Sunday, January 31, 2016
I grew up in a community of eighty or so houses built on a hill leading up from a small man-made lake. In the winter you could see the lake from our house and watch skaters in the distance, if there happened to be any; in the summer the view was mostly occluded by trees. At the summit of the hill there was a water tower, which I suppose is where our water must have come from, after having been pumped up to it from a well somewhere.
The tower, which was set in a patch of woods not far from the uppermost stretch of road, wasn't particularly imposing; I suspect it was only twenty feet high or so. Nevertheless, there was a tale connected with it, of the kind that was told to (or by) half-believing kids around the fire on summer nights when some of us got together to camp out.
The story was that the tower, the inside of which no one I knew had ever seen, was inhabited by some kind of water-dwelling creature of an unknown but uncongenial kind. In normal circumstances it remained safely inside the tower and bothered no one, but it was said that one year, when there was a drought and the water level in the tower fell precipitously and stayed low for a good part of the summer, desiccated bodies — squirrel, cats, who knew what else — were found in the surrounding woods. We avoided the area at night, just to be sure.