconds later.
Brad submerged briefly as he moved over deeper water, his ears assaulted with the chirping and chittering sounds from the lagoon’s insect inhabitants. He swam with an improvised breaststroke, stopping to submerge and wave his arms underneath him periodically, feeling for the lost Buster. His searching arm brushed into one slender length of cold, slimy muscle, then another. He screamed and recoiled while still underwater, losing all of his air and surging to the surface coughing.
‘Snake! Out of the water!’ he managed between gasps, swimming for the bank. He was no stranger to seeing snakes take to the water, and knew they could stay submerged for some time. He had never actually ran into one before, let alone two. He wasn’t sure that they could bite under water, but didn’t want to find out. Home was a long walk away, and hospital even further.
Brad did not see the swirl of surface water behind him, as if something large had descended powerfully from just beneath the surface.
As a child, Brad watched his little brother disappear beneath the murky waters of Boobera Lagoon. Years later his past tangles with the present, as yet another child vanishes and Brad travels to his childhood hometown to investigate the lagoon that is shrouded in Aboriginal warnings.
© 2008 Damian Herde
A short story set near where I grew up, based on Aboriginal mythology ideas.
This story won the Writer’s Market Group eBook competition, and is destined to be eBooked through Mystic Moon Press! Coming in October 2008.
Thanks to my real-world friends for comments for improving this story, to Kate Smith/Empress for her many great suggestions, and to all who’ve read and made suggestions since I’ve added it to RB.