Swamp Monster

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By KurnDerak
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"We're here in these noname swamps of Tennessee on the hunt for what could be a true swamp monster."  Eric said excitedly into the camera, turning briefly to face the swamp lands behind him for a nice scenic shot.  This was his job, searching the wilderness for stories of strange and fascinating local legends as host of the show .  This wasn't anything new on TV, but he liked to think that he did it better.  "Out there somewhere is a creature the locals are claiming has taken pets, and possibly even people.  We'll be meeting up with a local who claims to have actually seen the monster first hand."  He turned back to the camera as he finished for a nice, dramatic finish.

"And we're done!" The cameraman yelled as he lowered the device from his shoulder.  "Nice as always man, no one does it in one take quite like you."

"Think we'll actually see something this time, or do you want to try and find the right angle to sell a log again?"  The sound man joked as he headed back to their truck.
"Hey, I sold that log like a cigarette to a cancer patient.  Boy did he ever buy it, too."  Eric called back.

The crew continued to joke as they began gathering up their equipment for their journey.  They had learned how to gather up only what was needed in the lightest load possible, this was their third season after all.  The weather was on their side, a sign of good fortune they had decided, with clear sky and a cool breeze on this midsummer day.  It took less than 20 minutes for them to be on their way.  The camera was rolling as they got into swamp worthy clothing, heavy pants and water proof boots.  It was sure to be used as filler during the episode, as would bits and pieces of footage that would be shot throughout the day.  After trekking through the swamp land they came to the location of a run down little hut.

“No way, this can’t be somebody’s real house.”  Said the camera man.

“Guys, this is perfect.  People are going to eat this up.”  Eric almost squealed with excitement as they made their way out of the waters and onto dry land.
They all looked up at the sound of creaking hinges and were greeted by a bearded old man with a shotgun pointed in there direction.  There was several moments of silence shared between them as neither party were fully sure what they should do.  Finally the old man lowered the gun and a big grin shown through the white, bushy mess on his face.

“Oh, you them city folk who done talked to me before, ain’t ya?”  He waved for them to come inside as each of them eagerly nodded in response.

“I take it you don’t get too many friendly visitors out here?”  The sound guy asked as he stepped inside the hut, unsure it was really much more than a glorified box.

“Well, truth be told I don’t get too many visitors out here at all.  Seems people don’t like having to make their way through the swamp just to see some old timer.”  He laughed at what was probably meant to be some sort of humor.  They all chuckled nervously along with him.

Eric gave the cameraman an overly excited expression as he entered the hut.  This alone was going to make this an instant classic episode.  Looking around the interior it was quite apparent that he had been lost in the 1800s, if not earlier.  There was a small bed in the far corner of the single room house, with a mediocre kitchen set up along the wall.  A little work table came next, with various rusted instruments littered across it.  It was tempting to see just how well they could convince people that this guy was his own kind of swamp monster.  However, they had network execs to please and thus silently agreed to use him as their guide as planned.

The next half hour going over the the boat ride they were about to partake in.  They had to go over safety and rules; Things such as do not interact with wildlife, what to do if the boat sinks and so on.  Though he had gone over what to do if their guide turns out to be a crazed hillbilly cannibal of some sort earlier.  The sound and cameraman didn’t pay almost any attention during this routine, each one having lost count of just how many times they had sat through it before.  The local, however, seemed most interested and nodded his head at each new item on the list.  

“I reckon you fellas are rearin’ to get out there after that monster, ‘less of course you want to be spendin’ your day here with this old geezer.”  He smiled a big smile and a laughed a hearty laugh.  The others joined in with weak, forced laughter as they now shuffled out of the hut.

“How we doing on film?”  Eric asked as he filed into the less than spacious motorboat.

“Doing good,” he gave a thumbs up in front of the camera.

“And sound, how is that coming in?”  Eric steadied the boat as the others made their way in, first the local followed by the cameraman and sound guy.

“Seems a bit off, but nothing to worry about.  I’ll get it sorted here in a few seconds.”

And with that they set off on their journey to find the mysterious swamp monster.

”We’re here with our guide, a Mr. Luther McMullin.  Now, Mr. McMullin,” Eric began before being cut off by the guide.

“No need to be so formal.  Folks just call me Luther.”  Out in the daylight Luther had a friendlier demeanor that was sure to help draw the audience in.
“Luther,” Eric continued.  “I understand you’ve got yourself a story about a first hand encounter with this swamp monster.  But, first, if you don’t mind I have a few questions that I’m sure the viewers at home are dying to know.”  He leaned in to give the slightest hint of dramatic posture.  “Does it have a name?  Surely it isn’t just called ‘Swamp monster’.”

“Now, lets see.  It has itself several names o’ course, ‘cause plenty people around these parts think it one thing or another.  Had a few city guys, a lot like yourselves, out here a few years ago claiming it must be some Bigfoot.  Were such a thing out there the whole place would smell of wet dog or the like, I’m sure.  Local Indians, now they say that it is the spirit of men who got lost in the swamp and went wild.  I say they got it half right.  It ain’t just a man, you see, it is kind of half man and half something else.  It is scaly, that’s for sure.  And it walks all along the ground,” he gestured with his hands near his head to show how he thinks it walks.  “Long, long thing, too.  I say it must be 20 ft, if not more.  Now, if you want your exaggerating men you can find them down at the bar who say they seen it be over 50 feet.  Got thick, armory skin.  Ain’t gonna shoot it no how, bullets just bounce off as though they was just spit balls.”

“And what is it you call this 20ft creature?”  Eric waited patiently, trying as hard as he can to hide the sheer joy this was bringing him.

“I call it Old Jim, after my great grandpappy who done got killed by it years and years ago.”

The name struck all three of them by surprise.  Not a one was sure whether it was the worst or one of the best names for such a thing.  Eric tried to get his mind back on track, the name didn’t matter right now.  Taking a few moments he nodded his head a bit before continuing.

“Well, it sure isn’t every day you hear of a mysterious, dangerous creature with a name like that.  How come it was named after your grandfather if it killed him?”  Eric changed his posture a little so not to get stiff from all the sitting they were doing.

“It wasn’t meant to be named after him.  See, my grandpappy was a good foot and a half taller than me and three times as big around.  We knew that if he came across anything he was always sure to come out on top.  One day he and my pa were out huntin’ and only my pa came back.  He brought with him one of the strangest stories I ever heard.  See, they had been out in an area of the swamp they hadn’t been to in awhile, thinking maybe they would find something good for shootin’ there.”  Luther took a pause to lick his lips.  The sound guy took the time to hand him a water bottle, being immediately thanked for it.  

“The hunting around these parts hasn’t been good for some 50 years now, ever since Old Jim done moved in and taken the place as his.  But my pa and grandpappy sure didn’t know that yet.  They thought they’d seen an elk laying down through some trees.  Probably similar to those trees over there, imagine you could just see the antlers poking up behind the branches.  When they got in closer what they found was that that was all there was of the elk.  Little bit of head, all gnawed up and old.  They was too busy being confused as to what would do that to see Old Jim sneaking up on them in the water.  Pa said it leaped clear out of the water at them, taking down grandpappy with it’s mouth full of rotted teeth.  Pa ran the whole way home, out of breath and empty handed.  From that day on ma would always say that old Jim was still out there, surely getting the upper hand on whatever that vile creature was.  Some years later the name just kind of stuck with it, and people would just assume we was talking about the creature and not me grandpappy.”

“Wow.  Now that is one monster of a story you’ve got there.”  Eric made sure to look directly at the camera as he said this.  “While it sure is a shame not to have an eye witness account of this thing,” he began as he turned back to the old man.  “It sure sounds like you are lucky never to have seen it.”

The lighthearted laughter of each person was cut short as the small boat rocked accompanied by an audible thunk.  All aboard made sure to secure themselves firmly in their seat as they slowly down to a near stop.

“What was that, what did we hit?”  Eric demanded as he looked over both sides.
“I have no idea, sure didn’t see anything,” the camera man responded as he checked over the bottom of the boat.

“Oh, you city fellers,” laughed the old man as one by one their concerned faces turned towards him.  “Was probably just some little rock sticking up out the bottom of the swamp, or the like.”  His amusement at their inexperience in the area continued to grow as the three men took cautious glances back toward the water.  As though on cue a second audible thunk accompanied the boat being rocked to the side, nearly knocking Luther out.

“Now that was no goddamn rock, we aren’t even moving anymore!”  The sound guy had dropped his microphone to his feet as he grabbed the side for balance.

“Calm down, maybe it’s some log underwater,” Eric tried to calm his crew member down.  

“Oh, thanks, I feel so much better now knowing it is a log trying to sink us,” the sarcastic tone was accompanied with a similar expression on the camera man’s face.

“Ain’t nothin’ trying to sink us,” Luther retorted.  “There always logs, and rocks, and some crazy fish all about.  Seems like they just love to make city folk like yourself think they is about to die.”  He showed no sign of losing his patience with the crew, still seeming more amused than anything else at how they had acted thus far.

“Now can you pick your mic back up so we can continue?”  Eric was admittedly frustrated with how they were acting, hoping he was successfully hiding his own unease about the situation.

“Yea, yea.”  The camera guy’s annoyance at the order was clear.  When it was clear that he no longer needed to fear capsizing he leaned over to pick the boom mic up from the bottom of the boat.

A loud clang and a large splash of water all four of the men were launched from the boat as it flipped over lengthwise.  Their surprised screams were soon paused as each one went underwater.  The first one back to the surface was Eric, who was quickly joined by his two crew members.  The panic they shared quickly transitioned into terror as, second by second, the old man failed to reappear.  Turning in circles they each tried to spot any indication of just where he had landed, but the ripples from their movement and the boat left no discernible clues as to his current whereabouts.  

“Where is he?  Why hasn’t he come up yet?”  The camera guy yelled as he flung his hands through the water around him.

“Something got him!  We have to get out of the water.”  The audio guy was looking around frantically for any sign of land.

“What did that?  There isn’t anything here that can do that.  Unless…” the camera guy trailed off as he looked at a large dent on the side of the overturned boat.

“There is no damn swamp monster, there is nothing here trying to kill us.  Just find that old guy before he drowns.”  Eric was doing his best to stay in control of the situation, though he too was quite busy looking for any place at which they could get out of the water.

“Land, we need to get on land.  Or in a tree.”  The camera guy was anything but comforted by Eric’s words.

“Over there!”  The audio guy was pointing past several trees to a small patch of ground.  

The two crew members pushed as hard as they could through the dark waters.  Eric hesitated briefly as he looked over the ripples for any last sign of Luther before he too joined the others on the way to the little island.  As their hands and feet reached safety from the flowing black they scrambled to the furthest point on the little patch of land as they could.  The reflection of the setting sun off the swamp water warned of the impending night, something which they were ill prepared to handle.  It would be at least a few days before anyone would look for them, and even longer before they would risk stepping foot off of dry land again.
A small crew working on a monster hunting show stumble across more than they bargained for in a Tennessee swamp.

This has been very slow going, and overall I don't really like how it turned out.  Though, it is at least finished and I can come back later and make something more out of it.
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