|During the day, the swamp has sunlight reflecting off the black water, leaving it bathed in a golden hue. Trees stand tall reaching for the sky as if for freedom, while the gray Spanish moss hangs from their branches like tears, for here they must remain. Darkness shows a sinister side.
The bullfrog sitting on the bank sings his song of love. He must sing to attract a mate, so that together, they will continue. To the snake, resting peacefully on a log the frog's song is a lullaby, as it slips into sleep. Hunger does not drive it to hunt, for today its belly is full. The alligator drifts unobtrusively closer. The owl, from the safety of it's branch, witnesses the drama that is unfolding.
Suddenly, a terrifying sound rolls across the swamp. The frog ceases his song, and the snake slips from his log into the inky black water. Even the alligator swiftly submerges, and the owl flies silently away. The sound echoes across the bayous, as the animals wait silently and hope that when it has passed they will still exist.
The bayous are ill suited for man, yet here they live, and have for more than three hundred years. They stay in spite of the land's unforgiving nature. The people themselves are a lot like their land; from adversity, they draw strength, and the ability to survive is what gives them their pride. These are the qualities on which they have built their kinship; they know to stand together, for alone the swamp devours them.
Charlie is as much a part of the bayous as the creatures that now quake in fear with his passing. As a young boy this bayou was his playground. Charlie went astray as usual. He went to Leland's camp, for a couple of pints of homemade whiskey. That was ten hours ago.
Even a moonshine-clouded mind is not enough to keep him from knowing he is in trouble. When he gets home, his wife Dominique will be waiting for him, with that familiar face of disappointment. Then he will make up some wild story. She will reply that he is a bad husband and father, now, she and the kids, will have to do without. He gets mad thinking about her complaints. After all, she had the house on the campsite. He will be the first to admit it is not in the best of shape. Nevertheless, it keeps the weather out and no matter how bad things get there is always food of some kind to eat. Dominique always wanted to live like the people in town with their running water and indoor plumbing. She felt these were necessities. Yet, to him, things like that were extravagances he did not need or want.
Charlie cannot put his finger on it. Maybe it is the rotgut whiskey, or the darkness of the quarter moon night. He cannot shed the uneasy feeling gnawing at him deep inside. To be bit by a snake or a gator, you have to step right on them. He gives plenty of advance warning to anything that might be up ahead. He knows that any swamp critter is going to give man a wide path.
He stops and thinks how much he would like to have a drink right now of Leland's velvet brew. Reflexively he wipes his dry lips on his sleeve. Then it comes to him why he feels uneasy. It is the quiet. Critters will quiet down when man is near, but never a complete stillness like this.
He raises the lantern high and surveys the surrounding swamp. The bushes and trees just stand there in the light as if they are watching and waiting for some unspeakable horror to begin. Something grabs his wrist. Yanking back with all his might, he cannot break free. In the swiftness of a heartbeat, he is flying through the air as if he were a child, not a man of two hundred and fifty pounds.
Before he can muster even a thought of what happened, he finds himself sitting in a puddle, his lantern by a tree ten feet away. He sits there for a moment, his body awash in a numbness that keeps him from clearing his mind, that is racing, but going nowhere.
He sees little lights circling his head. The visions of his surroundings are moving in slow motion, as if in some sadistic way, to prolong his agony. Standing before him something horrifying, and yet familiar. Its ten feet tall. It is reddish brown, the color of dried blood. Dripping sores, reflects the light. It has a large tail like a rat that twists and turns behind it as if dancing with glee. It’s fire red eyes burn with delight.
The thing looks right into Charlie's eyes, which are about to cloud with madness. The light from the lantern reflects off the horror's fangs, giving it the appearance of a smile.
Listening to the human laugher from the Beast makes Charlie remember how he knows this hideous evil. Sadness takes control of what is left of his mind. It is not because of his impending death, for he has already resigned himself to that. It is because all his life he was preached to about good and evil, and never listened. Now here was the Devil itself, to claim its prize. Charlie's sadness is because he knows his next stop is eternity in the burning pits of hell.