Immortality. That was the reward, that was the promise, and he knew it was his. Soon he would live forever. Nobody would have taken it seriously. Nobody who thought rationally that is. He knew that should he have told anybody of this belief, then they would either have laughed at him, or politely made their excuses and left. Yet, he was convinced that it would happen, and soon he would no longer fear death.
Kenneth Ambrose was a primary school teacher. He was thirty-eight and basically lived a solitary life. Nine years ago he had been divorced, their eleven-year-old daughter in the custody of the mother, and her new solicitor husband, fourteen years older. Since then he had remained hopeful but realistic of getting back with her. It basically was never going to happen, and every two weeks, he would visit his daughter, and take her wherever she wanted to go. He hardly ever changed style in clothing and usually always wore dour black pleated trousers and checked shirts. The typical dull attire of a school teacher was epitomised by him.
During one lunch break, he was in a side room of the school library where the children were not allowed to go. It was basically a storeroom for old books and furniture that had done their time in the main room, but were too good to throw away, and nobody took responsibility for, so the place was crammed, with barely any walking space. He was searching for something unusual to use in one of the lessons, when he came across a book that piqued his interest: ‘Welsh folklore, the truth about the legends’.
Most of it was about people, strange and eccentric, witches and cults, and one which got him most interested was the beast beneath Lake Brenig. It had the power to grant immortality upon the person who raised it from the waters into the physical world. A portal lay beneath the lake, closed by a welsh farmer in 1519. The book explained more about the creature, and its world, and as he read, a feeling within him grew, and he knew there and then that it was true. He simply knew it, rather like a believer of religion who ‘knew’ their beliefs were right, and correct, without any physical, scientific proof. They just ‘knew’. To them it was real, and truth, a blurring of the line between belief and fact, when a believer could only believe, not ‘know’. Kenneth ‘knew’, and could not see that it was belief.
To him this creature was yearning to be allowed through into the physical world, not to cause destruction or chaos, but to explore, to learn about nature and humans. If, however, in pursuit of this, it caused devastation, then that did not matter.
This was of no concern to Kenneth who only saw the chance to live forever by a creature that lived in a parallel universe, its unopened portal needing four objects to activate its aperture. A recited, memorised prayer, spoken on the lake itself. Spilling of his own blood into the waters to symbolise devotion. A gift of the acolyte’s choosing, and a fresh guilty mind.
He wondered what type of gift to get. A creature would have no concept of human objects, so he opted for items that were aesthetically pleasing, which also told the beast that he was willing to spend as much as he could to please it, to receive immortality. He spent as much as he could buying jewellery and gemstones, in the hope that the creature would like them. The guilty mind was the hardest to come by, but he did it, and now drove along the winding country roads to the lake. He knew he was only five minutes away. Having looked at the lake a few days earlier to plan his strategy, he saw that there were wooden boats for hire at the north end, and that he could park at the water’s edge. When he was there, a surge of emotions within him had stirred, as he was close to the portal. ‘Soon’ he had said aloud. Nobody had been around him. ‘Soon you’ll be here’.
As he approached, that same stirring whirled inside him in anticipation. He was soon pulling up to the water’s edge and leaving the vehicle. He stopped and looked across the lake, and beyond it at the trees and hills where there was a slight mist, some of which rested on the water. Two boats were out there, seemingly not moving. A light wind ruffled his hair, and he trudged around a hundred metres to the boat hire shed, and was soon in a white flaking craft that seemed to have been made in the early eighteenth century.
It creaked its way slowly through the water, Kenneth doing his best to guide it to the shoreline where he had parked the car. Eventually, he did it, and crossed to the left rear door of his Kia Rio, and stopped as ahead, on the narrow road that led to and away from the lake, a van drove by, then disappeared from view. His heart was racing at the anticipation of being caught, and that he was soon to see the creature whom he venerated, and who would bestow upon him his gift.
He opened the door and reached inside and took out a supermarket carrier bag, wrapping its consignment almost airtight. Locking the car, he was soon back on the lake, rowing towards the centre. The other two boats had gone from his sight. There was silence, a light mist surrounding him as though watching out of curiosity. He stopped rowing, and the boat simply drifted slightly. There was no wind. The sky was white, and the surface of the lake rippled slightly, caused by the slight rocking of the boat as Kenneth stood up near the front, the adrenaline surging through him. He looked around him as though somebody might hear him, and began to recite the prayer over the lake.
After three minutes, it came to an end:“….endowed with grace, majesty and faith. Your ever graceful, eternal disciple, sacrificial mortal animal, and devoted believer”. He held out his left arm over the water, and from his trouser pocket took out a pen-knife. Without hesitation, he sliced into his palm, and blood immediately streamed into the water, the sound of splashing the only sound. A bolt of pain shot through him, and he winced, almost falling over. He did not mean to cut so deep. He knelt over the front, breathing heavily for a few seconds and putting his hand beneath the water. Reaching into his jacket pocket he pulled out a small plastic money-bag. It was full of jewellery.
“I offer you my gift,” he said, and tipped them into the water. They all sank into the murky depths. He reached back, and picked up the carrier bag. It was slightly heavy, and with his other hand aching, he pulled it from the water and took out the human brain, then threw the bag back into the boat. He held it out with his injured hand which still dripped blood.
“A guilty mind”, he said, holding it forth as an offering, then dropping it into the water, where that too, vanished into the depths.
In one of his classes, there was a six-year-old boy who always talked. What his young mind could fathom and comprehend, he vocalised, so anything that happened in his family, he spoke of to anybody who would listen.
‘My mum does this, my mum does that’. ‘My Dad’s drives a taxi. My dad makes loads of money…’. Kenneth hardly ever listened to little James, knowing that what he said was of no significance. It was simply a child with a loudmouth, talking about nothing and everything, until Kenneth remembered that James had periodically mentioned his brother.
‘…..my brother’s in jail. My brother beat someone up. My brother stabbed someone…”. Kenneth had taken the boy to one side, and asked him about his brother, and James told him everything he could. Seventeen years old, out of prison, and living at home with his parents.
“What does he do?,” Where does he go?” were questions Kenneth asked, along with others, to try and fathom how he could get the youth alone. He looked through the class files to find the address, and then began to follow James’s brother as he left a friend’s. He watched him take a shortcut through a park, took a sledgehammer to the back of his head, and dragged him into a copse, where he took out his guilty mind.
Kenneth spread his arms and stared across the lake. He then noticed that the boat was slowly starting to sink. The surface of the water grew closer, and more fear shot through him as it spilled over the edge, and rapidly filled the vessel, where Kenneth also sank, as though his feet were attached to the wood. His fear became even more intense as the cold water came to his chest, then to his shoulders. He took in a deep breath and two seconds later his hair went beneath the surface. The boat drifted silently towards the bottom of the lake. As Kenneth watched the daylight above recede, he realised he didn’t need air, and after the around three minutes, when the boat stopped, and the daylight vanished, the craft disintegrated, its particles vanishing into the blackness.
Kenneth stood at the bottom of the lake, surrounded by silence and gloom. He realised that down here there must be the portal, and that he had to go to and welcome the beast into the new world. His fear still surged through him, and he managed to take three steps, the ground like walking through a muddy riverside in autumn, when his jaw began to open far wider than normal, and pain shot through him as the skin tore, and his hair was dragged down his back. His bones began to snap, his innards forcefully moving and altering shapes. His forehead cracked and expanded, as a new eye formed, then another, then another.
New sharp shark-like teeth began to emerge in the cavity that had become his mouth, and from his chest began to emerge long tendrils, or arms, each with eight talons. Twelve of them tore slowly from his torso, his legs fusing together, then into his midriff, his bones rearranging and expanding. Sixteen tennis ball sized eyes circled its expanding head, and hundreds of teeth circled its gaping maw, with a tongue that had become curled, like that of an iguana, and transparent. Its arms were also circled around it like an octopus, the large hands on the end of each giving it poise and balance. When it had stopped, and the pain had gone, it was the size of an expensive house. Kenneth’s memories filled its mind, also of what it was, and also its name: ‘Orami’ entered its psyche.
What Kenneth could not have known, was that the story of the beast beneath Lake Brenig had been passed down through the ages, altering as it did so, so that it was twisted unintentionally by the author of the children’s book. They wrote of the truth surrounding the fables, but got them in a disorganised order so as not to reflect their reality. Kenneth, nor the author did not know that performing the rituals written, and believing wholeheartedly in its truth, he was to become the beast of the lake, and as it walked slowly in the depths, in the darkness, another realisation came in Orami’s mind. It was immortal.