Primordially Yours by C. L. Sidell

The dreams begin with Dixie’s first menstrual cycle: 

Thick trees with spidery limbs overhanging an almost-rotted boardwalk; moss-like fog giving everything a bluish-grey complexion; a muddy bed on both sides, sizable enough to serve as a reptilian’s den; a lullaby of chorusing crickets… 

And then: 

The planks dissolving into a body of water; air hot and putrid as dragon’s breath on her cheeks; undulations in the murky surface; cattails obscuring whatever aquatic life lurks within; the huff-grunting of something large creeping close…

She awakens from these nocturnal impressions mystified, strangely bereft, and clutching her bed sheets.

Something out there is waiting for her, she can sense it.

Born near cornfields tilled beneath wide-open skies, there’s nothing in Dixie’s daily life suggestive of marshlands. As she approaches adulthood, the dreams gradually fade. She forgets about them altogether by the time she’s twenty.

“Hey, check out this bed-and-breakfast.” Brianne, Dixie’s best friend from high school, texts her the link.

“Florida?” Dixie bites her bottom lip. “Won’t it be a sauna in June?”

“There’s a pool,” Brianne replies. “We’ll pack suits.”

They fly to Orlando two months later, shove their luggage into a rental, and drive almost an hour and a half to Ocala. 

Dixie’s breath catches when they reach their destination–a three-story Victorian-style home that practically blends into the sky with its baby blue exterior and soft pink shutters. It’s situated on a lake that disappears into swampland. 

“See that boardwalk?” Brianne points toward the bank. “There’s tons of hiking trails around here.”

Dixie slaps her neck. “And mosquitoes to go with them.”

They spend the afternoon unpacking, then relax with an evening dip in the pool, topped off with Bahama Mamas at the in-house bar.

Dixie awakens at 3 a.m., surprised to find herself standing before a window looking out at the water. An old feeling surfaces. She doesn’t recognize it at first–it’s been so long. She squeezes her fists. The déjà vu is overwhelming now. The lake… All she knows is that she needs to be out there. Slipping on her tennis shoes, she heads outside.

The boardwalk creaks when she steps on it.

Her gaze alights on a sign, bathed in bright moonlight. A thick-lined arrow burned into the wood points left. Yellow letters read: .25 Miles to Pier. 

Float-walking through a humid haze, she soon reaches a three-pronged fork in the path. Following another arrow, she turns right. 

The guardrails disappear, replaced by a wooden curb. 

She peers over the edge, considering. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she recognizes that she’s not fully conscious. If she were, the black sludge would fill her with dread. Or at the very least, a healthy amount of uncertainty. But in her waking dream state, she’s not really thinking at all.

Guided by instinct, she lowers her shoes into the muck. The scent of decay climbs up her nostrils as she sloshes forward, blending with the earthy aromas of mud and moss. 

The guardrail reappears. She trails her fingertips along the rough-hewn surface, oblivious to the pain when she catches a splinter in her ring finger. The water gradually rises to her ankles, then her knees. 

She pauses, inhales deeply, and continues. 

By the time she’s waist-deep in water, the pier is above her and she can no longer reach the guardrail. Gazing across the water, she notices two yellow discs reflected in the moonlight. They glide steadily toward her–the inky water surrounding them barely rippling.

Dixie’s heart squeezes, but she’s not afraid.

The creature stills at the foot of the pier, fat tail swishing to and fro. It stares at her for several long seconds, then lifts its head and emits its prehistoric song. A series of bass notes that hook into Dixie’s shoulder blades and pull.


Warmth permeates Dixie as she lowers her hands into the water, wades forward. Presses her fingertips along cool reptilian skin, touches the sharpness of its teeth. Leaning closer, she caresses its thick tongue. Drinks its hot, rancid breath.


The creature’s huff-grunting vibrates her entire being.


“It’s you,” Dixie sigh-murmurs.

The night becomes clearer as her pupils widen, devouring the whites in her eyes. By the time they reach the swamplands, nothing recognizably human remains in Dixie–except for a vague impression of wide-open skies and tilled cornfields.

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