The house by the lake

Once upon a time there was a seven-year-old boy named Simon. He had just moved into an old house by a lake. One day Simon and his sister were walking by the water; the sky was grey and the water was black.

Simon’s sister told him there was a monster that lived in the lake and stole pieces of children to build its own body. Simon thought she was lying — until he went to bed that night.

Simon turned off the lights and dashed to his bed as the darkness rolled in like a cold black wave. Simon pulled his blanket up to his eyes. He felt warm as he fell asleep but then a creak of his floorboards snapped his eyes open. He saw two children climbing through his window. Simon was too afraid to speak. They were pale and their hands shook. The first child was a boy with no eyes. The second was a girl. She leaned on the boy as he walked closer to Simon. Her feet dragged on the floor. Simon trembled as they got closer. He saw purple and red strings of flesh move in the boy’s eye sockets. Simon saw the unnatural way the girl’s limbs bent. He started to shake with fear. They spoke to Simon with the same voice.
“It took my eyes,” the boy said.
“It took my bones,” the girl said.
“It wants your skin,” they said.

Simon woke up. He told his sister about what he had seen. She laughed and told him it was just a dream. The next night Simon couldn’t sleep. He heard the wind sway the house and dead, brittle leaves scratch against the roof.
The monster waited in the lake until Simon fell asleep. The wind swept the monster through the windowpanes and dropped it onto Simon’s floor. As its dripping eyes fell on the child, its skeletal figure began to take form. Long arms dragged along the ground. Claws scraped over the floor. Simon heard a strange sound and his eyes snapped open. He turned towards his window. The curtains were open. He jumped out of bed and raced to the window. He saw the monster moving into the lake. Rotting skin hung off of a small, deformed skeleton with bright, bleeding eyes. He blinked and the night was empty. He was dreaming again.

When Simon woke up he saw lines carved into his floor. Simon had the same haunted dream for several nights: the monster from the lake. One night many weeks later, when the lake was almost frozen, the two children returned. They laughed and said the monster was trapped underneath the ice.

The next morning Simon went to the lake. He wanted to find out if his dreams were true. His feet crunched in the snow as he shuffled over the frozen water. He looked back to the house. He could see his curtains. He knelt and brushed the snow away so he could see the water trapped under the ice. His hands and knees stung. The soft ice cracked. The ice grabbed his legs and froze his skin. He choked on a scream. The dark water swept over Simon. His limbs became numb and he stopped struggling. He stared down into the black water. He watched long, pale arms reach up to him from the black. He closed his eyes and let the warm hands of sleep take him.

Once upon a time there was an eight-year-old girl named Jane. She had just moved into an old house by a lake. She woke up one night and saw three children climbing in through her window.