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The Exchange


David J. Collins

Be quiet! Listen! It appears that they have left. The darkness seems to have life. I am so afraid that my heart is racing. It feels as though it is lodged in my throat. I can actually hear the pounding of my heart beat and feel the thumping of my pulse at my carotid artery. My breathing is so rapid that I am about to hyperventilate. I have to get control of my nerves, but how does one do that when he or she is confronted by the unexplainable. Maybe this letter that I am writing will find its way into someone's possession. Maybe, just maybe the one(s) who find this letter will be able to stop these creatures. It all started when my friends and I decided to go deer hunting in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. John, Sam and I (my name is David) decided to join fourteen other individuals at a mountain resort exclusively for deer hunters. Don't let the number seventeen become cause for a raised eyebrow. Each of us were elite hunters in our own right. All seventeen of us were the best of the best, or at least we thought so until that fateful night of November third. I seemed to have been the only one that was apprehensive, because of the fog, that had moved in a little earlier. However, I was out voted by the others, and I believed in the democratic process. There I was with John and Sam trodding through the marsh and woods in a north-easternly direction. That is the direction we had all decided to travel in. But, somehow the fog distorted our compasses along with the stars in the sky that night. That's when we found ourselves in this swamp after moving in what we thought was a north-easternly direction, and in this swamp we have been ever since.

It is now November fifth and our party of seventeen is down to a party of three. There's only John, Sam and myself. Provided, that is John that I am looking at in the distance some 80 feet away from me. Sam is here beside me. It was two nights ago that our horror began. That was when we found ourselves elbow deep in this swamp. One of our other members attempted to leave the swamp, when we all heard this tearing and ripping sound accompanied by a deafening cry of pain, that was ended almost as soon as it began. Our swamp water quickly turned crimson, and everyone gasped as nine or ten feet of intestines floated by. Several members complained that they were bitten by snakes and made frantic attempts to leave the water, but again there were strange sounds. This time there was the sound of snapping and breaking, along with the tearing and ripping. Floating in the water with us are limbs- arms, legs, feet, hands and even upper torsos.

Visibility is minimal to say the least and whatever these things; they are barely outlines in this fog, which is becoming denser. These creatures appear to possess teeth similar to our sharks, but they walk on land and seem to avoid the water. I have called out to John and so has Sam. Although he has not answered us he does appear to be slowly moving our way. In a few hours it will be November sixth and the water is tepid with a very foul odor. The flies are becoming particularly bothersome. Sam has been complaining about his back having a burning sensation. I will raise his shirt and take a look. My God! Sam has about a half dozen leeches attached to his back. His chest and legs are also covered with them. After a self-examination I too am infested with the parasites.

John has swam within reach of Sam and myself. I will pull him to us. Oh my Lord! He has no head. It's as though something with tremendous claw power swiped his head off at the shoulders. Wait a minute. Something has just occurred to me. In this swamp is all kinds of bloody mangled body parts, but there are no heads. Everyone's head seems to be missing. There must be some significance for this. My poor friend John. His body has some extremely deep gashes, as though made by claws. Some of these gashes appear to be almost an inch in depth. These creatures must have claws similar to Grizzly Bears, but even longer. It's going to be light soon. Time to make our move.

Well, if anyone found my letter and you're reading it this is where I began writing. Sam and I did make a move. We made it to where the swamp ended and dry land began. Just as we attempted to get out of the swamp one of the creatures came seemingly out of no where and clawed half of Sam's face away. Sam has been unconscious ever since. He barely has any vital signs. He has lost alot of blood and his pulse is very weak. Also, the leeches sucking his blood is only worsening his condition.

I have one final point to make that I will not share with Sam should he regain consciousness. Last night under the cover of darkness I moved to the edge of the swamp. While there I heard a slurping sound along with the sound of chewing. I maneuvered to where the sound was coming from and observed one of these creatures eating the tongue from one of the deceased's skull. I also watched as this creature took one of his claws and plucked the eyeballs from the skull and proceeded to consume them. Evidently, these are delicasies to these creatures. What a perfect shot I had, if only my rifle was operable. Lastly, it is now evident that these creatures are on a hunting expedition. Yes, in talionic fashion, they are the hunters and we are the prey.

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