Swamped Chapter 10 Page 6

You think back to Sandra.

The two of you had really hit it off, and everything was going so well. Or at least, that’s what you’d thought. Maybe you were just naive; it had only been a few months since you’d left the farm.

But really, even back then you could see the change in her after the fire. You knew she was shaken, even if you didn’t know exactly why.

You thought the best thing was if you were there for her. That maybe you could ease whatever burden she was carrying.

Until, one day, when she vanished.

Her parents said she had gone off traveling, all over the old empire. They had no idea where she was headed next. Or why she hadn’t told you anything.

In its own way, it was even stranger than your father’s disappearance. That’s probably why you tried not to think about it.

That was two years ago. The last time your life was stable, really. You even had a steady job, before the fire at least.

But the damage to the theater was too much, and even if it had stayed open, too few people could afford tickets. There was nothing in that town for you, so you moved on to the capital.

For a year and a half, you camped outside the labor office, taking on odd jobs as they came in. It wasn’t much, but it kept you fed.

Maybe that’s the real reason you approached the Bogknight recruiter when you saw her. Not to find your father, but to find some place to call home.

Your train of thought is interrupted when Nathan comes down.

“Boat’s still there. Walter’s up in the tower, since I don’t usually get a chance to step out. I’ll be bringing the boat here, then Walter’s taking it back. You might as well wait around until then, it’ll get you both back faster than walking.” He smiles a little. “That’s assuming I don’t get ambushed, of course. That’s always a risk.”

“Can I help you out with that?”

“No, I’m just going to swim over to it. Hopefully I won’t run into any greatrats, or anything too nasty. But I suppose you can watch and yell if you see anything behind me. Here.”

He hands you a small device. It looks like a pair of long goggles.

“It’s for looking through, if you haven’t seen them before. Helps you see long distances. Walter’s got a pair too, but he’ll be looking over a wider range.”

With that, Nathan hops into the water. You try on the device, and with a little effort you can spot the boat in the distance. You take the device off, and it’s not even noticeable at all.

It takes a few minutes for Nathan to swim over, but he manages it without incident. He probably doesn’t need you spotting for him now, so you think you may as well put the long goggles to use by glancing around in other directions for anything of note.

What do you see?

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Suggestions:

a sight you’d swore you would never forget; The monster from that night, practically camouflaged into the swamp, just standing there in the morning mist.. staring back at you.

A couple of cool landmarks, like rock formations, uniquely shaped trees
A strange shack made of a type of wood you’ve never seen before, certainly not anything that would grow in a swamp.
Author’s Note:
So now that we’ve seen Marshall has been attracted to men and women, let’s extend that conversation a little and talk about sexuality in Swamped’s world.
Simply put, the norm in this world is that you’re attracted to whoever you’re attracted to, and they don’t bother with trying to categorize. There are people with gender preferences but they’re not really viewed as part of personal identity, and if someone who’s only been attracted to men suddenly finds themselves interested in a woman, this is not something they specifically view as unusual. They think it’s just how things happened to work out.
This is not a statement of “how the real world should be”. The real world has been shaped by a lot of historical developments that have been very harmful to gay people. Being gay in the real world is about more than who you’re attracted to – it’s about how that harmful history has impacted you personally. It absolutely makes sense that people would want to affirm themselves as a way of saying, if nothing else, the world has hurt me but I’m still standing.
But this is a fictional world. And sometimes, real people want fictional worlds that don’t carry over real-world prejudices that impact them. So this is a world where being gay – pan, technically – is completely normalized.
I’m not claiming to revolutionize anything by doing so. I’m not saying I’m doing anywhere near a perfect or even a good job of portraying such a world. But I want to present some idea of what one would look like.