Dash To Chokoloskee

     

Florida, 1935

     Dalson sped through the swamp, his hair flailing about. He was frantically scanning his surroundings as he flew over the water in his airboat; the sunlight was quickly thinning and he knew he needed to get to town before dark settled in. He didn't want to have his picture on those 'missing' posters that'd been appearing recently. He kept a pistol on each hip and a third in his boot, but still doubted he'd have enough firepower to last a mile.

     The swamp began to curve and he sped around the corner, drifting the airboat. A bubble broke the surface and popped in front of him, making him maneuver around it. He knew what was under it, and didn't feel like saying hello.

     As he maneuvered past, Dalson heard a loud splash and looked over his shoulder to see a large winged beast erupting from the water. A gurgler... just his luck. Murk and weeds spewed everywhere as it began to follow, easily gaining on him. He cursed and drew a pistol.

     Dalson took evasive action and weaved left then right, before pulling hard to the left and spinning the airboat in a full circle. He only had one chance to take out the gurgler before it shredded him and the airboat. As he came around to face it he aimed and fired three shots. It flinched twice with holes exploding in its left wing and neck, then fell into the water, screeching. Dalson let out a sigh of relief as the airboat finished spinning and he pulled it back straight.

     Gurglers were scary things. They could fly in the air and they'd learnt how to swim, their wings making them as fast as a stingray. He looked back just to be careful. Safe.

     Another bubble popped, off to his right. He prayed there weren't many gurglers in the area. Then he saw yet another bubble burst too close for comfort off to his left. Through the dark swamp water he thought he saw a large slithery mass. Not good.

     He stepped on the gas as hard as possible and the airboat responded. Just in time. The slithering monster tried to capsize him but didn't compensate for his increased speed. Dalson looked over his shoulder and saw the biggest snapjaw he'd ever laid eyes upon. What were all these critters doing here? The gigantic snake-like monster could crush his airboat with one chomp of its massive jaws. His heart sank and he prayed he could get to Chokoloskee before the swamp claimed him.

     Cutting the next corner close, he felt a wave of relief as he saw the lights from the town ahead. For a second he lost track of the snapjaw in the fading light, then it rose from the water and grabbed hold of the motor, ripping it off, tossing Dalson into the shallows. He found his feet and stood waist-deep in festering swamp water. The Snapjaw closed in for the kill.

     Dalson pulled his second pistol and began moving backwards, aiming for the monster's eyes. He knew from experience they were the only non-armored part that his bullets could penetrate. The snapjaw spat out the motor, which exploded in a large fireball as it smashed into a nearby tree. Dalson kept moving as fast as he dared in the slippery mud, keeping his eye on the monster.

 


     1 of 2 in a series of short tales by Eric Kahn, set in the Timeline realm of American Grit. Click here for the next in the series.

     You might also like to check out these other series by Eric: A New Prophet, The Old Frontier Ain't What It Used To Be, Times Can Be Tough and Trouble In The Water.

 

Date Created: 24-May-2009 02:43:09 AM UTC       Last Updated: 02:43:09 AM UTC
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