Swamp Thing: What Friends are For, Chapter 1: Escape from Grim Island

by Earth Elemental 99, with Martin Maenza

Return to chapter list

Continued from The Books of Magic: Rise of the Bloody Moon

In the wee hours before daybreak, Abigail Arcane Cable stirred from her slumber. “Valentine’s Day,” she murmured sadly, not even needing to glance at the calendar to know the significance of the date. It was meant to be a day of love and joy, but for Abby, it only served to remind her of her own loneliness.

Throwing on a two-piece bathing suit, Abby made her way to the beach. Perhaps a morning jog will clear my head, she thought as she took off running. The tropical paradise that surrounded her was untouched by the world, with only the occasional seabird as her companion. She relished the solitude, finding solace in the rhythmic sound of the waves crashing against the shore.

As the glorious sunrise began to bathe the island in its golden light, Abby made her way back to her bungalow for a quick shower and some breakfast. Rose Psychic, her roommate and dear friend, had thoughtfully prepared a meal for her. Abby couldn’t help but feel grateful for the small acts of kindness that brightened her otherwise solitary existence.

Dressed and ready for the day ahead, Abby prepared herself for yet another teaching session at the Grimoire Academy of Applied Knowledge. It was a unique and rewarding educational experience, but deep down, the beautiful Eastern European woman with platinum-blonde hair longed for her beloved Louisiana, particularly the familiar bayou that she had come to call home. For the past six weeks she had made a new home here on Grimoire Island, where she was known to students and staff alike as Mrs. Cable, botanical studies instructor. Grimoire Island may have been brimming with magical wonders and secrets, but it was starting to wear her down.

Time flew by too quickly, and soon it was time for her first morning lecture. Abby made her way through the forested area, her preferred spot for teaching. Surrounded by nature, the natural harmonies brought her lessons to life, captivating her students in ways a typical classroom could never achieve.

Now, Abby was seated confidently, her silky legs and bare feet crossed, her mind focused on the task ahead. Dressed in a white blouse and dark slacks, she longed for the freedom of a simple bikini top and cutoff shorts, but the strict rules of the academy dictated otherwise. Mr. Gallowglass had made it clear that appearances mattered, and Abby reluctantly complied.

Her students, the first-years, were gathered around her in a peaceful meditation. Today’s lesson had nothing to do with botany, but rather with the art of meditation. Grimoire Academy may not have specialized in magic, but it held a special place for the magically gifted Homo Magi students, who required unique attention and nurturing. Abby had willingly volunteered to teach them what she could, drawing on her limited knowledge of meditation. After much persuasion, the headmaster had allowed Abby to offer five sessions of the class as an elective, much to her relief.

In the enchanting forest clearing as Abby began her lesson, she couldn’t help but feel a glimmer of hope. Perhaps, amidst the magical wonders and untold mysteries of Grimoire Island, there was a chance for her to find purpose and happiness once again. The young woman addressed a group of eager students, her words flowing effortlessly as she imparted her hard-earned wisdom upon them.

“Meditation,” Abby began, her voice captivating the students, “is the wellspring of concentration that will allow you to harness your imminent Homo Magi skills. It grants you a complete sense of being and inner peace, serving as the foundation for all your coming gifts. But remember, practice is key to perfecting your meditation. Much like swimming and diving underwater, which I often do, fully immersing yourself in meditation grants you unparalleled freedom and a natural high. Some refer to it as zen, a moment of cosmic awareness.”

Observing the captive audience, Abby’s eyes twinkled with anticipation. Mornings are good, she thought wistfully. Nobody’s bored yet. However, amidst the attentive students, she noticed a dark-suited figure lurking at the edge of the clearing.

It was none other than Mr. Gallowglass, a man who never failed to stir emotions of unrest within Abby. Masking her disdain, she decided to press on with her advisory lecture.

Intriguingly, Abby shared details about her own journey of self-discovery. “In my late teens,” she confessed, “I first discovered my affinity with nature. Empathizing with the emotions of others had always been a part of me since childhood, but it was as I grew older that I channeled this gift into becoming my village’s sole medic. The power to heal came naturally to me, forging a deep bond with my patients. Perhaps the strongest of these bonds was my spiritual connection with Alec Holland.”

Crossing her arms, Abby sensed the confusion fermenting among the students. “The Swamp Thing,” she whispered tenderly, “was my second husband, after Matthew Cable. Despite the rumors you may have heard, he possessed the heart and soul of a true man. He was a good and honorable supernatural being. I loved him fiercely, as any wife would.”

Resolute, Abby turned her attention to the shimmering waters of the lagoon that lay before them, a beacon promising solace in the face of adversity. “All right, meditation’s over,” she announced with a renewed vigor. “Everyone, remove your shoes. Boys, roll up your trousers.” She followed her own instructions, adjusting her attire accordingly. “Perfect. Now, let us journey to the lagoon, where we shall marvel at the wondrous plant life that thrives beneath the water’s surface.”

While guiding the students toward the water, Abby couldn’t help but notice Gallowglass receding into the distance, retreating back toward the buildings. His disapproving stance only fueled her determination. “Watch your step,” she cautioned, concern lacing her voice. “The creek beds hide sharp rocks, and the poison ivy and ragweed thickets conceal their own dangers. Don’t let yourselves get lost among the willows. Stay on the paths, keep up the pace, and above all, don’t be tardy!”

After hours of exploration and explanation, Abby dismissed her students, casting a contented gaze upon their retreating figures. Adjusting her own attire, she observed the sun’s position in the sky. It’s almost noon, she realized. I’d better get to that meeting with Gallowglass. With a determined stride, Abby set off, ready to face whatever challenges awaited her with the strange, abrasive, one-eyed headmaster.


Abby Cable had come to the painful realization that her entrapment on the island was no longer a temporary inconvenience, but a lengthy confinement until the so-called mid-year break beginning two and a half months from now on May 1st. However, it wasn’t just the bleak prospect of being trapped that angered her the most. What truly terrified her were the unsettling changes she witnessed in her students. They were vanishing without a trace, and the school offered no explanations, just deceit and threats. Other strange occurrences had begun to unfold as well.

Abby couldn’t bear it any longer. She mustered up the courage to ask, politely at first, to be allowed to leave, even if it meant never returning. The island had become a place of misery and fear, and she yearned for release. However, Gallowglass, the headmaster, responded only with condescension and threats. He seemed to revel in belittling her, always using his words as a weapon to gain the upper hand in any argument.

But not this time. Abby had reached her breaking point.

“What on earth is going on at this school?” Abby’s voice trembled with rage as she confronted Gallowglass, who stood before her, indifferent to her concerns. “If you’ve harmed Joshua or Alfred in any way, I promise you, I’ll expose you to the authorities. Child abuse is a crime!”

Gareth Gallowglass chuckled in exasperation, turning to his allies, Rose Psychic and Emma Peel, who appeared from Abby’s viewpoint to fully support all his tyrannical commands. “Can you believe she actually thinks I owe her an explanation for everything that goes on at this academy?”

Abby couldn’t help but feel betrayed in particular by her roommate Rose, whom she’d assumed to be a dear friend until this moment. Why wouldn’t she stand up for her? Of course, Rose Psychic had already been at the island for some years now, so she must have seen far worse in that time, yet did nothing about it then, either. Abby was becoming convinced that the headmaster’s mere presence was toxic, a corrupting force for anyone remaining on Grimoire Island for too long.

Facing Abby once more, his tone dripped with menace. “Frankly, Mrs. Cable, you’re beginning to sound like a deranged lunatic. Should I remind you that you are the only member of the faculty here with a criminal record? A desperate, bail-jumping deviant in the eyes of the law such as yourself should think twice before making baseless accusations, Mrs. Cable — especially after I put my own reputation on the line by giving you a second chance when no one else dared hire you! Your behavior of late has been reckless, such as inappropriately sharing details about your personal life with our youngest students, and there will be consequences if you refuse to strictly adhere to the teaching contract and code of conduct you signed when we brought you on as a member of the faculty. As for the disciplinary measures on this island, that decision rests solely with me. Do not forget that you are not exempt from certain modes of punishment, either.”

“Why, you son of a–!” Abby sputtered, her fury reaching its peak. “Are you actually threatening me, you — you bastard?!”

“Leave my office at once!” Gallowglass barked, refusing to entertain any further discussion. “I won’t tolerate another word from you! You are bound by contract, and that is final!”

With her heart pounding, Abby stormed out of the office, her sandals echoing with each determined step. As she emerged from the main building, the weight of the situation bore down on her. She stood there, grappling with her thoughts, trying to figure out her next move.

“Now what?” she whispered to herself. Everything she held dear — her personal rights, her freedom, and her sanity — were now at stake. These were the precious fragments of her life she clung to, especially after the loss of her beloved Alec.

Simon Belmont had always been observant, with his keen eyes able to catch even the most inconspicuous of movements. When he spotted Abby Cable exiting Gallowglass’ chambers, something within him urged him to call her over. As she approached, he leaned in and whispered something that only she could hear. Abby nodded in response, a glimmer of hope shining in her eyes.

Eager to escape the weight of her current situation, Abby quickly retreated to her room. She shed her formal attire and stepped into the refreshing embrace of the shower. The water cascading over her skin provided a temporary respite from the troubles that plagued her mind. But as she finished and emerged, the weight of her responsibilities still lingered.

Determined to find solace, Abby made her way to the serene jungle lagoon. Dressed in a simple bikini and barefooted, she trekked the familiar trails along the beach, preparing herself for her final outdoor session with her students. Yet, no matter how much she tried to immerse herself in the surroundings, her previous joy and fulfillment eluded her. All Abby desired now was to return home. It was what Alec would have wanted — her happiness above all else.

Returning to her room, Abby swiftly donned her formal clothing once more and began packing her belongings. She knew that Simon Belmont’s promise was her only hope for escape. With the window of opportunity open, she couldn’t afford to hesitate. Stepping outside, her confident feet carried her across the grounds with purpose.

Abby’s heart raced as she ventured into the Clock Tower, a place that held many secrets as she had discovered in recent weeks. Belmont awaited her presence, his eyes filled with urgency.

“Hurry inside,” the old man whispered urgently, ushering her in. “We must move swiftly before we raise any suspicion!”

Abby stared at Belmont, her voice laced with doubt. “If what you offered me earlier holds true, it could put you at great risk against Gallowglass.”

“Bah!” Belmont scoffed. “The risk is minuscule compared to what I’ve endured. Do we have a deal?”

Though hesitant, Abby knew that the chance to escape this place outweighed all else. She looked at Belmont with determination. “You help me with what I want, and in return, I promise to do you a favor sometime in the future.”

Belmont’s eyes lit up with satisfaction. “Yes, yes,” he said impatiently. “Do you agree?”

Knowing deep within that this was her ticket to freedom, Abby gave him a resolute nod. “Yes, I agree.”

Satisfied with her answer, Belmont approached the mystical clock and activated it. A shimmering portal began to materialize before their eyes. As the vision within the portal became clearer, Abby caught sight of the familiar bayou swamps that she had once called home. “Louisiana, you said?”

“Yes,” she replied. “Houma.”

“Then Houma it is,” Belmont said with a chuckle. “Hurry now, hurry!” he urged, excitement evident in his voice. “Through the portal you go.”

Reaching for the small bag of belongings she had managed to gather discreetly, Abby held it close to her chest. She knew that material possessions could be replaced, but the freedom she sought was priceless. “Thank you, Belmont,” she whispered gratefully, before stepping through the portal and disappearing from sight.

Belmont grinned with satisfaction as he deactivated the mystical doorway. The path to freedom had been paved, and he had played his part for an eventual price of his own choosing.


Evening settled over Abby Cable’s residence in Houma, Louisiana, casting a veil of tranquility over the events that had unfolded on this fateful Valentine’s Day. After weeks fraught with uncertainty, lies, and danger, Abby had managed to escape the clutches of Grimoire Island and its fear-inducing headmaster. She had broken free from the chains of her obligations, relieved to have averted yet another horror show in her life.

Lost in thought, Abby pondered the meeting with Gallowglass that she had attended earlier that day, an inconspicuous gathering that held far more importance than it initially seemed. It was the last thing I would ever do at that school, but I needed to do it, she mused, her mind dwelling on the crucial role it had played in securing her freedom.

If only someone had come to her rescue, a gallant hero like those she admired from the Justice League, the sharp-tongued John Constantine, or even her cherished Swamp Thing. But her beloved Alec was gone, a painful memory etched in her lonely heart. Abby knew she could only rely on herself to escape this nightmare.

The recent visit from Adam Strange to the island had stirred something within Abby, underscoring the urgency of the situation. Her suspicions remained steadfast, her belief that every innocent child trapped in that dreadful place would meet a grim fate. As for the teachers she had once trusted, Abby had little doubt that they, too, would face damnation. Thoughts of the gentle giant Adam Frankenstein, the wondrous Timothy Hunter, and even her roommate Rose Psychic tugged at her heart, prompting her to bow her head in silent prayer for their well-being.

“Horror seems to follow me everywhere I go,” Abby admitted with a heavy sigh. “But at least this time, I managed to walk away.” The memories of her torture at the hands of her uncle, the monstrous Anton Arcane, resurfaced, a chilling reminder of the darkness she had endured. Abby knew all too well that Mr. Gallowglass and his lackeys would be condemned for their heinous sins, consigned to the depths of Hell. But they would not go alone — the cursed children trapped on that desolate island would sadly share their fate.

This was not the first time Abby had witnessed such malevolence, each episode etched within the tapestry of her life. But this time, she vowed to play no part in it. “No more,” she whispered fiercely, determination igniting in her eyes. Abby Cable had found her strength, her resolve unyielding.

Return to chapter list