A Life Away - Part 7: No Body

Voices echoed in the distance, trying to catch up to Jack and Erica. It sounded like the entire town was out looking for them, shouting their names. They burst through the trees as they followed Bodie on to a very familiar path. Dirt kicked up beneath their feet. Jack glanced to his left to see the elm tree as they sprinted past. The pair skidded to a stop. Bodie stood on the small dock. He barked at them, walking in small circles.

“Are you kidding?” Erica exclaimed. “He just wanted to come to the lake.”

Jack stared at Bodie, his heart hammering in his chest. He would have sighed if he had the breath. They had taken a gamble and lost. The shouts tailing them sounded closer than before.

“Shit,” Jack said.

“We should head into the forest,” Erica said. “Might be able to lose them in there. Then cut to the road once we’re far enough from town.”

Jack shrugged. It was as good a plan as anything he could come up with. He just wished Bodie would stop barking, they couldn’t hide with him making so much noise. Jack looked over at the dog on the dock. He was barking, running back and forth, looking at Jack like he wanted to be followed. But there was nowhere to go. The dock ended in the middle of the water.

Jack gazed at the water. Even in the chaos of the day it remained still; peaceful in its odd hypnotic way.

“The water,” Jack said.

“What?” Erica asked.

Jack walked over toward the dock. Bodie barked in excitement. His tail wagged with new ferocity.

“It’s the water,” Jack said.

He stopped at the edge of the dock and stared down at his reflection on the water’s surface.

“What about it?” Erica asked.

“I’m not sure, but ever since I got he-”

Bodie leapt off the dock, the placid water exploding with the impact of his body.

“Bodie!”

Jack squatted down at the edge of the dock. Bodie thrashed about in the water. Bodies crashed through the woods behind them. A voice called out, “I think they’re at the lake!” Sounded like Darryl. He was close.

“What do we do, Jack?”

Jack stared at Bodie, who was moving in a circle in the water. He looked back at Erica. He made a gesture toward the water.

“You want to bet everything on Bodie? I think this is a dead end. We should run.”

She put her hand on Jack’s shoulder. She held on tight. Jack looked back at the water. Bodie was struggling to stay afloat. He moved his legs through the water, but was starting to sink. Jack could feel Erica begin to pull him. He looked up and saw a hard gaze in Erica’s eyes. Her grip tightened. Bodie’s head went under. Jack cursed. Breaking free from Erica he dove off of the dock. Erica yelled. He hit the water and almost gasped in a lungful. Jack felt as if he had jumped through a sheet of ice. It was so cold. He swam toward Bodie, hoping the movement would stop his limbs from feeling frozen.

Jack wrapped his arms around his canine friend. Jack could feel that they were sinking further down. Like something was pulling them deeper into the water. Glancing down he saw that there was nothing holding them. No long grass to get tangled in. Nothing. He couldn’t even see the bottom.

Jack was running out of breath. He held Bodie tight in his arms, hoping his canine friend could hold out. They sank further. Glancing up Jack saw the sunlight growing farther away. Their descent continued. Jack didn’t know how much longer he could hold his breath. Darkness was closing in. His lungs burned.

He saw himself in the water. As if his reflection had followed him underneath the surface. Except his clothes were different. He was asleep in some kind of pod, wires and probes hooked up to his body. Past his face he saw people moving about in a sterile room. It was like looking through a window. He felt trapped. Jack tried to move, but he couldn’t. His arms and legs were too heavy. He couldn’t even turn his head. Jack closed his eyes, preparing for the inevitable. Unable to hold it any longer he opened his mouth for a last watery breath. Spluttering and gasping he felt the sun warming his face. He coughed up water on to the grass.

“Jack!” Erica breathed beside him.

She was drenched. Her soaking clothes clinging to her body. Water dripped on to Jack’s face from her hair as she stared down at him concerned.

“Are you alright?” she asked. “You fell into the water. Talk to me.”

Jack’s head whirled around as he looked at his surroundings. Air rushed to fill his lungs, but he felt like he couldn’t breathe.

“B-bodie?” he asked.

“What?”

“The bo…bod-”

Jack was shaking. He could hardly speak.

“Bo-what?” Erica asked.

“T-the body. Bodie…”

“Body?”

Erica wrinkled her brow in confusion. She glanced back at the water, still once more.

“There is no body.”

Fin

Part 1: https://medium.com/the-assortment/a-life-away-part-1-lakeside-sunset-bcb48a0e029a

Part 2: https://medium.com/the-assortment/a-life-away-part-2-the-way-it-is-ef8104ffb5e4

Part 3: https://medium.com/the-assortment/a-life-away-part-3-no-soul-2a5d0550b70c

Part 4: https://medium.com/the-assortment/a-life-away-part-4-all-wrong-e6f664972c08

Part 5: https://medium.com/the-assortment/a-life-away-part-5-blurred-lines-c74be9c6556e

Part 6: https://medium.com/the-assortment/a-life-away-part-6-nowhere-to-go-106622c99fe9