The Corpse Speaks
The Swamp Man sits with his back against a massive stone block. His eyes are closed, and the facial muscles relaxed. The scales covering his greenish skin still glisten from a recent fog or rain. You see no blood nor smell the stench of decay, yet an almost imperceptible slackness tells you no animating force drives this body.
Do you hesitate to touch him, to verify what you already know? Are you half-expecting what now happens: his eyes opening, his mouth curling in an odd lopsided grin that exposes the canines, the Swamp Man clearing his throat and spitting out a viscous clump of drying blood?
You hear air being forced through broken pipes, tenuous and fading, then momentarily strong.
“How many hundreds began the long sleep…how many remain?” Coughing cuts short a laugh. A small hunk of lung pops out of the Swamp Man’s mouth, and he mutters, “These bodies never last long enough…”
Spraying flecks of blood, the Swamp Man continues, now catching his breath every few words. “Need more..come to the place…of sleep. Follow spear man…Big Water…north past pink columns…another tower. Some may…survive.” He sniffs. “I cannot smell…the dead. Have you…destroyed them?”
The Swamp Man coughs, hacking for many seconds until a thick rope of flesh unrolls from his mouth to his chest. One end is still stuck in his throat. The free end brushes against his skin, leaves a red trail as he shakes his head, unable to dislodge his stubborn lung. When he speaks again, he sounds like his mouth is full of food.
The voice suddenly rises in pitch, with an altered cadence that suggests a different speaker. The eyes dart from side to side as if searching for something before fixating on you. “We sleep…. Will the dreamers ever awaken…. From nightmares that never end?”
The Swamp Man’s eyes close, and his chin drops to his chest. Blood oozes down the flesh cord, feeding an expanding red circle.