Title: Under the Surface
Entry nickname: Like Atlantis, Only Totally Creepy
Word Count: 64K
Genre: YA Speculative Fiction
Seventeen-year-old Lauren Williams, self-proclaimed rebel and professional mother-disappointer, needs a distraction.
When Lauren hears about the legend of Lake Modoc, she’s intrigued; exploring the forgotten underwater town is the perfect adventure to take her mind off of her mounting stack of detention letters. Together with her two best friends, Lauren hops on a boat (somewhat illegally) and sets out to discover the Atlantis of Owego County.
One problem: Lauren must bring her eight-year-old tattletale sister, Roxie, along for the ride. In the split second Lauren and her friends find the creepy, algae-covered church steeple under the lake, Roxie disappears from the boat. Silently, impossibly, Roxie is gone.
While the police and the county focus their efforts on dragging the lake, Lauren is wracked with grief. She becomes obsessed with uncovering the secrets behind Roxie’s increasingly mysterious disappearance. The further she digs, the more she realizes that the century-old town under the lake was buried for a reason. Unwittingly, Lauren unleashes the town’s ability to lure away children—and if she doesn’t find her sister soon, she might have more than one lost kid to answer for.
With Roxie’s life hanging by a thread, Lauren must dive under the surface to save her sister… or live under the weight of Roxie’s death forever.
The water of the lake stretches out in a shadowy blanket before me, rippling in the cool breeze. I breathe deeply and let the wind play with the ends of my hair. On the horizon, I see something bobbing in the water, but the moment I squint harder to see its shape, it disappears.
“Ugh, damn it! These test tubes are impossible,” Carly shouts beside me, breaking my meditation.
“Jesus. You ruined my yoga vibe.”
“Yeah, ‘cause I can totally see you doing downward-facing whatever. Can you help for two seconds?” Carly pushes her red curls out of her face, bent over the water’s edge.
As I make to take a step toward her, movement flashes in the water again. My heart skips a beat, but I try to focus on taking up my time-honored duty: talking Carly down from insanity.
“Hey,” I say. “You’re the one who wanted to overachieve on this assignment. I would’ve been fine using tap water.”
“Tap water is too easy. I want a challenge.” The glass tubes she’s holding cascade into the lake, causing her to swear under her breath.
“Well, consider yourself challenged.”
Carly has been my best friend since that time we had the misfortune of being dressed in the same hideous sweater on picture day in the second grade, but at times like these I ponder our actual compatibility as human beings.
I crouch down next to her and help her fish the test tubes out of the water.