GONE FISHING • by Rick McQuiston

The lure bobbed in the cold murky water. Its bright orange and yellow colors glistened from the moisture on the ball, reflecting the hazy overcast sky on its tough plastic surface.

Luke was excited. After nearly three hours without so much as a nibble he was finally getting some action. He forced himself to settle down though and waited, all the while his eager eyes fastened to the spoon-shaped lure.

However, as he watched, it stopped bobbing in the water, only gently rolling this way and that, a silent victim to the whims of a warm breeze on a small lake.

“Come on, already,” he quietly blurted out to himself after a few more minutes passed with nothing happening. “Come on, little fish, where did you go?”

As if in response to his words the lure suddenly moved again. It was yanked below the surface of the water for moment before popping back up into the warm morning air.

Luke decided to act. He picked up his rod (a family heirloom handed down from his grandfather) and began to reel in the line, being oh so careful not to pull it in too quickly. It was a good nylon line so he knew it wouldn’t snap, but he still had to be cautious. Once, he lost a huge musky because he was too hasty trying to reel it in. The fish got away when his line broke, and to this day he could still see its slimy gray-blue shape undulate away beneath the surface of the water, a lost treasure forever gone.

The line became taut then, quickly tightening to a razor-thin connection to whatever prized catch lurked below.

Luke gripped the handle on the rod, and after making sure the break was secure, began to pull it back toward him. He felt resistance right away, but remained cool, slowly and methodically winding the line in.

The lure moved ever closer to the boat, making Luke contemplate grabbing his net. But again, he resisted. If he did, the commotion might cause the fish to panic and get twisted on the line. He still sported a few scars from removing hooks out of tangled fish.

He continued reeling the line in, all the while keeping his eyes glued to the lure in the water.

And then he saw something, something that made no sense, something that had no right belonging in a logical, sane world.

The line trailed down from the bottom of the lure, disappearing into the depths of the lake.

Luke stood in the boat, staring at the impossibility not more than four feet off the stern. He tried to follow the line with his eyes but could only see it for a foot or so before it was swallowed by the murk.

The fishing rod jerked in his hands. He nearly lost his grip on it but managed to hold on. Three more tugs came immediately after the first, each stronger than the one before it.

He held onto the fishing rod for dear life. He didn’t want to lose it, after all, it was his grandfather’s, but he didn’t know what how much longer he could last. Whatever kind of fish was snagged in line had to be something big.

Then with a violent jerk he was pulled into the lake.

Luke hit the water hard. It seemed to rush up to meet him, crashing into his face, his arms, his chest with a life all its own. He was under the water before he knew it. He struggled to break free but the line had wrapped around his body, restricting his movements as he gasped for air. He felt himself being pulled down, briefly losing consciousness as the darkness and pressure around him increased. He managed to tilt his head down, though, instinctually, like a person falling to their death from an office building would. He wanted to see what was below, as if knowing would somehow make the pain more bearable.

It didn’t.

Luke glared at the widening mouth below him. It was at least four feet across and crammed full of jagged teeth. Blackened globules of spittle floated up from the maw like tiny bubbles from a child’s water toy, and a trio of eyes, bright yellow and glowing with hunger, were fixated on their prey.

But the worst part was the realization of what awaited him in the depths of the lake, for there, partially lit by the creature’s eyes, was a writhing tangle of sinewy arms, two of which held something long, like a huge stick. And fastened on the end of the stick was a line, a fishing line that ran upward, toward him, wrapping around his body.

Apparently, he hadn’t been the only one fishing that day.

Rick McQuiston says: “I’m a horror fanatic who has over 400 publications to my credit. I’ve written five novels (three published), and read at various schools and libraries in Michigan. Currently I’m working on my sixth and seventh novels.”

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Every Day Fiction