This must be it, she thinks (she knows). She had almost given up a few hours ago, but here she is. She has found Sycamore Lake. It's a foggy night, so visibility is not the best. Still, it is as stunning as she could have imagined it would be. The crests of the tiny waves shimmer, reflecting lights that she's certain don't even exist. Giant trees surround the water with their branches outstretched, as if they are trying to shake hands with those on the other side. She leaves her clothes in a pile on the shore.
The water temperature is comfortable; unnaturally so. She realizes she's not alone. Hundreds of other people are swimming in the distance. She squints, searching for one face in particular amongst the crowd. They are too far away to discern facial details. She has to swim to them. The air is so thin that she wonders if she's even really breathing. She wades deeper, glancing down at her reflection. It's unfair, she thinks. The moon is unforgiving, illuminating all of her most hated features, exaggerating all that makes her feel self-conscious and ugly.
She's waist deep now. The swimmers stop. All she sees of them now are their bobbing heads. They're still too far away for her to make out their faces, but she knows that they're all staring at her. Waiting for her. The water is getting colder. She is uneasy, but in her mind there is no choice but to swim deeper. The night is dead silent save for the faint splashing of her breaststroke. The trees are swaying, but she hears no wind whistling nor branches rustling.
This isn't right, she thinks. The swimmers are way to close. There's no way she reached them so quickly. Her heart jerks when she realizes. She's not chasing them, they're chasing her. She turns around and paddles as fast as she can manage. Her arms splash against the surface of the water. Each paddle rings out like a gunshot. She screams. Her voice is jarring and rattles her ears. She never realized how hideous her voice was. She screams again anyway.
A face emerges in front of her, or rather, what's left of a face. Flesh is sliding off the skull, leaving large sections of bone exposed. The skin that remains is bubbly and uneven; too thin in some spots, and bunched up like wadded paper in others. One eye is missing. The other is dangling from its socket by a bloody thread, hovering around the lips. The pupil is so large it consumes almost the entire eyeball. It is fixated on the recent visitor.
Full panic mode. She's surrounded. They drag her underwater. Their hands tug at her hair. The ones who still have flesh on their fingers rip off bits of scalp. The weaker ones merely wind her hair into snarls before their fingers snap and disintegrate like sticks of chalk. She kicks and paddles, but there are too many. They claw at her arms, gouging out veins and muscle. Their jagged teeth gnaw on her fingers and toes. Tiny bubbles of air pop out as they grind through her knuckles. And it's over. They swim away as quickly as they came.
She makes a pathetic attempt to reach the surface, flailing her shredded arms and kicking her mutilated feet. Which direction is up? She has no idea. The shock has numbed her to the pain temporarily, but the agony will come. She wonders how deep the lake is. She wonders where the other swimmers have gone; she feels a kinship to them, as if she just underwent initiation. A rite of passage of sorts. She wonders why she came to Sycamore Lake in the first place. She was looking for someone, but she cannot remember who. Finally, with a terrible sense of foreboding, she wonders why she can still breathe.
She's still alive. She's not irreparable like the others, at least not yet, but she will be. She's lost and she needs you to save her. Wander the woods and you'll find Sycamore Lake. Be patient and don't give up, you will find it. Make sure to go at night, you will never find it in daylight. When you get there you'll know. Make sure to take off your clothes before you get in the water. And don't mind the other swimmers; they won't bite.