Home Fiction Hannah McIntyre Fiction

Hannah McIntyre Fiction

The Pond

by Hannah McIntyre

     “Something’s been at the fish again,” Jane placed her husband’s coat on its peg.

     “Can you let me sit down for five minutes? I’ve just got back from work,” Craig said.

     Jane followed him into the living room, “Please, I’ve waited all day for you to sort it out. You said you would-”

     “Fine, I’ll do it now if it’ll stop you harping on about it,” he didn’t look at her when he spoke.

     Jane smiled a small triumphant smile but made sure her husband didn’t see. She stepped aside to allow him to walk past her and out the back door, he still clipped her shoulder with his broad frame. Neither said anything.

     She watched Craig’s shoes leave grubby marks on the tile path leading down the narrow garden through the kitchen window. Exotic plants which he had brought back from business trips abroad adorned the flowerbeds and climbed the fences. At the end of the garden, a vast pond filled the space, complete with a deck and garden furniture. Craig was always fussing with something in the garden, especially his fish. Jane always thought it best not to interfere. They would go down there together sometimes on a summer evening, but it was hard for her to recall when they had done this last.

     Jane gripped the edge of the sink as he knelt down beside the decapitated heads strewn along the ground around the pond. Cold fisheyes stared toward the fading sun and toothless mouths hung agape. One of Craig’s hands held a bucket steady, while the other mechanically grabbed and dropped gored body parts. His hand disappeared into a mass of orange roe, peeled from the bodies of fish. Even from a distance, Jane could see that the eggs were slick with blood. Hot acid bubbled up her throat. Jane hung over the sink as dizziness blurred her vision. Out there, slender bones protruded from savaged flesh, guts hung like ribbons atop blades of grass. Jane spat out a mouthful of watery sick into the sink.

     She heard the back door open as Craig re-entered, she ducked her head lower into the sink.

     “Too much for you?” He laughed and opened the fridge beside her. The glass shelf thundered as Craig rolled out a beer.

     He turned towards where she leant over the sink, the cool porcelain soothed her burning skin. “It’s fine now. It must’ve been a cat,” he said. “I’ll get some net to put over the pond at the weekend.”

     Craig reached around Jane’s waist to where her plastic pill organiser sat in the corner of the worktop. “What’s going on over here?” He shook the box, so the pills rattled.

     “I didn’t know they were there,” The high register of her voice unconvincingly feigned surprise. “I looked all morning and couldn’t find them.” Jane stared out the window avoiding her husband’s eyes. As the light disappeared beyond the glass, everything went dark.

     “These are for you, so you can keep your head on straight. You have to remember to take them,” Craig glared at her until she closed her eyes.

     “But I did. I’ve been taking them. I promise.” Jane fidgeted as she spoke, twisting the ring upon her finger, round, and round, then stopped.

     Craig shook his head as he opened the microwave door and inserted a plate of food. He allowed the door to slam shut again. Jane flinched.

     The next morning, Craig woke early for work. Jane heard his alarm blare on and off from six as he snoozed it over and over. When he finally got up, he performed a yoga routine during which he accidentally kicked her foot. He then took a phone call from the edge of their bed. Jane pulled the covers over her head, counting her breaths until the numbers floated before her as clear shapes. The door scuffed along the carpet as Craig shoved it open, he didn’t bother to pull it closed again.

     Wrapped up in the covers of the bed, Jane held her breath until she heard the front door shut behind him. The house was quiet save for the sound of Craig’s van chugging as he reversed out of the drive.

     Jane sat up and reflexively glanced over to where until recently a mirror had hung on the wall. A rectangle of clean, unfaded paint now stood in its stead. In one of the corners, a jagged sliver of glass remained attached to a solitary screw in the wall.

     With one hand Jane tugged the heavy curtains aside, allowing light to creep into the room. The garden lay still beyond the window, bathed in amber tones. A pigeon landed amongst the verdant greenery, cocking its head at the vibrant plants looming above it. Dew evaporated off leaves in swathes of steam, a mimicry of the rainforests from which the plants originated, as Craig often reminded her. The water of the pond reflected a dappled blue as the water moved choppily to and fro.

     Jane looked harder at the pond certain that her eyes were deceiving her.

     The water moved as if waves in the sea. Lurching and sloshing over the sides of the pond, it flooded the surrounding flower beds. A fish flew through the air, the white koi turned crimson with blood. It landed not far from the patio doors.

     It was here.

     Jane hurried toward the garden determined to handle the matter herself.

     Water continued to surge from the pond as she turned the back door key in the lock. There was a click as the door released and swung open, the water was suddenly still.

     Stood at the edge of the pond, Jane peered in. Beneath the surface of the frothy water, something huge and dark moved slowly. It was shadowy and shapeless, a black blob that moved with the exaggerated ripples of the water.

     Whatever it was, it filled Jane with dread.

     Just a few metres away was a thing devious enough to slaughter fish and evade detection. Jane turned away in disbelief, before turning back again to be sure. Unmistakably it was there, clear in the daylight. A shifting, turning, massive thing at the bottom of the pond.

     Jane returned moments later, clutching a rake, her head buzzing with overlapping thoughts. With an almost steady hand, she dipped the rake into the water and pushed it underneath the creature. She pushed down hard; the wretched thing requiring the whole weight of her body to force it from the depths of the pond.

     A dome formed as its body tried to break the surface of the water. Its hideous features became more visible as it rose higher.

     Jane stifled a scream as a human head appeared from the depths of the pond. Its fishy eyes pleaded for no more. Jane shuddered and stopped, leaving the creature suspended in the no-man’s land between the air and water. Its head swung around limply.

     Body odour and salt burned Jane’s nose, rendering her weak. The stench rolled off it like the waves to which it belonged. Endlessly long, black hair, clasped like pondweed around the pond-woman’s body and her eyes were almost sealed shut with purple bruises. One of Craig’s dirty socks unceremoniously parted her thin, cracked lips.

     Jane wanted to drop the rake. She thought she could let the woman fall back into the water, forgotten. This whole thing could be dismissed as a figment of madness, she could pretend.

     She caught a glimpse of her own face in the pond’s reflection, her green bruises made the two look like sisters.

     Jane pushed harder on the handle and hoisted the poor thing out of the water, dropping her onto the ground next to the pond. She collapsed into the mud beside the creature, her body heaved with broken sobs as she tried to comprehend what lay in front of her.

     The woman from the pond weakly thrashed on the ground. Below her waist, her shimmering, fishy tail was attached by a rusted chain and clamp to the bottom of the pond. A weeping wound around the tight clasp on her tail proved that escape was something she had attempted many times before. The merwoman was crudely dressed in what appeared to be one of Jane’s old silk nightdresses, a skimpy thing she had bought to make an impression upon her husband. He had never been very excited when Jane had worn it. Clearly, he preferred it on his whore. The lacy bra cups were dirtied, and one was ripped clean away exposing the mermaid’s breast. Deep bitemarks covered the inflamed nipple, Jane winced as her eyes fell upon it, remembering how it felt. Large, bloody patches covered the hem of the negligee. The wearer scrabbled to pull it down, afraid to receive more of the assaults which she had grown accustomed to expect. The women stared at each other in horror, unable to believe the existence of the other.

     Craig appeared suddenly at the opposite end of the garden path.

     “Do you know where my golf clubs are? I’m playing a round after work tonight,” he strode toward them, seemingly unaware of the mermaid on the lawn.

     Cracked words spilled from Jane’s mouth. Tears ran down her face as she pulled herself up from the mud, her voice grew louder with each insult. She became animated, waving her hands in supplication. Her palm brushed against the other woman who recoiled in terror. Jane’s fingers slid along the wet, slimy skin of the other.

     Craig’s face clouded with confusion as he looked hard at the spot his wife pointed to, “But there’s nothing there.”

     Jane picked up the rake from where it lay partially hidden in the undergrowth. She lunged toward Craig with the tool. All the screaming fell silent.


Hannah McIntyre is an aspiring novelist who has had short stories published in both Emerging Worlds and From Arthur’s Seat. Her creative non-fiction work has also been featured in All Your Stories. Hannah honed her craft in her undergraduate Creative Writing studies undertaken at Lancaster University and is now studying for a Creative Writing Masters degree at the University of Edinburgh.

The Writing Disorder is a quarterly literary journal. We publish exceptional new works of fiction, poetry, nonfiction and art. We also feature interviews with writers and artists, as well as reviews.



Leave a Reply