No. 3: Storm Light
It was an oppressive heat; the kind that makes you want to lie down on the ground and give up, just die.
Someone had said that to François Boudreaux once before, many summers ago, when the heat was heavy in the air. She had been afraid of him, understandably. He was a real sight. Everything about François was lanky; his frame, his hair, his speech, even the mouldering clothes fell limp on his limbs. He sat completely still in a filthy lounge chair, draped across it like a rag doll.
The air was as still as François. The girl watched him nervously. She hadn’t meant to go that deep into the swamp, but the place was like a maze and she had become separated from her friends. Evening was only an hour away when she happened upon the dilapidated mansion. It sat on an island that was almost too small for it, like the swamp had been eating away at it for a long time.
She had asked him how to get out of the swamp to which he replied that she couldn’t, at least not until morning. He had told her it was dangerous at night. “Besides, chère, there is a storm coming.”
She was terribly afraid of him at that point, she thought he was crazy. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky for miles and miles. Her kayak was only a few feet away, resting on the bank; she could easily get to it. She stood and looked at the pale sky which had taken on a peculiar yellow hue. “Some heat, huh? Kinda makes you wanna lie down and die, huh?” She regretted her choice of words as soon as she had uttered them.
François chuckled softly and almost musically. “I’ve died once, chère, I don’t recommend it.”
She turned to run but found her kayak sinking into the murky waters. A cool breeze stirred the hanging moss as the clouds overhead swirled and darkened. She knew then that she wouldn’t be leaving the swamp.
“I’ve been calling this storm all day.” François was standing, leaning languidly against a rotting pillar of the porch. “It really is too hot. My poor Marguerite has had to stay under water for days and I’ve been lonely.”
In response, a throaty rumble sounded from the waters of the swamp and the air turned frigid.
François had all the time in the world to sit and look back on memories. The heat, this oppressive heat seemed to make them bubble to the surface of his mind. He smiled lazily. He knew what to do about the heat. As the storm clouds gathered he wondered if he could lure in another snack for his dear Marguerite.