Estimated reading time — 5 minutes

Every year, October creeps by and Halloween sneaks up on me. Every year I find myself trying to get into the holiday spirit last minute. I usually do this by writing a story or making up a silly game. This year, the horror found me. My mother moved up to Connecticut and worked at Quinnipiac University when I was small. My family is from the South. Louisiana to be exact. Very rarely do we get the opportunity to visit our family. Everything is different down there.

It all started when my grandfather passed away. Come to think of it, I’ve only been down to visit my grandpa maybe two or three times. Sadly, Ive never really gotten to know him. Although I feel distant from my Southern kin, I was excited to visit with them. It is a terrible thing to happen, but its great that the family can come together and grieve as a whole. Im just starting college in Alfred, New York. My school work is getting so backed up, but I had to miss school for this. My professors will understand.

So I linked up with my sister, whom I rarely get to see. We visited my mother for a week which was great family time. We got to see our beloved pets whom we have missed so dearly. It was late October so we carved pumpkins and watched the usual horror films, just like old times. And just like that it was over and we were on a plane to Louisiana.

Once we touch down, we check into our inn. Most of the hotels were full for some reason or another. The inn was old, unusually so. It seemed lost in time. Lafayette is a fairly big city so it was odd to have this old place here. The inside was lit by candlelight and decorated with animal skins. A huge gator head hung above the roaring fireplace. There was a bar and a fireplace lounge. A hostess greeted us. She was old, in her seventies but still maintained a youthful spirit. She took our bags, offered free cakes to us and complimentary drinks for my mother. Southern courtesy I guess you could call it. “What brings yall to Lafayette?” She asked. “Death” my mother replied. “Ohh Im so sorry my lovelies. Help yourself to anything. Anything we have here is free for yall, on the house.” “Thank you so much. We really appreciate it, but that won’t be necessary.” Mom said. “Oh but I insist.” She interjected. “Its a terrible thing to lose someone you love. Trust me I know.” She seemed saddened by this. Then her eyes darted around, she dropped her tone and spoke. “Please, stay away from the swamps. Im telling you this because you seem like nice folks. I want yall to stay safe here.” Something about the way she said it, intrigued me. I know warnings should be taken seriously, but I had always been mischievous in that regard. I wish I heeded her advice. “We aren’t new to these parts. We’ll be sure to stay safe.” My mom replied.

After this we were shown to our rooms. Each room had one bed. My mom took one and my sister and I took the other. My mother tucked us in. She enjoyed babying us at times, even though we were both in college. I guess we’ll always be babies to her. “I love you both very much.” She said. “We’ll get through this together.” She pulled the blankets over us and kissed our foreheads. “Quit babying us.” I snapped rudely. At that she removed herself from the room. That was the last time I saw her. Its disturbing, how little we value our family.

I awoke my sister in the middle of the night. “Come on lets go explore the swamps!” “Are you sure? What if its dangerous and we don’t get back? We’ll miss the funeral.” She replied. “Come on sis lets have some fun. We don’t have to just be sad here. Its Halloween itll be spooky and exciting.” “Ok” she said. “Lets have some fun.” At that we got dressed and left. We skipped around outside, howling at the moon, surrounded by a wreath of mist. We walked through the woods at the edge of town. The forest was dark and creepy, but I wasn’t unsettled. It excited me because I was craving to feel fear and I had my sister by my side. I was scared but I didn’t let it sink into my heart. It was surface level. I should’ve taken my fear more seriously. The crisp night air smelled sweetly of fall. As we walked along, scared yet excited, I could hear crickets, owls, coyotes and other creatures of the night. I could also hear quiet footfalls in the leaf litter, although I thought nothing of it. I could faintly detect the dark outline of tall trees and cold shrouds of mist in the black of night.

Then, as if we had crossed some invisible boundary line, we stepped in mud. Thick deep mud. We had entered the marshes. The swamp stench hit my nostrils like a rock straight to the dome. I could faintly depict cattails, and dead trees looming in the mists like ghost ships. Algae and stinking weeds growing out of the foul water. After around five minutes of trudging through this deathly place, I began to feel genuinely afraid. Not simply afraid of the dark or ghosts and ghouls. Afraid for my safety. I suddenly got the feeling that we were being followed. “Lets leave” I exclaimed. “Now.” We immediately turned around and started in the other direction. The fear intensified. We started running, as if driven by some bestial instinct. Running through the mud like hunted animals. I heard a twig snap. There was a whirlwind of leaves, mud and rope. I was hanging in a net, trapped with my sister. After a few minutes of panic and chaos, a rope snapped and the net hit the ground. I squealed in pain. We were both thrashing on the ground when a club slammed my sister’s skull. I heard cold evil laughter. I felt a crushing blow and slipped into black.

The first thing I remember when I awoke was the smell. A truly disgusting smell that out rivals anything I had experienced prior. It smelled like human shit, rotting flesh and death. There was very little light but I could tell the room was extremely overcrowded. I was naked, surrounded by other nasty, malnourished people. I observed that no one was afraid or angry for being here. They were sad and demoralized. There was no hope in their eyes. The floor was littered with waste and human remains. Some people were eating severed body parts.

I felt a hard boot crash into my rib cage. I fell to the ground in agony, rolling in shit. I heard the same dark laughter. “This one is pathetic!” The voice said. Struggling, I got to my feet and pushed him. He fell to the ground, startled. “Where is my sister? Where am I?!” I said. He laughed. “I can see you’re new here. You have a strong spirit. We’ll fix that, in time.” I felt cold hard steel jab into me body. Men were prodding me like a hog, mercilessly. They took me into a dark room littered with organs and blood. There was a restraint chair in the middle. A big man was there, wearing an apron covered with bloody stains. He wore a burlap sack over his head with holes for eyes. They tortured me, brutally. They deprived me of sleep and hurt me physically and mentally. I must’ve been in that terrible dark room for at least twelve hours and all I was only given blood to drink. When they released me, the big man said with a laugh “Lets see if this one wants to act up again.” I didn’t.

I have been here for … God knows how long. We are forced to sleep on top of each other. I have slowly felt my mind slip away, deep into madness and shit. I stand in a line, shackled like cattle. I am watching my sister. She is hanging upside down. A chain is attached to her ankle and blood is gushing from her lacerated throat. I can see the terror alive in her eyes, mouth gasping for breath. What do they want from us? They can’t just slaughter us like animals. We aren’t animals … right?

CREDIT : Roman

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