HER ROTTEN EMBRACE is one of the stories that can be found in my collection WE ARE ALL MONSTERS. You can read it in it's entirety here.
You thought you could get away with it. You thought that I would forget. You thought wrong.
The waters of the swamp, her waters, never forget. Nor does she forgive. Nor would she let me pass on. She kept me in her rotten embrace for years; long after my body decayed and my bones were picked clean by the animals that crawled through her muddy bottom.
She kept me warm and safe. And she talked to me, told me things. About how we were going to wait, patiently, until the man who murdered me returned.
"Revenge," she whispered.
"Revenge," she cried.
Her voice could be heard in the songs of the frogs, the chorus of the crickets, the plaintive cries of the birds.
She pulled my bones up out of the muck and the mire. From the center of her hot, muddy heart, where all dead things are welcomed into her bosom. And sometimes, sometimes, she pushed them back out.
She said my time had come. She woke me up. She stitched my bones back together. Wrapped her roots and vines around them, raw vegetation serving as sinew and muscle. Mud and algae, worms, beetles, rodents; covered me, formed my new flesh. Let me move again.
I walked through the water, slowly rising from the center of the swamp. Strings of algae and rotten leaves pull up with me, trailing behind me as I go. It pained me to leave her. But, I knew that I would return to her bosom soon.
I could see again. Blurry shapes, sometimes in focus, sometimes not, as I slugged myself through the shallows of the swamp. It was night. I could catch glimpses of stars overhead, flashes of lightning bugs here and there as they slowly called out for mates. Clouds of mosquitoes buzzed around me, attracted by the warmth of my swampy flesh.
She lovingly caressed my feet as I stepped out onto land, I could feel her love in the things that squirmed in the mud that held together my new body.
"There. Look. The headlights."
Yellow lights streamed through the trees.
I remembered those lights. Filtering through the trees as he dragged my dying body to its grave in the swamp.
A trunk of a car opened. The hinges squealed.
It was the same car. The same one that drove me here. The same one I rode in, as I was taken to my final resting place.
Someone whimpered. The sound told me that he had another victim to offer to the swamp.
I hid behind a tree, waiting, watching.
He stood at the back of the car, finishing smoking a cigarette. Tossed the butt to the ground, looked around, as if he could feel someone's eyes on him, before he turned to face his latest victim.
He was older now. Thinner, balding, dark circles under his eyes. His leather jacket worn in places. The car, rusted near the wheel wells, had seen better days.
The swamp murmured, sending out vines and tree roots to greet him.
He didn't notice. He was too busy leering over the girl in the trunk. She was tied up, duct tape over her mouth, hog tied with it, wrapped around her wrists and ankles. The swamp grew over the car tires, wrapped around the door handles, cementing the car shut with her sticky, rotting vegetation.
"It's time. Move now."
The swamp urged me forward. She knew it pained me, seeing him again. He broke my heart, poisoned me, and dumped me here to die a slow, agonizing death.
My pain became her pain when I sunk into her murky depths.
The swamp no longer wished to feel my pain. She selfishly wanted me to get my revenge so that neither of us had to feel that way ever again.
I stepped up behind him.
Tried to speak, but there was no sound, just a squishing of mud and squirming insects.
The girl's eyes widened. She screamed; it was muffled behind the duct tape.
She saw me.
I reached out, and he turned to see who was behind him.
He froze. I could see my silhouette in his eyes. Lumpy vegetation in the shape of a woman. Long tendril tree roots for hair. Burning white pinpoints of lights in my eye sockets. The jaw bone showed a bit beneath the rotting leaves that made up my face.
I made a sound; a low, pained moan. I wanted to say it was me, and even though no words passed my muddy lips, he knew. He knew the moment his eyes met mine, who I was, and what he had done to me.
All color drained from his face, the way that I wanted to drain all his blood from his body. I wanted to crush him, I wanted to tear him apart, limb from limb.
"Yes. Do it," the swamp urged. "Destroy his flesh. Make him un-whole."
It had been so long since I had something to smile about.
His fear made me happy.
"No. No. You're not real! You're not! I killed you!"
He ran to grab his gun from the front seat. The car doors wouldn't budge. They were wrapped shut; the swamp wouldn't let him in.
He ran back to the trunk, pulled out the girl, dropped her and grabbed the tire iron. He hit my head- the tire iron sank into my new flesh. He tried to pull it out, but it was stuck fast.
I reached out, wrapped my green and brown slimy arms around his torso, and squeezed.
Steam rose from my new flesh. The heat from rotting leaves and animal bodies, rose up into the air.
And he screamed.
He kicked and struggled and tried to pull free, but it was no use. Braced his feet on my shins, to push away from my vice grip, and they sunk into my legs with a schlupping sound. The more he struggled, the more he sank into me.
The swamp laughed--delighted in his panicked death throws. The birds, the animals, the insects, the wind, they all laughed.
The girl rolled away as her attacker sank into my body, his face smothered by my chest as he was pulled in further. His legs and arms buried into me, his hands and feet sticking out the other side of the body the swamp made for me.
His screams came faintly from inside of my body. The vibration tickled, it agitated the insects in my body, making it squirm and writh in time with his screams.
The girl rolled away. She couldn't break free from the duct tape binding her arms and legs.
My body was heavier now, weighed down by the man. I shuffled slowly to her. She shook her head no. I bent down to remove her bonds.
"No," the swamp whispered. "She comes too. She is dying. Poisoned, like you were. I can save her. Preserve her, like I preserved you."
I grabbed her by the feet, dragged her along behind us. Her struggles weakened with every step.
Soon, she grew quiet.
The swamp, she never lied.
I took them into her bosom, into the dark, warm, fetid depths of the swamp. Her bacteria and animals stripped the flesh off their bones. The man was placed between the girl and myself, and here we lay, to this day, whispering our hatred for him, for the man we both once loved.
The swamp's waters swelled with pride. She stopped my pain.
And now, we all torment him, eternally.
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