Tag Archives: adoption

The Labyrinth – Friday Fictioneers

copyright Melanie Greenwood

copyright Melanie Greenwood

 The Labyrinth

For years, adoption was our goal. Every form signed was another step through the bureaucratic labyrinth, until we stepped out into open air and he was ours.


“Michael is seeing the school psychologist again today,” I told my friend Brent over coffee. “He still starts fights, and fires.”

“It’s hard being a teenager.”

“Did we make a mistake adopting older? Maybe we should’ve gotten a baby.”

“Don’t tell Michael that.”

“I just feel like we’re back in the maze. I don’t know how to get out this time.”

Brent shrugged. “That’s parenthood. You don’t get out, you just go through.”


Our Darling Swamp Monster, Part 3

This is the final installment of this story. It is told from the point of view of the swamp monster, Khip. The other two parts are: Part 1 and Part 2. Or, if you missed them but don’t have time to read them, here is the synopsis:

Gerardi, who lives next to the Forbidden Swamp finds a spiny, clawed, wide-eyed baby monster and takes it home. He and his wife Melanee raise it until they can’t afford to any longer and release it back into the swamp. Gerardi secretly feeds it anyway and later, starts stealing from his neighbor’s flock to feed it. He goes away for a month, only to return to find that the monster, Khip, has been killing lots of animals, even some people. He goes to find Khip and he leads Gerardi to his mother, a repulsive monster living deep under the ground.

Our Darling Swamp Monster, Part 3

I stand there in that in that nether-hell, partway between the splaying demon that claims to be my mother and the man, Gerardi, who raised me.

Kill him, the monster whispers in my mind. You came from my body long ago and you are mine. Kill him and bring him to me to feed on. I command you.

Curse her commands! It was because of that irresistible call that I brought my dear father here in the first place, as much as I wanted to keep him far away. But I have no voice to speak to him with, to warn him. I take a step towards him, my long claws digging convulsively into the hard dirt with the strain of my internal battle.

“Khip,” he says. That’s my name, the one he and my mother Melanee gave me. It means “special” and I love them for it. The hideous creature behind me who claims parentage over me has no name for me.

“Khip,” he says again, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I caused trouble for all of us and maybe it would have been better if I had not taken you in. Everything is my fault.” I know the meaning of his words but I also see the meaning of his heart and see that he would do it all again if he had the chance.

Do it, the thing behind me whispers in my mind. Kill him now, I am hungry. He is not your father. You have no father.

In that moment, my hatred of the creature burns so hot that her hold on my mind loosens. In an instant, I leap forward and grab up Gerardi, my father, and crash towards the exit tunnel. I hear the repulsive brute behind me screaming her rage into my mind, but I keep going, climbing with hind claws and one arm, while the other carefully grasps my precious human to my scaly chest.

Outside, the night cacophony of the swamp wildlife fills my sensitive ears. I set Gerardi down gently.

“You saved me, Khip,” he said. “Thank you. What was that thing? Was it really your mother?”

No! I want to shout at him, but all I can do is grunt. I long to tell him how I wandered the swamp after I left his house and how her call drew me to her. I did not mind killing and bringing food for her, as long as Gerardi and Melanee were unharmed, but now from his mind I can see that even that has hurt them. There is nothing I can do for my dear parents but leave them.

“Khip, you have to leave this place,” Gerardi says and I see that he is crying. “The people will hunt you down and kill you. You need to get away to safety while there is time.”

Come with me! I want to say, but all that comes out is a more insistent grunt. He doesn’t understand. How is it that I can be so sensitive to his every thought and motivation, while he is so blind to mine?

Finally, I leave, crashing through the underbrush until I reach the water and splash into it. I can feel his grief behind me but my mind is concentrated on my own suffering. I am a monster of unholy seed, driven away from the only family I have ever known. A crocodile swims below me and in my pain and loss, I seize it and eviscerate it with one swipe of my claws.

All night I swim and splash until, just before dawn, I reach the sea. There, I dive deep and breath in new life from the stinging salt water. Only a few days pass before I am a legend of fear among the sea creatures.

I cannot feel the minds of my parents, my dear Gerardi and Melanee. Their minds are only two small lights in a mass of millions. The creature that bore me, I can still feel on the edge of my mind, although from this distance her alluring call is ineffective. I do not know if she can die, but I will wait and if that day does come and I am safe from her mastery forever, then I will return.

This isn't what Khip looks like, but it's the closest picture I could find [*]

This isn’t what Khip looks like, but it’s the closest picture I could find [*]

Our Darling Swamp Monster, Part 2

One day, on his way home from collecting willow bark and reeds, Girardi Kurst made a discovery in a steaming pocket of sludge. It looked at first like a shapeless bag of withered grey leather, but there was a creature inside that loose hide, one with spines and claws and large, wondering eyes. It was a monster but it was also a baby, and he was in a fix whether to leave it or kill it outright. In the end, he brought it home.

Our Darling Swamp Monster, Part 2

The village of Farensfen was gripped with fear as a unknown monster from the Forbidden Swamp slaughtered animals and people and destroyed property. No one had seen it in full light, but there were plenty of stories of its hideous appearance. Every household in the district had suffered loss from it, except for one: that of old Gerardi and Melanee Kurst. Naturally, suspicion had fallen on them, especially on Melanee, since Girardi had been away on a long trip when the attacks had started.

Gerardi could not sleep. There were murmurings in the village that his wife was a witch, who had summoned the monster. He worried about her safety, but he also worried about the safety of Khip, the monster that they had raised and then released back into the swamp when they could no longer afford to keep him.

Khip still loves us, he thought. He has to or he would have attacked us as well. Gerardi did not know if he could somehow convince Khip to go away and leave the area. Sleep refused to come and so finally, he got up and went out into the misty swamp night, a lantern in one hand and a cudgel in the other.

The swamp was full of the sounds of nocturnal life and the shifting, lurid lights of swamp gas and luminous plants. It was another world from its sleepy daylight existence. Now, even the darkness itself seemed alive.

There was a sudden splash and Girardi turned to see white teeth snapping at him in the glow of the lantern. He dodged aside and brought the cudgel down on the head of a huge caiman, stunning it. He killed it with another blow and then continued along the path.

Girardi had been born without fear. Melanee sometimes expressed her amazement that he was still alive, but even she admitted that it was a useful attribute when you lived on the border of the Forbidden Swamp.

He was walking without a plan, but unconsciously, he made his way to the place where he had found Khip’s egg the year before. He reached the clearing and found a trampled area under a large willow. It was full of bones and gore and was swarming with flies and small scavengers. A twig snapped behind him and he turned to see Khip standing at the edge of the clearing, watching him with purple eyes that glowed in the lantern light.

He had almost doubled in size in the months since Girardi had seen him last. He stood on two legs and his back bristled with new spines. His long, knobby hands held half a cow between blood-stained claws.

“Khip, it’s good to see you,” Girardi said and meant it. He wanted to rub his belly and chase him around like he’d done when Khip was a baby, but this was not the time. He was an adult now.

Khip gave a low grunt and set the dismembered cow on the ground. He stepped closer and then, with a tentative gesture, put a hand on the ground in front of Girardi and sat down. Girardi sat as well.

“Khip, this is all my fault,” he said. “I just wanted to feed you, but it seems I did too much. You have to stop killing animals, and especially people. I love you, but you have to go on, to another area. There are wild areas where you can live and hunt in peace. I’m afraid for you. Men will eventually come and they will hunt you.”

Khip looked steadily at him. Girardi had always believed he could understand him and had always spoken as such. Then the monster stood up with a bound and set off through the foliage. Gerardi followed him.

They walked for ten minutes before they left the trail and Khip started up the rocky hill that stood in the middle of the swamp. Halfway up, he reached a hole in the ground, and looking back once at Girardi, disappeared into it. Girardi followed him in without hesitating.

The hole went down steeply into the earth and was slick with mud and tangled with roots. Khip had evidently been here before; he moved quickly downwards, but the walls and roots showed the violence that past trips had inflicted.

The tunnel began to fill with a fetid odor much stronger than the normal swamp smell. It was a stench of decay and something much sweeter and more deadly, it seemed to Girardi. Several hundred feet down, it ended in a large room lit dimly with luminous mushrooms. At one end crouched a monstrosity unlike anything outside of a fevered nightmare. It was in form similar to Khip, although bloated and expanded so that it could not move. For the first time in his life, Girardi had an idea of fear, although even now it was more of a distant realization that a gruesome death was close by.

A voice came from the nightmarish creature. “You have aided my son and for this I thank you. But now, you must die.”

(to be continued)

Our Darling Swamp Monster

Every now and then, my friend Sharmishtha posts the beginning of a story for others to complete, if they wish. I do them sometimes and this is one of them. I have taken the main idea, but changed it slightly. Here is her original prompt:

Late at night they could hear his roar, at a distance. They still remember when that little bundle of fur landed in their life, mother killed by a poacher, two cubs left to perish. It was their sheer luck that a woodcutter found them. How they struggled to keep him warm and alive, the second one perished hours after being rescued.

How hard it was for them to decide that they will have to let him go. The sleepless nights they passed after his release. Now… they miss him but are happy for him.

Now, here’s my story:


Our Darling Swamp Monster

They didn’t call it the Forbidden Swamp for nothing, although the worst that Gerardi had ever found there were will-o-the-wisps and exploding swamp gas. But then one day, on his way home from collecting willow bark and reeds, he made a discovery in a steaming pocket of sludge. It looked at first like a shapeless bag of withered grey leather, but there was a creature inside that loose hide, one with spines and claws and large, wondering eyes. It was a monster but it was also a baby, and he was in a fix whether to leave it or kill it outright. In the end, he brought it home.

His wife Melanee was taken with it right away and they name it Khip, which meant “special” in their language. They kept it in a box by the fire, until the heat burned it. Then they kept it in the barn for the next year until it started killing the goats. It had lived on pulped poisonroot, but now it would only eat raw meat and soon, they could not afford to keep it. So, Gerardi sorrowfully took Khip out into the swamp and let it go.

*         *         *

“I wonder if he’s hungry,” Melanee said. It had been a month since Khip had gone.

“Stop asking that,” Gerardi said. “He can take care of himself out there. You shouldn’t worry about him.”

“I know, but I miss him,” she said.

“I miss him too. Let me go out and take care of the animals. I’ll be back soon.” He went out and fed the goats and other animals. Then, he retrieved the half a goat he had saved from when he had killed it a week ago. He carried it out to the edge of the swamp and placed it where he had put food every week since he had let Khip go. The meat always disappeared and he recognized Khip’s distinctive tracks in the soft dirt.

He knew it could not continue like this forever. Just to get him settled, he thought, but that is what he had said for the first week and he was still bringing food out to the edge of the swamp. Just a little more.

Soon he realized he had to stop. He did not have enough goats to sacrifice one every two weeks and if he continued, he would soon not have enough to expand the herd. So, one dark night he snuck up to his neighbor’s house and stole a goat. His neighbor had ten times more goats than Gerardi did. After this, he went and stole a goat every two weeks from his neighbor and then listened sympathetically as the man complained bitterly about goat thieves and wild animals.

Once a year, Gerardi made a trip to the capital to trade his medicinal herbs and other swamp products for things they needed. It was a long trip, almost two weeks each way and so just before he left, Gerardi stole two goats from his neighbor. One he killed and left in the usual spot, while the other, he killed and left a trail of blood leading back towards his neighbors house. He left the other dead goat nearby. This way, he thought, Khip could go get his own goats if for some reason Gerardi was late and missed bringing him his food.

The trip was a success and Gerardi returned with many beautiful and necessary things. However, he found the area in an uproar when he returned. “There is a monster lurking in the swamp,” people said. “All sorts of animals have gone missing.”

Gerardi hurried home and was relieved to find everything in order and his wife healthy. Still, not everything was fine.

“It has been terrible, the last few weeks,” Melanee said, holding his hand. “It has to be Khip doing all this, but still I’m afraid for him. Also, people have noticed that we are untouched, even though we live on the edge of the swamp. They are becoming suspicious.”

The next day, Gerardi went into the village, where he heard more news of the attacks. “It was mostly animals at first,” they said, “but now, a couple of people have gone missing too and old Ramses’ barn was ripped to bits. It’s the work of a monster.”

Most people were glad to see Gerardi back, but not everyone. He got some strange looks and questions about his wife and if they had lost any property. He lied and said they had, but still, it was clear that some people suspected Melanee of somehow being behind everything. He was leaving the market when he heard the word witch rise out of a conversation behind him. It was a terrifying word.

(to be concluded soon)

Tao Talk

Taotalk is a forum for the discussion of both the academic and pragmatic aspects of dao and Daoism, with participants expressing themselves on Daoist writings and pragmatics from their unique perspectives. It serves as a community for Daoists, and those interested in Daoism, to gather and talk dao.

H J Musk

Taking on the world one story at a time ...

CG Express

Writing, Musing, Sharing

Bridgette Tales

Everybody has a story. Here's a little of mine.

Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha

Musings and books from a grunty overthinker

Rolling Boxcars

Where Gaming Comes at you like a Freight Train

Lady Jabberwocky

Write with Heart

Fatima Fakier

| Self-actualisation | Achieve your potential

The Pinay Ajumma

just sharing

The Green-Walled Treehouse

Explore . Imagine . Create

One Minute Office Magic

Learning new Microsoft Office tricks in "just a minute"


Just grin and bear it awhile

Linda's Bible Study

Come study God's Word with me!

Haden Clark

Better conversations toward a better tomorrow.

Citizen Tom

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Mount Vernon, Ohio.

The Green-Walled Chapel

Writings on Faith, Religion and Philosophy

To Be A Magician

A fiction blog of funny and dark stories

My music canvas

you + me + music

Eve In Korea

My Adventures As An ESL Teacher In South Korea

Luna's Writing Journal

A Place for my Fiction

Upper Iowa University

Center for International Education

Here's To Being Human

Living life as a human


Book Reviewer and Blogger


kitten loves the world

Strolling South America

10 countries, 675 days, 38,540km

It's All in Finding the Right Words

The Eternal Search to Find One's Self: Flash Fiction and Beyond

Reflections Of Life's Journey

Lessons, Joys, Blessings, Friendships, Heartaches, Hardships , Special Moments

A Writer's Path

Sharing writing tips, information, and advice.

Chris Green Stories

The Best Short Stories on the Internet

Finding Myself Through Writing

Writing Habits of Elle Knowles - Author


Inspiring mental health through creative arts and friendly interactions. (Award free blog)


Straight up with a twist– Because life is too short to be subtle!

Unmapped Country within Us

Emily Livingstone, Author

Silkpurseproductions's Blog

The art of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

BJ Writes

My online repository for works in progress


she is confidence in shadows.

Musings on Life & Experience

Poetry, Fiction, & Non-Fiction Writings

Outside The Lines

Fun readings about Color, Art and Segmation!


a Photo Blog, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to dear dirty New York

%d bloggers like this: