Downright Dirty

by

Zander Williams

1

The phone conversation was getting out of hand. Kirsty wasn't going to get anything through to Hassan—he just wouldn't accept the fact that she was moving on. She cheated on him with Roman and didn't care one bit about Hassan's feelings.

"Why did you do it?" Hassan asked on the other end of the line. Oh yes, he was heated. He was trying his hardest to control himself, but the boy needed help with it.

"Because..." She trailed off, staring at the ceiling of her colorful bedroom. Why had she done it? How do you tell someone that you fucked a man while you were another man's woman? It was mistake, which was what happened. She and Roman had been at a party across town and he was looking cute and she was feeling hot and there was an empty room in the house and he had a condom. "It was a mistake."

"How the fuck was it a mistake? You knew what you were doing when you fucked him, Kirsty! I can't understand this—explain it to me again, so I can comprehend."

Hassan and his big words...He swore he was smart, but how come she was able to kick it with Roman right under his nose? Some smart guy he was...

"I'm not gonna explain it anymore," Kirsty said, sighing. He was starting to make her mad—the plan was to just tell him and be with Roman Weaver. Hassan loved to make things tougher and harder than they had to be. "We were at a get-together and it just...happened. Now, me and you are done—Roman's the one I want to be with."

"I'm gonna do something strange to Roman," he said.

"What did you say you were gonna do to me, faggot?"

She had Roman on the three-way, listening to the whole conversation in silence until now. It was one of the best tricks when to came to catching people in lies; just have someone one the other line monitoring the whole thing.

"Who this?" Hassan asked, not totally surprised. Hassan was a whiz kid—that was what mildly scared her about him.

"It's Roman, the dude you was just talkin 'bout. When I see you, I'm gonna knock you da fuck out. So don't come nowhere near me or my girl."

"You don't even know me," Hassan said, "so how you gonna knock me out? And what the hell you mean 'my girl'? Kirsty has a mind of her own, so she can decide who she wants to be with. So Kirsty—who do you want to be with?"

She was feeling so special—two guys arguing over her was entertaining. It made feel like she mattered in the world, that she was a somebody.

"Like I said," she explained, "I want to be with Roman. Hassan, I really don't know what happened between us, but it's not there anymore."

"In other words, you're a cornball now," Roman said, giggling like an immature jock. The reality was, he always acted immature. Kirsty tried to ignore it, but sometimes it was unbearable. There was nothing wrong with being a bigass kid, but Roman was an obnoxious bigass kid.

Hassan began to laugh as well, but his laugh was a low-pitched version of the Cryptkeeper's from Tales of the Crypt. "So this is your dirty little secret, huh, Kirsty? Fucking some idiot behind my back? Some woman you are—you're not even woman enough to come to me and talk things out with me, let alone break up with me before you scooped that low just to let another man fuck you. Well, I got a dirty little secret of my own, you smut. Trust me, though—it's nothin like the secret you had to reveal to me. You just wait and see."

"Hey!" Roman shouted. "Don't be calling her a sm—"

There was a click.

"Hello?" Kirsty said. "Hassan?" She could hear the shakiness in her voice. She wasn't expecting him to abruptly hang up like that; he was the type that would keep at it and won't stop, just stay on the phone line until he got sleepy. Suddenly, revealing her so-called "dirty little secret" wasn't such a good idea. Hassan was an ace of the mind, never getting anything less than a B in his psychology class at Rutgers. She favored his intellect, but the problem was that he too favored his intellect—seemed to favor it more than he favored her. Kirsty had always been the center of attention and needed to be; Roman was putting her in that center and Hassan wasn't.

"Don't worry 'bout him," said Roman. "That dude ain't gonna do shit. He just frontin, like on that Pharrell and Jay-Z song. And if he decides to get dirty, I'll get his ass jumped and laid out all over the street. My boy Curtis goes to Rutgers and we can go straight there and get im."

Kirsty hoped Roman was right because Hassan McLean never displayed any fear while she was with him. She was afraid that it would take more than one man to take on the pure intellect of a twenty-two year-old black guy from south Jersey.

"So," she said, "when are you coming over?"

"How 'bout this Saturday night?" Roman asked. "And I was thinkin we should make it a double date."

"Huh?" How do you have a double date at someone's home? She was hoping he didn't mean orgy because she wasn't that type of girl...well, not anymore. There was that one time when she and her best friend Deirdre Smith had an orgy with these two guys from Philadelphia when they were sixteen years old. And there were other times when...

Forget those other times. All I have to do is lie about whom I had sex with. Roman doesn't know and Hassan still doesn't know. It's not like they're going to go on a private investigation to find out if I'm lying about it or not. I could tell Roman that I'm still a virgin and his dumb ass would believe it.

"My boy Curtis wants to come with me," Roman said. "He's gonna call his girl and then we can get a party started over there."

"You lucky my mom's on vacation right now," Kirsty said. She really didn't want anyone else to be there, but what harm could it do? Just three extra people and one of them would be a female. Everything would be fine.

"Well, I'll call you sometime tomorrow, alright? Are we still gonna do that anal thing that we talked about last week?"

She hoped he had forgotten about that. "Yeah...sure."

"Are you still worried about that Hassan dude? I told you he ain't gonna do shit."

In a way, she was worried sick.

2

Curtis Odom was in his friend's Ford Expedition. They were outside of a big gray house in a suburban neighborhood on Saturday night. It was raining, but not as hard as it had been a couple of hours ago. The clock in the red Expedition read ten-seventeen and the waning moon in the inky sky was partially shrouded behind thin black clouds as if it was scared to show itself tonight.

Curtis had to study for Tuesday's big Black history exam and was still amazed that his friend Roman had talked him into going to some girl's house. Well, not just some girl—it was Kirsty Hancock's house. He knew things about her or better yet, what was said: she was known to be a slut. Not just any old slut, either—a BCD slut: behind closed doors. She was secretive with her sexual escapades, like an undercover porn star. There were a lot of those around nowadays, but you wouldn't know because they were so sneaky with everything they did. Well, not really—a slut isn't that sneaky at all if people knew that the slut was sneaky.

He was planning to tell Roman what he had heard about Kirsty when he had given Roman one of those flavored condoms (doubting if he was going to use it). There were two reasons that would render his information as useless, however. The first and least important reason was that Roman was too hype to believe anything Curtis had to say about her; Roman was planning to get into those pantyhose tonight, so there was no reason to spoil it for him. The second and more important reason was that undercover sluts like Kirsty had the power of denial on their nasty side—all she had to do was reject anything and everything Curtis had to say. They knew how to be convincing and believable, throwing in a sob or two to make people feel sorry for them. Roman would grow angry with him if Kirsty's voice grew higher with denial; she'd bare that face of being wrongfully accused, knowing damned well everything that Curtis would say about her would be accurate.

Roman and Curtis got out of the truck and headed up the pathway to the door, puddles of mud all over the yard like spots on a Dalmatian. The pathway consisted of stones of assorted color and was slightly slippery with rain.

"Yo, watch ya step," said Roman. "If you fall, I'm gonna laugh my ass off."

"I should push you for sayin that," Curtis said, trying to knock his buddy over so that he could fall in the fake flamingo-infested garden next to the pathway. They loved to play around with each other.

Roman chuckled trying to maintain his balance. "Keep on and I'ma throw you in that swamp behind this house."

"A swamp?"

"Yeah. You didn't know there was a swamp around here?"

Swamp. A goddam swamp. Curtis had a bad experience with swamps or quagmires or bogs or marshlands or whatever other name there was for them. When he used live in Florida as a kid, he had gotten in fight with another kid while his fourth grade class went on trip to the Everglades. The boy had been much stronger than he was and managed to flip him over the bridge they were walking across. He had fallen in and three long things began to move towards him—three dark green things. The mud had been cold despite the how powerfully the sun had been shining, and the frigidness combined with fear of the long, green things immobilized him. In the knick of time one of the tour guides the class had been following jumped in and rescued Curtis. The class had said that the green things were alligators. It had been only till the next day that he realized that the green things were humanoid—they had evil-looking faces, bulky arms and plants sprouting from their bodies.

Swamp things. They were just like that monster from the comic books.

He did not want to go nowhere near places where alligators or swamp things swam. Why were there swamps in New Jersey anyway?

"I was surprised too when Kirsty told me," Roman said. "They call it the Brown Hole around here. Some kids were playing near it and two of 'em fell in. They never saw 'em again. It swallowed 'em like how my dick is about to get swallowed by—"

The front door of the house opened and there stood a young woman in nothing but a small t-shirt and sky blue panties. She was thick like a stallion and had burgundy streaks in her black hair. Her toenails were the same color as those streaks, and suddenly Curtis felt the urge to play with her instead of his buddy.

"Are y'all just going to stand there in the rain or come inside?" she asked, grinning like there was no other facial expression she could create. This wasn't the infamous Kirsty Hancock, was it? The woman in the doorway was sexy as hell, an outstanding ten on a scale of one to ten—a dime. Curtis was caught in the moment until he realized that being sexy was a part of an undercover slut's technique to lure in her sex partners—that was why you called them "sexy".

"Of course, I'll be coming inside," Roman said, sounding sarcastic.

The two of them entered the house and Curtis immediately knew that this slut was living the lavish life; a fancy glass chandelier hanging in the living room, mirrors of all shapes and sizes were everywhere, and so were the expensive appliances that he couldn't even identify at first glance. The place was clean as can be—Curtis laughed at the irony that Kirsty was doing lowdown dirty deeds in a completely sanitary home.

"What?" Roman said, looking back and smiling as if he missed the joke.

"Nothing," said Curtis.

Kirsty lead them into the living room. Curtis sat on the white sofa so that he was directly in front of the twenty-four-inch Dell plasma screen, enticed by its glamour and innovation. He was used to watching the football and basketball games on his mother's fuzzy Magnavox that you had to smack the top of so you could get a clear picture.

Roman sat on the other sofa and his slut sat on his lap, kissing him on the neck.

"This is my dog, Curtis, " he said. Kirsty stopped kissing his neck and looked at Curtis.

"Hi," she said and returned to what she was previously doing.

He wanted say Hello smut, are you still smutting? but instead said, "Wassup—can I watch your TV?"

"The remote's somewhere in between the cushions." She pointed at the end of the couch. He reached into the couch and felt around. Finally, his hand struck something plastic and he pulled it out. The thing in his had looked more like a keyboard than a remote control. There were so many buttons on the damned thing that he actually had to study it in order to find the ON/OFF button. He found it and pressed it. The plasma screen came to life like the Frankenstein monster and blared out laughter. On the screen Dave Chappelle was dressed up as a crackhead and lifting up a truck to retrieve a dime. "Turn it down."

After he did so, Kirsty stood up, holding Roman's hands as he did the same.

"Well you can wait here while what's-her-face arrives," Roman said.

Curtis scowled at Roman. "Theresa. Her name's Theresa."

Theresa was the girl Curtis was dating and knew she wasn't even thinking about driving in the rain from Atlantic City all the way to Kirsty's house in Pleasantville.

"Don't matter," Roman said, whispering with his hand blocking his mouth from Kirsty's sight. "You still don't get any pussy."

Curtis laughed and flipped his buddy the bird.

"C'mon, Kirsty," Roman said and the two began to advance down the hallway. "I'm gonna bust in your ear so you'll know where I'm coming from. Get it? Know where I'm coming from."

"You nasty," she told him, and there was the irony that made Curtis laugh yet another time. She said it like she wasn't nasty herself. He had the feeling she was nastier than Roman.

Curtis sat there and flicked through the channels of the plasma screen.

3

There was a good reason why the moon was afraid to show its silvery face that night.

The man walked up the wet street. The raindrops fell and slid swiftly off of the man's jacket, perhaps in fear of the black-hearted being wearing it. The man's black sneakers splashed up water with each bold step. He was determined to do what needed to do. You had to cleanse yourself of the dirt that you were submersed in—if you didn't, the dirt would stay there eternally. He was prepared to purge himself of impurity, no matter what the outcome would be.

He stopped in front of a large gray house with a red Ford Expedition in the driveway. He extended his hands out palms up before him and spread his fingers out as far as they could go. A green luminescence radiated from his whole body and began to drift all around the house. Some of it glided to the swamp that was a two-minute walk from the house.

"Rise, my mud-buddies," the man bellowed. His eyes glowed green now. His grin was maniacal. The sky shifted from dark cobalt to a very dark jade. "Rise and destroy this house of filth!"

He slowly raised his hands over his head. Lumps the size of tortoise shells began to mount in the yard in front and on both sides of the house, where the puddles were. From those lumps sprang hands. With those hands came arms. With those arms came bodies. With those bodies came heads. Suddenly there were large figures climbing out of the ground. They resembled ghosts, but the were nothing but mud. They had no eyeballs, no teeth, or no noses. The figures began to moan and groan and wail loudly. They moved towards the house like zombies in the rain, which was now a light drizzle. The muddy figures bore faces of sheer hate like violent gods waken up in the middle of their infinite slumber.

From behind the house came more muddy figures, leaving deformed foot tracks as they proceeded from the swamp in which they originated. They marched as if they knew nothing of where they came from or how they got there, but also moving with a mission to demolish the gray house ahead of them.

In seconds a gang of these mud-buddies surrounded the house. Some of them began to climb to the top of it like gorillas that have escaped the zoo to terrorize a city of skyscrapers and puny humans.

"That's right, my friends from the topsoil and from the marsh," the man in the street said. "Go rid that fucking residence of the muck inside of it!" In the sky, the moon looked away in disgust. The man lit a Newport cigarette as the mud-buddies did their dirt, the very same dirt he was promising to never do again. "She had a dirty little secret, so here's mine."

He puffed and chuckled.

4

In the bedroom, Kirsty was riding Roman in the dark. She loved being on top; she could obtain more control of the guy she was having sex with. She had already sucked him off, taken it from the back and from the front, and on the verge of her second orgasm. She began to ride him even faster, like a cowgirl on a rowdy bronco. They were doing it without a condom.

"Oh my god, I'm gonna come!" she exclaimed.

"Go 'head, baby," Roman said holding her waist tight as she rocked back and forth, "'cause after that I wanna put this dick in yo ass."

As she began to moan in anticipation of the orgasm, she heard a moan join in unison with hers. Usually she kept her eyes closed to focus on the pleasure that she received from sex, but now her eyes were large in the darkness of the room. She looked down at Roman and listened closely to indicate if the moan came from him—it didn't. Her eyes wandered to the window on her right, the only source of light; she gazed at the sky, which was eerily green. Drizzle was barely visible dropping from the sky.

Out of nowhere, an elongated face popped up outside of the window, a face that resembled that of a ghost—but this face was brown. There was a green stuff sticking out of it, something that looked much like grass. The brown face looked devilish and when it grinned at her, Kirsty screamed. The face moaned loudly and raised his huge arm. It then shattered the window it grinned through. The glass soared across the room and some of it cut Kirsty's face; she fell off of Roman and onto the floor.

"What the f—" Roman was cut off.

Kirsty looked at her hands and saw blood. She looked up at the window and saw more of those brown ghosts—they broke off the whole wall the busted window was on. There was a thunderous thumping noise from the ceiling.

"What are those things?" Roman yelled. There was pure fright in that yell.

Kirsty got up and ran for the door, but a cold, wet and heavy hand grappled her ankles together and pulled her while she pulled the knob of the bedroom door open. She saw Curtis and at least five or six of those brown ghosts behind him.

"Curtis!" she shrieked. The wet hand snatched her from the door like she was a doll in the arms of a pre-schooler. She was face to face with the brown ghost, a growling ogre that smelled like...like...

The Brown Hole swamp.

She had been there when the Brown Hole consumed Samuel and Theodore Eckerd, two of the many kids who used to live up the street. When they had crossed the swamp via a dead log, Kirsty saw them fall in when the log snapped like a chewed up pencil under their feet. She ran home after that, just like the rest of the kids who saw it happen. When the cops had questioned her that summer, she told them that she was in the house when the boys fell in the Brown Hole.

Now she had the feeling she shouldn't have done that.

The brown ghost lifted her up by her neck and its other hand invaded the privacy of her mouth. Kirsty's last taste was that of mud.

5

While he was on the cell phone with Theresa, Curtis heard a glass break somewhere in the immense house.

"What the hell?" he exclaimed, sitting up on the sofa. He looked all around him to see if he had knocked anything expensive over in this luxurious abode. He had the feeling that Rutgers wasn't going to be the only place he was going to owe lump sums of money to.

"Say what?" his girl said on the other end of the phone, annoyed because he had wanted her to come to Pleasantville at twelve o'clock at night. A scream from the direction Roman and Kirsty went filled the home. Kirsty had been making all kinds of animal sounds since they went in that room and Curtis guessed that Roman must've been doing his thing in there. That scream, however, didn't sound like it came from a woman experiencing sexual delight.

"Never mind it, it was a little scr—"

He stood quickly, dropping the cell phone. Howls from outside—rough but ghostly howls. Not a few howls, but many. Whomever the howls belong to, the owners were either in the street or worse—right in the front yard. The howls were so loud that he could hear them over the plasma screen where Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston were on the edge of arguing in their bathroom. A sound came from above him—no, a pounding. White paint particles from the ceiling did downward spirals to the carpet. A crack the shape of a thunderbolt ran across the ceiling. The hairs on his neck, back and arms stood like soldiers at attention.

"I'm about to get the fuck up out of here," he whispered, and when he looked up this time, a fat blob of brown stuff fell from the crack. It landed smack-dab on his left boot. His first idea was that it was poop, but why would shit fall from the goddam roof? Reconsidering, him bent over and wiped some of blob from his boot; he sniffed his fingers, expecting the stench of feces to jab him in the nose. What he smelled instead was the cold and dull odor of dirt.

He stood straight, but dropped back down again when a deafening boom went off in back of him. Something in the house either exploded or a wall collapsed—

"What are those things?" It was a shout of desperation, and it had to come from the loud mouth of Roman.

The roof above Curtis finally gave in and broke apart. Three of the most ugly creatures he ever saw in his life dropped down before him, causing the house to tremble; they were at least eight feet tall, dripping with the same substance that was on his boot. They had simple, disfigured faces, expressing nothing but brutality in them, groaning like the zombies from The Land of the Dead (he actually had nightmares after watching that movie). Their massive hands snatched at Curtis, but he just about managed to evade the blows. He jumped up from his squat and dived over the couch like a motion picture stuntman.

Curtis kept on believing that this was somebody's idea of a sick joke, that maybe Roman was trying to freak him out with people dressed up in costumes. But Roman didn't know about Curtis's experience in the Florida Everglades, did he?

He got up and saw that the creature in the middle—the one with the small tree branch jutting out its head—had heaved the couch over its head with one arm.

No joke there, no sir.

Three more of those dirt monsters barged through the front door and made their way through the house, joining the ones already in the living room, wailing like mummies.

The swamp things were after him—they somehow came out of the Florida Everglades and tracked him down at a home of a whore he only knew from rumors. He ran through the hallway in back of him and saw Kirsty—she was hanging on to a doorknob of the room she was in as if there was a hurricane sweeping through the house. He meant to shout her name, but she was suddenly gone from his sight. He took a glance over his shoulder and saw that the swamp things were gaining on him.

When he burst through the bedroom door, he witnessed two scenes that were even too disturbing for mature audiences.

On the left side of the room, two of the swamp things were swinging Roman's naked body against the wall as if he were a rug and they were trying to get all of the dust out. His blood was spattering everywhere. After a few moments his upper torso hung loosely on his waist; Curtis doubted if his buddy had a spine then. On the right side of the room (which had no wall), a swamp thing had Kirsty's nude body in the air by her neck. While she was convulsing, the swamp thing had its other arm shoved down her throat. Some of the mud of its body was traveling to that arm and into her mouth, and her stretched navel began to leak profoundly a blend of blood, flesh, organ tissue, and of course, mud—it reminded him of how cement slithered out of a truck.

Realizing that there was nothing he could do to save Roman or Kirsty, Curtis sprinted for his only exit—the colossal hole in the right wall. As he did, his boot slipped on a small lake of mud and he crashed face first on the white carpet. He wiped blood from his nostrils and rose dizzily, staggering toward the hole in the wall. When he reached his destination, the swamp thing that was hanging upside-down on the side of the house above Kirsty's room threw him into the other wall; a jagged ache throbbed in his back and shoulders.

"Fuck!" Curtis screamed. He was currently furious now—the damned ugly shits weren't letting him leave the house. He looked around and recognized that they were trying to destroy the entire house; some of them were thrashing the other walls down, some of them wrecking and throwing whatever they could get their mucky hands on. None of them were really even paying attention to him, he could see, but if they saw him, they'd certainly attack him.

Curtis waited, watching all eleven of them in this room alone (he was sure that there were plenty more destroying the other sections of the house), taking off his boots so that he could dash faster. When he was confident that the swamp things were all busy and moaning, he pounced onto the bed in his socks, with his boots tight in his hands. As he touched base with the floor again, he made eye contact (more like eye/eye socket contact) with the swamp thing with the grass projecting from his face—the same one that fed Kirsty a muddy supper. It seized him by the head with its huge hand. In anger he swung his fist at the arm, and was stunned that his punch went through the arm. The arm fell to the carpet and formed a puddle.

"Take that, motherfucker!" Curtis barked, confused because he felt tough and scared at the same time. After finally exiting the house through the hole in the wall, he did something that he'd later say was dumb: look back. The swamp thing he fled from held up its easily severed limb. Its arm began to regenerate like that of a starfish, but with enormous speed—it wiggled its bulky fingers and smiled viciously at Curtis. It then murmured something incoherent, rotated, and commenced in the same duty that its kinfolk were doing.

Curtis never forgot that particular smile.

He turned around and ran. He then fell chest-deep into a hole. He moved his legs to and fro and accepted that his feet weren't touching a bottom—if there was one in the first place. His arms were supporting him, for if he pulled them to his body, he'd definitely fall in (thank God that those workout sessions had paid off). Looking around he saw that he wasn't in any danger; dozens of swamp things were tearing down the gray house in a grubby frenzy. They were on the roof, stomping like children with behavioral problems. They were on the sides of the house, pummeling it like gigantic heavy bag. They were inside, lashing out like bodybuilders suffering from roid rage. It was only a matter of precious time when the house would give way and come crashing down like the stock market.

Using all of the strength in his biceps and triceps, Curtis heaved himself out of the hole and ran again, now grimacing at the iciness of the grass and drenched earth under his sock clad feet. When he looked up, there was no ceiling with a crack in the middle of it, but there something much more queer than that. The sky wasn't the murky navy color it regularly was around midnight; the sky he was peering at was a dark olive. Also, the black clouds had sealed the moon away he saw on his way to Pleasantville, the one that wasn't precisely full, but getting there all the same.

He was now in the front yard of the disintegrating house, dodging all of the large excavations in the grass; he guessed that some of the swamp things sprang from them. But why? Or better yet, how?

Out in the middle of the street, a man was smoking a cigarette. Curtis put his boots on and came out into the street, under the orange-yellow streetlight the man was centered in.

"What up, coz?" the man said, smoking the cigarette so coolly that he could lure anyone into smoking just to look as cool. The drizzle didn't even douse the flame at the tip. There was a faint green glow on the damp surface of his body—the same hue as that of the sky hanging above them.

"Who are you?" said Curtis. The man before him looked oddly familiar, as if he had just seen him a week ago. "Were you here the whole time while those swamp things were attacking the house?"

The man giggled and exhaled the smoke to the side. "Who? Do you mean my mud-buddies? Yes, I was here when they approached this house."

"Are you responsible for all of this?" Curtis pulled out his .22 pistol and aimed it squarely between the man's green eyes. He was wondering why he didn't pull it out when the swamp things ambushed the house. He thought about it and concluded that a bullet wasn't going to do a damned thing to those "mud-buddies", as the man called them. "If you are, then I'm gonna blow your brains out. There are two dead bodies in there because of those...those monsters!"

The man stopped puffing and his smile slowly withered away. "Hey, my friend—I'm a clean man. Whatever happened in there is the fault of the mud-buddies—if you want to point a finger, go take it up with them. And you'd do better not to have that gun in my face any longer, or I'll have those mud-buddies come out here in a split second and rip your body into shreds."

Curtis put the gun down and cried. "What are you, some kind of psycho? Those things in there beat the living shit out of my friend and shoved mud down that girl's throat—"

"Who, Kirsty?" His smile returned and he was puffing his cigarette again. "Shit, she was lucky it was mud—if it was dry dirt, it wouldn't have gone down her system in a friendly manner. What can I say? They fed the smutted bitch dirt. She had a dirty little secret, and so did I."

Immediately, Curtis knew who this wise-talking guy was.

"You're name is Hassan McLean, ain't it?" he asked.

"And you're Curtis Vaughn Odom, correct?" The man blew out more smoke, the emerald glow he was enveloped in brightened significantly.

"Rutgers University?"

"Uh-huh, Rutgers. Sorry about your buddy. I guess I was green with envy. I suggest that you don't get yourself caught up in any grimy situation like this in the future. You never know if people know how to use the dark arts."

The man's eyes went from green to dark brown in a flash. The glow he gave off disappeared. He flicked the unfinished cigarette to the curb and said, "I got two more tips. One, clean yourself up—you're a total mess. Two, don't smoke cigarettes because they'll blacken your lungs. That one was my last, 'cause, like I said, I'm a clean man. I just came here to watch my mud-buddies do my dirty work for me so that I could stick to my commitment to live the rest of my life clean. But you have no idea how bad I wanted to strangle the dirty bitch myself. She used to think I didn't know about her past trifling deeds, but I eventually found out. That's why I had to do it. I can't believe I even kissed the bitch...I need to stop cussing."

The man exhaled the last of the cigarette smoke and strolled down the street. Curtis watched him go, noticing the greenness in the sky vanishing with each step the man took. He also realized that the caustic activity of the mud-buddies ceased. Next to the garage, Roman's Expedition had been flipped over and crushed.

When he entered the house through the hole that used to be the door, all he could see was mud; the house looked as if it just about survived a flood. The things really trashed the place. He went into what was left of Kirsty's room and saw her laying on her back on the bed, her navel the size compact disc; the blend that had spilled from it was everywhere, and it stank. Roman was on the left side of the bed, face down, upper torso attached to his waist only by a thin strap of intestines. His blood was all over the plaster on the carpet that once was the left wall.

Outside, a car pulled up into the driveway.

Up in the sky, the waning moon finally allowed itself to be wholly distinguishable.

"I wonder who's gonna clean this mess up," Curtis said, wide-eyed.


Hey there,

In case you're wondering, The Swamp Thing inspired me to write this story of revenge and redemption. I doubt that anyone would have created a horror tale the way I did with swamp monsters. The key to distinguishing your voice in your writing is originality--if you don't have originality, you'll sound just like the next writer. Your readers will put your work down and pick up something else. Once you develop a voice in your writing, you won't have to talk--your written word will talk for you, and that'll tell your readers that you do have a distinct voice of your own, if you know where I'm coming from.

The other thing that inspired me to write this story was the feeling I acquired after I found out that my ex was cheating on me. So, if you desire, you can say that this story is semi-autobiographical in a sense; we all have our dirty little secrets, so here's mine.

What's yours?