They Come from the Swampland

by Skeeter Cornwall

It’s not that I enjoy killing; I don’t care for it much. But when the moon goes red and they come from the swampland, if I don’t have fresh flesh at the ready they’ll help themselves to mine. And we can’t have that.

This is a difficult season for the townsfolk. Before harvest,  I can usually pick off a few migrant workers here and there, the occasional hitchhiker. No one notices. Before harvest, kids fart around in tree forts until dusk. Teenagers drink and fuck in backseats with abandon. Mothers leave nursery windows wide open, curtains swishing in the breeze.

All because, in the simmering summer heat, they are at rest in the swampland. Lethargic and content with smaller portions. Less greedy.

But with the cornfields razed, all lettuce beheaded, every turnip torn from the soil, the townsfolk have learned to hole up lest they be plucked. As the days shorten, fear spreads wide.  No one stays out past dark. Fathers take up shotguns to guard school bus stops, church windows are fitted with bars. Because after harvest, they grow restless in the swamplands, hungry. From my shack, I can hear their ravenous moans, their impatient snarls as they wait for the moon to go red. I haven’t slept in days, you see. No rest during this season. My ice box is packed but it won’t be nearly enough. I’ve resorted to slaughtering hogs. Chopped the pieces small so they might not notice the difference. Hard to say.

Every year, finding food for them gets more dangerous. Homes become fortresses; I have to get risky. Once was a time I could smother folk in their sleep. No longer. When I snatched the McKinley widow, I took a knife to the spleen. Buckshot robbed me of two fingers last year when I carried off the Hurley twins. I’ve been maced so often it burns when I cry.

If only townsfolk knew what I go through to keep them safe.

So I hope you understand why I have to do this. Bear traps make for a cruel capture, I admit. My apologies. I’d like to tell you that your meat will save others, but the moon’s almost red and I can’t say for certain.

Know that, if not for me, they would have come from the swampland for all of you by now, every one of your bones sucked dry. I hope that provides some comfort.

Now, hold still and you won’t feel a thing.


Skeeter Cornwall drinks like a fish without a bicycle. His work has appeared in hieroglyphics and in dark nights of the soul.
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