The bottom of the lake was dark and quiet. In the dark and quiet lay the skeleton of Bjorn the immortal. It was a large skeleton, which had started to fossilize. Another thousand years thought Bjorn, the immortal. Another thousand years and I shall be one with the earth. He smiled and waited like he had been waiting for years. For thousands of years.
Bjorn’s musings were interrupted by a big, burly red-haired farmer named Rory who stood on the bridge over the lake.
“You see, sir, the surface is all covered in algae. The lake’s dead,” Rory said. A man in a grey suit stood before him.
“It does seem quite dead,” he said. “You get any fish here?”
“Fish? No sir. No fish. Nothing. It’s dead sir. As dead as a lake can be.”
“I see. So there should be no issues if we drain it?”
“No sir, none whatsoever. Nobody really lives in these parts now. Do what you like, sir. Them few people living here would be happy to see this eyesore gone.”
Deep in the lake, Bjorn heard them. But there wasn’t much a half fossilised immortal could do. Except, maybe, yes, maybe that.
A fish, a dead bass, lay near Bjorn’s skeleton. A little current generated by the wind pushed the bass’s skeleton towards him. Suddenly, the bass’s skeleton started moving as if it were alive and well.
The man in the grey suit was looking at the lake when the bass jumped up. If he were anywhere near the bass, he would’ve seen the skeletal nature of it, but so far away he couldn’t tell.
“Excuse me, Mr Burns,” he said.
“Yes?” replied Rory.
“You said that the lake was dead, but I just saw a fish out there somewhere.”
Rory laughed. “A fish, sir? They’ve been gone for years now. I’m telling you, sir. The bottom of that lake is the quietest place in the whole wide world.”
The man in the suit wasn’t impressed. He called Rory over and asked him to watch the surface of the lake. Rory bet him a tenner and stood on the bridge, looking for the fish.
After about a minute of waiting, Rory saw it. A fish, rising from the surface, glowing in the sun. Glowing a little too bright, and then disappearing into the lake.
“That can’t be right, sir. Only last week, them science people came here and said there was no oxygen in here. That can’t be right. I’ve got the papers too, sir.”
“Mr Burns,” the man in the grey suit said with a smile, “I’m afraid that won’t be necessary.”
“But sir, the lake -” Rory sputtered. But the man shook Rory’s hand, said his goodbyes, and walked down the bridge to where his car was parked.
Rory stood at the bridge for a while. The fish was still there, in the lake, breaking the surface of the water from time to time. What fish was it? Did lake fish ever break the surface? Rory thought.
In the middle of the lake, little bubbles appeared, as if the lake were laughing. Deep in its belly, in the darkness, Bjorn laughed. No sound came from his mouth. He barely even moved, but he did laugh, and the lake laughed with him.
At the bridge, Rory decided to catch the fish and drain that eerie lake as soon as possible. Little did he know that he wasn’t the first to come to that decision. Many a fisherman’s skeletons lay near Bjorn the immortal’s half fossilised body. Some yellowing, some a gleaming white, but none of them with a brain as sharp as Bjorn’s.