Experiment 002, Entry 002
They used to call it Sunset Lagoon, in the days before the Echoes. But somebody had crossed out the name on the kitschy, cursive-lettered sign with a spray can and written in its place:
Kam Li was smirking at the sign with her arms folded. 'Creative.'
'I think they were going for accuracy more than poetry,' Somer chuckled. He was checking their kit in the boot of the car, counting out mirrors, and meccano frameworks and cameras, most of which probably wouldn't work, but that Mark always insisted they bring anyway.
'Looks like a perfectly normal lake to me,' Kam Li shrugged dismissively, shoving her hands deep into her pockets. 'And wow, is that ever a portentous thing to say, sorry guys.'
'We'll forgive you, this one.'
'This is why I like you, Som, you're so generous. So are you-'
'No, Kam, I'm not feeling anything Echoey.'
'I might not have been about to ask,' Kam objected, looking over her shoulder. ''Sides which, in case you haven't noticed, you're not exactly the top scoring sensitive around here anymore. Hey Galen, how's the head?'
'It's alright, Kam, I'm not feeling anything either... and the new name is better,' Galen's voice was quiet in the back seat of the car. 'A Lagoon needs a barrier reef. They don't have barrier reefs here, not proper ones... We're doing it at school.'
'Right, anything they're not doing at that school of yours?' Matt smirked.
'Well whenever I ask about Echoes they usually yell at me and tell me to stop changing the subject,' Galen was stepping out of the car now. He was wearing a coat three times too big for him. It gave him the look of a slightly fluffy brown marshmallow. Tom had burst out laughing when he saw it, but right now, Somer sort of envied the additional warmth it was probably giving. His own fingertips were already burning cold beneath his gloves.
'That'll be right,' Matt sniggered. 'You ignore them, Galen. Talk about whatever you want.'
'Just try not to get yourself expelled in the process, please, not after the fuss we had to get you in.' Somer muttered, biting his lip at Matt's usual... blaséness about the whole issue of schooling. Out of all of them, he and Somer had understood Galen's desire to actually go to school the least (although Somer had to admit there wasn't a lot of logic in his dislike). Still, he didn't see how encouraging him to get in trouble was in any way going to help. 'Or get us arrested.'
'Right, again. I'm not big on the getting arrested.'
'So what exactly is going on around here, anyway?' matt muttered. 'Because all I'm seeing is a great big body of water.'
That's what I was thinking...' Kam nodded. Then she turned to face their small, marshmallow-outfitted charge. 'So then, student, what kind of lake is it?' she asked, stepping away from the sign, and away from the trees that framed the distant water, she was a red and black shape in a frame of silver and grey, unusual, and yet strangely in place. 'Oxbow... um... Bigger Oxbow? Being honest, that's all I remember from High School geography.'
'Nothing natural,' Galen shook his head, his voice that same characteristically quiet wisp that you had to lean close to pick up. 'It's not really a lake.'
'He's right. All the maps list it as a reservoir,' Somer nodded. 'That's manmade. Second biggest in the UK, apparently. Lost out to a place in Northumberland.'
'Right, so a manmade structure, then,' Matt murmured quietly. 'That explains why they have so many Echoes, you don't get them around natural bodies all that much.'
'Don't often get them there. But there are reasons for it happening, sometimes. Sometimes old things and new things overlap,' Kam corrected him. The fact that echoes didn't often form outside of cities was actually a blessing in disguise. It meant there were places you could go, if you really wanted to get away from them. Entire towns had built up in country landscapes, against protest, by people wanting to escape the seemingly dammed cities where the Echoes liked to form. People assumed the countryside was safer. The thing was, that as soon as any of those places reached a certain size, it just seemed to kick the whole process off again. Echoes would form in places which had never so much as witnessed an attack from afar.
Echoes and people were so intricately tied together.
'Mark said this place has Echoes almost constantly,' Kam Li went on. 'I highly doubt we just happened to turn up in one of the moments where it wasn't happening.'
'He was probably exaggerating,' Somer pointed out. 'I mean, there's a whole town over there, and the population is apparently in the region of 90k. Who'd live in a place that had Echoes haunting it all the time? You've been to Dayport.'
The town had grown close to the lake for a reason though, it seemed, and you could still the remnants of industrial society scattered along its banks: the power stations and the piers and the docks, slowly lighting up as the evening gloom descended like a blanket.
Weird to think that this is all manmade,' Matt said, looking at Galen. 'You alright?'
'Where are we, again?'
'Scotland. Well, almost Scotland. Somewhere along the border of it. As you've probably already figured out, it's a little hard to find on the maps.' He had seen Galen squinting at the folded map for most of the journey, and after a while the GPS had gotten so confused it just began repeating "please reselect destination" at them over and over again and wouldn't turn off. It was sort of creepy, so Matt had started mimicking it, making it sound like a bad impression of Zeke, which had them laughing for most of the way here.
'Because you know, Mark gets his kicks out of sending us into places pulled straight out of American Horror Stories. See that, Galen...' she took the boy's shoulder turning him to follow the point of her finger out into the lake, and towards the mess of complex metal piers and structures built not too far away from them. 'That's usually the place the bad guy corners the heroes, on the way to the boat.'
'What? He grew up in a lab having things stabbed into him, Som, I don't think he's particularly delicate.'
'Doesn't mean you have to be an arse about it. Come on, we need to find the Bridge,' Somer flicked off the camera in his hand. it needed charging anyway. Times like this, though, Somer really felt like the ghost hunter he purportedly wasn't, sending beams of camera-light splintering through old trees and across spooky looking landscapes. It wasn't the usual location for a Static Chase, that much was clear, and the massive open spaces all around were making him feel worse than he would have in a city, rather than better. Thewhole thing was silly really. After all, there was no such thing as ghosts. That truth was as fundamental as it was frightening. Ghosts were something you could conceptualise and fit into mythology or local rumour and legend. The echoes weren't Ghosts, they were Happenings, and records of them were as solid as the records for any flood or hurricane.
They just happened to look an awful lot like ghosts. Which could kill you by touching you.
S. Thompson, 2014.