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Never Go Kayaking at the BFSH Eden Retreat
NoSleep Horror Story
I wrote a few episodes for a now completed series on the Nosleep Reddit Community called the Brighter Futures Suicide Hotline (BFSH).
These are horror stories, so if horror isn’t your thing or you don’t want to read fiction that includes suicides, you may want to skip reading the stories about BFSH.
I’d heard rumors about the lake, you know?
Not just the lake, but the whole Eden experience.
Words like “transformative” and “unbelievable” were tossed around by my co-workers, but so were terms like “terrifying” and “wretched.” But when your boss says your team is going to Eden … well, you’re going to Eden.
Should’ve called the place the Hell. Especially the lake.
It wasn’t like I was a fan of water to begin with, especially when I almost drowned as a kid.
I was trying to save my mother.
Mom had filled her pockets with rocks and her body with booze and sedatives and walked into the lake near our summer cabin.
I was only seven. I couldn’t hold on to her. She slipped from my grasp and floated down into the murk, too mired in her own pain and sadness to care that she was leaving her daughter behind.
A fisherman grabbed me outta the water before I could follow her. And I’d wanted so badly to follow her.
I think I spent the next twenty years trying to find ways to descend into the same deadly melancholy that had led to Mom’s suicide.
Until I found a new purpose at BFSH.
As a call center specialist, I’d prevented dozens of people from taking their own lives.
But the fact remained: No matter how many damaged souls I saved--it would never make up for letting go of my mother and watching her pale form sink into the ugly, black water.
“Gretchen to earth,” said Ranger Haley. Her smile was wide and friendly. Nice woman. A little too gung-ho for nature. But I guess that was a necessary attribute for someone with her job.
“Sorry,” I said, looking away from the gentle undulations of the lake. I stretched my lips just enough to hint at a smile. “Not enough caffeine this morning.”
“Breathe in the fresh air,” said the ranger. “That’s better than coffee.”
No, it wasn’t. But I huffed up some air to make her happy and get her attention off me. My friend Marla bumped my shoulder. “You really aren’t a morning person.”
“Understatement,” I muttered. The gray water sparkled silver in the sunlight. The slosh of the waves hitting the rocky shore might’ve been soothing to most people. For me, it was an auditory reminder of the day I lost my mother.
“C’mon,” said Marla, grabbing my arm and dragging me toward the line of green kayaks. “Cheer up, Vonnie. You get through this, and I promise some day drinking later.”
“Well, okay. As long as I can get sloshed and forget I’m trapped in Ranger Haley’s wet dream.”
She grinned at me and then slid into one of the kayaks. I followed her lead, using my paddle to push me away from the shoreline.
I would never admit this to anyone, but the first twenty minutes of Ranger Haley and the five of us cubicle monkeys slicing through the water was pleasant.
I even started to relax.
We stuck near the shoreline, close enough for me to hear birds chirping and leaves rustling from the gentle morning breeze.
Not that I would trade my beloved addiction to coffee for regular jaunts in the great outdoors--but for the first time since arriving in Eden a couple days ago, I actually felt at peace.
Then Ranger Haley starting paddling faster and taking us further and further from land. The lake was huge, dotted with little tree-filled islands and rimmed with hidden inlets. My peace evaporated as the ranger maneuvered us into one of these inlets.
“It smells like something died,” said one kayakers--a blonde dude I didn’t know. In fact, of the five BFSH employees who’d taken Ranger Haley up on his offer for a Morning Adventure You’ll Never Forget, I only knew Marla. And she was the one who’d talked me into joining her.
Blonde guy was right. The smell was atrocious--like rotted meat and boiled cabbage in a bin filled with decaying fruit.
The water here was soupy, foul.
Vines crawled from the trees into the water like diseased tentacles. Even the once blue sky looked gray. Worst of all was the strange silence. No birds twittered here.
“Okay. I’m outta here,” said a trim brunette. She pointed to blonde dude and their redheaded friend. “Right, Theresa and Fred?”
“Yeah. Let’s go,” said Theresa.
Ranger Haley laughed, but the sound wasn’t exactly joyous. Chills zipped up my spine. Marla pulled up next to me and glanced my way. I could see from her expression that she felt as uneasy as I did.
“Oh, but you have to stay,” said Ranger Haley, her voice pitched up and she giggled. “Don’t you want to hear about the lake monster?”
“A bunch of bunk,” said Fred, his gaze darting toward the small channel we’d squeezed through to get in here.
“Some say the creature has lived here for thousands of years. Before this place was even a lake,” said Ranger Haley in her creepy cheerleader voice. “The natives used to leave human sacrifices for the monster to ensure safe passage across its territory.”
“Sounds bogus,” muttered Theresa. “Right, Pheebs?”
The brunette nodded. “Totes.”
Ranger Haley rolled her eyes. “Nobody ever believes,” she said. Her smile turned sinister. Then she slipped out of the kayak and jumped into the water.
“What the hell are you doing?” cried Marla. “You trying to scare us?”
“Fear makes the meat tender,” she said. Then she sank beneath the disgusting water and disappeared.
“We’re outta here.” Fred turned his kayak toward the channel and the two women followed him.
They never made it. Gray-green tentacles breeched the water, wrapping around the boats and flipping them over. The BFSH employees cried out as they splashed into the lake. In no time at all, they were dragged under the murkiness.
Down, down, down into the deep, black water.
“Get to shore, Vonnie,” yelled Marla. We both turned our kayaks toward the land, though I didn’t know how we’d manage to find safety there. Every inch of the shore was filled with trees, bushes, and forest debris.
This place was a trap.
Designed to keep the monster’s meals ensnared. My heart tripled its beat as my kayak bounced against the rocks. The water was deep here. Deep enough to hide a monster’s lair and the remnants of its human meals.
“Grab onto a tree branch,” said Marla as she reached up and grasped the limb above her. “We can climb out that way.”
I wrapped my hands around the nearest branch and popped out of the kayak. I pulled myself up, swinging my legs upward, and scooted along the rough bark. I got scratched up good, but safety was within reach.
My hiking boots hit the crook of the tree and I scambled into the space, turning around to see Marla’s progress.
She was nearly to the tree, almost safe, when a slime-covered tentacle splashed out of the water and encircled the branch. The creature yanked hard.
“Keep going, Marla!” I yelled.
But she couldn’t. The monster’s appendage was too strong. The limb cracked and Marla, still clinging to it, fell into the water below. She screamed as the tentacles squeezed around her and pulled her underneath the water.
I climbed down the tree, landing in the dense undergrowth. I pushed my way through the forest’s dregs, tears streaming down my face as I struggled through every skin-cutting inch.
“Where are you going, Vonnie?” taunted Ranger Haley’s voice. “We’re not done yet!”
Her evil laughter chased me further into the woods. Eventually the trees thinned out and I felt like I was far enough away from the lake to be safe.
With shaky hands, I pulled my cell phone out of my shorts’ pocket and dialed my supervisor. I lied my ass off about what happened, telling him I’d gone for a hike and gotten lost.
Look, maybe I should’ve admitted the truth. But no one would believe me. Hell, if it hadn’t happened to me, I wouldn’t believe me, either. Still. Others had gone missing or ended up dead at the Eden retreat.
But I wasn’t going to be one of ‘em.