This is the final installment of this story. It is told from the point of view of the swamp monster, Khip. The other two parts are: Part 1 and Part 2. Or, if you missed them but don’t have time to read them, here is the synopsis:
Gerardi, who lives next to the Forbidden Swamp finds a spiny, clawed, wide-eyed baby monster and takes it home. He and his wife Melanee raise it until they can’t afford to any longer and release it back into the swamp. Gerardi secretly feeds it anyway and later, starts stealing from his neighbor’s flock to feed it. He goes away for a month, only to return to find that the monster, Khip, has been killing lots of animals, even some people. He goes to find Khip and he leads Gerardi to his mother, a repulsive monster living deep under the ground.
Our Darling Swamp Monster, Part 3
I stand there in that in that nether-hell, partway between the splaying demon that claims to be my mother and the man, Gerardi, who raised me.
Kill him, the monster whispers in my mind. You came from my body long ago and you are mine. Kill him and bring him to me to feed on. I command you.
Curse her commands! It was because of that irresistible call that I brought my dear father here in the first place, as much as I wanted to keep him far away. But I have no voice to speak to him with, to warn him. I take a step towards him, my long claws digging convulsively into the hard dirt with the strain of my internal battle.
“Khip,” he says. That’s my name, the one he and my mother Melanee gave me. It means “special” and I love them for it. The hideous creature behind me who claims parentage over me has no name for me.
“Khip,” he says again, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I caused trouble for all of us and maybe it would have been better if I had not taken you in. Everything is my fault.” I know the meaning of his words but I also see the meaning of his heart and see that he would do it all again if he had the chance.
Do it, the thing behind me whispers in my mind. Kill him now, I am hungry. He is not your father. You have no father.
In that moment, my hatred of the creature burns so hot that her hold on my mind loosens. In an instant, I leap forward and grab up Gerardi, my father, and crash towards the exit tunnel. I hear the repulsive brute behind me screaming her rage into my mind, but I keep going, climbing with hind claws and one arm, while the other carefully grasps my precious human to my scaly chest.
Outside, the night cacophony of the swamp wildlife fills my sensitive ears. I set Gerardi down gently.
“You saved me, Khip,” he said. “Thank you. What was that thing? Was it really your mother?”
No! I want to shout at him, but all I can do is grunt. I long to tell him how I wandered the swamp after I left his house and how her call drew me to her. I did not mind killing and bringing food for her, as long as Gerardi and Melanee were unharmed, but now from his mind I can see that even that has hurt them. There is nothing I can do for my dear parents but leave them.
“Khip, you have to leave this place,” Gerardi says and I see that he is crying. “The people will hunt you down and kill you. You need to get away to safety while there is time.”
Come with me! I want to say, but all that comes out is a more insistent grunt. He doesn’t understand. How is it that I can be so sensitive to his every thought and motivation, while he is so blind to mine?
Finally, I leave, crashing through the underbrush until I reach the water and splash into it. I can feel his grief behind me but my mind is concentrated on my own suffering. I am a monster of unholy seed, driven away from the only family I have ever known. A crocodile swims below me and in my pain and loss, I seize it and eviscerate it with one swipe of my claws.
All night I swim and splash until, just before dawn, I reach the sea. There, I dive deep and breath in new life from the stinging salt water. Only a few days pass before I am a legend of fear among the sea creatures.
I cannot feel the minds of my parents, my dear Gerardi and Melanee. Their minds are only two small lights in a mass of millions. The creature that bore me, I can still feel on the edge of my mind, although from this distance her alluring call is ineffective. I do not know if she can die, but I will wait and if that day does come and I am safe from her mastery forever, then I will return.