A Myth

A Myth

This post deviates from the theme of this blog. It is a short story entitled, A Myth inspired by time spent on the shore of Lake Michigan in the Manistee area.

a myth

A Myth

by

R. A. Andrade

© 2017

 

Amanda lazed in the bottom of the sixteen-foot open rental boat as the warmth of the sun washed over her skin. Feeling completely relaxed for the first time in weeks as the small waves on Lake Michigan gently rocked the boat side to side, she opened her eyes. Looking thoughtfully up at the clear blue sky, she said, “I needed this. It feels so good just to let go.” She picked up the open book lying across her chest and began to read.

Mark dropped his fishing line into the water, scanned the nearby shoreline of sandy Michigan beach, and then twisted to look at Amanda. “It’s such a beautiful lake. Shouldn’t you be enjoying it rather than having your face buried in book.” He cocked his head, examining the front cover. “Folklore of The Great Lakes Native American Tribes,” he read aloud, and then added, “Why do you insist on reading trash like that?”

Her eyes remaining focused on the page, Amanda responded, “And why do you insist on fishing when you never catch anything?”

Turning back to the water, his hands slipped on the pole. He watched in disbelief as his fishing pole and reel sank out of sight into the depths of Lake Michigan.

Hearing the splash, Amanda peeked above the top of the book, grinned, and then teased, “Trying a new technique?”

Ignoring her taunt, he asked, “Would you hand me the pole with the open reel, please?”

Laying her book on the bottom, Amanda stretched for the fishing pole, and then passed it to Mark.

After readying it with his favorite lure, he free-wheeled the reel and then flicked the line out into the lake.

“One of the stories in here tells of outsiders being cursed when they disparage the tribe’s beliefs,” she said and giggled.

Before Mark could react, the end of the pole yanked with such a force, he nearly lost a grip on the butt. Frantically, he pulled up on the pole to hook what he imagined to be a twenty-pound salmon. The resistance abruptly disappeared as he began to reel it in. A severed nylon line cleared the water. “Took my rig,” he called out and then explained, “Must have been huge to break the line like that.”

Smiling, Amanda joked, “I figure you caught the bottom of the boat or it was a sea monster?”

Still miffed about losing a good catch, Mark complained, “There’s no legend about a sea monster on Lake Michigan and I don’t know why you waste so much time reading about that kind of stuff anyway.”

 

Amanda sat up, hugged her knees and watched him attach a new rig to his line. “You know there is a little known legend about a creature called Mishi on the lakes.”

Mark dropped his line into the water, inserted the fishing rod in the holder on the side of the boat, and then turned back to Amanda. “I’ve been fishing on this lake since I was a kid and never heard about that one. You just trying to get a rise out of me?”

Amanda moved to the bench, and then explained, “It’s called the Mishipeshu by the Ojibwe. Some say it’s the real cause of the Edmund Fitzgerald sinking on Lake Superior in 1975.”

His mouth opened to challenge her intelligence, but the words froze when a hiss, a loud cracking sound, and then a splashing noise came from behind. Spinning around, he saw that his pole, the holder and its attaching screws were gone.

Looking at the damaged side of the boat, appearing as if the screws were ripped out, Amanda asked, “Did you hear that sound?”

“My fishing pole! Son of a bitch. I should have checked to make sure the holder was OK.”

Staring at the damage, Amanda repeated, “Did you hear that sound?”

“Just the wind,” Mark answered, and then added, “Would you pass up your rod?”

“Why, isn’t two in the lake enough?” she answered, not a trace of humor on her face. “That sound. That’s exactly the description of the noise a Mishi makes. Like rushing water or …”

“My God Amanda. Stop it. It was just an accident. The screws were probably loose. Don’t start on your wild stories.” Upset, Mark moved to the stern and put his hand on the outboard. “I’m going to move to another spot. Maybe the big one that broke the line went to deeper water.”

Amanda’s eyes widened, seeing a row of dagger-like spikes surface in the lake a distance beyond Mark who was bent over fussing with the motor. Her arm shot out, she waved her finger, and then called, “Did you see that? Did you see that?”

 

The shiny black Mercury rumbled to life as Mark rolled his eyes. He twisted the throttle to a wide-open position, quickly bringing their small craft to its maximum speed of 20 knots.

Gripping the edge of the bench tightly, Amanda’s mind unearthed all she had learned about the mythical creature known as Mishi. Speeding out to deeper water, the boat jerked to the side as if something hit the hull. She looked at Mark but he seemed impervious to the movement. Wondering if it was her imagination, Amanda peered into the clear Lake Michigan water off the port side of the boat. Within minutes, a large dark shape flashed by just underneath the surface. She thought she could make out scales covering the body. “Mark!” she screamed. “Head back to shore. Now.”

Mark twisted the throttle, slowing their boat. “What’s wrong now?” he shouted to her.

“I … I … saw it,” she stuttered.

He brought the craft to a stop, turned off the engine, and then moved to the bench nearest her. Seeing her face contorted into fear, he put a hand on her shoulder and softly asked, “Saw what?”

Struggling for the proper words to describe what she imagined she witnessed, the one that finally emerged was, “Mishi.”

Withdrawing his hand from her shoulder, Mark laughed. “You think I’m going to fall for your act. You had me going for a while.” He shook his head and then said, “Pass me the pole.”

Anger overpowered Amanda’s fear as she grabbed the fishing pole. Glaring into Mark’s eyes, she shoved the pole into his hands. She felt the bow rise underneath her as a deafening splashing noise assaulted her ears from behind Mark. Tilting her head to look around him, she thought something was different about the rear of their boat.

Mark twisted to follow her gaze. “What the hell,” he shouted, shocked by the sight registering in his brain. “The motor.”

Connecting his utterance with the notion of a detail out of place, Amanda then comprehended the outboard was no longer there, replaced instead by a jagged open notch in the transom. “I told you, I told you,” she cried. “Mishi is here.”

“I don’t have time for your silliness right now,” he responded. “The engine is gone. Damn rentals. We’re going to have to call the Coast Guard station in Manistee for a tow. Look at this piece of junk, it just broke off. Do you have a signal on your phone?”

Amanda’s face flush with emotion, she swung her legs over the seat, scrambling to the bow to get her bag.

An earsplitting hiss, like the sound of a violent storm, caused both to lift their heads to the lake.

Mark watched in a haze of the surreal as an enormous scale-covered head rose from the water at the bow. Two green, cat-like eyes the size of a garbage can lids glowed at them. A pair of copper horns towered above the head.

a myth

Its jaws opened, water and slime pouring from gaps between saber-like teeth.

Mark blinked. His body trembled.

Amanda stared into its mouth and saw the black object within. Turning away, she opened the box the rental told them was for repairs.

Ooze dripping from the beast’s mouth coated Mark’s body as its head hovered above him, the demonic eyes clear on the intent.

Amanda withdrew an electronic device from the box.

Mark awaited his death.

Amanda pressed the red button.

Gurgling mingled with buzzing sounds escaped from the throat of Mishi. Moments later, blood gushed from the jaws of the great head, covering Mark in a sticky goo of red.

The monster fell back into the lake, sinking below the waves.

Mouth open in bewilderment and shock, Mark stared at Amanda.

“The outboard. A remote starter. Guess you were right about Mishi not existing.” Amanda laughed.

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