The body that had once belonged to Gregory Vitrola, and now belonged to The Fatalist, slumbered peacefully. He’d summoned a thick matt of algae onto one of the larger lagoons in Overland Swamp and used it as a mattress.
Floating above the surface of the water, buoyed by his bed of life, The Fatalist slept deeply. He snored loudly and moved frequently with swift fluidity. He rolled over, he stirred, he yawned and made smacking sounds with his lips.
He dreamed, but his dreams were unlike any he’d had while he was human.
When he’d been human his dreams were filled with judging eyes and pointed fingers, as he was surrounded and accosted by faceless authority figures. Gregory Vitrola never felt in place, and always as though he needed to escape.
Now that he was The Fatalist, his dreams were peaceful. Within his dreams, The Fatalist ceased to have a single identity, but was simultaneously each member of a growing family. His new family comprised of every living thing in the swamp, and in his dreams he was all of them simultaneously.
Gregory Vitrola’s first day as The Fatalist was spent dreaming.
During just his second day as The Fatalist, Gregory Vitrola was able to feel what it was like to have sex. Laying on a puddle on a lazy early evening, The Fatalist startled to life, suddenly drawn to the southwest.
He loped through the swamp, smoothly hurtling tree roots and dodging piles of muck, becoming more familiar with the lay on the land at each step. He could see, or rather sense by the heat it generated, a car in the distance. It wasn’t moving but the engine was running.
Roughly fifty yards down a trail from The Fatalist, an automobile had been idling for close to an hour, and its windows open. The car’s radio was on, playing an antiperspirant ad very loudly, and apart from the car a blanket was laid out on the ground.
At the center of the blanket lay a couple; they caressed each other smoothly and confidently. The Fatalist could feel these lovers’ passion in all his cells, and he experienced the intensity of their feeling.
The Fatalist wrapped himself in these lovers’ ecstasy, drawing closer and closer, until he could almost actually see them over a rock. He couldn’t see much of the actual scene, but seeing just the sharp repetitive motion of it, was enough to put The Fatalist in a joyful slumber.
Such was The Fatalist’s sensitivity to the swamp that he shared in every birth and every death. As he grooved on the passion of these ecstatic libertines, each thrust was an intensifying pulse of pleasure. As he lay with his head on a rock looking up at still clouds, he could feel both lovers climax, and then lay on each other, smooching and rubbing.
After they’d finished, each of them lay in a near-comatose state of relaxation. The Fatalist took this opportunity to creep within a stone’s throw of the couple, inspecting them intently. They were not attractive, or at least would not have seemed attractive through human eyes, but their aspect displayed serene joy.
They seemed to be well into their fifties, and each had a poorly maintained, lumpy body. The way they giggled and the love he could feel through the grass underneath them made The Fatalist think they were an old couple, and to fuck among the trees was likely a tradition of theirs.
The Fatalist, when he’d been Gregory Vitrola, had not believed in love. He remembered figuring that love might be conceptually possible, but that for him it was only a dream. This was a large part of the reason he’d attempted to kill himself. He now felt what love was or could be, and he closed his eyes.
What the Fatalist did not know was that these lovers were each cheating on their spouses, and what he’d interpreted as partners beautifully giving of themselves would be considered by many to be illicit and gross.
These judgments of things as “right” or “wrong,” “pleasant” or “unpleasant” didn’t matter to him. What mattered to The Fatalist was the expression of life at its most unrestrained, and he loved it.
As he lay a stone’s throw away from the couple, watching these adulterers’ rhythmic motion, he could sense through the feel of the road a vehicle speeding towards the couple. He looked down the road, and he saw in the distance a white midsize sedan accelerating towards them, and within moments it was roughly a block away.
The couple, having noticed the car speeding to them, were panicked and dressing rapidly. They were not nearly fast enough. The white car pulled over, and a slender brown-haired woman burst out the driver’s side door in a rage. “Robert!” the woman screamed, sounding shocked and enflamed. “Samantha what the fuck!?”
Samantha immediately started wailing and sobbing, but The Fatalist could tell she wasn’t really crying, because underneath her the ground tasted no salty droplets. Her scream cut through the trees and made The Fatalist shiver, and her horrid mock sobs made him feel rotted on the inside. “I don’t—I don’t—“ she licked her palm and tried to use the moisture to make it look like she’d been crying. “I don’t know!”
She sobbed loudly while Robert stood up as he pulled his pants on. “Baby baby baby it just happened, I swear to god it just happened and I’m sorry.”
“Robert,” the woman said in a steady voice. She reached into her purse and pulled out a snub-nosed revolver. She pointed it at Robert. “I’ve had it with your lies and I’m going to kill you if you don’t tell me the truth.”
Samantha was almost fully dressed when she shot upright and stood holding her hands as far out in front of her as she could. “Jill, Jill, what are you doing?”
Jill shot into the ground next to Samantha and it hurt me like a red-hot poker into the soft meat of my thigh. I bellowed so loudly I believed the entire swamp could feel my pain. As I screamed I picked a handful of dirt off the ground and squeezed until it was a solid ball of soil. After throwing this ball up into the air and catching it myself a couple times, I hurled it at the gun in Jill’s hand. The ball of dirt covered in green, foamy sludge stuck the gun Jill had fired against the tree to her left.
The short, immensely dramatic scene The Fatalist had been watching was brought to an immediate halt, as all three humans searched the area for clues about what the hell had just happened.
As all three of their gazes fell onto The Fatalist and their jaws dropped, he erupted with a shout that shook the trees. “NO GUNS!”
The threesome scurried as fast as they could into the car Jill had driven to them in and their exhaust backfired as they were shot down the path out of the swamp. The clearing where the gross adulterers had been was now littered with Robert’s shirt, Samantha’s bra, a picnic blanket, a condom wrapper, and an empty bag of potato chips.
Using vines of his own creation, The Fatalist hung all these items from the trees that surrounded the expanse the lovers had just occupied. He knew all the people would start to talk about him now, and they would come looking.
“Oh shit,” The Fatalist said to himself, softly.
The Fatalist: Chapter 1