Where Lies the Engulfer is the thirty-sixth chapter of Zak Saturday's Immortal Love Life. It was first published on February 5, 2016.
This is awesome. Doyle was finally giving me a whole day of training and, best of all, Sarah gets to come with us. Doyle actually didn’t want her to come, but I insisted.
He was taking us to a small deserted town in a jet he borrowed from my dad. And he was flying it pretty fast, but he was making us wear blindfolds, which sucked.
“Feel that ride?” he asked us. “Man, nobody makes jets like they did in the sixties.”
“You cannot be that old,” Sarah said.
“Why are you telling me this?” I asked. “Isn’t my dad the one you want to impress?”
“What?” he said. “You need more oxygen back there, miniman, because your brain’s making crazy talk.”
“Come on. He gets a new fighter jet, you’ve gotta get a new fighter jet. It’s obvious you’re working out some kind of jealousy issues.
“I think you’re right, Zak,” Sarah agreed.
“Turbulence!” Doyle said.
Then we felt the jet spin around.
“God, I feel like I’m on a roller coaster,” Sarah said.
“Ok, I know you were just shutting me up, but that was so cool,” I said. “One more time, and let me take off the blindfold.”
“No can do, Zakman,” Doyle said. “It’s part of your final training mission. Time to learn about blackouts. The dirty world of deception, ruthlessness, and raw, brutal survival of the fist.”
“That could not sound more awesome,” I said.
“That could not sound more terrible,” Sarah corrected.
I lifted the blindfold off my right eye for a moment and saw the town below us.
“Come on,” I said. “Don’t I get a hint or anything?
“Nah. Just a piece of advice,” Doyle replied. “Roll with the landing.”
I didn’t know what he meant. Until he pressed the execute button and me and Sarah shot out of the jet, the seat, and everything. But, luckily, the seat had a parachute, so we landed alright.
We took our blindfolds off and unstrapped ourselves from the seat.
“That was so not fun,” Sarah said. “How were we supposed to roll while strapped to that seat?”
I laughed, then I looked around at our surroundings. “Cool.”
Doyle landed near us using his jet pack.
“Mountain View Resort,” he said. “Found the place a few years back. Been using it as a training ground ever since.”
“What happened to the resort?” I asked.
“Uh, who knows? These kind of dream projects go broke all the time. I say, never question a place where nobody cares if you blow up a building or two.”
“We’re blowing up buildings?”
“Up to you. These are the only rules for your final exam: Your goal is to find and reach my jet, which is somewhere just outside of town. My job is to stop you.”
“Oooo, a test. And I completely forgot to study.”
Sarah rolled her eyes.
“Joke all you want, miniman,” Doyle said. “But I’m not gonna take it easy on you. The word of the day is deception, and you’re dealing with the master. You have no idea what you’re in for.”
“Apparently not,” Sarah said.
“You better hydrate. You’re about to get the workout of your life.”
He threw us both a bottle of water.
“You bring bottled water to a town with its own lake-fed water system?” I asked.
“If you’ve lived in as many sketchy places as I have, you wouldn’t trust the tap water either.”
I dumped out the water. “You know, it’s kind of hard to be intimidated by a tough guy whose afraid of water.”
I walked over to the nearest faucet and turned it on. The water that poured out looked . . . weird. I could tell that it wasn’t something I wanted to drink.
I turned it off and closed the lid. “Uh, I’ll, uh, save it for later.”
“Enjoy,” Doyle said. “By the way, you’ve got a minute to run.”
“Wait. We’re going already?”
“Yep. And I already told you my first lie. I’m actually going to start blasting in ten seconds.”
I laughed, thinking he was joking. That is, until, he aimed his blaster at me and shot it. I barely dodged it.
I grabbed Sarah’s hand and we ran. We came behind a tall statue in the center and I used the claw to get us on top of it. Luckily, Doyle didn’t notice.
“You’re really gonna want more cover than that,” he said.
He walked around the statue and was surprised not to see us.
I slingshot the claw onto another statue about twenty feet away, swung to it, and jumped down. Then he noticed us.
“Oh, did we deceive you?” I said.
We ran off again.
“Don’t think it’ll happen twice,” Doyle called.
“It’d be surprising if we did,” Sarah said.
We ran between two small buildings and at the end of them were stacked logs. I looked behind us and noticed Doyle. He just waved at us.
I was confused. “What is he trying to—”
“Zak, watch out!” Sarah called.
Suddenly, the logs exploded in front of us, and I almost got hit by it.
I was breathing hard.
“Whoa,” Doyle said. “Hey, are you alright, miniman? I didn’t realize I put so many logs in that trap. You need a breather?”
“You almost crushed my head!” I exclaimed. “Yeah, I could use a sec.”
“He’s kidding, Zak,” Sarah said.
“She’s right,” Doyle agreed. “At least one of you knows what deception means.”
“Oh, come on.”
He blasted at some wood next to us and we jumped to dodge it. Debris flew all over the place. We ran inside a building to get away from it.
“He’s really making me mad,” Sarah said.
I nodded in agreement.
The building we had ran into was a gift shop. Then I felt someone else’s presence behind me. I turned around, but didn’t see anyone.
“I don’t think we’re the only ones in here,” Sarah said.
“I don’t think so either,” I agreed.
Then we both were being blasted at.
“Souvenir shopping?” Doyle said. “Maybe some nice smoked meat. And, hey, if you don’t get your head in this, maybe you’ll be smoked meat.”
We ran into a bathroom and locked the door behind us. He kept blasting at it.
I walked up to the sink and noticed some writing on the mirror.
“‘Do not use,’” I read out loud. “Man. The tap water really that bad?”
“It seems so,” Sarah said.
“Come on. Doyle’s probably already used his best tricks.”
“I doubt it. I mean, this is Doyle we’re talking about.”
I walked up to the small window in there and was about to open it when I looked outside and noticed that we were moving.
“Ok. That’s creepy,” Sarah said.
I nodded in agreement. “Yeah.”
We decided to go out the door. When we opened it, there was smoke all over the place and a fire. We moved near the exit and hid behind the counter.
“Come on, Doyle,” I said. “Watcha got?”
Then I felt that other presence again. Sarah did too.
“Someone else is in here,” she said. “But it’s not Doyle.”
“Then who is it?” I asked.
She shook her head. “I don’t know. But we should probably—”
She was being pulled away. I barely had time to grab onto her hands.
“It’s got my foot.”
“What does?” I asked.
“I don’t know, but it’s not letting go.”
“I’m not gonna let you go either.”
But her hands were already slipping.
We were being thrown from side to side. Eventually, Sarah couldn’t hold on any longer, but trying desperately to, her hands slipped out of mine.
She started being pulled away from me. “Zak!”
“Sarah!” I called.
I tried to follow, but she was gone. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Then I heard a knocking sound. I turned around and noticed Doyle outside the bathroom window. He held up a grenade and pointed into the room.
“Aww, man,” I groaned.
This was so not the time.
I moved toward the exit, but the flames from the fire blocked it from me. I heard the grenades fall into the room and they exploded a few feet away. I looked up and noticed a sky light on the ceiling.
More grenades fell at my feet.
I grabbed a teddy bear off one of the stands, plopped it on top of the grenades, and laid on top of it. When the grenades exploded, the impact on the teddy was enough to lift me in the air and through the skylight. I landed on the roof, still holding the teddy bear.
“Aww, Fisk is gonna love that,” Doyle said, appearing next to me. “It’s fire proof, right? Safety first.”
He blasted me again and I moved to dodge it.
“Will you stop your stupid game for a second?” I said. “There’s something going on in this town.”
I ditched the teddy bear and he blasted it to pieces.
I walked back to the skylight. “Down in the store, there was something else after me and Sarah and it got her.”
“Really?” Doyle asked sarcastically. “That’s the best lie you could come up with? Maybe you weren’t ready for this test.”
“I’m serious. Where do you think Sarah is right now? Whatever took her may have came back and be right down—”
I looked down the skylight and didn’t see anything.
Doyle looked down too. “I don’t see anything. Sarah get’s this game better than you seem to. You should follow her instead.”
I ran to the edge of the roof and slingshot myself over into a building right next to this one. I was in the main room when I noticed a sign on the wall above the fire place.
“‘It’s Alive!’?” I read out loud. “What’s that all about?”
Then a grenade came in down the chimney. I knocked it away and it blew up. I ran outside and hid behind a tree.
“You can’t hide forever, Zak,” Doyle said. “And you’re not even close to finding the jet.”
“I’m not kidding, Doyle,” I replied. “I know there’s something here, something unnatural, and it took Sarah. I can feel it behind me.”
“That’s an amateur con, Zak. Never try the same trick twice. And, more importantly, never give away your position.”
He suddenly tackled me.
We rolled for a moment and I was able to get off him.
“I don’t care about passing your test, Doyle,” I said. “I just need you to listen to me. This isn’t a trick.”
“Sorry, but that’s exactly what someone trying to trick me would say,” he replied.
I grabbed the bottle of water out of my pocket. “I said, listen.”
I threw it at him. He blasted it, and when it broke open, the water inside of it suddenly attached itself around his whole head. He couldn’t breath.
“Doyle!” I said.
I tried to, I guess, pull it off of him, but it wouldn’t budge. Then, suddenly, the water in the lake began to rise up like it had arms and came toward us.
I pushed Doyle out of the way and into a bamboo patch. Doyle was still having trouble with the water on his head and I knew he was eventually going to run out of breath. I grabbed the claw and activated my powers, but he stopped me and gestured to the water.
“I know it’s a lake,” I said. “I have to try my cryptid powers.” I broke off a piece of bamboo. “Try this.”
I stuck it through the water and into his mouth and he was able to breathe with it. Then the water from the lake wrapped around my foot and pulled me back.
I tried to grab onto something, but there wasn’t anything I could grab onto. Doyle stopped the water from pulling me to the lake with the fire from his jet pack.
“Give it some more heat, Doyle,” I said. “It’s working.”
He did as I told him, though I’m surprised he was able to hear me.
The water pushed him away and he landed next to me. Then it came after us.
“Let’s go!” I said, then grabbed his arm and ran.
We ran into the middle of town and the water from around Doyle’s head washed away and he spit the stick out of his mouth.
“Hey!” he called. “Don’t you know a trap when you see one? When the enemy leaves one escape route open, that’s the way you don’t wanna go.”
“Seriously?” I asked. “You’re still doing deception lessons? There’s a lake trying to swallow us.”
“A lake that was smart enough to short out my jet pack.”
“Ok, if it’s so smart, why would it send us away from itself into the middle of town?”
Then we heard the water pipes creak and I suddenly knew why.
“A town with a lake-fed water system,” I said without any enthusiasm.
“Oh, yeah,” Doyle said. “We just got played.”
The water attacked us again.
We ran between a few buildings, and when the water came at us, Doyle held a trash can up and it went into it. But it came back out and, somehow, picked up the trash can and threw it at us.
We barely missed it.
“It can throw?” I asked in disbelief. “It’s water!”
“Told you it was smart,” Doyle said.
We ran again and the water followed.
“Where’s your jet?” I asked Doyle.
“Uh, it’s not easy, Zakman,” he replied.
“What? You’re still trying to test me now?”
The water was washing down the path we were on.
“Grab on!” I said, holding up the claw.
Doyle grabbed it and I slingshot us onto the big statue. We swung around it a couple times and landed back down on the ground, the water following.
“Come on,” Doyle said, gesturing to a candy shop. “I’ve got a sweet spot.”
“Does your brain actually think in cheesy one-liners?” I asked.
We ran inside the shop and looked around. The water followed through the pipes inside.
“In here!” Doyle said, gesturing to a freezer.
We ran inside it and locked ourselves in.
“Locked in an ice cream freezer?” I asked. “This is your escape plan?”
“It’ll give us a chance to figure out a plan,” Doyle replied.
“What’s there to figure out? We need to find Sarah, get to your jet, and get out of here.”
“Hey, I trained in this town, remember? This is the one air-tight, water-tight room I know.”
“You said it’s just outside of town. Let’s make a run for it.”
Doyle shifted himself uncomfortably.
“Uh, yeah, that was sort of another deception,” he replied. “The jet’s actually a few miles out of town, on the other side of the mountain pass.”
“There was an object lesson or something, but I don’t know. It kind of seems unimportant right now.”
Then I noticed that there was a note on one of the tubs of ice cream. I picked it up and looked it over.
“Watcha got?” Doyle asked.
“It’s a last will testament,” I replied. “And a warning.” I began to read it out loud. “‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry. We took the water from the cursed lake. Now the lake is taking us.’ I guess that explains how you trained here with no problem. You’re always bringing your own water.”
“Solid policy,” he said.
“But I took lake water. From the pipes when I filled that bottle. And now the lake is gonna do to us whatever it did to the people of Mountain View.”
“Hey, don’t bent yourself up, miniman. I thought the tap water was bad-germy, you know, not bad evil.”
His words didn’t help much.
But then a thought came to me. “Wait. How did the lake get the guy who wrote this note if he was locked in an air-tight, water-tight room?”
Then we heard water running up from the vent at our feet.
“Guess we’re making that run for it,” Doyle said.
I grabbed the claw and broke the knob on the door with it. Doyle then kicked it down and began throwing grenades at the water. It seemed to work.
“Go!” he said.
We bolted for the door and continued to run.
A wave of water came after us.
“We should probably . . .” I began.
“Yeah,” Doyle agreed. “In there.”
We ran into yet another store, a sporting store to be exact. We jumped and hid inside a canoe. The water passed us by.
“I think we’re cool,” Doyle said. “For now.”
“You know, it’d be a lot easier to come up with a plan if we had a jet to escape in,” I said.
It may have been harsh and unnecessary, but I couldn’t help it.
“Hey, I’m sorry,” Doyle said. “I didn’t know there was an evil demon lake. I’m not going to apologize for my training methods.”
“Training methods?” I said. “All you’ve done is lie to me this whole time.”
“Doc asked me to teach you the things I know, and what I know isn’t always pretty. What kind of enemies do you think you’re up against? Van Rook? Argost? I used to work for those guys, remember? They lie, they cheat, they—will—hurt you. I’m trying to teach you how to beat them.”
“What, by turning me into one of them?” I asked. “The way to beat guys like that is to be better than them. To be the good guys. That’s the way my mom and dad taught me. Where’d you learn your way?”
He didn’t answer, but instead gritted his teeth.
The water came back, and came into the store. I leaned down in the canoe as much as I could and stayed quiet.
“We can’t hide forever,” Doyle whispered. “I’ve got an idea. It’s a gamble, but it’ll give us at least a chance. My jet pack has a breathing mask with emergency—”
The water moved below us and then passed by.
“An emergency reserved oxygen tank,” Doyle continued, pulling it out of his jet pack. “I’ll draw the lake’s attention, you make a run for the jet. If I get grabbed, I’ll have enough air to last until you get to the jet and call for help.”
“Are you kidding?” I asked. “There’s no way—”
The water passed by again.
“There’s no way help will show up in time. How much air can you even have in an emergency reserve tank, like, thirty minutes?”
“Four hours,” he said. “I’m paranoid about emergencies.”
“You’re paranoid about everything. But, even with four hours—”
He stood up from the canoe. “Use the back door.”
He ran out of the store, the water following him.
I hopped out of the canoe and ran out the back door like he told me to. Then I ran up the hill and through the woods.
“Zak!” a voice called.
I turned toward the direction it came from and my heart skipped a beat. “Sarah!”
She was running toward me. I ran to meet her and gave her a hug.
“You’re ok,” I said. “But how did you get away from the water?”
“I remembered that I have powers,” she replied. “So it was easy to get away from it. But it’s weird that, the fact that it’s water, it’s got a mind of it’s own. Do you know how that’s possible?”
I shook my head. “No. But at least you’re ok. I’ve been really worried about you.”
“So was I. And you also managed to get away. But where’s Doyle?”
I told her what had happened as fast as I could. When I was done, she just stared at me.
“What?” I asked.
“Well, my powers did tell me that he was lying to you when he said that the jet was just outside of town,” Sarah replied. “But, wow. He really has changed since we first met him.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, he used to always take chances with someone else’s life on the line, mostly yours, but now he’s sacrificing himself to save you. That’s really sweet. But, Zak, how many times are you going to keep falling for his deception before you finally realize he’s lying? Though, I’ll admit, he’s a damn good liar.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, confused.
“Zak, four hours?” Sarah said. “There is no way an oxygen mask can hold that much oxygen for that long. I doubt even an hour.”
I thought about it for a moment and realized she was right.
I groaned and face palmed myself. “Of course he was lying. I can’t believe I fell for that.”
“Yeah, and we’ve got about ten minutes left before he runs out of oxygen,” Sarah said.
What a way to rush me.
I looked back at all the buildings and saw one in particular that may help us.
“Ok, new plan,” I said, then grabbed Sarah’s hand. “Let’s go.”
And we ran to it.
After getting there, I grabbed a wheel barrel near by and Sarah and I filled it with as much bags of cement as fast as we could.
Then we took it to the lake. When we got there, I noticed that it had Doyle.
“Hey!” I called to it. “Up here! Come on, eyes on me.”
The water came up and at us.
“That’s right,” I taunted. “I’m talking to you, water. You want a piece of this? Come on!”
I stuck the claw into a bag of cement and slingshot it at the water. Once it reached it, I pulled back and the bag ripped open, landing on the water and freezing it a little bit. I ripped open a couple more cement bags on it to stop it completely.
“Gotcha!” I said in triumph. “How’s that quick cement taste? Boom! It’s called deception, sucker. Oh, yeah.”
“Ok, Zak,” Sarah said. “That’s enough.”
I brought the wheel barrel down to the edge of the lake, then I noticed Doyle had resurfaced.
“Doyle!” I called.
He walked toward us, but the water intercepted him, one going after him, another coming after us.
“No you don’t,” I told it, then slingshot another bag of cement at it.
Sarah had jumped into the water for Doyle and brought him out.
He was coughing out some water.
“Doyle, you ok?” I asked. “Can you make a run for it?”
“As long as . . . there’s no more . . . swimming,” he replied, sounding out of breath.
The water came at us again.
“We should probably . . .”
“Yeah,” I agreed.
I jumped on top of the wheel barrel. Doyle grabbed it and began pushing it up the mountain and Sarah was flying near us with a couple of cement bags in hand just in case the water got too close to us, because it was following us.
I was doing the same thing. I threw a couple of cement bags at it and it ran into a tree. The water stopped following us after that.
“Hey, seriously, thanks for coming back,” Doyle told me. “I’m glad you’re one of the good guys.”
“Guess that means I failed the down-and-dirty blackouts test, huh?” I said.
“It’s overrated. I couldn’t even trick an eleven-year-old kid about an emergency oxygen tank.”
“You did at first,” Sarah said. “But I, eventually, got to him.”
He laughed. “We’ll count saving my life as extra credit.”
We had finally reached the jet, and when we got into it, I called my parents immediately.
“Hi, Mom,” I said.
“Hey, sweetie,” she said. “How’s the training going?”
“Great. Hey, you think we can get some cement mix air-lifted in, like, a lot?”
She was confused by that.
I told her the whole story, and she got Dr. Cheechoo to take care of it.
When we got back home, we had brought a sample of the water back for Dad to analyze, and, while he was doing that, both Sarah and I were talking to both of our families about everything that had happened today.
“You’re lucky you escaped alive, Zak,” Dr. Cheechoo told me. “The Curtilage Tribe called this Lake Cakecamemine, the Engulfer. Still, it’d be nice for once if you guys could visit my country without wrecking our eco system.”
“Actually, it looks like something else was already doing the wrecking,” Dad said. “Billions of little somethings. The lake water’s been infected by a sort of microbial community of cryptid parasites, existing only to destroy and consume.”
“Billions of micro cryptids,” I said. “No wonder I couldn’t find just one brain to latch on to with my power.”
“These things must’ve been like a poison on the whole area,” Mom said. “Really, I think the local eco system should be thanking us.”
“Fine,” Dr. Cheechoo said. “On behalf of my country’s eco system, thanks for killing the lake.”
“Yeah, that’s a weird sentence,” Raylee said.
“Anytime,” Doyle said.
“Bottle of water?” I asked him, offering him one.
He looked a little startled, but then relaxed. “Now, I’ve got nothing left to teach you.”
“That’s good,” Sarah said, and gave me a hug.
Well, today was a weird day. We killed a lake that was trying to kill us.
That’s just the normal day of a Saturday.
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