Certain factors in life needed to be explored. This time, it involved a familiar myth about a local swampy area. Something about finding your destiny’s path.
This case needed further investigation due to the large number of unexplained disappearances. The swamp gas turned hallucinogenic or the local wildlife attacked the people had been theorized but not proven. Hence the need to explore the area.
I arrived at the swamp, got out of my Jeep, and went towards the dock. I had the urge to sing row row row your boat when I got in. If only I remembered to use bug spray. They had a feast.
Ripples in the water did not come from my boat or anything that swam. That was my first clue. The residents knew about the gators in here. They somehow had an extended life span whenever they started to live in this swamp. Ask anyone and an alligator named Ol’ Gold Tooth had to be about a hundred and ten years old.
No report had been able to prove that because people vanished without a trace, and because of the huge population of alligators, no body ever showed up anywhere.
Cattails and barnyard grass grew thick on either side. Muskrats ran in between them. I could only guess they noticed me and thought of me as a predator. Mud hens swam on the side of me.
Bald cypress branches provided cover from the sun making that only visible if I looked straight ahead. Moss hung from the branches, which might be where the local insect population flourished.
Dragonflies and darning needles flew around me. One even hovered in front of my eyes as if to guide me down this watery trail.
An environment all its own. Every flora and fauna seemed to have a set of rules to follow. This area could very well survive on its own and may have.
It got darker as I went further down this watery trail. As much as I enjoyed observing, there was a job to do. If there was only a way to gain more information than what I did when I arrived here in town. People shied away when I asked them questions. One old man warned me to never come for fear the swamp would swallow me whole.
The story told of a spirit that arose from the trees to point the way to either the end of the watery trail or to your doom. The old folks suggested nothing but a story. Some stated they had no idea such a tale existed. One old man told me something somebody came up with to lure everyone away from the gold at the end of the rainbow.
A lone tree in the middle provided the perfect place for me to turn around so I could get back. Some cases required time and a lot of patience. I had more time than I did patience, and since nothing happened, there was no need to stay.
I stopped rowing. What? Nobody knew my real name. People around me always called me Jo. I didn’t want to be associated with Dolly Parton’s song. Nice song but still….
There it was again. My intention was to observe and write a report of my conclusions to be turned in for further research if required later. I couldn’t go on with this voice calling me.
I blocked out the call to concentrate better. The trees thinned as I went along. The wildlife became sparse. Even the mosquitoes up and vanished.
Jolene. You know the way.
No. No. There had to be a good logical scientific justification. Past cases mentioned stories about haunted buildings and land. Often those stories proved to be genuine while a few had been a product of a wild tale.
I kept going. “Gramma, is that you?” She would be only one who called me that. Then again, she died last year due to a heart attack.
Jolene. Remember. Once around the tree and twice around the sun. Three times to board. The fourth to lead the way.
I stopped and thought about the message. It did sound familiar. Everybody knew the one to four riddle but no one in town had been able to decipher it.
There had to be meaning to that riddle as was often the fact. It could mean nothing but something deep inside of me screamed at me not to ignore it. Not that I could, there was no way to know what it meant.
A bird squawked and circled above me. Not knowing what else to do, I followed it to wherever it led me.
I followed the bird to a grassy area. No sign of swamp gas either. I went for it and got out of that boat. Not sure if the swamp did get to me, I lost my mind, or all of the above as I walked straight up the hill.
Nothing there. I turned back around to get back in the boat and it disappeared. As in vanished, as in no longer in existence so how the hell was I going to get home.
The house up ahead looked brand new. The windows still unbroken, the front porch didn’t have any big holes in it, and the building itself didn’t need any repairs. Experience told me to be cautious. The neat and elegant house meant nothing.
I knocked on the door and a tall women, compared to my four foot ten stature, with straight and shiny black hair answered. Those gorgeous eyes drew me in. No description could fit other than they drew me in. Did I say drew me in twice? My mind left me.
She grabbed my hand and brought me in. Could that happen? I had no idea what went on or if I had any mental capabilities.
Something hypnotized me. She not only hypnotized me but an unseen hand pushed me inside. I had no life here, so there had to be another explanation for this.
“Jolene,” she said. “You arrived.”
I shook my head. “I came to investigate—”
“Shh. No time for that. I am Kay. You have arrived to fulfill your destiny.” She kissed my hand.