Coldwater Cottage – 3: The Sister

Previous instalments: 1 2

Coldwater CottageHe glanced at his dive computer. Six meters. The boat had already disappeared. The vermilion sleeve of his drysuit faded to grey as the sea drained the red from the light reaching him. He could be anywhere, going anywhere or nowhere. No, that wasn’t true, he thought, irritated with himself. His bubbles showed him which way was up and the depth gauge on his dive computer told him he was going down. There were plenty of ways to know where he was and where he was going, and forgetting them was exactly the sort of thing that could make diving dangerous. Another thing being equipment failure, which was why you didn’t dive alone.

So why was he diving alone? The reasons had seemed to make sense when he was on the boat. There was nothing in the PADI course about what to do when the sister you left behind eleven years ago appears on your doorstep, demanding a token of a mother she thinks she remembers that only you can find and only if you go alone.

He remembered opening the door to her and trying to work out which of his runaways and tearaways had adopted a new look of cropped blonde hair, black eye shadow and pierced tongue and eyebrow. Her intertwined hands rose in front of her mouth as he looked at her. “It’s me, Ian. It’s Jack.”

“Jack?” Her eyes met his, and he knew her. He just didn’t believe it yet.

“Jack. Your sister. Only it’s Jakki now.”


“So I can come in then?”

Thirteen meters. Ian saw ripples in the gloom before him, then shapes. He allowed himself a sense of relief. The deeper he went, the faster he would use up air. With the bottom at twenty meters, he should be able to stay down for a good half hour, which should be enough to persuade Jakki he’d made a proper search when he told her he couldn’t find the house.

Next week: The Descent

The full story is available from the Amazon Kindle store, and is part of the Steel in the Morning collection which is available in Kindle or paperback format.

Coldwater Cottage was originally published in Lamplight 1:2 and subsequently in the Lamplight Volume 1 annual.

Author notes


Cover by Manda Benson

Other stories by DJ Cockburn available online

Steel in the Morning

Newgate Jig

The Endocrine Tyranny

Peppermint Tea in Electronic Limbo


Cassandra’s Cargo

Mars One

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Posted in Coldwater Cottage, Uncategorized

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