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 Savannah Idyll

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The Laughing Stranger
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Join date : 2013-08-29

PostSubject: Savannah Idyll   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 18:07

The fields of cotton and citrus extended across the sprawling valley. A hot wind stirred among the unharvested bolls and took on the heavy, rank scent of the overripe fruit. An old man in plain, earthy clothes stood in the field, next to a dark-skinned corpse. The old man did not sit, nor did he look at the body. He simply stood, alone, straight as his ancient back would allow. The turgid body of the negro man lay nearby on a bower of crushed cotton stalks, staring up sightlessly at the late summer sky. His eyes and tongue had long ago been consumed by some scavenging beast, but he was still able to gape sightlessly upward, as if in shock at finding himself in his current predicament.

The day wore on, sweaty and listless as a opium addict. Still the old man stood, his tired eyes on the little road that ran to the west of the field. On the horizon, the sun sunk down low into the billowing crimson clouds that made empty promises of rain. The man spotted something moving down the dry and dusty road, moving towards him with a slow, purposeful gait. The thing wore a man's skin, and it left the road to cut across the citrus groves and into the neglected cotton. It wore a suit of expensive European cut, with shoes that gleamed with the fat and spit of lesser creatures. As it approached the old man, the thing smiled before it snapped back its head and screamed, its alien voice lilting and ululating over the abandoned fields. The trees with their fat, rotten fruit twitched and swayed to the shriek even as the wind died and dusk fell. A hellish, birdlike cry answered, and out of the sickly-sweet groves stalked more vile shapes, following after their master.

The old man raised his hand in greeting, trembling ever so slightly; he hoped they would pass it off as a symptom of his age rather than his gnawing fear. "Hello, Mr. Kilgore."

The suited horror finally stopped calling out its hideous song, and its wide smile faded into a squint-eyed glare. "Hello, Daniel Carmichael. Tell me, why are your fields empty, forgotten and rotting?"

"None left to work 'em. The negroes are all gone..."

"And why do the slaves' mean little shanties lie empty, cold and silent, Daniel Carmichael?"

"You took most of 'em. You and yours took 'em somewheres, those that didn't run off." The things wearing men's skins pushed their way through the cotton, gradually surrounding the ancient loner. The old man heard a quiet damp crunch as one of them stepped on the chest of the corpse.

"And why does your great proud house sit empty, forsaken and feared, Daniel Carmichael?"

"My family left, Mr. Kilgore. Before Bess ran off she talked to Anna- we heard what you did to the slaves. We've seen what became of the Hawkins family."

The creature in the expensive suit snarled, a seething, high noise that stung the ears. "It is far, far too late for regrets now, Daniel Carmichael. You pleaded with me to save your family from poverty and all-too public disgrace, and it was done. I asked but a token from you in return, to use what was left of your meager holdings as I saw fit."

The thing's eyes grew wide, showing whites filled with broken veins, and its inhuman voice cracked and strained as if it were trying to break free of an ill-fitting throat. "Treachery among kin is something I cannot abide, Daniel Carmichael." It lunged forward and with a single blur of motion tore off the old man's ear. It shook the ragged bloody cartilage at the farmer as he collapsed to the ground with a yelp of pain and shock.

"Rest assured, Daniel Carmichael, those who dance the Black Spiral will find your wastrel family, and we will bring them back into the fold."

The old man writhed, clutching the ruined side of his head. The thing regarded him in silence for a few moments. Eventually it shoved the bloody ear into its mouth and spoke around the morsel as it chewed:

"Please cheer up, Daniel Carmichael. This time next year, we very well might be inlaws. It's not the end of the world..."

The old man sobbed and the thing grinned and muttered:

"...at least, not yet..."
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