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It was dark on that winter night in 1834, mainly because the ship smuggling supplies through the Louisiana swamp had no lanterns lit to avoid detection. No one was really bothered by this, except for David, the captain’s first mate.
“Sir, we really should light a lantern,” he said in a trembling voice.
“Why? We are still too close to town, and we're almost out of the swamp,” the captain questioned. “Are you trying to get us caught boy?”
David physically recoiled from the captain, as if punched. “N-no, sir!” he stammered, “but these swamps, they are cursed! Few make it through alive, and those who do speak of a demon who glides through the water like a snake, and drinks the sweet blood of the living.”
The captain started at this talk from David. The normally meek and shy boy was now speaking like some demonic preacher. And he was intrigued by his story. “Go on.”
“They say his mouth is the entrance to hell, and his hands look like long daggers with webbing between them. His arms are long enough to wrap all the way around a body, able to squeeze it in two. His body looks like a skeleton that is wrapped in sea weed and moss, so he can blend into the swamp easily. But the worst part is his eyes. His eyes are of the blackest light with no stars to illuminate them. He will stare down his prey, making them wish they were dead so they no longer have to stare into oblivion, and he grants their wish.”
“After he has drained all the life from the crew” he continued, “he digs a mass grave and buries all the bodies together. That is why you find many ships abandoned, no crew, no bodies, just bloodied walls, beds, and floors.”
The captain, being a reasonable man, didn't want to think that some demon was going to climb aboard and kill all of his crew, “You need some sleep, David. All those books you read are starting to go to your head. Now go set some shut-eye and send up the next watch.” So he dismissed David and the ship continued through the swamp towards the Gulf.
Little did they know, The Digger had heard the entire conversation, and was quite amused.
So they don’t expect me, except that youngling... maybe I’ll let him live, so he can tell his tale to the other prey, thought the Digger. Yes, that is exactly what I will do, but not before I have my dinner.
He crept silently on board, only making the soft squish, squish, squish, as his reptilian feet slapped against the hard deck of the ship. He crept behind a group of barrels and peeked out from behind them, his cat-like eyes glowing softly in the perpetual night. He spotted a door that had been left slightly ajar. He could see the soft light of a lantern and hear people talking through the crack.
They almost make this too easy for me. He moved quickly to the door, and fanned his giant webbed hand through the opening, effectively blowing out the lantern and startling everyone inside. He heard several chairs grinding against wood as several of them got up, and made their way to the door.
All. Too. Easy. As the first of the sailors opened the door, the Digger jumped on him, biting into his neck. He didn't even have time to scream. Instead, he let out what sounded like a deep gurgling moan as all the others either jumped back, cursing, or just stood in place, paralyzed in fear.
As the Digger stood up from the dead sailor he looked over to where they were bunching together, cowering like rabbits. The Digger made the closest thing to a smile he could as he slouched slowly towards them.
“What is that thing?!”
“Who cares, just run!”
“AHHHHHH! It got me!”
It wasn't long before the Digger had killed all but two of the crew members, David and the captain.
As the Digger lashed out, he caught the last sailor on the neck with one of his dagger like fingers, cutting his jugular veins and causing the walls and floor in front of him to be stained in a brilliant red. As David looked back to see the gruesome spectacle, he couldn't help from vomiting on the floor. As he leaned against the hallway, he thought he heard the captain shout something before the creature jumped on him, latching itself to his neck, and drinking his blood. David vomited again, and passed out.
When he came to him, he was in the exact same place he was when he passed out, in a blood stained hallway. The captains' and some other sailor’s corpse in the hallway, white as a sheet from the amount of blood loss. He then noticed a faint sound of breathing that was now his own. As he looked to his left, he saw it. The creature was covered in blood and had more dripping from a gaping chasm lined with teeth that David assumed was its mouth. It was crouching not more than six inches from him and he could smell the disgusting stench of decay as the creature's breath wafted toward him. He didn't know what he was looking at until his gaze drifted up to its eyes. When he realized he was looking into a black chasm of death and despair, he knew who he was looking at, and he groaned.
“La Pelleteuse,” he mumbled, “The Digger.”
“Yessssssss,” the creature hissed, seeming amused that David knew who he was. “I am the one you speak of, and I have a request for you.”
David said nothing, still dizzy from vomiting twice, he faintly acknowledged that a fire had started somewhere below deck.
“I’ll let you live”, the creature hissed, “All you have to do is tell all of the other prey to stay out of my swamp. Do this, and I won’t hunt you down and finish what I started.” David, more alert now realized what the creature was saying.
“That’s right David, that’s all you need to do,” the Digger emphasized “David” to show him it knew his name.
David recoiled from the creature, fully aware now. It took all but a few seconds to jump up and off of the ship, hitting the water and swimming as fast as he could towards town. When he reached a small patch of land under a tree, he looked back. He could see that all the bodies other than that of the captains and the other sailors were all in a large pile on the opposite bank, Right next to a huge hole in the ground. David heaved, but had nothing left in him. So he just got back up and ran towards town as fast as he could.
As Digger slouched away, he looked back at the ship. It was fully ablaze now, the entire thing a wailing funeral pyre on the water. His black eyes wandered over to the freshly dug soil, indicating where all the bodies of the sailors were buried, all save but one, that…
“David,” hissed Digger to himself as he slouched away, back into the blackness of the Louisiana swamp.