We Meet Benedict
Benedict was a terrified man, terrified of just living his life. Or, more accurately, he was not terrified of life itself, but of missing his ‘chance’ in life. His whole life had been one immense period of worrying that he would miss it, so as you can imagine, Benedict was a very miserable and nervous man indeed.
Benedict was originally from that wild, scrubby, brambly part of the north-east. His parents, two miserable, tired people, tired of life and living life without a point, took him to Louisiana to live in when he was seven years old. It was there in that tiny, forgotten town on a tiny, forgotten road they moved to that many of the things of his future were put into motion, and, in fact, that terror of missing his chance first settled in his soul there.
There were many queer things in the swamps in the area which Benedict and his parents moved to. Strange things seemed to congregate there, and bring hordes of stories and tall tales with them. Some of the most frequently told tales included the one of the lady that choked in her sleep on six frogs that battled each other to stay in her mouth (Benedict never understood how the story-tellers knew the frogs fought in her mouth if nobody saw it, for surely nobody saw it or they would have helped the poor lady); the seven-foot-tall mad swamp hermit who killed three people to feed to his ‘pet’ alligators (which he was rumored to have had ‘relations’ with); the screams of a particular banshee that lived along Coteaux Bayou (which was agreed upon to be made by male muskrats fighting); and whole hosts of stories centering on eerie and mysterious huge black shapes lurking in the deepest bayous and darkest sloughs. But nothing else starred in these tales like willow-wisps did. The name was a blanket term for strange lights that moved around in the swamps. There was very little pattern in the lights; some were small as a man’s clenched fists, while some few were as big as people. Some glided steadily close to the ground, some swung around just like lanterns a person was carrying, some flew around in random bee-lines, and some just floated in one spot. They came in any number of colors, and some even changed colors as they went. Nobody was quite sure how to explain these willow-wisps. Father Etienne, the catholic priest of the town, insisted that they were demons, sent by Lucifer himself to lure men to distraction and cause them to miss their chance. Some conjectured that they were ghosts; others thought that perhaps they were signs of impeding doom, others that they were somehow tied to voodoo magic rites. It had become almost a sort of contest between the towns folk to see who could sight the largest willow-wisp, brightest, most colorful, and so on. Father Etienne kept documentation of the record sightings as bragging rights.
But it’s not as if the lights were all over the place, or easy to see. Being that they were in the darkest, deepest part of the swamps, that left very few people around to see them. Many of the lights were very faint or flickered, and could only be seen on a dark night. Nor did they appear frequently; sometimes nobody would see a willow-wisp for weeks at a time. Willow-wisps almost never came near other light sources, which meant they never came into the main town, which meant, in turn, that Benedict and his parents never saw any. But that didn’t keep Benedict from wondering about them. Just the word ‘willow-wisp’ would attract Benedict like nothing else could.
Edited by man_in_mudboots, 03 October 2004 - 03:02 PM.