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The Warning

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

Excitement. Colors. Running. Wind. People. Running. Drowning. Screaming. Running. Running. Running.

Confetti of all colors fill the air at the Mardi Gras parade, the music is almost deafening and the stomp of people’s feet to the rhythm makes it difficult to keep one’s balance. I retreated to a small bar that seemed empty and ordered a beer hoping it would help the time pass faster. I came here for my sister. She loves Mardi Gras. But now she’s off with her boyfriend, dancing. And I’m alone. In a city of ghosts. Some tangible, real people with no soul left inside them. Other’s invisible, just the creaking of the door when no one’s home and the footsteps on the attic that’s been sealed for decades. I pay the bartender and wander around the back of the building. I’ve had a few too many beers at this point and begin to wander down to the lake behind the parade. It’s quiet and empty. The still water entrances me, compared to the noise of the parade it’s an oasis. And yet all I want to do is touch it. To disrupt the stillness. I hear an echo in the wind, a silent whisper “Don’t”. I know the ghost stories are true, I’ve experienced them myself. But something pulls me to the water still, despite the warning in the wind. I reach a hand-out and pause. My hesitation somehow makes my urge even stronger, I tap the surface of the water and watch the ripple expand. But instead of stopping at the water’s edge, it continues onto the land. The ground starts shaking as the ripple continues through the parade knocking everyone on their feet. Buildings shake, bricks fall, dancers scream as their floats topple. I look at the water. The ripple hasn’t stopped, it’s as if that moment of time is playing on loop as the ripple keeps reappearing as if an invisible force is touching it. Then I hear a new whisper, “I warned you” and I run. I run and run until I feel as if I’m no longer breathing. I look up. I never left the lake. I’m standing in the same spot I began. Again the voice, “I warned you” and I feel myself lose control of my body. As if my consciousness is shoved behind some other creature. I feel my legs move me to the water. I feel the cold pierce my skin and envelop me as I walk farther into the darkness. I feel the water swallow my neck as I attempt one last breath of air before I sink below. My legs keep moving me further under the surface, I can’t struggle against it. I can barely hold my breath. Eventually, I stop moving. I attempt to look around and find I can’t move my body at all. I’m stuck. Frozen in time...

Many years have passed since. And mud and algae envelop me into a stiff cage. I’m trapped. Always stuck in that state of barely enough air to survive and yet I don’t drown. But occasionally divers come. Their cameras snap and they motion to each other. But they never come near me. That’s not what they are here for. They didn’t come to free me. They came to take photos and to experience. To take pictures of the mysterious statue at the bottom of the lake.

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