Beyond the Waterfall
Up in the forest, in places I used to haunt there was a lake; Lake Nettleton, they called it. Or so I’ve been told. I’m sure the First Nations people had another name for it long ago. It was a small lake that trickled down to an even smaller creek. The creek would have been a river I’m sure, if it weren’t for the beaver dam–if I called it a wall I wouldn’t be that far off the mark, for it blocked one end of the lake forcing the water to enter the creek at a trickle. If I was brave, I would have walked across the dam. As it is, the waters of Lake Nettleton set me on edge.
If you followed the creek it would take you to a small waterfall. I know this because to use the paths that circled the lake one would have to cross a makeshift bridge (which was three wooden planks, courtesy of the neighbourhood) that was literally five meters away from it. The water there was shallow, and on a sunny day it was nice to dip your feet in. Out of concern for my safety I never did; the creek bed consisted of large, slippery slabs of stone, and although small the drop down the falls would have proven fatal.
In the winter there is a drastic change that comes across the land; something that was once familiar becomes alien. When you’re walking alone there is only silence, thick and impermeable. The cold air is like oil. There are no smells . . .
The waterfall was now a wild sculpture, beautiful and ugly. One day I noticed a strange scent around the area. There was nothing like it, and it terrified me. Without even stopping to think I immediately found my way to the bottom of the falls. It was all harsh white and deep blue shadows, and the air was colder. No amount of sun could penetrate the canopy above.
For a while I was content to stare at the cold, cerulean sky. The trees reminded me of bones. The sterile scene was at odds with the mysterious smell, and I soon found myself feeling queasy. After several seconds of searching I found the source. A pile of skin and clothes, and the skin still steaming. Nearby I heard the sound of flapping; it was like thunder, which was then followed by a sharp hiss.
I took care not to throw-up as I backed away.