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Terror in the Swamp – Horror Short Fiction

February 9, 2016

“a half – eaten sandwich left on the table, in an empty house”
Prompt Suggestion from Wandering Soul

Abandoned House

Picture prompt from the FB Group Elements of Genre Writing


Terror in the Swamp

Ranger Chaz Newton sat in his truck eating a sandwich. It was a quiet evening in the swamp. No alligator attacks. No missing children. Quiet. Peaceful. Just the way he liked it. As he ate, he watched a blue heron dive into the swamp for its dinner. He loved the herons and egrets that frequented this place. Sure, the gators were fun to watch too, but there was something elegant about the birds.

“We’ve got a missing person, Chaz. You copy?”

Chaz was startled by the radio call and dropped his sandwich on his new uniform. His wife would be pissed about the mustard stain.

He cued up his mic. “Copy, Irene. What’s the deal?”

“It’s Henry Rollins. He didn’t show up for work today. There’s no answer to his phone. Folks are worried. Officer Fuentes is out on another call. Can you swing by his place and check on him?”

“On it, Irene. Over and out.”

Chaz threw his half-eaten sandwich out the window and started his truck. The Rollins’ place was just a mile down the road from the swamp, but the drive into his land was a bumpy one. The county refused to pave his road and Rollins was too cheap to pay for it himself. He put his seat belt on to stave off any potential harm in case of an accident. He drove the three-fourths of county road and then turned off onto Rollins’ road. The potholes and grooves bounced him back and forth until he felt nauseated. He shouldn’t have eaten. By the time he arrived at Rollins’ cabin, he leaned out his window and threw up. Damn weak stomach, he thought as he got out of his truck.

Dusk was just sitting in when Chaz walked up the path to the cabin. Rollins’ 1979 Chevy truck was in the driveway. A light was on. A fire was going from the smoke rising from the chimney. It was eerily quiet though. Chaz knocked on the front door. Waited. Knocked again. He walked over to the front window and peered inside. No sign of Rollins. He walked around to the back of the cabin, stomping through brush and overgrowth. As he rounded the corner, he stopped dead in his tracks. Blood. And some kind of slime. Drag marks. The back door wide opened. Still no signs of Rollins. He raced back to his truck.

“Irene? Do you copy?” he shouted frantically into the mic.

“Copy, Chaz. What’s wrong?”

“I need back-up. Looks like Rollins has been dragged off. Can you call a Statie in?”

“On it, Chaz. Follow protocol until assistance arrives. Over and out.”

Chaz reached into the back of his cab and grabbed his shotgun from the bracket. Then he reached into the glove-box, grabbed some shells and loaded the gun. Panicked, he locked both doors and sat there. As he waited, he constantly scanned the area for any signs of intruders. His mind raced with questions. Who could have done this? What the hell was all of that slime? Then he thought about how angry his wife was going to be if he was late for dinner again.

Half an hour later, State Officer Mark Mannon pulled up. Chaz could hear him cursing as he got out of his car. Chaz unlocked the door and stepped out of his truck, shotgun in hand.

“What we got?” Mannon asked.

“Nothing out front. Around back there is a trail of blood and slime and the back door is open.”

Mannon drew his gun and proceeded around to the back of the cabin. Chaz followed him. When they arrived at the back, Mannon squatted down at a patch of slime, got out a plastic glove from his back pocket and poked at it. He lifted the slime-covered glove to his nose.

“Damn, what the hell is this shit?” he said, holding the glove up to Chaz.

Chaz backed away. There was no way he was putting that up to his nose. “No idea. Never seen anything like it.”

Mannon stood up and walked to the cabin’s back door and stepped inside. Chaz joined him. Once inside the cabin, they spotted a table with a half-eaten sandwich, a knocked over chair, the simmering of a fire and just more trails of blood and slime. Slime on the table. Slime on the floor. Slime on the door jamb. But no Rollins.

“We’d better get a search party out here,” Mannon said as he and Chaz headed back to their vehicles.

Within the hour, Chaz and Mannon were joined by five other men, all volunteers who were on stand-by for search and rescue purposes. With shotguns, radios and flashlights in hand, the seven men fanned out through the overgrowth behind Rollins’ cabin. Mannon and Chaz followed the blood and slime trail which lead them a mile in and down to a swampy pond. The trail disappeared at the edge of the pond. One of the other men radioed Mannon.

“Found a leg, Officer Mannon, twenty feet from the cabin.”

Mannon and Chaz walked a short distance along the pond’s edge. In a small section of brush, Chaz found a chewed up hand. A few feet away, Mannon found a bitten off section of what looked like a thigh. The two men stared at each other as they brought their body parts back to the initial blood and slime trail.

“Gators?” Chaz asked.

Mannon turned the thigh piece over in his hand. “I’ve never seen gators leave body parts lying about. And look here,” he said, holding his flashlight over the body part for Chaz to see, “this looks more like human teeth marks than a gator bite.”

There was a rustle in the brush. Then a loud growl. Chaz and Mannon turned around and readied their weapons. Chaz’s heart raced. He could hear his own heart pounding in his ears. His eyes widened as he scanned the darkness around him. Mannon shown his flashlight out into the distance.

Another loud growl. This time the sound was within twenty feet of the pair. More rustling. Another growl. Closer. Chaz backed up, tripped over something and landed on his ass. His flashlight fell away and his shotgun fired off a shot.

“Dammit, Chaz!” Mannon cursed.

“Sorry, I fell,” Chaz said as he got to his feet and felt around for his flashlight and gun, finding the gun easily.

There was another growl. More fierce. Even closer. And then pounding on the ground, like something was charging towards them.

Chaz screamed as he saw something run past him. He still hadn’t found his flashlight so he searched frantically for it. Then he heard Mannon let out a horrified yelp. Chaz’s hands landed on the flashlight and he lifted it towards where he had last seen Mannon standing.

And then he saw it. A large creature, about seven feet tall. It was green-ish black with scales running up and down its body and covered in slime. It was attacking Mannon and all Chaz could think about was if his wife knew the predicament he was in, she would kill him if he didn’t end up dead.

He dropped his flashlight. Lifted his shotgun. Aimed and fired.

Don’t let me have hit Mannon, he thought as he heard a long agonizing moan and then a loud thud. He picked up his flashlight and raced over.

Mannon sat wounded against a tree. Beside him was the creature. Dead.

©February 2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.

(1251 words)

  1. I’ve been reading your horror, and I’ll be sleeping with the light on!
    Great stuff.

    • *laughs* thank you for reading them… sorry they are forcing you to sleep with a light on though… I’ve been trying to keep them relatively tame.. ha!

  2. Oh my! Oh my! I loved the prompt and the resulting story is excellent! But please, please, not THE Henry (Black Coffee Blues/Black Flag) Rollins! Noooo… please tell me it’s just a common name and it IS only fiction, right/ 😉 well done Lori, really good writing 😀

    • *laughs* You know, I thought about that after I created the character and wrote the story… but I loved the name and kept it… so no, not THE Henry Rollins 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Colette!

  3. A very interesting read, I could feel my heart thudding against my chest throughout! Brilliant!

  4. Wandering Soul permalink

    Am sharing this on a forum I am part of – bloggers world 🙂

  5. Wandering Soul permalink

    Wow, Lori! Lovely story and such wonderful use of the prompt. Chaz has amazing aim. 😀 I was so scared that this was going to be a horror story and I was cursing myself for reading it but I just couldn’t stop. I was right there with Chaz and Mannon, inside that cabin, when they decided to call for a search party. It is so well written. Liked the use of the word ‘stave’. Noting it down 🙂

    • Awww thanks Wandering Soul 🙂 I am glad you enjoyed the story and that it was tame enough for you to enjoy it 🙂 I love the word “stave” one of my faves 🙂

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