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The river below the weir tumbled and swirled and dashed to its destination but above the wall it was broad and placid and deep. The sun was setting behind the trees and the surface was a quicksilver canvas washed with red and orange streaks. Only a few leaves and myriad insects supported by the surface tension marred the pond and Adam briefly wondered why no fish rose to the evening hatch. He knelt at the edge and focused the Nikon. Not long now and the sun would drop behind the far bank and just before it did he would catch that final flash of light and the wonderous effect on the surface of the water. A competition-winning shot.

The thing stirred. It detected movement and awoke from the torpid, energy-conserving state in which it spent most of the day. It hadn’t eaten since taking a pair of waterfowl the day before and it would need to restore its protein levels soon. It turned slowly, allowing the receptors on its flanks to locate the tiny vibrations that had aroused it. Then with a flick of its powerful tail it slid towards the bank, its eyes seeking prey.

Adam pressed the shutter as the last rays of the sun flashed across the water. It came for him then, lunging up through the lily pads that fringed the pond. Jaws locked onto his throat, it carried him upright and then with a twist of its body jerked him from the bank. It was cold at the bottom, in the slime, amongst the bones, but Adam didn’t feel it.

Flash Fiction by John Alty
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Published in Winter 2017


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