Ronny A. Vargas
Copyright © 2017 Ronny A. Vargas
All rights reserved
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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“You cannot betray me! You are my daughter. I know it’s a scam, this news that water sources are drying up. The government is fencing off our water? They’re talking about an ‘aqua phenomenon’? It’s like out of a science fiction movie. It’s just another attempt of the government to manipulate the people. This is the time for us to help each other. Can’t you see what’s happening? It’s a setup so they can charge us higher taxes for using water.” Her father spoke these words with conviction and concern as he adjusted his glasses. He dried the drops of sweat from his brow with a handkerchief.
“Dad, this is not a government scam,” his daughter responded. “I know the water levels are lower–I’m a hydrologist, remember? My job is to apply my knowledge to the distribution and availability of water, not to be an accomplice for you and Neil to take over the government-controlled water supply in Lake Mountain Park.”
“Barbara! You know how to get to the water sources there,” her father raged, pointing his finger at her. “Neil and I have everything ready to go to camp on the mountain indefinitely. We’re all going to end up living with this latest government scam if you don’t help me! And if you choose not to . . . well, you are no longer my daughter.” He turned from her, shaking his head.
“You know, sometimes I think mom died so she wouldn’t have to see you this way. You should be ashamed of yourself!” Barbara cried, her face red with anger.
Her father turned, raised his thick hand and landed it hard on his daughter’s face.
It was Thursday, July 4th, in a Seattle suburb hidden among pine trees. Neighbors were preparing to celebrate one more Independence Day, while in her father’s home, Barbara felt tears roll independently from her light blue eyes. She left the house, furiously slamming the door behind her.
Early that morning, her dad had asked her to come over and talk about something he deemed important. Once there, she was struck with memories. She parked her pick-up truck in front of his home and took a quick look around the neighborhood where she had grown up. She stepped out of the truck and walked toward the door, adjusting her golden hair. She gazed at the white birch trees planted in the front yard, the ones her mother had planted before her death ten years earlier.
Now, with her face stinging from her father’s blow, those memories were forgotten. She jumped in her truck and left quickly.
As she arrived at her apartment in Seattle, her eyes were dulled with disappointment. She laid down on her bed and focused on the ceiling until she fell asleep.
The fireworks in the streets surrounding her apartment woke her. She stepped out onto the balcony to breathe the powder, an acrid reminder that her mind was at war.
She recalled she had to finish packing for her trip to Lake Mountain Park in the morning and chose to miss the rest of the fireworks display. She would head to the mountain top to the water sources and determine just how much lower the levels were.
The park was closed for tourists until further notice. Only administrators were allowed, including Barbara, whose hydrology report would provide an idea of how severe the problem was.
On Saturday morning Barbara arrived at the end of the paved road. It was seven o’clock. She took her instruments along with her backpack full of snacks and a large water bottle for the long hike up the trail.
Sometimes she looked like a lonely woman between green skyscrapers as she leaned on her walking stick amid the giant western firs. She scanned the cloudless sky, and she knew she was far from the mountain’s peak.
“I’m going to take a break here,” Barbara thought as she removed her backpack. She had only taken two sips of water when a man emerged onto the trail. All she saw was the silver revolver aimed directly at her.
“Hands up! Don’t move!” The man shouted, his green eyes blazing.
It was Neil, her dad’s best friend. He had several gray hairs in his sculpted beard and wore a brick-colored cowboy hat. He pulled his flannel shirt back to grab a pair of handcuffs.
“Neil? What are you doing? What’s happening?” Barbara asked angrily.
“I will not hurt you if you do as I say,” he replied with a frown. “Turn around and put your hands behind your back.”
Barbara dropped her bottle to the ground and did as instructed, “What are you doing here?” she demanded.
“What are you doing here?” he retorted.
“Neil, you know I’m a federal worker.”
A second man approached from the other side of the trail. It was her father.
“I can’t believe it. Have you two gone crazy?” Barbara scolded them.
“I told you, you’re either for us or against us. Neil helped me track you. His son works for your cell phone company. He’s been tracking your number since early this morning.”
“You do know that’s illegal, right Dad? You could both end up in prison for this.” Neil handcuffed her, then grabbed her by the arm, tussling her a little. “You only have to open the gate for us to enter the lake,” he growled. “We´ll take care of the rest.”
Barbara´s dad latched onto Neil’s arm. “Hold on a second, Neil.” He turned to his daughter.
“Barbara, listen to me. You can do your measurements, return to your office, and present your report. We will be here for several days. They want to control everything. We will not let them take away our water! We are going to stay here. We will die fighting against the damn feds,” he said, grabbing her by one arm and heading towards the water source.
Barbara looked back at Neil, angrily, but agreed to the plan her father laid out as they headed toward the water.
“Leave me alone! I can walk on my own!” Barbara exclaimed, shaking off her father’s grip.
When they reached the top, Barbara gave them the keys to the gate to enter the lake. The water level was less than half what it should have been for the season.
The two men looked at the water level, then at each other.
“It seems you were right, Barbara,” her father puzzled.
“Listen to me, Dad, if this continues,” she said, nodding towards the lake, “many people in Seattle are going to need help.”
She noted a change in her father, a sense of guilt, which softened his countenance. “I think you’re right,” he admitted.
“What?” Neil asked with displeasure. “Damn it, I knew this was going to happen! You made me climb this damned mountain for this?”
“Listen Neil,” Barbara’s father scolded, “it’s obvious something’s happening with this water source.”
“You’re nothing more than an imbecile. Believing this lie. You know what … if you’re not with me, you’re against me,” he said, turning his revolver on his friend.
A shot rang out on the top of the mountain. The sound of it echoed to the end of the paved road and returned to embed itself in Barbara’s heart as she saw her father fall to the ground.
“No!” Barbara cried, as she ran, still handcuffed, and knelt at his side.
“I have been an idiot,” he sighed in pain. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. Please forgive me.”
“Please don’t go, Dad! Please don’t leave me! You’re all I have left!”
Her father’s eyes dimmed as he gazed at his daughter one last time. Barbara let out a scream that reverberated through the trees.
“That’s what you get for being a coward,” Neil snarled then walked toward the water, into the lake. The water only reached his knees. “It is a damned pond. The government must have pumped here to drain it. They think we’re idiots,” he uttered, looking around for something in the water.
He fired his revolver twice into the lake and suddenly a strange and powerful wind came up. Neil looked in several directions. The trees began to creak and groan, and beating sounds filtered through the trees, reminding Barbara of a beating heart. It came from all directions. It went from slow to fast, meticulous and exact. Barbara and Neil looked at each other in disbelief.
“What the hell’s going on here?” Neil shouted.
At that moment, the center of the lake bubbled, and a swirl of water appeared. Neil lost his footing and fell. The water dragged him forcefully to the center, covering him completely, amidst cries of despair. In seconds, he was gone.
Suddenly, his lifeless body re-emerged and floated toward the shore. It was as if the water had a life of its own–throwing the body back. The wind stopped, as suddenly as it had begun, and calm returned.
Perplexed, Barbara cradled her father’s head on her legs. She could not believe what she had witnessed. She quickly looked around, then said aloud to the trees, “I don’t know what’s happening with the water, but many people are going to need help.”