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Rated: E · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2119292
A man travelling through a swamp on his way home encounters something terrifying.
This was not what Eric Branford had been expecting when he first rode into Blackbriar Swamp. He’d only chosen to take the road through the swamp because it was the quickest way to reach the town of Blackbriar. He hadn’t believed the townsfolk when they had told tales of the swamp being haunted. He’d always thought the stories were just stories told to entertain visitors and frighten children. He’d travelled the road many times before and had never been worried or scared. Then again he’d never travelled the road at night. He hadn’t had much choice, not if he’d wanted to make it home for his mother’s birthday.

The stories and tales were brought into his mind as he rode into the swamp. Though he didn’t believe them, it didn’t make the swamp any less creepy. Still, Eric pressed on. The chirping of crickets echoed through the trees and off in the distance he heard the hoots of an owl. The leafless trees cast strange shadows in the moonlight. Though he knew the road and the swamp well, he couldn’t help the feeling he was being watched. As Eric urged his horse to a faster pace, the echo of something sloshing through the swamp’s murky waters resounded through the trees.

The icy hand of fear gripped him as Eric fought the urge to look behind him. It was the sound of something large. He dreaded to think of what it could be. He’d heard the stories of a beast that lurked in the swamp, composed of dark thoughts and dark fog. As he continued down the road, from somewhere deep in the swamp, came an unearthly roar that shook the trees. Startled from their sleep, a flock of birds took to the night sky with angry calls. His horse panicked at the sound and Eric fought to call him. He called the frightened animal and urged the horse to a run.

Eric wanted nothing more than to get out of Blackbriar swamp. Chills ran up the man’s spine as whatever it was roared again, closer than before. He urged the his horse to a full gallop as a tree somewhere off to his left fell into the swamp’s waters, as though felled by a lumberjack. There was something large moving through the swamp and he was not keen on meeting it. He came to the fork in the swamp road quicker than he was expected. His horse pranced on the spot as he debated between the left path that would take him the long way and the right path that was a short route out but was on the verge of being severely overgrown. Another crash behind him forced his hand and he took the short path.

The branches of the trees seemed to reach for him as he rode. The branches caught his clothing and tore at it , causing rips and tears. An earsplitting roar from much closer spooked the man’s terrified horse further causing the horse to panic badly. Eric fought to get his horse under control. Another crash of a failing tree was the last straw and the horse threw him. A hard landing on the road knocked the breath from Eric’s body, leaving him winded and unable to prevent his horse from bolting off. He struggled to his feet and checked himself for injuries. He still had a pouch with him that had matches and oil in it. He found a small, dry branch, poured some oil on the branch and lit it. Fear gripped him as it had never gripped him before.

The fog curled around Eric as he pressed himself against the trunk of a large tree. He could feel the bark of the tree digging into his bare shoulder. His badly torn shirt left his chest and shoulders exposed to the cold night air of Blackbriar Swamp. The light from his torch did little to illuminate his surroundings. The pale glow of the full moon above gave more illumination then his torch seemed to. The sounds echoed through the barren trees as the wind rattled the empty branches like sabers. Despite still being winded, he knew he couldn’t stay there.

From the corner of his eye he caught sight of something moving and turned towards it. The beast rose out of the murky waters of the swamp, a dark figure comprised of dark fog. All Eric had to defend himself was the long knife he normally kept tucked in his boot. Now he gripped it in his left hand with white knuckles. He wasn’t certain he would be able to defend himself against the beast with the knife. It sloshed through the water under it. Its glowing eyes roamed the area as it moved. The beast stood between him and the way out. At first, he didn’t dare move as the beast’s glowing eyes examined the trees.

Eric knew he had to get past the beast to get out. The road was the only thing that stood between. The beast growled and Eric braced himself for attack. When it came towards him, he instinctively swung with his right had first which held the torch. The beast recoiled from the torch’s light. Eric swung the torch again and drove the beast back further. When the beast tried to get past his torch, he struck with the knife, plunging it into the beast’s arm. The knife only disrupted the dark fog but did little else. So he struck out again with the torch. The beast fled into the trees.

Once the beast had retreated into the trees, Eric took to the road. He ran as fast as he could towards the swamp’s exit. He could still hear the beast behind him but as he ran the sounds of the beast faded into the distance. He ran until he was out of breath and could barley run anymore. He slowed to a walk a soon as he was out of the swamp. He had survived.

1000 words
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