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Please note: This Internet publication of Risen is © 2000 by Jan S. Strnad. It is not public domain and may not be duplicated without permission!

by Jan Strnad



The murdered man's body floated near the bottom of the Cooves County Reservoir.

A twelve-foot length of rusted chain pinned his arms to his sides, bound his wrists, ran down between his legs and looped twice around his ankles. From there it plunged straight down another four feet where the last link clung to a metal pole sunk ten inches into a ragged block of concrete.

The few hairs on his nearly-bald head waved like seaweed on currents stirred up by lazy catfish. Mud swirled around his face. Turtles nibbled his fingertips.

The murdered man woke. His eyes flashed open, alive with comprehension and fear. He strained to free his arms, kicked and wiggled and squirmed. His body thrashed convulsively.

He wrenched at the chains around his ankles and wrists. He twisted his body one way and the other, fighting the impulse to scream. Panic rose in his throat.

When he could hold it no longer, the murdered man's breath exploded from his mouth. His terrified eyes followed the ascent of bubbles as they fled to the surface. His lungs drew in fish-soiled water. He gagged. His heaving chest pumped water with great spasmodic gulps.

He pulled at the chain, testing for the one weak link that would let his body follow his breath to freedom. The metal post rocked like a child's lead-bottomed toy, but the concrete block refused to budge from the lake floor. The chains held fast.

Bubbles exploded on the surface of the lake, shattering the sliver of crescent moon reflected on the surface. The water boiled for long moments. Ripples chased each other toward the shore.

Below, the murdered man's body went limp, its drama spent. It undulated in the dying eddies of his struggle. Mud began the tedious process of settling around the concrete block while agitated fish resumed their rounds.

Above, the last bubble broke on the surface. The ripples died, the shattered moon reassembled itself, and the water lay smooth as a sheet.

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