Fishing at the End of the Dock

📅 Published on December 18, 2021

“Fishing at the End of the Dock”

Written by Ryan Peacock
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.33/10. From 3 votes.
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His secretary had asked him if he’d had time for an interview today…some small-time reporter, looking to earn a few clicks out of a chat with an old businessman.  He’d declined, of course.  Told her to reschedule for next week, although even if he was alive by then, he’d still find a way to dodge the little bastard.

Thirty or so years back, he’d absolutely relished in this sort of thing; the attention, the acknowledgment of his success.  It was what fueled him.  Every dream he’d ever had, ended in this.  Recognition.  Praise.  Good job.

Nowadays, it was just an annoyance.  An irritating speed bump in his otherwise busy day and any part of him that still wanted to illuminate the life of whatever little reporter begged for an interview from him was long dead.  He was a busy man with bigger fish to fry.

As he drove through the heavy fog down the quiet dirt road, past old cottages and run-down stores, he couldn’t help but scoff internally at just how twee this place was.  Twee…that was really the only word he could think to use.  He’d heard a business partner use it once, and the word had grown on him.  Once upon a time, these encompassing forests and run-down marinas had been the greatest thing in the world to him, but now that he had seen even greater things, they held none of the luster they had when he was a boy.

Well…perhaps not all of that luster.  He did catch himself slowing down slightly as he passed the most familiar of the old bait and tackle stores that dotted the roads along the lakeside.  The sign was old and faded, the colors long-since worn away by time, but he could still faintly read the name of the store.

Becs Bait

Surprisingly, the place still looked to be open!  How unusual…it had been about fifty years since last he’d stepped through the doors of Becs, with his little brother Adam right on his heels.  Adam had been a good kid.  He could’ve gone far in life…they’d almost religiously pick themselves out a chocolate bar and a soda each, along with a tin of worms, before walking back to their parent’s cottage along that dirt road.  Usually, they’d head right back out onto the dock and enjoy the sun for a little while before getting to fishing.  Usually, they didn’t catch much more than minnows.  But once, maybe twice a year, one of them would catch something that would have a place on the dinner table.  The memory of it brought the ghost of a smile to his face before he moved on, leaving Becs behind.

The cottage wasn’t far now, and time was short, and he knew better than to dawdle.  Up ahead, through the fog, he spotted the faded sign that told him where to turn.

The Dawson’s Cottage

He and Adam had painted that sign themselves in their father’s workshop.  They’d both been grinning from ear to ear when they’d watched him nail it up.  Time hadn’t been kind to it.  The text was only barely legible, and the fog didn’t help.  But the ghost of the words on the sign was more than enough to let him know that after all this time, he’d found his way home again.

Exhaling heavily, he’d turned the car down the overgrown dirt road to the cottage where he’d spent the best years of his life.  He kept a tight grip on the steering wheel before looking at the clock.  He still had a few hours…he was sure of that much.

His car was not made to handle the rough dirt road, and it rocked and jolted on the uneven terrain.  If he’d had a little more foresight, he might have rented something more suited to coming out here.  But now was not the time to think about what he could have done better…that time had passed long ago.  The cottage loomed up ahead of him, secluded and cut off from the rest of the world.

It had been a good fifteen years or so since he’d been back, although, despite that, the cottage did not by any means look bad.  He’d at least had the foresight to pay someone to maintain it, and they’d done a decent enough job.  It wasn’t perfect.  But it wasn’t collapsing in on itself.  It would do…for now.

The cottage had ended up in his name after his father had died, and he had visited a handful of times since then.  But eventually, his schedule grew too busy, his interests led him elsewhere, and he found himself with less use for the property.  Of course, he could never ever bring himself to sell it!  Heavens, no!  That would be next to absolute madness!  He could never sell this land, not for any price!  It wasn’t just sentimental value that made this place important.  He’d learned long ago that there was no room for sentimentality in a man.  But this place had a value to him that no cheque could match.

Over the past fifty years, all of the good things that had come to him came from here.  Every business partnership, every wise investment, every decision that had brought him to the top had come from this place.

His car rolled to a stop in front of the old cottage, and he got out, breathing in the deep fog and smelling the foul scent of decay on it.  He huffed before trudging towards the front door and trying his keys.  The door opened with a creak, and he stepped into the darkness that awaited him inside.

With a bit of fumbling, he was able to find the light switch, and with a stern look on his face, he surveyed the old cottage.  It had changed little since last he’d been here.  It was clean and tidy, yes.  But it was also clearly abandoned.  Somehow, that brought him some comfort.

He closed and locked the door behind him before reaching into his suit jacket and taking out the revolver he carried with him.  Methodically, he checked over the gun to ensure that it looked good before he set it down on the counter.  He’d never been one for firearms, but he’d made a point to learn in his youth.  As a boy, he had thought it would be cool to own a gun, like the old-fashioned cowboys who’d been his heroes.  Nowadays, he only ever carried it when it was practical, and he’d never actually fired it outside of a shooting range.  But that was to be expected.

He made his way over to the rear of the cottage and lifted the blinds to look out over the lake.  Thick fog covered most of it and rolled up the hill leading down to the dock.  But the dock itself was visible.  It waited for him against the pale, glassy surface of the lake, the tip of it only barely visible.  No boats were moored, and he could see none on the water.  As far as he could tell, he was well enough alone.

He studied the water, looking for any trace of movement, a ripple, a sign of life.  But there was nothing.  Satisfied, he turned away and reached into his pocket for his cigarettes.

He’d started smoking when he was 13.  Naturally, as soon as Adam caught him with a cigarette, he’d wanted to try one too.  Adam really had idolized him…in hindsight, he probably should have been more touched than he was.  But back then, his little brother’s admiration had gotten on his nerves more often than not.

When he’d started smoking, Adam had wanted to smoke.

When he was mowing the lawn, Adam wanted to mow the lawn too.

When he was with his friends, Adam wanted to be with his friends too.

It had started to grate on him…but that was simply what brothers did and have done since the beginning of time.  Looking back at all of it, he felt a little silly having been so frustrated by all of it.  But no matter what he thought now, he wouldn’t have changed a thing that happened.  Not one little thing.

When he was 14 and Adam was 9, a friend of his had told him about a book he’d found.  Now, at a glance, the book was full of nothing but nonsense.  Occult mumbo jumbo that was bound to scare some dumb boys.  None of them actually took any of it seriously…but, he’d let himself get drawn into the weird incantations and rituals depicted in the book, and Adam had done so as well.

It had been Adam’s suggestion that they actually try some of those rituals.  He’d never actually believed it would work, but Adam had been persistent, and so to shut him up, he’d agreed to try just one ‘spell.’  The spell they’d chosen was supposedly supposed to bring rain, and it involved a simple ceremony.  One of them would draw a sigil, and the other would place a bell inside of it.  Then, one would pour water upon that bell and strike it three times, then three times more.

He and Adam had drawn the sigil exactly as outlined in the book and performed the ceremony as specified, and then they had waited.  Once they had rung the bell for the last time, Adam had immediately run to the window in the hope that it would suddenly be pouring rain.  But the sun still shone outside, much to his disappointment.

He remembered that he’d said:

“It’s alright.  Maybe it’ll rain tomorrow.” in the hope that it might cheer Adam up.  Adam had just looked glumly at him and said.

“Yeah…maybe tomorrow.”

They hadn’t needed to wait that long, though.

The rain had come on suddenly before mid-afternoon, and it came down hard.  He couldn’t remember seeing a downpour so bad before or since, and he couldn’t forget the ear-to-ear grin that Adam had worn as he realized that their little spell had worked and that they had just tapped into something that only a handful of people ever truly understood.

A couple of days later, during school, he had snuck the book out of his friend’s backpack.  He’d played dumb when his friend later couldn’t find it and made sure to hide it well inside his room.  He didn’t want to lose the power that they’d found, after all.

The rituals continued after that.  Always just small things.  Summoning snow, on the winter days when they didn’t feel like going to school (That year had just so happened to have a record snowfall), conjuring little illusions for their own entertainment.  Like children with a loaded gun, they’d played with a power beyond their comprehension…well, Adam’s, comprehension…

Adam had no interest in the deeper secrets of the book.  But he did.  In that ancient text, he read about worlds beyond the one he knew, about impossible beasts with an insatiable hunger and about rituals that could plot the course of a man’s life, in directions he could only have fantasized about…if, of course, one had the stomach to perform them.

It seemed worth it…a little sacrifice in exchange for a life of success.  Sure, he would miss Adam.  But Adam wouldn’t really be dead now, would he?  They’d get plenty of chances to speak again, and when they did, his little brother would be so much more useful to him…

He had performed the ritual one afternoon while their parents had been out on the boat and they had been alone in the cottage.  They had walked down to Becs, as they had so many times before, to get their chocolate, soda and worms.  Then they had walked back.  Adam had been smiling, unaware of what was waiting for him.  He’d drank his soda, eaten his chocolate and run down to the dock so they could start fishing.

Adam didn’t see it when he took out the knife…he didn’t have a chance to react until the blade was sinking into his flesh, carving the binding runes into him.  And even then, all he could do was vainly struggle and scream before he was thrown off the edge of the dock.  Adam had tried to resurface, of course…but he’d never make it to land.

He’d placed his hands on Adam’s shoulders and forced him back under…he’d held him beneath the water, looking into his brother’s eyes until he knew that he’d gotten what he wanted.  Life seemed to fade from them…but he could still see the ghost of something still there—a hint of lingering consciousness.  The body was mostly dead…but the soul lived on, in between the realm of life and death.  Adam’s eyes had remained fixed on his, and after taking a deep breath and steeling himself, he asked the first of many questions.

“Where should I hide you?”

It had been almost fifty years to the day since then.  He had asked countless more questions since.  Questions that Adam had answered.  Questions about business, about investments, about love and about the future.

For almost fifty years, his oracle had remained bound…but its time was almost up.

Many years ago, the book had warned him that this day would come.  The runes would keep Adam bound, but not forever.  There was a time limit.  Fifty years was all he could manage.  Fifty years with the body stashed beneath the dock, invisible to all but him.  Adam had served him well.  He had been a good little brother and a better oracle, even if he hadn’t been exactly the most willing of servants.  But the time had come to cut him loose.

He took a drag on his dying cigarette and checked his watch.  He had little over an hour left.  Best not to leave this until the last minute.  With a stoic expression, he took his gun off the counter and checked it again.  Six rounds in the chamber.  He imagined he’d only need one to finish this.  He took a deep breath as he headed for the door, his pistol in his hand.

He descended down the hill towards the dock.  The fog seemed to part in front of him as if allowing him to pass.  The air felt cold and cut through his suit, and the only sound he could hear was the faint but gentle crash of waves against the rocks.  The dock creaked under his shoes as he set foot upon it and made his way to the very end.  The water around him did not seem to move as he walked.  The lake was impossibly still, and its surface reflected everything like a mirror.

Yet he knew that as soon as he reached the end, he would see Adam’s face clearly beneath the surface, and some primal part of him almost dreaded what he’d see.  He reached the end of the dock and forced himself to look down.  At first, all he saw was his own reflection.  But soon…

He could see his own features warping and contorting.  The skin of his reflection turned the sickly green of algae, and the eyes seemed to bulge.  He could see the ridges of bone around the sockets and noticed that the nose and part of the cheek were gone.  It was hard to tell where the tattered flesh of the cheek ended and the moss from the lake began.  The sight of it made him cover his mouth in disgust…but the gentle yet knowing smile on Adam’s face was enough to truly make him want to vomit.

The reflection had changed from the rotten visage of his own face to the horrible remains of Adam…the Adam he remembered.  Just a month shy of ten years old and having been left to rot for the past fifty years.  Unable to die but robbed of his life.  In limbo, all for one man’s success.

Hello again, Rick.”

Adam’s voice was as he remembered it, but the burbling, wet sound to it sent a chill through him.  The tone was not the same as the one he remembered either.  Adam had never spoken quite so formally…not until after he’d become an oracle, at least.

What questions do you bring for me today?”

“No questions, this time…” he said quietly.  “No more questions.”

Oh?  Have you finally come to set me free?”

After fifty years, here at the end, he could not bring himself to give an answer.

I see…waiting until the last moment, I see.  Even when you’ve left me for so long.”

He didn’t try to justify that.  He just quietly raised the gun and aimed it down towards the visage of his brother.  Adam stared up at him, waiting patiently.

Are you sure you’re ready for this?” he asked.

“I killed you fifty years ago,” he said softly.  “It’s time, Adam.”

And you’ve got nothing to say for yourself, even after all this time?”

That gave him pause.  The gun trembled in his hand before he lowered it.  He was silent for a moment before he finally started to laugh.

“You’re really asking me for an apology?” He asked, “You really think I’m going to look back on everything and regret it all now?  No…I made my choices.  I made them a long time ago…I may not have enjoyed all of it.  But I made my choices.  I lived my life.”

So you did…” Adam said thoughtfully as his brother raised the gun again.  He looked up into the barrel before Rick pulled the trigger.

The gunshot echoed through the silent lake, and Rick stared down into the rippling water, feeling a weight ease off his shoulders.  He’d done it…he’d dealt with his oracle.  The circle was closed.  He sighed and lowered the gun before turning around.

Perhaps you’ve lived too much…” Adam’s voice continued, and he froze. “Time is…fickle.  It gets away from us.  Memories fade in old age…it’s a natural part of aging.  It gets harder and harder to keep track of time over five decades.  You bound me here fifty years ago…as of three days ago…”

“No…” Rick turned around to see something moving at the end of the dock.

A shape reached out of the water, the hand of a 9-year-old boy, pale as death with sagging skin and algae growing off of it.  Flesh had been nibbled away from the fingertips revealing bone, but the hand still moved.  Another hand reached up onto the wood of the dock, and Rick took aim at the sickening visage that emerged from the water.

The arms, torso and head resembled Adam, or at least, what was left of Adam.  But what came out after he’d lifted his torso onto the dock did not resemble his little brother at all.  It trailed on behind him, a slimy mess of debris and scum from the depths of the lake, trailing weeds, driftwood and the twitching, rotten fins from countless dead fish.  Bits of broken garbage jutted out of his new body.  Bicycles, tangled fishing wire and fishing lures and the smell was overpowering.

His heart starting to race, Rick fired the gun, taking off a chunk of Adam’s head.  But the thing that Adam had forged himself into was not slowed.  Using its arms to move itself forward, it rushed for him, moving faster than he could have expected.

He fired again, but the bullet was lost in the mess of debris that consisted of its body, and he did not get the opportunity to fire a fourth shot.  Adam’s pale hands grabbed at him, clawing at his throat as he threw his weight onto him, knocking Rick off his feet and pinning him onto the dock.

It’s okay…I’m ready to move on.  I’m ready to let go…but I want us to go together.  You and me…let’s go, Rick.  Let’s go…”

His pale hands gripped Rick’s shoulders as he began to sink back into the water of the lake.  Rick screamed; he thrashed and sobbed.  He fought, but he could not break free.  He desperately tried to grab the planks of the dock to keep himself away from the water.  But his fingernails tore from his hands as he was dragged inch by inch to the end of the dock.  Adam only smiled at him, letting him fight.  Letting him struggle.

Rick looked at the cottage where he had spent the best days of his life and desperately reached for it as if somehow, if he only tried long enough, he could grab hold of the door and pull himself to safety.  But he’d sealed his own fate long ago.

With a final scream, he was pulled beneath the surface of the lake and locked within Adam’s embrace. The two of them vanished beneath the placid surface, and when the ripples stopped, it sat unbroken amongst the fog as silence set in again.

Rating: 9.33/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Ryan Peacock
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Ryan Peacock

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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