“Look, you really don’t need to go along,” Sandy said, as she peered into the darkness of the swamp just in front of them.
“Yes ma’am, I do.” Corporal Sikes gripped his assault rifle nervously, eyes darting back and forth in the gloom.
“I assure you, Corporal, that I’m an experienced traveler in the swamplands. I grew up on the bayou in Louisiana, for heaven’s sakes.”
“Look, whatever this–thing we’re looking for is, it’s got to be miles away by now. You saw how fast it was moving, right?”
Corporal Sikes checked his magazine, again. “Yep. I sure did.”
Sandy’s eyes rolled up to the heavens, and she shifted her pack to the other shoulder. “So just why do you believe an escort is required here, Corporal?”
“Well ma’am,” he said, never taking his eyes from the trees. “Do you like horror films?”
She blinked at him. “Horror films?”
“I’ve seen thousands and thousands of horror movies, miss. I love them and I’ve seen all kinds, from zombie flicks to alien abductions to demon summoning bloodbaths to crazy inbred machete hacker hicks.”
“What’s your point, Corporal?”
“There are places to avoid, and things you just don’t do,” said the Corporal. “At the top of that list are “Creepy Southern Backwood Swamps After Dark”. If you go alone into the woods you can kiss your ass goodbye.”
“That’s Hollywood! You know that’s fiction, right?”
“Well, sure. I also know that you don’t leave ladies unescorted–not in the town where I grew up, and certainly not alone in a swamp after dark. Guys just don’t do that.”
“Your sense of chivalry died out about a century ago, Corporal. I’ll make much better time alone, I can assure you.” She plucked his out-of-place flak vest and pointed at his heavy combat boots. “Particularly when you’re dressed like that.”
“Yes’m.” Sikes shifted his weight and looked stubborn.
Any further objections she may have had we interrupted by a booming, deep-throated wail. Something unnatural–a much larger animal than was normally ever found in this swamp. Almost a lion’s roar in volume, but higher and oddly syncopated. CHaaRAP-ACK-AP-ACHchchch.
Sandy’s wide eyes locked on Sikes’. She was far more pale than just moments before.
“I—believe I would appreciate your company after all, Corporal Sikes,” she faltered.
Sikes hefted his assault rifle and switched off the safety with an audible *click*.
This particular piece was inspired by the Jun 24 Writing 101 prompt:
What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. If you’re up for a twist, write this post in a style that’s different from your own.
No, my fear isn’t swamps. My fear is (currently) scenes with a lot of dialog.
Corporal Sikes isn’t too different from me (I use a lot of ‘ma’ams’ too, with strangers, because I was a Kid From The South). Maybe not quite that many, but it’s still a first-reaction.
But Sandy’s a little much more stilted and formal, at least initially. I’d need a longer piece to emphasize that more. She’s just getting all set to turn concescending-professor on his ass–until The Creature bellows out of the swamp…
This post should be back-dated to June (like the rest of the Writing 101 prompts are), but I got tired of maintaining that.