Lake Manitoc, Wisconsin
Sophie Carlton goes for a morning swim in the lake near her house. Swimming for awhile, she’s a considerable distance from shore when, suddenly, she is dragged under. She never surfaces.
Lake Manitoc, Wisconsin
A week later, while searching for their father, Dean discovers a newspaper article about the young woman’s death, the third one to occur this year. They go to Lake Manitoc and talk to Sophie’s brother Will, introducing themselves as Agents Ford and Hamill of the Fish and Wildlife Service. They learn he saw…something…on the lake, but he is not sure what. The father, Bill Carlton, is a wreck and Will politely asks that he be left alone.
The sheriff’s office is their next stop. There they learn from Sheriff Jake Devins that the lake hosts no large carnivores, and that the sheriff thinks the stressful situation might have caused Will to see something that wasn’t there. But he can’t explain why dragging the lake and scanning it with sonar failed to discover Sophie’s body. Devins also reveals that the lake will shortly disappear; lack of funding to repair the dam that creates it means the floodgates have been opened full. In a few months, the lake will be gone. The also meet the sheriff’s daughter Andrea, and her young son Lucas, who is very shy.
More research reveals that this year’s strange drownings are not the first; there have been six others over the last thirty-five years. And they discover the name of another of this year’s victims: Christopher Barr, Andrea’s husband and Lucas’ father. Lucas spent two hours alone on a floating platform after his father died, and before rescuers found him.
Believing Lucas might offer them a lead, Dean and Sam visit the park, where Dean attempts to draw the child out. At first he believes he has failed, but Lucas brings him a picture of a house.
Meanwhile, Will Carlton is making dinner for himself and his father. His father is still emotionally fragile so Will is working alone when the kitchen sink fills with dirty water. Attempting to clear the clog, Will is seized, and his head is dragged under the dark water. He drowns quickly, and the sink drains.
Theorizing the two drownings are connected, the brothers speculate they may be dealing with a water wraith or some kind of demon, and that its ability to go anywhere the lake water goes makes it very dangerous indeed. Then they discover two things that point the finger at Bill Carlton: the picture Lucas gave them is his house, and Christopher Barr, who drowned earlier this year, is his godson. But even with this evidence, they cannot get answers from Bill Carlton.
Returning to Lucas’ house, Dean coaxes another drawing from the boy: another house, tucked behind a church, with a fence, a boy, and a bicycle in front. Some legwork discovers the house. Living there is an old woman, but no boy has lived there for a very long time. Many years ago, Peter Sweeney disappeared on his way home from school one day, and was never found. Lucas’ traumatic experience may have “connected” him to whatever is drowning people in some strange way.
Now certain Bill Carlton knows what’s going on, and probably what happened to Peter, the two brothers race back to his house. There, Bill is sitting by the lake, musing out loud: he “knows what he wants”. The brothers arrive seconds after Bill pulls away from the dock in a small boat; he makes it a few hundred feet from shore before the boat is hurled bow upwards and flipped. Bill sinks beneath the waves.
They go back to the sheriff’s office where Lucas has a reaction to the news and their presence. Sheriff Devins is skeptical of their story and his attitude has worsened from indifference to hostility with his discovery that the Winchesters aren’t from Fish and Wildlife at all. He offers them the choice of being arrested, or putting Lake Manitoc in their rearview mirror and keeping it there. They elect to leave town rather then get arrested, but Dean decides to turn around: Lucas was still afraid, and if he is connected to this, that might mean he is still in danger.
Meanwhile, Lucas’ mother Andrea is taking a bath when the running water from the spigot turns dark, and she begins to struggle. She is pulled under, as Lucas, sensing the problem, is pounding on the door. Fortunately, the Winchesters appear at the house in time to wrench her from the water and save her life. She claims to have heard a voice saying “come play with me”. It seems that whatever is drowning people wasn’t satisfied with the death of Bill Carlton. It seems that the sheriff may also be involved.
Lucas must have some sort of connection, for he takes Sam and Dean straight to where Peter Sweeney’s bicycle was buried so many years ago. After unearthing it, Sheriff Devins confronts them and demands to know how they knew it was there. That Devins knew it was there seems to confirm his involvement in whatever happened to Peter Sweeney thirty-five years ago. The Winchesters demand answers. To put Sweeney’s ghost to rest, they must find the remains, salt them, and burn them completely.
The story finally comes out: as children, Devins and Carlton used to bully and torment Sweeney. One day, they were playing a “game,” holding his head underwater at the lake. But the game went too far, and Sweeney drowned. And there are no remains to be found; they let go of the body, and it sank into the lake. The alternative, then, is to get the people related to the sheriff away from town, where hopefully the ghost cannot reach them. It is then that they notice Lucas has been drawn to the edge of the lake…
Screaming at him to back away, the brothers, his mother, and his grandfather race to the lake, but not in time to prevent him from being pulled in. Sam and Dean dive in after him but cannot find him. Then his grandfather wades into the lake and entreats the ghost to take him but release the little boy. And the ghost does; rising from the depths, pale and ghastly, it seizes the sheriff and pulls him to his death. Sam and Dean go under to find lucas. Sam comes up emptyhanded. seconds later Dean rises to the surface with Lucas in his arms.
Despite his brush with death, Lucas finally begins speaking. Slowly at first, but speaking. His fear is gone, which suggests the ghost is finally at rest.
Warning : May Contain Spoilers.