He flew through the swamp on the airboat, his hair whipping with the damp air, the smell of blood deep in his lungs. Bitter adrenaline filled his mouth and his heart thumped painfully in his head. His wild laugh gobbled by the wind as he sped away.
He shot a look over his shoulder, at the place of death, his eyes narrowing to see if they followed him. No movement, nothing but the swaying of the branches and the angry tear of his craft across the water’s surface. He slowed, easing his foot off the pedal and pulling the steering stick toward him as he banked onto a tangle of floating saw grass.
He waited without moving. One minute, then two; listening for the sound of the sheriff and his deputies coming for him. Nothing.
Eyes wide, taking in the dim light that bled through the canopy of the swamp, he licked his lips and tasted the copper of blood. Startled, he wiped his mouth with his hands and they came back mottled with swamp slime. He stared at his hands, at his clothes covered in the mud and a little giggle escaped his lips.
He’d been right. The swamp warned him. Told him to act and he’d obeyed. Dauby LaRoche, a thorn in his side for weeks now, was finally gone. No longer sucking the life out of him like a parasite…like the nightcrawlers that slithered in the dark wet under his feet.
He felt alive and strong. Looking down at the sludge on his hands, he smelled the stench of decay and moved his fingers watching the ooze drip down onto his feet. Lifting his hands to his face, he smeared he muck on his cheeks, his neck, his hair and breathed in the rot reveling in the primal order of things. Danger and aggression, release and relief. He smiled and tilted his face to the heavens.
A far off cry, an egret, snapped him back and he remembered the woman. Where was she? He teetered on the airboat, twisted around looking for her. She’d been right behind him, ran after him after she’d struck the sheriff and then…what?
He didn’t remember. The slime fell into his eyes and he let out a yelp as it stung. He leaned down and splashed the swamp into his face, rubbed the grime away and heard a low growl. The deep chambered roar of a bull alligator.
He froze, eyes searching for the animal, but the darkness of the swamp masked the predator. He righted himself in his craft and scanned the water. To his left, not ten feet away, the slow s-shaped ripples of a swimming gator disturbed the surface of the water. He watched the predator and their eyes locked. And the man felt the power of the beast and knew it was in him as well. The bloodlust and violence. The man roared back at the bull and the gator broke away, slicing through the water in a silent retreat.
Heart racing, the man licked his lips again, this time savoring the flavor of his victory.
As always, I welcome feedback. I got a lot of great tips and catches from you all last week. Hope you enjoyed the sneak-peak!
Until next time...Go Write!
Photograph by Krossbow