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"I'm glad you're back!" my mom said as she wiped sweat from her brow. "Something is wrong with the pipes, I think. I tried to water the plants and the hose wasn't working. Can you help me move some potted plants to the backyard?"

After that, I spent the rest of the day helping my mom. I didn't tell her about Betty Hollis, but I couldn't stop thinking about everything she had told us. I had never heard about an old town that was buried underneath the lake's water. Maybe the town wanted to forget about that tragedy and leave it all behind them. It was understandable, except that it clearly hadn't been forgotten. The whole town knew about the drowning and kept the story going.

By late afternoon, I was exhausted and went up to my room to take a quick nap. My mom was tired, too, and said she was done for the day. I flopped onto the bed and ignored Rufus' whining.

"I know, I need a shower," I told him wearily. "Just give me a few minutes, then I'll shower and we can take a walk."

He took a spot on the floor. My mom may have been used to heavy lifting and working outdoors, but I definitely wasn't. All the work of carrying plants up and back made my muscles scream. I closed my eyes, telling myself it would just be for a few minutes, but I quickly dozed off to sleep.

When I awoke, I got up, stretched, winced as my neck tensed up, and decided to take a hot bath since my bathroom had a standalone tub. The pipes whistled a bit, but then stopped and the water came out fine. I'd have to tell my mom that the pipes were working. I'm sure she'd be happy about that. The water came out burning hot, with steam filling the bathroom. I undressed and shut the door. Stepping into the tub, the warm water soaked me in and I washed the day's grime from my body. When the water had reached high enough, I turned the faucet, but the water wouldn't shut off.

I sighed and tried again with both hands, but still nothing. I also couldn't adjust the temperature, and it was scalding. It actually got so hot that I had to jump out before pulling the drain. Wrapping my towel around me, I waited to hear that gurgling sound of the water being sucked down the drain, but it never came. The water from the faucet was coming out faster than it was going down the drain, if it was going down at all. I began to get really nervous as I scrambled away from the tub. The water was at the rim, slowly spilling over the tub and onto the tile floor. Rushing to the door, I gripped the handle, but it wouldn't unlock. My heart was pounding. This was the second time I had gotten locked in a room in this house! Rufus was barking on the other side of the door, which I hoped would alert my mom so she could come help me. But there wasn't much time for me to stand there and wait. The water came rushing toward my feet. It just came out so fast, I didn't have time to think. Then the faucet attached to the sink turned on and water poured from there, too. I couldn't move. 

Water began dripping down the walls and was up to my ankles. It didn't burn me, but I stood there confused as I wondered why the bathroom was filling up with water all around me. I ran to the sink and tried to turn that water off, but it was stuck like the tub's faucet. Then, as I glanced up into the mirror, I saw her. Mary Ann was looking back at me in my reflection. We stared at each other in silence. While I studied her face, in awe at how much we looked alike, she stared back at me expressionless. Her eyes turned black and I could see water pooling from her lips. 

"Why are you doing this, Mary Ann?" I asked her. "Let me out! Stop this!" 

I began screaming and screaming. Water continued to fill all around me. Just when I was about to go into full panic mode, I bolted upright. I was in my bed. It took me a few minutes to adjust to my surroundings as I looked over to the bathroom that I thought I had just been in. Was this really all a dream?

I was shaking as I sat up in bed. Rufus whined at my feet and with a shaky hand, I reached over and pet the top of his head. I bit my lip with worry. For the first time since coming there, I took a good look around the bedroom I was staying in. The antiques that filled the room, as well as the rest of the house, gave it an old, yet rich feel. However, looking at it all in a new light made me realize it was like the house was frozen in time. There wasn't one modern item in the whole home. Blake had mentioned that his aunt, Mrs. Callahan, traveled a lot, so I figured that would explain the lack of modernizing the house. But, I had to also wonder, was that the real reason or was Mrs. Callahan traveling as a way to stay far away from here? 

I shivered and wrapped my arms around myself. Rufus was growing antsy with concern at my behavior, so I decided to get some fresh air and take him for the walk I had promised him earlier. I avoided the bathroom, not even glancing through its open door to the mirror. The harder I tried to avoid it, the stronger the pull was. It was as though a magnetic force was pulling me towards it, begging me to take a look at my reflection. The last thing I wanted was to see Mary Ann's face again. I had to avoid that nightmare. 

"Let's go," I instructed to Rufus, who wagged his tail slightly and bolted out of the room with me. 

I bounded down the stairs and out the front door, Rufus close at my heels. I clipped on his leash to his collar and let my eyes adjust to the bright sunlight. Down the path again we went, only this time I was completely aware of our surroundings. I braced myself for passing cars, ready to explain to any passerby that I was Gemma, and not the ghost of Mary Ann Lamont. Fortunately, the road stayed completely silent. The only sounds were the light breeze blowing through the trees and an occasional chirp of a bird. 

We walked further this time. Rufus didn't fight me as I guided him toward the lake. I had a sudden urge to get close to it, wanting to see it for myself. As we approached a desolate area bordered with dark sand and rocks, I stared out across the murky water. Even with the sun shining bright and almost no clouds in the sky, the sunlight seemed to somehow miss the water entirely. I expected to see sparkling reflections, but instead found myself staring out into eerie darkness. In the summer heat, the water still remained cold. It gave off a frigid appearance, as though all light was being deflected on purpose and was not welcome. 

Rufus whined again and looked up at me. When I remained still, he sighed heavily and laid down at my feet. I stared out as far as my eyes could see. No one else was there. No boats, no swimmers, no one fishing. No one at all. 

"It is summer, right?" I asked aloud. 

I knew there was at least one hotel in town, and most likely motels for weary travelers closer to the highway. With a lake that size, it seemed like it would be an ideal location for families to vacation during the summer. The sky was usually clear, the sun blazing, and the lake, at least from what I could tell, was always cool. So, where was everyone? Why did it always feel as though I was the only person around for miles? 

"There's more to this lake that we know," I told Rufus, not diverting my eyes from the water. "I'd bet it's more than just an abandoned old town that's hidden underwater. They built this lake to bring in people...so where is everybody?"

I took a few more minutes to stand in front of the vast lake, contemplating how the town may have looked like before they had filled it with water, drowning Mary Ann along with its buildings. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what it could have been like so long ago. As I opened my eyes, I made a promise. 

"I'm sure there's more to this story, and I intend to find out what's really going on here." 

The Accidental Drowning of Mary Ann LamontWhere stories live. Discover now