Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Clark/Lex, Eckersley Tannen
Genres: Drama, Holiday, Horror, Mystery, Suspense
Rating (this chapter): G
General Summary: Something wicked lives in McCready’s Marsh.
Summary: The Monster strikes again.
Date Of Completion: January 26, 2018
Date Of Posting: November 10, 2018
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC and Warner Brothers do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 775
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
All chapters can be found here.
THE LAST THING
"The Darkness Behind Me"
The days of October continued in their full glory as Halloween grew closer. Sheriff Nancy Adams alerted people to be vigilant and to avoid the marsh, where evidence pointed to the disappearances. She wanted to avoid packs of gun-toting vigilantes roaming the countryside. Most people would steer clear of McCready’s Marsh and trust the Smallville Police Department to solve things. Didn’t Nancy Adams have plenty of experience? And she usually got the job done in this nutty town.
The people of Smallville went about their lives, making apple cider and pumpkin pies as mothers sewed costumes for their children, the kids looking forward to trick-or-treating. Farmers got the last of their harvests in while some ambitious types set up roadside stands and sold their colorful produce to people out to view the turning leaves or just interested in healthy eating. The town was decorated and parties were planned. Smallville went forward, though they took precautions as well, locking windows and doors and making sure they followed their own advice about avoiding going anywhere alone.
Clark and Lex returned to routine, though Clark kept his ears tuned for any howls or other strange noises. He took a couple of quick trips to the marsh and studied the pond but saw nothing. Perhaps the disappearances had nothing to do with meteor freaks, but were caused by humans, or even just one. He kept out of sight of the sheriff and her men, who combed the marsh during the days. As no further incidents occurred, he turned his attention to Halloween.
Smallville usually hosted an event on the town square on Halloween after trick-or-treating. It could be a scarecrow-decorating contest or a Jack O’Lantern-carving contest. There might be a Harvest Festival with booths and games and prizes for the best costume.
This year a showing of the classic 1931 Frankenstein would be shown in the square on a large screen. The Farmers’ Almanac predicted good weather. Donations for admission would be accepted for charity. It promised to be a fun night.
Eckersley Tannen was a cantankerous young man who lived alone on a hardscrabble farm at the edge of McCready’s Marsh. He kept to himself and only ventured into town if he needed to visit the doctor or dentist. The grocery store delivered food and other staples to him and he gave good tips to ensure prompt service, but otherwise he rarely ventured off his place.
Eckersley was gaunt, his brown hair lank and falling into his eyes. He wore faded jeans and a soiled T-shirt. He oiled a shotgun as he sat by the fireplace, logs that he’d split crackling in the hearth. His farmhouse was old and falling apart, but he didn’t care. Life had never been easy for him. His drunken old man had smashed his truck against a telephone pole one night, and his mother died a few years later of emphysema after a lifetime of heavy smoking. Eighteen and the farm was his, but he’d never made a go of it.
Five years later he still loathed people and liked being alone. He hadn’t been to town in months, and he didn’t read the local paper and had no Internet connection. His radio was busted. He had never heard of the disappearances of Bull Rush or Cal Anderson or Sheriff Adams’ warning to stay out of the marsh.
The clock on the mantel ticked loudly as Eckersley worked. A howl off in the distance made him pause. Could a coyote be roaming around? They were becoming more plentiful these days. He shrugged and resumed cleaning his gun.
Another howl narrowed his eyes and he went to the window. Dusk was falling but he still had enough light to see, and there were no coyotes skulking around out there.
A third howl brought him onto his front porch as he gripped his gun. Whatever was causing a ruckus would never get past him.
The high, wild grass around his property led to the woods and the marsh. He watched as the trees started to shake.
What the hell?
Eckersley raised his shotgun, ready to shoot. He scowled as the howls grew louder. The trees shook harder. Darkness grew as the earth began to shake.
Eckersley’s heart hammered in his chest as he waited, standing firm. Whatever this beast was, he would blow it clear to hell.
The trees parted and Eckersley’s jaw dropped. He froze for a few seconds, then squeezed the trigger. Bullets flew and the shotgun emptied.
The last thing Eckersley Tannen ever did was scream.
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