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He Came Back - Mike Burleson

The creature is born of the fetid swamp.

From the muck and mire, it rises to life, created from decay, rot, and strange gases that rise from the noxious fauna. It is a brute, an unthinking, unfeeling man-thing. It drags itself from the bog like some monstrous heap. It is bulky massive. The stench of the thing drives all in the woods before it.

Something drives it onward, from its putrid lair and the mass of trees and clinging ivy. A forest creature dives swiftly by. Impossibly fast, it reaches out a mossy, vine-covered appendage, snaring the animal, and dragging it to hits gaping maw.

The beast forges ahead, soon leaving the swamp far behind. It comes upon a smooth, hard trail that is unfamiliar to its simple mind. It is different from the moist softness of the forest.

Further down the path it sees, or rather senses, a glow further on. From a structure off the smooth trail, something bright glares at it, taunting it, as if beckoning. The creature is annoyed.

The deformed mass turns toward the yellow thing that calls to it. It will consume this irritation!

A new sensation is felt, coming from inside the structure. It is voices, muffled and indiscernible. It also will be consumed.

As the beast draws nearer, the stinging becomes intense. It hurries. It feels anger.

The little girl finishes putting away the plates and pulls the drain plug. She stares blankly as the whirlpool of dishwater disappears down the sink. She finally pulls herself away, turns off the kitchen light, and enters the living room where her mother reclines on a couch.

After preparing a modest supper, the mother had sat with her, barely touching the meal, and finally retiring to the couch. It is the same each night.

The girls leans against the arm of the sofa, and gently caresses her mother’s long tangled hair, once beautiful, now uncared for. Still pretty, though, she thinks, but the eyes are swollen from crying, her face drawn from worry.

"I finished the dishes, Mom."

The mother only stares unhearing into space.

She tries again, leaning her frail body against the woman.

" Would you like some tea, mother?"

Still no response. The girl feels her own tears welling up and she hugs her mother tightly.

"I miss Daddy, too!"

Her sorrow is quickly forgotten as the room implodes around them.

Something massive and decaying flows in, bringing with it disgust, and choking, smothering vapors. It opens it cavernous mouth, but it emits no sound. There is only the clamor of the screaming women.

The mother awakes from her stupor. Grasping the child as if a toy, she seeks some avenue of escape. The mass bars her way, its appendages groping for her as clinging vines or tangled limbs. The woman and her child are cutoff, without hope.

The stinging is now intense and very bothersome to the beast. It must destroy! With its arms thrashing wildly, it gropes for the shiny annoyance, and connects with a lamp. The brightness is crushed instantly but a new pain flares into the putrid mass.

Sparks fly from the crushed lamp. The monster’s bizarre gaseous form ignites. The brightness flows over the creatures’ limbs, devouring it.

The beast from the swamp sees the irony: it is consumed by that which it would have consumed.

Next Morning

What remains of the monster is pulled from the still smoldering rubble. A pile of charred human bones is found in the debris. On the burnt finger is found a blackened wedding ring, which is given to the mother, who begins to weep uncontrollably.

"It was Daddy wasn’t it Mother?" the girl at her side exclaims. "He walked into the swamp and didn’t come back, till now!"
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