Prologue: Personal Journal Entry #1
Episode One: The Ripper
Episode Two: Personal Journal Entry#19
Episode Three: The Zombie
Episode Four: Personal Journal Entry#25
Episode Five: They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be
Episode Six: Personal Journal Entry#39
Episode Seven: The Vampire
Episode Eight: Personal Journal Entry#52
Episode Nine: The Werewolf
Episode Ten: Personal Journal Entry #83
Episode Eleven: Firefall
Episode Twelve: Personal Journal Entry #106
Episode Thirteen: The Devil’s Platform
Episode Fourteen: Personal Journal Entry #125
Episode Fifteen: Bad Medicine
Episode Sixteen: Personal Journal Entry#156
Episode Seventeen: The Spanish Moss Murders
July 3rd: Freddie Maxwell was just the first, in two two months five people were found dead in their homes or places of work; the local police treated each of these murders as separate incidents, I suppose the fact that these five deaths were spread out over four states had something to do with it but how could they not have noticed that each of the victims had died of massive cardiac hemorrhaging? How could they ignore that clumps of Spanish moss were found at each murder scene? And you think someone would have realized that each of the victims was a member of the same message board.
Yes, it turns out that Victor Maxwell, Joanne Siegel, Brett Little, Mike Morris and Casey Huang were all active members of the FEAROFTRUTH web forum. I should mention that once this news got out there was a massive loss of subscribers to our colorful and eclectic community. This is of course very understandable, say what you want about Reddit and 4Chan they don’t really have much of a body count.
Casey Huang was the last to go before I found met the Swamp Man again. Casey lived in Athens, Ohio and divided his time between trying to repair his failing second marriage and trying to prove the existence of the Cornish Owlman. His prospects for success with either were pretty bleak. He was in a video chat with Elliot Paisley (aka ‘MisterCheesefood’ on the forum); they were talking about yours truly.
“He’s a nice guy,” Casey said, “but I think he’s full of crap. There’s no way he’s seen all that stuff. If he did he’d be famous.”
Elliot frowned, “He talks about people that really died like that dude from Thatcher Park.”
“That’s just a smokescreen, I bet he’s got all kinds of stories ready to go once the right article shows up in the Times Union.”
“You think he’s some kind of failed writer or something?” Elliot said with a dismissive gesture, “Then how does that explain the Swamp Man?”
“Don’t you get it?” Casey whispered conspiratorially into his webcam, “Swamp Man is one of us.”
“Swamp Man is one of us,” Casey repeated, “he’s someone from the board. Maybe he’s Foster.”
“You’re nuts!” Elliot said, “Swamp Man went after Foster, there are witnesses.”
“He didn’t go after Foster,” Casey sneered, “he went after Foster’s boyfriend.”
Let me just pause the story here to reiterate once again that Jasper Moradi is not my boyfriend.
The argument went back and forth for a while with Elliot continuing to defend my dubious honors to no avail. Then Casey Huang stopped talking, he inhaled deeply, “What’s that smell?”
Elliot leaned back in his seat, “Oh fuck. Run for it!”
“Who’s there?” Casey shouted.
“No! Now he knows where you are.”
“Good.” Casey rooted around in his desk and pulled out a 9mm pistol.
Elliot pounded his desk in frustration, “Run you idiot! Run!”
A figure stepped into the doorway, the low resolution of Casey’s webcam kept the picture from being clear but there was no mistaking that outline.
Casey spun in his seat and pulled the trigger, there was a faint metallic snap as the weapon misfired. Poor Casey, but he shouldn’t have been surprised not when later investigations showed he hadn’t touched, much less cleaned his weapon in years.
The Swamp Man spoke, at the sound of his voice the webcam picture twisted out of true and went blank. Elliot tried to get back into contact with Casey Huang aka ‘OwlmanXpert’ multiple times before calling for help.
Elliot and Casey only knew each other through social media; Elliot was aware of Casey’s general whereabouts but not much else. The local 911 contacted the Athens, Ohio police and they figured out where they had to go.
By the time the police got there they were forty minutes too late. All they could do was put Casey Huang’s remains into a body bag and collect the clumps of Spanish moss as evidence…
…Elliot Paisley lived in Cairo, New York, about an hour drive from Albany. That meant that when he called me for help I was able to get to him in about twenty-five minutes. By the way if anyone wants to help me pay off three speeding tickets I am accepting donations via my PayPal account.
It was a little after seven in the evening when I found him sitting on the hood of an Acura parked across the street from his house. He was tall and stooped, I don’t know what bothered me more, that he was smiling or that he was holding a katana. His smile became a grin when he saw me, “There he is, the Night Blogger.”
I approached, “I sure hope that’s your car.”
“Now, what did you need me to come down here for?” I crossed my arms and glanced at the weapon, “I hope it’s not for a duel.”
Elliot gestured towards the one floor crackerjack box he called home, “He’s in there now.”
“The Swamp Man.”
“Are you serious?” I moved around to the other side of the car.
He pointed to the front window, the curtains were closed but the lights were on, “He’s in my living room. I checked the window a little while before you got here.”
Why had Elliot gotten away when the others hadn’t? Let’s face it the only reason I and my non-boyfriend Jasper had made it through our confrontation with tall dark and filthy was because there had been a member of the Pink Pistols in the bar. Call it dumb luck or call it deus ex fabulous but that’s what happened. I looked from Elliot to the house and back again, “What’s he doing in there?”
I took off my straw fedora and waved it at the house, “Why was he crying?”
“How the Hell should I know? As soon as I saw him I grabbed my phone and ran.”
“Your phone and your katana.”
“Oh no,” Elliot shook his head, “I keep this katana in the trunk of my car.”
That raised so many questions but this wasn’t the time. “OK,” I said, “if you say so. Why did you call me instead of the cops?”
“Come on, you know the police aren’t gonna do crap. We have to take care of this ourselves.”
We? Oh Lord, I thought. “I prefer to do this kind of thing myself.”
Elliot jumped off his car, I had visions of him hitting the ground wrong and putting his eye out with his fancy Japanese sword, “Hey it’s my house.”
“And I’ve got a katana.”
“Indeed you do.” I put my hat back on and pulled my iPhone from my front pocket and set it to record video, “Is the front door locked?”
“No.” He gave his weapon a few test swings, “We doing this?”
“Elliot, this isn’t Ghostbusters,” one last try at talking him out of this seemed like the right thing to do. “There is a monster in your house. Do you understand that?”
He started walking, “Yeah.”
“Then why are you grinning?”
“Because this proves there’s a Heaven.”
“What? How?” I ran to catch up with him.
“If there are devils then that means there are angels too. Get it?”
In a lifetime of crazy things this was one of the craziest I’d heard yet. Evidence of the preternatural doesn’t mean any organized religion is right or wrong. All it means is that there is a whole other set of powers and principalities out there looking to screw with you; all it means is that there are another million ways out there to get yourself killed or worse. Speaking of getting killed I said to Elliot, “You… Just stand behind me OK?”
We were at the doorway, “And watch where you put that thing!”
Naturally the door creaked when I pushed it open, it seems like the only time a door in this damn town didn’t creak was the time my landlady Mrs. Vincenzo walked in on me masturbating.
I made my way into Elliot Paisley’s house, Elliot was right behind me. What a pair we must have made, him brandishing a katana, me brandishing an iPhone. Even if we didn’t already know the Swamp Man was waiting in the parlor all we would have had to do is follow our noses. The odor was worse than before, the cloying stink of stagnant water and filth now had an undercurrent to it, a subtle whiff of roadkill baking in the summer sun.
We found the Swamp Man sitting in a lazy boy recliner staring intently at, well, nothing. He was empty handed, maybe the police had his crappy sword; maybe he’d dropped it somewhere along the way during his murder spree. He still had that white key around his neck though, and he still had that golf ball sized bullet hole in the right side of his skull. The eye was still there but it lolled sightlessly off to one side. Crenelations of bone jarred from the wound and the wound itself was leaking brownish fluid and strands of what sure as Hell looked like Spanish moss.
The sound Elliot made signaled that he had finally realized this wasn’t some grand adventure. Good for him. I took some video with my phone before speaking. What do you say at a time like this? In my case it is always something dumb.
“So,” I began, “fancy meeting you here.”
The Swamp Man stood and stalked towards us, leaving puddles behind his every step. I cringed. Elliot sobbed a little. “The clawing at the Black Door,” the Swamp Man gurgled, “why didn’t you hear it?”
“I have never seen the Black Door,” I answered, “I barely understand what it is.”
“You should have known. You should have thought.” He stepped forward. Elliot and I backed up. The urge to run was almost irresistible but five people had been murdered and I still had no idea what they had died for. Was this half-zombie half compost thing really a member of the FEAROFTRUTH forum? Was this all some kind of crazy flame war? The Swamp Man said, “I waited so long in the Mires of Nix.”
I said, “And you escaped the Mires of Nix when the Black Door opened. Right?”
He nodded, “With a key made of bone. I made it myself. I had time, and there were so many bones to practice with.”
Now we were getting somewhere. I asked, “Is the Black Door still open? Where is it?”
“Not again.” The Swamp Man went mad. He lurched forward and wrapped his filthy hands around my throat, “Never again!”
His grip was so sudden and tight that I saw sparks. I gasped and struggled, first I tried to push him away then I grabbed at him. All the things I had learned in that self defense course at the Learning Annex had gone right out the window.
“You will hear the Hymn of Never before you die.”
Two months ago I’d heard some of the first few lyrics of that blasphemous song, I had no interest in learning the chorus. I stomped on the Swamp Man’s bare foot, it burst like a boil. He didn’t react, he just kept squeezing my throat.
When he opened his mouth to begin his song I could see that the Spanish moss had overgrown his mouth. What I had thought to be brown teeth were in reality clumps of the stuff. Where did the man end and the moss begin?
There was a scream and a flash of silver and suddenly I could breathe. I tumbled backwards onto the wet, discolored rug. I had been rescued again, this time by Elliot and his katana.
They stared at each other; Elliot was holding the dirty blade, the Swamp Man was staring at the place where his right arm had been. Even now I can’t decide which of the two looked more horrified…
…I’m sure you can guess the rest. The Swamp Man started running and he didn’t have much trouble getting away; I was still dazed and Elliot was going into shock.
Naturally the neighbors had called the police and just as naturally I had no evidence to prove my insane story. All my video showed was a dark figure in a poorly lit room and the severed arm had melted away into nothing but a clump of moss and mud.
The only proof I had was the white key I had pulled from around the Swamp Man’s neck but I decided to keep that to myself. I figured it was going to come in handy when all this was over.
And yes, the white key was made from bone, did you ever doubt it?