TITLE: Jacob Underwater
GENRE: Upper Middle Grade Speculative
Blake didn't know how much longer Jacob could take being out of the water. He looked so dry, his eyes sunken. He'd stopped shaking the bamboo bars of his cage and lay in a heap, barely breathing. That, at least, was normal. Jacob didn't need air like most people.
And then he screamed. Not a typical, ten year-old boy scream; this was more throaty. Primal. Blake's neck hairs prickled and when he looked at the other boys sitting by the cottonwood tree, he could tell they were nervous, too. Everyone except Will. A smile twitched the edge of Will's mouth as he watched Jacob.
"It's working," Will whispered to Blake.
"No. It's wrong," Blake said. He stepped forward, but a hand on his arm pulled him back.
"I know it's hard," Will said. "But this will work. It'll fix him."
"How do you know?"
Will spun Blake around and death-stared him. "I know. Okay? We're doing this for you. You should be more grateful. Or do you like living in the swamp?"
No. God no. Blake hated the swamp, but his brother needed to be near water.
"Blake, please," Jacob begged.
"He's addicted to being in the water," Will said. "Just like Jumpy Mac was addicted to the drink. You have to dry them out, then they're fixed."
Blake had believed that at first. Not anymore. But he'd never challenged Will on anything. None of them dared.
Blake's insides felt more tangled than Old Kipling's fishing net.