|Something In the Water,
an Early Chapter
The sun lay just above the horizon, casting diminishing florescent beams across the sky. Cold wind
coursed through the wilderness, rippling the Muskogee, a river that ran through Baroke County, New York
like a seam through a snake-skin jacket. Crickets whistled a somber serenade. Subtle raindrops fell.
Vincent Wilkins peered upon the river’s surface and shuddered at his reflection. He was out of focus,
distorted. His eyes resembled deep dark puddles, his mouth a lagoon, his round and wrinkled face
loomed like a mirage. Even the yellow raincoat he wore drooped and sagged.
A dark, murky substance drifted throughout a river that had once been so crystalline, so pure. He bent
low to inspect it, curiosity superseding his better judgment. He recoiled, his hand quickly covering his
nose and mouth.
A disturbing thought occurred to him.
“Those two men at the restaurant, the two that nearly killed each other,” Vincent held a finger to his
lips, pondering, “what if it had been more than just an escalated argument. What if something corrupted
Vincent closed his eyes, vaguely remembering what life was like when he had been a young man.
Lampton, his hometown, had been safer then. People were kinder and seldom turned on one another.
Where had things gone wrong?
Vincent stared at the Muskogee and grimaced while foul sludge continued to slide along the surface.
“What if it was something in the water?”
A tremor in his heart confirmed his suspicions. The truth was inevitable, shocking. It drove Vincent to
his knees. “I can’t believe it’s come to this,” he whispered, remembering going fishing and swimming in
the Muskogee as a child. “I don’t want to lose you, old friend,” he said.
A loon let loose a lonesome cry as if to echo that sentiment.
Vincent observed the water flow at a lethargic pace for some time before finally leaving. Thoughts of
the contaminated river and the way it affected the townsfolk haunted Vincent on his long walk home.
Lying in bed later that night, he experienced a turbulent sleep. Hot tears streaked down his cheeks,
soaking his pillow. “Jesus wept.”