Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

Barge By Andy Mee

His screams were out there somewhere, rolling in the mists of Cobalt Lake’s biting dusk winds. Although I could no longer hear that ecstasy of fear in his incessant pleading, I knew they were with us, his screams. The pain etched on his half-submerged face told of desperate cries. My father, who long worked on disposal duty in the city’s abattoirs, had once said, ‘Spend so long in a place that smells unimaginably foul and you don’t even notice it’. It appeared that the same was true of sound.

I’d longed to hear his apologies, waited patiently for many years. Now they’d arrived, in hordes. I watched his panicked face with amused satisfaction, checking that the ropes that bound him were tight.

It was too late for forgiveness.

It had taken forty-four minutes for his body sink this far and more visitors were lending weight to the barge all the time. He sank more with each new guest.

His cries had started as angry threats when he finally woke (typical of that foul temper of his). But they quickly evolved to a slow-dawning fear, culminating in this pathetic begging and crying.

‘Crazy’ and deranged’, he’d called me.

The water level was now lapping at his chin as the latest party-goer stepped onto the floating barge above us. Excited anticipation was bubbling in my empty stomach. Soon he’d be gulping his last desperate breaths. The disco music, passing through the hardwood floor above, made me tap my foot in amused satisfaction as I watched him sink.

I hoped he could hear his revellers above the sounds of his own sobs. Their laughter made me smile. I suspected he didn’t appreciate the irony as I did.

Another car arrived. The slamming of the door was followed by the clicking of stilettos tapping over the barge’s bridge. I loved stilettos.

God he was popular. Their joining would cause his barge to sink a little more. And him.

I leaned over to wipe the hair from his eyes. I wanted to see their blue panic. Overhead, seeming many miles away, I heard another car pull up.

‘It won’t be long’, I whispered, looking down into his glassy eyes.

The rising water was now at his gagged mouth, occasionally reaching up above his nose and slapping against his forehead. It was like having a fish on a hook. I felt the same wonder a boy gets fishing for the first time with his father – the first catch.

His horror-filled eyes were now wide open. Perfect blue. She was right, he did have lovely eyes.

The low black, waves were toying with him beautifully, occasionally reaching up to the heavy, folded lines of his forehead. Some stroked the top of his head, almost covering him, before dropping again. I made sure that when his eyes re-focused, he saw my smile. I hadn’t planned for this. I hadn’t considered the delight of the playful waves in these final moments.

I turned and picked up my dinner jacket. It was time to rejoin the party.

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