As if they’d read his mind, the dark clouds in the sky released their pent-up moisture. Raindrops, big ones, dive-bombed them from above. Natalie gasped as the first drops pelted them. It was only minutes until they were soaked. Natalie and Kevin’s blond hair looked almost as dark as Joshua’s, plastered to their heads. Beads of water flecked Kevin’s glasses; Joshua wondered if he could even see. Next to him, Danae sighed.
“This is ridiculous, Jason,” she spat. He looked startled at her outburst. She stuck her finger out at him. “If it wasn’t for your dumb idea, we wouldn’t be stuck on a boat in the middle of a lake during a rainstorm!” Her eyes narrowed accusingly. Natalie had sat up and pulled away from Jason, glaring at him too. He looked at her helplessly. Kevin continued to peer through his rain-speckled glasses at the dark forest. Before Jason could mutter out an excuse, Kevin pointed to the trees.
“We’re not getting any closer,” he said loudly. The others paused from glaring at Jason to look out across the lake too. Their target did indeed seem just as far away as when they’d left. Kevin turned back to them.
“Something is wrong, you guys. It’s completely dark overhead, and those trees are still blacker than the ones right next to them. There’s no rain whatsoever on our side of the lake. We’re moving straight ahead even though the wind has changed.” Joshua hadn’t even realized with all the rain that Danae’s hair was off his face and blowing towards Natalie.
Kevin continued. “We should jump out and swim back to our side of the lake,” he urged.
“What?” the four of them yelled at him. Natalie crossed her arms. “I am not getting in that water, Kevin,” she said angrily. “It’s freezing. We could all get hypothermia and die.”
“Do you have an alternative?” he shot back. “It’s better than being pulled to some dark grove of trees in a boat that shouldn’t be moving that direction!”
Joshua looked over the side of the boat. That water was deep. It was dark, cold, and as unforgiving as the rain. He shook his head.
“Kevin, look how far away our side is. She’s right: we’d never make it, it’s too cold to swim,” he said, as calmly as possible.
Danae nodded. “I don’t like it either,” she whispered, “but I think we should stay.”
Kevin looked away angrily and smacked the side of the Chanhassen with his left hand. Natalie was leaning back into Jason, who was hugging her to him with both arms now. They were quiet again. Joshua pulled off his windbreaker and handed it to Natalie. He wanted to give it to Danae, but her sweater and jeans offered much more warmth than Natalie’s skimpy outfit. She smiled at him gratefully and pulled it over her head, still shivering.
Kevin broke the silence. “It finally looks like we’re getting closer,” he said, no longer angry. Just resigned. Joshua looked out across the water. He agreed with Kevin. Suddenly they were moving faster, inexorably towards the mysterious trees. Just as suddenly, the rain was gone, though it was still dark. And much sooner than he wanted, the boat bumped into the shore directly in front of the dark grove Jason wanted so badly to explore.
No one moved. Joshua barely felt Danae breathing next to him.Kevin turned to Jason. “Well? I thought you wanted to come here,” he said nastily. “Why don’t you get out then?”