“Must you go out tonight?” Emma’s voice quivered with fear.

“You heard William. Delia’s in hard labor. She won’t make it till morning.”

“The fog’s thick as a bobcat’s fur. A man that gets lost in that won’t see morning, baby or no.”

“William knows his way home, Emma.”

“His homestead’s on the other side of Dead Man’s Swamp.” She grabbed his coattails. “Please Harper, don’t go. Not tonight!”

“William will lead the way with a lantern. Don’t worry, woman!”

Harper stepped out into a pit of blackness. He’d never seen fog like this, especially so late in October. He held out his hand but saw only a grey shadow. Five fingers, three, then none as his hand was swallowed up by the fog. Never mind. His property was surrounded by a fence that led to the edge of the swamp, where William would be waiting with his guiding light. Harper put his left hand on the wooden railing. His right hand held a stout cudgel that tested each step – solid or quagmire. He moved slowly, carefully, not even daring to let go of the wood, simply sliding his hand forward. When he reached the end, he looked around for William.

There – the lantern! Harper breathed a sigh of relief. The light flickered, disappeared, then reappeared a bit further on. William was understandably in a hurry. Harper was just a few steps behind, following him. “William!” He called out, but there was no answer. No doubt William was too preoccupied for idle chatter.

Just follow the light. One step, solid. Watch the light. Next step, solid. Watch the light, veering a bit to the right. Probably a shortcut. Another step, solid. The light flared with a greenish glow. What kind of lantern glowed green? Just as Harper leaned into the next step, he remembered the legends of the will-o-the-wisp – green flickering lights luring travelers into the bog. He lurched backwards, but it was too late. He began sinking into the eerie mire, surrounded now with pale green flames.

“Doc?” William called to him from solid ground, far far away.

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
1 year ago

Ah, great story, Fuji, a riveting read. Very nicely done.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

Hello, Fuji. I really enjoyed reading your story. I also feel the fear as if I am also traveling in the middle of the dark alone. And thanks for the new word “will-o-the-wisp.” Nicely done, Fuji.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Fuji
1 year ago

Yes, it was a great word but creepy. Me too, I wouldn’t go near a swamp.

Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
1 year ago

Ooooh, I was all a shiver from the scary picture onwards! I held my breath reading “Come, Follow.” Well done, Fuji!
Now, I feel that I must look under the bed and in cupboards before retiring for the night! Great atmospheric writing.

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Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart(@melissa-taggart)
1 year ago

“The fog’s thick as a bobcat’s fur” is such a great line. I love the imagery here. I also read your comment below about the quicksand and swamps… I have a fear of them as well! This is a great and spooky story!

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Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
1 year ago

Poor Emma! Her husband didn’t listen to her intuition and therefore she lost him to the swamp. A very visual and well-made story, Fuji. As always, reading your texts, I learned something new. I now know that will-of-the-wisp is an interesting, old phenomenon around swamps, also possible to be used in a metaphorical sense. Thank you!

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
1 year ago

It’s really creepy, causing an unpleasant feeling of fear. Bravo, Fuji.

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Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
1 year ago

I guess because poor Harper thought the pixie-light was William’s, he didn’t think to turn his coat inside out or to stick his knife in the ground blade up…
I love your story, Fuji, and the feeling of suffocating through the thick fog was so real that I had to grab my inhaler! ? 

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Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
Reply to  Fuji
1 year ago

Weeelll… I shouldn’t have revealed any of the counter spells outside of my coven! ? 
Humanity’s fascination with the focus fatuus is a long one and I guess the remedies to fight what people saw as an unexplained phenomenon vary from different cultures over the centuries. I remember my grams telling me about those. But that’s another story… ? 

Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson(@susan-dawson)
1 year ago

Great story, Fuji. I didn’t know the legend.

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