by John M. Burt
Three criminals wander deep into the marshlands, murder on their minds, when they encounter a chalk-skinned “swamp monster” with motives that none of them could ever possibly fathom! Discover why they say that Monday’s Child is fair of face!
The road went deep into Sweetwater Marsh, which is to say it went nowhere. That was just where the three men in the battered pickup truck wanted to be for what they had planned for this Monday afternoon’s entertainment.
Scott Allen, Al Giordano, and Cal Rayner had plans. Ostensibly, they were going there to retrieve a stash of stolen jet fuel Giordano had stashed there. That was the only plan they spoke of when all three were together. Allen planned to join Rayner in beating Giordano to death for stealing from his cousin. Giordano planned to join Rayner in drowning Allen for seducing Giordano’s girl. Rayner planned to enjoy beating Giordano for a while, then gut-shoot Allen, pour fuel over their groaning bodies, and watch them burn.
He had no particular grudge against them; he’d just never tried burning anybody to death yet, and thought this would be a good opportunity.
Sweetwater Marsh was a good place for doing evil, the kind of evil it was hard to get away with, even in Gotham City. Once, the water had indeed been sweet. It had been the source of Gotham’s drinking water, the best tap water of any big city in America, so pure that science labs didn’t bother buying distilled water.
But there had been a market for the cypress trees of Sweetwater Marsh as timber, so naturally many of them were cut. People had wanted land to build suburbs, so naturally hectares of the marsh had been drained. It would have cost money to treat the effluent from Gotham’s factories, and so it had been dumped, untreated, into the marsh. It had been inevitable. People always sought their own interests, didn’t they?
So Sweetwater Marsh had become a foul, stinking, poisonous cesspool, only visited by those who wanted to go nowhere, to be nowhere, to be outside of anyone’s interest or concern.
The three men climbed out of the truck slowly, warily, each watching the others. There was a tension between them, unacknowledged, each man’s fear and suspicion feeding on the reactions of the others. A few feet from the stack of fuel cans they all froze, whipping out their various weapons as a fourth figure approached, bare feet seeming to walk right across the surface of the foul, bubbling pool on the far side of Giordano’s stash.
The men watched, their overwrought fear turning to surprise and pleasure (still overlaid with a good deal of suspicion) when they saw that the intruder was a small, slim young woman — a girl, perhaps, or even a fairy, for she was so slender, so delicate, so fair. In fact, her skin was actually white, a translucent milky white that complemented the long silver hair that hung down her bare white back.
She stepped amongst them, naked and unafraid, with no shyness, but no boldness, either. She was simply there, with them, unspeaking, smiling gently, touching them one by one, lightly, with long white fingers. Ignoring the automatic hanging limp in Rayner’s hand, she took his face in her hands and kissed him. As he tasted her cool, lime-like lips, he felt all the cruelty and violence in his heart melting away, and somehow he knew that it would not return. She kissed the other two, and peace descended in the poisoned heart of Sweetwater Marsh.
So began the strange career of Monday’s Child, the mute and lovely spawn of Sweetwater Marsh. Wherever she went, the values on which the corrupt American society of Earth-Three was founded were upended, and no power on Earth could stop her for long. Power Ring in particular developed a passionate hatred for her, and tried again and again to destroy her. But that would be a story for another time.
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