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The Stalker in the Swamp

By Warlord_F All Rights Reserved ©

Horror

The Stalker in the Swamp

The Stalker in the Swamp

I feel the mud under my feet. The ooze squelches under my boots as strange things move underneath the surface. A thousand cuts and bites sting on my body as they are reopened by my movement.

The smell pervades the air and perverts the nose, a rancid odor piercing the nostril and playing with the mind. It's scent was a mix of gas and rot, of sweat and death.

My eyes are clouded, though not by age. Instead, the very air has grown thick with a rolling fog. In the billowing whiteness, I can see jagged trees arching up, like bony hands reaching for the heavens in a final act of despair.

Strange noises invade my ears as the unchanging landscape stretches far into the shroud of fog. The sound of insects, thousands upon thousands of teeming, crawling insects, is magnified through the murk and countless echoes make themselves known. The sound of a snake's hiss stands out among the monotonous chirping of crickets in their hollows under the wet, foul earth.

The air is thick and moist. My throat is sore from the humid climate. The taste of the marsh and rotting things sits heavily in my mouth, as if a toad had taken shelter on my tongue. I gasp for air as I trudge along the foul murk.

The mud grabs at my legs as I force my way through. With great effort, I tear my foot out of the muddy jaws of the festering earth. I put my boot down onto something firm at last.

I stand straight for the first time in a long while and take a deep breath. Then my footing moves of it's own accord.

I lose balance, my arms flail like windmills, and my body enters the swamp's brackish depths.

As the horrible water pours into my mouth, nose and eyes, I struggle all the more. I feel the creatures of the deep react to this new presence in their home. Frogs dart away from my erratic movement, bugs fly away to their nests, and snakes slither into the reeds. My flailing arm touches something in the murky deep around me. It moves away before I get a good feel, but it is large.

My panicking, air-deprived mind thinks of lizards, giant gators and crocodiles left behind from a long ago era.

With monumental effort, I push up on my hands as my face pierces through the surface. My body breaks free from the clinging grasp of the swamp so it can resume it's long trek.

As my eyes clear, I see something move in the surface of the swamp. Or did I? It's so hard to tell. Am I finally going mad? Or was that a fin?

My eyes then see something my brain refuses to believe. Out of the brackish tar emerges a head. Or at least I think it's a head. Several eyes unfold from protective lenses to look at me. A foul mouth opens, exposing jagged, black teeth and a long tongue that tastes the air.

With barely a ripple, the monstrous head submerges under the dark water.

I cannot see it, but I know it is there.

The thing is watching me. It has been this whole time.

It is waiting for me.

I grit my teeth, spit out the tepid brew remaining, and begin to walk.

I cannot trip again. If I do, I will never come back up for air.

It wouldn't let me.

I resume my march through this god-forsaken swamp.

There is no end in sight. I walk on in fading hope.

I cannot see it, but I know it is there.

The stalker in the swamp won't let its prey go that easily.

It will always be there, waiting for that one false step.

Just one step...

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