Episode 49 – Finale
The Nilssons ran as hard as they could, trying to keep up with the dogs. To Greta’s surprise, the Labs didn’t enter the swamp, but ran furiously along the roadside. She tried to keep up, but couldn’t.
“At least Lars isn’t down in the muck,” her mom said.
Her dad agreed…slowed up, gasping. “Let’s not break our necks. I can’t run another foot!”
“Well, I can,” Greta said sprinting ahead.
“Greta, wait!” Her mom, Frieda, cried.
“No way. I hear the dogs ahead.”
Suddenly, Greta noticed movement in the swamp. It wasn’t Lars??? Her heart skipped a beat. It was Rollo, and Keith.
“Rollo!” She cried. “I’m up here.”
“Greta?” He called eagerly. “Where are you? I can’t see you.”
“On the road!”
In minutes, the boys came scrambling up the embankment.
When Rollo saw Greta, he broke into a smile. “Are you okay?” he asked breathlessly. “You look super!”
Greta felt proud and happy. She’d never loved anybody as much…impetuously wrapped her arms around him.
“Wow!” He cried, squeezing back. “This is incredible!”
Keith stood quietly, watching.
Rollo noticed and immediately became self-conscious. “Oh. sorry,” he said somberly. “Keith just lost his father…the Otcon took him.”
“My god!” Greta cried as her Mom and Dad came running up. “I’m so terribly sorry!”
“I can’t believe what heard,” her mom cried. “What a shock! Was he in pain?”
“No,” Keith answered. “I believe he wanted it to happen…to protect us, and help the Otcon befriend people everywhere.”
“He’s immortal now,” Rollo said quietly.
We looked up the road where the dogs were barking furiously. “We’re looking for Lars,” Greta cried. “He hasn’t come home.”
“Damn,” Rollo said. “It’s getting really late.”
“Come on,” Dad said. “Let’s see what the dogs are up to. Keith, please join us.”
“It must be Lars,” Greta said.
They hurried ahead and saw Jennie and Sam prancing around Lars and somebody else. Suddenly, Greta recognized Lydia and called a greeting, but to her surprise, they were startled…hurriedly buttoning their clothes. Greta felt embarrassed to have caught them doing…whatever.
“Lars, what are you doing out here?” Her Mom cried.
Lars looked annoyed. “Chill, Mom, we just came out for a walk.”
“A walk!” She spluttered. “We’ve been worried sick! What’s gotten into you?”
He grinned sheepishly. “Nothing…except Lydia and I are officially dating.”
“Dating??? We thought you’d been consumed by the creature.”
“No fucking way! Can Lydia have dinner with us?”
“Dinner?! It’s almost eight? She should call home. They must be worried sick…and we’ve just learned the sad news about Keith’s father.”
Lars eyes widened. “What?”
“This evening he chose to merge with the creature.”
We all turned to Keith who nodded. “Yes…I guess Father’s wisdom will help guide the Otcon.”
Dad turned to Rollo. “What are you guys doing out here. Did you see it all?”
“We saw a lot,” Rollo said. “I was scared shitless. It was s-o-o-o bizarre!.”
Rollo couldn’t contain his excitement, and the words came in a rush. He told about Elmer and Frank, how the Otcon had spread through the swamp, and how it absorbed the Swamp Master and his sister, then swirled down the spring. We were speechless. A car drove past slowly…curious about a family on the road at night.
Mom turned to Keith. “We’re so sorry. Would you like to spend the night? Are you okay?”
“Not great…but it’s for the best. My father didn’t take care of himself…he was getting weak, and Aunt Clara was tormented by the electricity. They’ll be free of pain and live forever. I’m happy about that. Clara was never happy.”
“But, what about you? Won’t you be lonely?”
“No, not too bad. I work with a great bunch of guys, and I’ve got a girlfriend who’s amazing, so things are mostly good….and honestly, I may never go back to the cabin. There’s too much old stuff back there.”
“Can’t you sell it?” Ben asked.
“No. We’ve been squatters for centuries…never owned the land. I think it’s New York state land technically. We don’t own zip except junk.
I’ll go through the stuff eventually…just can’t face it now.”
Lars chimed in. “I could check the windows and everything.”
Keith shook his head. “You don’t need to. A little rain won’t hurt that old place.”
“It’s a snap,” Lars replied, “no big deal.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it. It may sound heartless, but I want to forget the past, and live a normal life. My Father, Aunt Clara and the Otcon are quietly resting some place deep below and that’s a nice thought. I don’t really think the Otcon’s good or bad…it’s just into self-preservation. My father realized that at the end. Don’t get me wrong, the Otcon’s no dummy…the thing’s a giant computer, but it has no feelings. It’s totally focused on living for millions of years.”
Frieda glared at her children. “It’s getting awfully late. You guys need rest.”
“Can Rollo sleep over?” Greta asked, “if his parents don’t mind.”
“They won’t care,” Rollo said. “Give me a sleeping bag and I’ll sleep anywhere.”
Frieda and Ben exchanged worried looks. “It’s up to his family.”
Rollo shrugged. “I camp out a lot. They won’t care.”
Greta imagined herself sneaking downstairs to check on him…stealing a kiss.
“I better get back to town,” Keith said.
They all shook hands.
“Need a ride?” Ben asked. “I’m glad to get the car.”
“No, thanks,” Keith said. “I feel like walking.”
“Don’t be a stranger.”
“I won’t. I love this town. The people are great…sure, there are a couple of bad apples like anyplace, but not many….and my father gave me a unique perspective. Eventually I’ll use it somehow. He loved ideas and concepts, and in some small way, maybe I can help keep that going. After all, he was the Swamp Master and not everyone can claim that.