After John and Thomas slammed down a bowl of fresh gumbo, they quickly put their boots on, after they said goodbye to Tanya of course, and thanked her for the meal, and rushed out onto the docks dosing themselves in bug spray as they went. There was still some daylight that was clinging to the horizon as they started up the fan boat and flew off into the swamp.
“So, uh, Uncle John, what exactly are we going to use to catch this thing?” Thomas said as he noticed a break action shotgun that was sitting by his foot, right next to the cooler.
“Oh, don’t worry little man that isn’t for our little mystery creature. That is in case of gators or poachers,” Thomas looked up at his uncle who pulled out something similar to a large lobster trap except the netting seemed to be tighter, thicker, and the frame was reinforced with a weird looking plastic and the handle was covered in a camouflaged rubber.
“Hey Thomas take a look,” he said leaning in to show his nephew his new contraption.
“You see I had all four of these babies custom-made to hunt this thing. With shock absorbent, and waterproof handles you could lay a powerline on this thing and the current wouldn’t connect, and the netting was designed in a way to especially stop the creature from just biting through and it is laced with a special form of polycarbonate.”
“Ah, I see.” Thomas nodded, pretending to understand what polycarbonate was.
The fan boat by then came to a close stop by some Cyprus trees and Thomas got to work and started tying the buoys to the traps with his uncle. Then the boat violently shook as soon as they finished, tying the buoys.
“Oh shit! Thomas grab that shotgun!” John said, almost falling off the boat.
Thomas quickly shook off the fact they had just been rammed by something and flipped off the safety, aiming it into the water to see what smashed into them until, “Holy shit, look Thomas!” There was a twelve-foot alligator dazed off the left side of the boat with its blue-gray hide glistening under the rapidly setting sun.
“Damn! I didn’t know they could even get that big Uncle John,”
“Hell, I haven’t seen any that large before Thomas,” John said, pushing the enormous reptilian away with a long pole he kept for such occasions and nudged the gator out of the way and motioned to Thomas to start the boat again.
The fan boat started up with a slight hum once more and began to speed off away from the gator as John said, “That would ‘ave been a great spot to catch the little critter, but I don’t want no gator to be eat'n our mystery creature,”
Thomas picked up his canteen of water sitting by the cooler as he kept watch for more wayward gators, “Hey Uncle John?”
“What are we going to use to lure the thing in any way?”
“Open up that cooler,” John smirked.
The most rancid scent imaginable blasted Thomas’s nostrils, causing him to retch, as he opened the previously airtight cooler to see the milky-red eyes of largemouth bass heads staring back at him.
“Whew, you smell that! Good afternoon ladies!” John cackled, causing Thomas to almost fall out of the boat laughing, retching once more as when he inhaled, he swore he could taste the ripe fish smell in the air; seeing that happen John started to burst into laughter as well.
After their laughing fit, John slowed down the boat as he approached a large open area that was sparsely lined with swamp grass and cattails. “Okay Thomas, now would you mind giving me those bass heads?”
Thomas slowly handed the rancid fish heads to his uncle, who moved his hand out of the trap very slowly from the trap to not catch his hand on the strong netting. He handed Thomas the cage he loaded and said, “Alright we are going to set these up in these large thickets here.” John motioned his hand towards the especially dense parts of the reeds.
“That way gators and turtles won’t get to them?”
“Hell yeah man! Now you’re getting it!” John said with a proud smile.
As the nephew and uncle were setting up the traps the sun finally tucked itself away after night fell. “Alright Thomas, here you go,” John said, tossing one of the cages to his nephew. The two boys got to work as they spaced out the traps under the bright moonlight. ‘Welp guess we won’t need those night vision goggles after all’, Thomas thought sadly.
After they set up the traps John decided it was best for them to head back home, because while he knew that Thomas wouldn’t mind being out all night with him, his sister-in-law sure as hell would. Gators and poachers are something he could deal with, but Anastasia? A shiver went down his spine.
He’d take his chances with felons and the prehistoric death machines.
After that thought, the boat's fan started up again as the boat propelled down the swamp back to the warmth of the cozy cabin.
Thomas and John crept their way into the house to not wake the sleeping Tanya who fell asleep in the den, in her recliner, watching some type of competitive cooking show. Thomas locked the door behind him as he shut down the house for the night and turned off the small television before he went to his room and crashed on the bed after telling John good night, not even bothering to change into pajamas beforehand.
A soundless, warm sleep on a comfortable bed was just what the doctor ordered after sitting in a car and boat for the majority of the day. Unfortunately, that is not what Thomas ended up getting as he fell asleep. He woke to the startling sound of an engine roaring by the dock, along with what sounded like a jet ski.
He quickly shot up out of bed with blurry eyes looking at his phone on the nightstand, it read 12:01. “What kind of asshole is out on the water doing stupid shit at midnight, on someone else's property anyways?” Thomas grumbled to himself, putting on socks and his boots to go investigate.
He crept outside and what he saw had him spooked, men on the jet ski were in some wetsuits specifically camouflaged for the swamp covering them head to toe with the only things showing through were the faint green LED lights that came from the goggles on their face and the boat that they followed was some type of large speed boat that had a strange looking crane at the back end, as whatever the metal arm was connected to was in the water, illuminating the murky water of the swamp. He was barely able to make this out under the new cloud cover that allowed little moonlight to breakthrough.
He crept inside keeping an eye on them as they boated away and he decided that he was going to see what they were up to. He grabbed the night vision goggles his uncle left on the kitchen counter.
‘It wouldn't hurt if I took the shotgun, just in case these guys decide to attack me', so Thomas slid his way across the den to grab the shotgun out of the display case, his Uncle John must have gone back to get it from the boat. The carpeted floorboards perfectly dampened the sound of his boots and he gently opened up the display case and slowly grabbed the gun he breathed a sigh of relief as he sat the shotgun on the floor.
Until a box of shells fell off the top shelf and hit the ground causing Thomas’s heart to jump to his throat as he quickly turned his attention to Tanya who snorted and turned over in her sleep. He could feel his blood pumping as he counted down from ten picking up the shotgun and taking some shells out for himself, after he placed the box back of course.
He grabbed the house key on his way out as well as made sure the safety was secure after he loaded it. The fan came to life once more as he takes off from the boating docks, watching the world being illuminated in a whole new light through the goggles.
He listened for the hum of the boats, only to be distracted by a loud shaking coming from some nearby reeds, exactly where his uncle and he sat up traps. While those mystery guys were of some interest this might have been the mystery creature or even multiple of them, he looked around to see if the men were still around and after noticing none decided to inch the boat closer to the reeds.
There was something in the trap! The line on the bundle of reeds had bent like a palm tree in a hurricane. He quickly grabbed onto the buoy hauling up his catch, not really making out the creature in the trap, as the goggles were not that well at making out defined shapes. So, the creature looked more like an amorphous sludge, Thomas pulled up his goggles, sat the trap down, pulled out his phone, and turned on the flashlight to turn it on the creature.
“Oh shit!” Thomas shouted, almost dropping his phone and falling out of the boat. The creature didn’t look like anything from this world! It… looked like a huge black slug highlighted with electric blue, which were contrasted by the deep orange accents, it had to be at least two and a half feet long, with these weird blue feather-like things coming from its back.
The weirdest thing though… he could feel it looking at him. It wasn’t attempting to hide or struggle in its cage it looked… curious.
He slowly made his way to the cage and cautiously picked up the creat- slug, the slug in the cage it cocked its head as he brought his face a reasonable distance away from it.
It kind of looked cute to be perfectly honest, he smiled at it, and once more to his surprise it nodded at him. “Oh, I should take a video! Uncle John is going to flip when he sees this!” After all, a species that shows near human emotion is probably the discovery of a lifetime!
He turned the camera into selfie mode and leaned by the cage on the side of the boat only to suddenly feel the boat rock again, probably by another gator or big fish, and he landed directly on top of the cage's trap entrance and to add insult to injury it was face first.
The slug's skin felt as expected slimy and smooth like other slugs he had held in the past, but this one was enveloping his face as it crawled through the now strained trap opening. He clawed at the slug as it slowly wrapped his head tighter and tighter, then he felt something right out of a horror movie. It was boring its way into the back of his head with some sort of drill like appendage!
This made him drop to the floor of the boat screaming in panic, ignoring at the time that there was no pain, until an electric shock ran up his spine along with a sudden rush of energy, then everything went black.