Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters and Gone-Away Lake characters are the property of their original owners.
Author’s Note: This is for those who need an explanation right away and who are too damned lazy to look it up in Wikipedia. Gone-Away Lake
and its sequel Return to Gone-Away
came out in 1957 and 1961, respectively, and they are excellent American children’s novels recounting how a young girl and her cousin somewhere in New York state spend a summer exploring a lost lake they discovered in the countryside, and making friends with the two charming people who still live there. Both books were written in a realistic, modern-day style by the author Elizabeth Enright, not like some sort of fantasy novel for young adults. The first book was selected as a Newbery Honor winner, indicating it was a worthy runner-up for that year’s most distinguished achievement in children’s literature.
If you want to read these books, try to find the original editions with the black-and-white illustrations done by Joe and Beth Krush. Here’s an example of the artwork, which impeccably presents the wonder and excitement of unexpected discovery.
I’ve fiddled with the timeline and otherwise adapted the original story to allow Dawn to make her own journey to Gone-Away Lake.
Remember: read and review!
Overhead, thunder rumbled and lightning flashed, momentarily illuminating the utter blackness of tonight‘s sudden storm. Rain fell hard in sheets, causing these liquid drops to exuberantly splash back up several inches in the air off the surface of the muddy bog, where Dawn Summers was slowly sinking after falling into this just a minute ago.
While inwardly grumbling to herself, *Just another day in the globe-trotting, glamorous life of Buffy’s little sis,* Dawn also kept on carefully squirming out of her backpack. The pool of quicksand (or quickmud, if you wanted to be precise about it) on which she was resting was wide enough to spread out for her body to float there, but Dawn still needed to be rid of the weight of the camping equipment she was carrying. Finally getting free of the straps of this hiker’s knapsack, Dawn let go of it, feeling the pack slip down from her fingers and disappear forever into the mud. In reaction, her body slowly rose a fraction, signifying the return of buoyancy for this young woman’s trim form presently lying on her back and with rain now heavily pelting onto her face.
*Well, at least it’s getting rid some of the mud from there,* Dawn morosely thought. Blinking away the water running in her eyes, Dawn cautiously lifted her head, and she tried to peer through the absolute darkness for the nearest patch of dry land. Or, even if this was currently wetter than being under a waterfall, someplace solid.
A worried expression quickly appeared through the muck still encrusting Dawn’s features, due to her being unable to see which specific direction to commence gently paddling. She didn’t want to start propelling herself blindly, not when this risked her making no progress or even running head-first into something. Beginning to shiver in the cold mud while fighting down growing panic, Dawn looked around again, this time waiting for the next flash of lightning. A few seconds later, this indeed occurred, with Dawn also witnessing what she hadn’t been expecting at all.
Several yards away, a shadowy figure was standing at the edge of the bog, swinging its arms toward where Dawn was floating in the pool--
There was a glutinous splash next to the young woman’s floating body, and right after this, something struck Dawn’s chest. Reflexively grabbing with both hands at whatever had just hit her, the New Council member felt a squelchy length of thick rope now in her hasty clutch. Which now shifted into a very determined grip, as Dawn thankfully waited to be pulled out of the quickwhatever by her unknown rescuer among the uproar of the nearly-continuous thunder and lightning.
Unfortunately, the only thing to happen were several sharp yanks coming from the rope still in Dawn’s grasp. There was a short pause after this, with the girl soon realizing whoever was out there clearly expected her
to do all the hard work. Sending a truly evil glare into the general direction of that idle bastard, Dawn started pulling on the taut rope, turning her whole body in a quarter-circle until she was holding the rope over her head. Next, Dawn reached out arm-over-arm, hauling in the line and feeling herself start to drift along in reverse on top of the bog’s gluey surface.
Eventually, Dawn’s head and then shoulders scraped against the reeds growing at the edge of the bog. Someone’s hands came out of nowhere to grab the young woman under her shoulders and dragged her by these a couple more feet, just far enough to get her rump onto land. Dawn rolled over on her side and then a few more times for good measure. She came to rest on her stomach upon the soggy ground, right at the moment when a favorable lightning bolt showed a pair of boots standing just a few inches from her face.
Squinting upwards while the world shifted back into near-complete gloom, Dawn could just barely make out a figure bending over her. The next blast of thunder died away in time for the Key to hear, “--get up, young man? I’ll take you home--”
The biggest stroke of the ongoing storm now brightly illuminated the entire landscape, allowing a gaping Dawn to see without any trouble for the first time her rescuer. Of all the people she might’ve imagined, it had to be admitted a Sunnydale survivor was not in the least anticipating a very old man dressed up in an equally ancient full-length raincoat and what looked to be an authentic deerstalker hat. The pouring skies were depositing onto this latter item enough precipitation to provide a continuous dribble from the tip of the headgear’s pointed front brim which soaked into the man’s thick, long mustaches and beard, causing all of this soggy facial foliage to droop straight down. That absurd picture became frozen in the girl’s brain when the electrical radiance vanished just as quickly as it’d appeared.
Staggering up onto her feet while her ears rang with the incredible meteorological din, Dawn felt her grubby hand being taken in another’s clasp. Feeling the skinny fingers there tugging her along, a very bewildered and yet grateful girl started following in the steps of her guide. For the next few minutes, Dawn stumbled, weaved, and tottered along an invisible trail which her companion appeared to know perfectly, even in pitch dark.
Their journey finally ended at the back door porch of an extremely ramshackle house, with seemingly the only sign of life inside there being the wavering flame of an oil lantern on some sort of table behind a window by the door. However, just as the old man was about to reach for the doorknob, the lantern was picked up by someone in the house. Directly after this, the door swung ajar inward.
A little old woman abruptly came into view in the now-open doorway, standing just inside this out of the rain while holding high in a tiny hand the flickering lantern. This illumination revealed the elderly lady to be wearing a billowing nightgown as snowy white as the loose hair falling nearly to her waist. Gazing in evident astonishment at the dripping pair of visitors on her stoop, she exclaimed in a clear, carrying voice, “What on earth happened, Pin?”
“Felt something wrong out there in the storm, Minnie. I went to take a look, and found this young man caught in the Gulper,” succinctly explained the man evidently named Pin, all while vaguely waving back a hand in the general direction of Dawn behind him.
Wispy eyebrows arising in disbelief, the woman who’d just been referred to as Minnie incredulously replied, “Young man?
Pin, have you gone blind and neglected to tell me about it?”
“What?” blurted the confused gaffer, who next turned around. Only to then stop dead in his tracks at receiving a very weak smile from a shivering Dawn, with this and something else all too easily distinguishable in the lantern light. Over the last couple of minutes of their walk here, the New Council member had most of the mud covering her washed off by the still-heavy rain, but this extensive drenching also meant her soaked clothes were now clinging extremely tightly to a curvaceous body, establishing without question her gender.