A/N: Hey, guys! For any of you guys reading this, this story was posted a LONG time ago and was intended to be a 2-3 chapter oneshot piece. Unfortunately, I had never posted the third chapter, and final installment, of this piece so I decided that I'd finish the third chapter, touch up the first two chapters, and post it again so the story would be completed and you guys wouldn't be left hanging because I'm lazy and dumb!

I am SO sorry for the HUGE gap between the second and third chapter! For anyone who's read the first two before my repost, I'd highly suggest that you read it from the very beginning because even though not much has been changed, mostly grammar and wording, a few things HAVE been added in that you'd probably want to take a gander at!

Before I forget, the songs used were "The Hearse Song"/"You May Be Next" which was used in the first chapter at the end, "Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby" in chapter two which was featured in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and the song which is seen at the beginning and end of all the chapters is called "Swamp Witch" by Jim Stafford.

Anywho, on with the show~!

I hope you guys have enjoyed the story in its entirety! For those who do not understand what happens here in the fourth chapter, an explanation will be posted at the bottom of this chapter in a second Author's Note!

Happy reading, happy writing!

~The Konfessionist


There ain't much pride when you're trapped inside

A slowly sink'n ship—

Scooped up the liquid, deep and green,

And the whole town took a sip.

Fever went away, and the very next day,

The skies again were blue—

Let's thank old Hattie for sav'n our town,

We'll fetch her from the Black Bayou.


Charon tugged at the wrapping that covered his newly skinned arm, gritting his teeth at the itch that shot up from his enveloped fingertips to his elbow. The dingy material chaffed and rubbed against him the wrong way, causing him to scratch and rub to all his heart's content. Of course, it didn't irritate him—it happily reminded him that he had skin that could become irritable and, thus, itch. Emmy gave a throaty snore in her sleep and rolled over in her bed so her back faced him; the dimples of her curves illuminated in the soft glow of the lantern he had lit on the bedside table. He reached over and grasped the knob between his forefinger and thumb and ceased the flickering flame, almost smiling as the shape of the circular bit of metal molded into his fleshy fingertips, like a sculptor's tools molding the beautiful clay of its masterpiece.

The smile on his face disappeared when he looked at his employer, and the irritation on his new skin calmed itself and turned sweaty under the leather attachment he had added to his armor sleeve so it covered his skinned arm completely and it gloved over his hand completely—but it proved to be so prickly and tight, and he hated it. He hated the fact that it was a necessity.

Even with skin, I still have to hide…

He clenched his fist on his knee, tightening it before releasing it, and he looked down to the new leather cuff piece once again; the buffed splotches and thin scrapes looking more pronounced now that he had dimmed their motel room's only source of light. He didn't want to hide his beautiful new skin—he wanted to expose it to the light; the wind; the sun… but he didn't wish for Emmy to wake up and see it, and then frantically question how he had managed to gain back skin and hair on his forearm and sturdy fingernails. He wouldn't know how to explain it to her, and quite frankly, he didn't want to.

"Every man holds something that they cherish—something that they hold close to their hearts and adore in all the whole wide world."

She said every man… do I even qualify as that anymore? His hand relaxed on his knee again, fingers sprawling out over the cap and he thrummed them against the thick leather pad as he thought about the swamp woman's words.

"Every man holds something that they cherish—something that they hold close to their hearts and adore in all the whole wide world."

Am I a man? Charon asked himself frankly before leaning forward in his seat, elbows on his knees with his hands clasped together in front of him. What do I have to give that woman? Is she even a woman? Is she even human? What the hell is she to be able to do—… He flexed his fingers upon his knee, feeling the throb of leather against his skin and it thrummed up to his palm like an electric shock. …what the hell is she that she's able to do this?

The ghoul quietly growled; a desperate and pathetic sound that came out more as a whimper and he closed his eyes, pressing his fingertips into his eyelids and no sensation registered in the dead nerves of his skin and flesh. He had to tighten his other fist, his skinned one, to get that pleasure of sensation and it sent a welcomed shiver that wrung around his spine in coils and rings from the base of his tailbone all the way up to the clicking synapses of his over-thinking brain. A certain sense of sickened excitement wormed around in his gut, and he didn't know whether to vomit or close his eyes and will himself into unconsciousness until the feeling had passed.

Alright, you gotta work this out if you want it to make any sense! He finalized with a nod of his head, as if it were the first step on his road to becoming a fully-skinned being again. Maybe it was. It should have been. If that woman didn't think I had anything to give, she wouldn't have brought up this deal, right?

"Be careful, ferryman of Hades… things get sucked into the bog, you know… you never know what's down there. And watch where you step—as I am everywhere—and I've got my eye on you. I've got a thousand eyes on you…"

He snapped his eyes open. It was hard to think clearly when he felt like a thousand eyes were watching him at that moment. It was hard to keep his concentration on the issue at hand, this test at hand, when you felt like someone was looking over your shoulder to steal your answers. Of course, he knew how paranoid it sounded—how paranoid he was sounding—but when a mysterious and insane stranger seems to carry immense abilities and power (he didn't know how else to describe what she had done to his arm), you have every right to be paranoid! So he couldn't help but stand up, cautiously amble towards the window, and peel back the filthy lace of the thick curtain to peer out. He knew the woman's dolls weren't going to be outside, as they were deep into the swamp and very far away from their temporary residence at the Homestead Motel—but he found the dolls being there and undoubtedly watching him wasn't what terrified him. No, what terrified him more than those bits of stuffing and thread was that the woman herself would be there; petting her glass jar with the two eyes floating in it like wriggling worms, smiling from ear to deformed ear, humming a melancholy tune that would frighten those who were not so easily, if at all, able to be frightened. He feared the unnamed woman because of her power, her essence, and the fact that her mental state was something to be heavily questioned and not give risk to being ignored.

Charon almost startled himself when he found that the reason he feared this woman wasn't because he was worried that she would hurt him, but he feared her because he was petrified that she would hurt his employer, Emmy.

Thunder clapped outside, ripping through the room in a slash of blinding light and the woman's voice seemed to boom in an echo around him. The ghoul cringed, curling up into himself, as he took a hold of his head in his hands and clenched his eyes shut as tightly as he could as he rose up from his chair.

"It is you who is incorrect!"

He spun around on his heel, rapidly drawing his combat knife with his eyes crisscrossing through the darkness as his breathing came in panicked pants of quivering, hot air.

"It is you who owns her, ferryman of the tormented, and those who lead and those who follow eternal damnation you own as well!"

Heavy rain pounded against the glass of the window behind him; casting fat droplets of tears against the wooden panes.

"It is you who owns her, for it is you who protects her!"

Thunder clapped once again, followed by another slash of lightning through the lace curtains and the window slammed open with the shutters clattering around on the outside, barely being kept on their hinges. The lantern on Emmy's bedside table flickered out as the merciless wind gusted in, knocking light things over and whipping up the bed sheets that rested on Emmy's body, causing her to shiver in her sleep.

"She is your possession to keep safe!"

As the window's shutters slammed repeatedly against the outer walls of their motel room, Charon hesitantly sheathed his combat knife on his hip and turned to close the window. Once the latch was in place and the window was closed, he returned to Emmy's bed to grab the matchbox next to the lantern when a hand latched onto his from out of the darkness. He grit his teeth to keep from inhaling sharply in surprise with his eyes darting up into the surrounding blackness. He expected the woman's face to suddenly appear and grin at him grotesquely.

Then, he saw it; dreaded grey hair, plaque-encrusted teeth, thin bruised lips, jutting cheekbones, discolored skin dull in the dim light—

"Charon?"

And just like that; the swamp woman's face was gone and replaced with Emmy's face—sleepy blue eyes, light brown hair that hung limply around the contours of her rounded face, thin lips twisted up into a weak smile, small nose, light freckles dusted over the apples of her cheeks, the small birth mark on the right side of her temple right above the tail of her eyebrow.

It was Emmy, his employer. His sweet, sweet Emmy.

"E- Emmy…" He murmured, and her hand released its grip from his wrist. He quietly exhaled the breath that he had been holding and turned to the lantern, opening the hatch to relight the wick before closing it up and turning up the knob so the little bounding flame turned brighter, casting everything in a soft golden glow.

"You okay?" She asked sleepily and yawned, rubbing at her tired eyes. "You look like you've seen a ghost."

"…I'm alright." He answered her quietly, looking up at her.

"What—... What happened to us?" Emmy asked quietly, sitting up in her bed and looked around the room. "Are we… back at the motel?" She looked to him curiously, tilting her head to the side.

"Yes." Charon nodded. While his employer had slept, he mulled over many different scenarios and excuses that his mind had cooked up to offer her on a silver platter; a simple way to explain what had happened to her.

"How'd we get back here? I—weren't we in that field? With all the dolls, and that—that fucking singing…" Her trembling hands tightened in her lap, fisting the dirty sheets. "It was raining, and—and dark, and my Pip-Boy wasn't working—!" Her ranting paused and she hugged her knees to her chest, encircling her arms around them and she looked up at him helplessly. "What happened back there, Charon?..."

"You have the power to tell her what you have seen in my garden shed, I will not stop you, as you have evidence to prove it to her, but should you attempt to return to me before your end of the proposition has been fulfilled, well… your search will fail."

"…I don't know what you're talking about." He lied.

She snapped her head up, tired eyes no longer tired and she stared at him with a hardened look; as if she believed that she hadn't heard him right.

"…What?"

"I said; "I don't know what you're talking about." He sat on his chair and leaned back into it, folding his arms over his chest. "It was dark, sure, and it was starting to rain a little. I said we had to get back to the hotel, and you began acting strangely."

"I—… what?"

"You were looking around in a panic, claiming that the dolls were watching you before you ran off. I chased after you, and once I caught up you just went unconscious. I took you back to the motel. I figured you had eaten some bad punga."

"I… bad—bad punga?" She exhoed, finding it hard to believe. "So I was just hallucinating?... I was—… I was dreaming?"

"Seems like it." He nodded. "Panada claimed that consuming a bad punga fruit is similar to radiation poisoning, oddly enough, considering it rids you of radiation. One is plagued with flu-like symptoms, and occasionally one can experience hallucinations."

"But… what I saw—what we saw!" Emmy insisted, rolling over on the bed so she was on her knees in front of him. "That wasn't a hallucination! I know it wasn't! It—It was so real…" She sat back on her crossed ankles and looked at her palm, tracing it over with a light fingertip. "Charon… I remember falling down a hole. I remember screaming for you, and when you grabbed my hand—the look in your eyes…"

Her voice had trailed off, and for a second Charon felt guilt sheath it's long, ugly blade into his heart for coming up with such an outrageous lie to his employer. But how much crazier would it have sounded if he told her he had encountered a being with unearthly powers that managed to return to him the one thing he had sorely missed for decades now? Would she not have believed him? Would she have believed that maybe all the radiation from the obnoxious gas pockets in the swamp had gotten to him, and he was slowly but surely on his way to becoming feral even though his arm could be enough evidence?

Maybe he was feral… maybe he had been hallucinating everything as well—but even so, it wouldn't explain why Emmy had the exact same hallucination. It wouldn't explain why his forearm, hand, and fingers were now covered with skin; complete with dark hair and fingernails.

None of it made sense, and quite frankly, he didn't want it to. He preferred it better this way. He knew she wasn't the only one he was lying to; he was lying to himself as well—trying to trick his mind into believing that lying to Emmy like this was the best thing for her. Better for her to think it's not real than tell her all that (and much more) really did happen. She would be safer that way… they both would be.

"Emmy, maybe you should rest a bit more." Charon suggested, taking her shoulder to push her back to bed but she grabbed his hand and looked up into his eyes. He swallowed his swelling tongue as it dried out in his mouth.

"Charon, you were terrified. That look in your eyes—… I don't know what the fuck happened, but what I know is that you were scared. I have never seen you that scared, if I ever did see you scared!" Her eyes broke away from his, and she stared at a dark splatter on the wall. "I—I think that's what scared me the most… because if you were scared, then that meant I wasn't getting out of that hole alive…"

The ghoul finally managed to force his tongue back up into his mouth as he got up and sat on the edge of her bed. He refitted the sheets and pulled them up over her legs so it covered her again, pushing her down to the bed and she willingly complied this time.

"Emmy, you're fine—we're fine—and you're alive. I'm not going to let anything happen to you."

"I know…" She murmured, giving him a weak smile as her head hit the pillow, sprawling out her nest of hair around the crown of her head. "You've always got my back, Charon."

"I know that you do, Emmy." He shot back, looking to her as he went to the window to pull the curtains closed to keep the foggy morning light from entering the room. Behind him, he heard rustling sheets as Emmy sat up in her bed.

"And you know that I've got your back, too… right, Charon?" Emmy asked quietly, and he could hear the quaint smile in her voice.

Charon gripped the curtains tightly in his hands as he yanked them quickly shut and glanced back at her over his shoulder. She smiled more and gestured for him to come to her with a curl of her fingers. He followed her gesture and came to her bedside, where she took his skinned hand and squeezed it. The immediate pressure of her touch coursed a wave of sensation straight up his arm to his heart, where it immediately stopped beating. Emmy had done this with him before—childishly pulling him down to her level, squeezing his hand in a feather-like touch as if he were delicate, and uttered several words of affection before returning to what she was doing. It was the little things like this that made them so close to one another; she gave him love that was more than just a friend or a lover or a sibling, or an employer. It was love that he didn't have to ask for, and it was love that he didn't necessarily earn; it was just there, and it was unconditional.

Sometimes, as her bodyguard and confidante, he felt that he sometimes fell short in that aspect… he didn't quite know how to give unconditional love. He knew how to give unconditional loyalty, sure—but love? It had left a bad taste in his mouth from the first time he heard the word.

"I'm glad that it was just bad punga…" She began as her wide smile kept to her lips. She tucked her hair behind her ear before continuing, with her hand still on his with her fingers curling around his own as their grips intertwined with one another. There was the unconditional love—that spark in her eyes, but this time, it was destroying him. "I don't know what I would do if I had lost you, Charon."

"…Get some more rest, Emmy… you had a long night, and we still have some ground to cover in the swamps." He muttered to her quietly as he laid her back against the bed with their hands still together between their bodies. "I'll be here when you awake."

His words made her grin as she closed her eyes and slowly released her grip from his hand so she could curl up against her pillow. "I know… you always are…" She murmured as she promptly fell back asleep.

Charon stood completely still at the edge of the bed—motionless, no breathing, making sure that his heart calmed to a beat that was so steady and tedious that it could have stopped abruptly right there—even long after he knew Emmy had returned back to deep sleep. He slowly padded backwards till the back of his knees hit the edge of the closest chair and he collapsed back into it, clutching his head in his hands and he clenched his eyes tightly shut with his palms roughly grinding in frustration back and forth over his peeling face. It was a form of torture he placed upon himself—it was like it stirred up the radiation he had absorbed that turned him into the monster that he was, and it caused searing flashes of agonizing pain to dance over his features (or what was left of them in his face).

He stopped his punishment long enough to peek through his fingers to Emmy in utter sorrow as his shoulders began to tremble.

"I don't know what I would do if I had lost you, Charon."

He clenched his eyes tightly shut again and twisted his face away as he moved his hands to his lap and dug his fingernail-less tips into the tops of his thighs; slowly raking them up and then back down to start again and he began to rock in his chair almost crazily. The pain usually kept him calm—the feral need to dig into his own flesh reminded him that he wasn't legitimately feral yet because he didn't crave to tear into others. He snapped his eyes open and stared at Emmy as only dark emotions plagued him. The reason why her words ("I don't know what I would do if I had lost you, Charon.") had murdered him so because as she spoke, a single familiar voice began to shout horrible things at him all at once in the front of his mind. It was all things that he heard before… but now? He was forced to listen to them as if it were a madman's cacophony.

"Every man holds something that they cherish—"

"Be careful, ferryman of Hades…"

"something that they hold close to their hearts and adore in all the whole wide world."

"It is you who is incorrect!"

"—as I am everywhere—"

"It is you who owns her,"

"I've got a thousand eyes on you…"

"for it is you who protects her!"

"I've got a thousand eyes on you…"

"She is your possession to keep safe!"

Athousand eyes

"She is your possession to keep safe!"

your possession

your possession

your possession

YOURYOURYOURYOURYOURYOUR

"ferryman of the tormented,"

POSSESSIONPOSSESSIONPOSSESSIONPOSSESSIONPOSSESSION POSSESSION

"I will only appear to you when you have what I ask for."

The cruel swamp demoness cackled in the room of his brain—echoing off the walls as a shrill, dry, mocking laughter… and Charon began to sob into his hands, because he finally knew; this was what it was like to make the metamorphosis from a sane man to a madman…

This is what it's like to turn feral.


Emmy had slept for the next day after Charon coaxed her into falling back asleep. All he did was watch her breathe and her eyelids twitch as he sat in his corner of the room at her bedside; where he alternated between sobbing while holding his head in his hands and checking over their supplies and cleaning his gun on autopilot as he continued to watch his employer sleep. Once she had arisen, all sleepy-eyed and tangled hair, he excused himself outside to recollect his thoughts and calm his torrent of emotions (made up an excuse to her of hearing dogs outside earlier and he wanted to see if they were still around), and came back inside to finish getting ready for the new day with her. He watched her as she brushed her hair and washed her face and further groomed herself, and his gut churned and his head ached; and time and time again when he was close to the edge of taking his shotgun and blasting his own brains out from the dark and frightening thoughts that plagued him, did she smile at him, and he relaxed enough where the thoughts of committing suicide had passed.

"I noticed you added some stuff to your armor," She mentioned as she tugged her own armor on and clasped the buckles up her sides, and it turned his attention from his daily weapon cleaning and repair to turn to her. "On the sleeve, there."

Charon couldn't help but tense up slightly (glad that Emmy didn't notice because her expression didn't change) as he turned back to continue cleaning his shotgun in his usual perch in the corner.

"Got a bit scraped up when I was carrying you back to the motel… I thought it would be wise to fortify my armor in exposed regions to keep from losing any more parts of me." He explained smoothly as he went back to cleaning his weapon.

She frowned slightly and stepped towards him as she pulled her hair up and back out of her eyes to tie it up in a messy ponytail. Tendrils of straight hair framed the sides of her face.

"It's nothing too serious, is it?" She asked worriedly, finishing up her ponytail and put her hands on her hips.

"Not at all. I just figured I would take care of the problem before it had the chance of becoming one." He said as he finished cleaning down his gun and began putting it back together.

Emmy shrugged and went back to preparing to set out for the day, and they didn't talk again until they were about to leave and she tugged on her arm to stop him.

"Charon…?" She called for him while biting her lip nervously. He looked back at her and waited for her to continue, and she did so with a sigh, as if she wished she hadn't asked for his attention in the first place. "I—…I don't know if I'm ready to go back outside, yet…"

"Why not?" He asked as he fully turned his body around to face her. "You said that we have work that needs to be done, and we need to get back out into the swamp as soon as possible."

"I know, I know… but I—…" She sighed again. "Well, I really don't know… all morning, it feels like I haven't been able to think straight… it feels like—like… I don't know, Charon. I just don't know."

"What do you mean?"

"There's just… look, don't make fun of me when I say this, okay? But there's been these—pictures, going through my head. Like if you took one of those old black-and-white movies we found about space at the Museum of Technology and chopped it up into split-second pictures and little clips. That's what it feels like in my head right now. It feels like my head's a theatre and I can't stop it."

"I—I don't quite understand you…" He trailed off, truly not knowing what she meant, but he also began to feel fear threading itself through his veins and arteries and into his heart to circulate back out to the rest of his body.

"I see dolls… well, not tons of dolls, just one doll. That doll that I found—the one I named Estelle. I see her in my hand, smiling up at me, and then the next minute she's in your hand—and then she's flying through the air." Emmy swallowed hard, pausing for a moment before continuing. "But I—… I remember that from the clearing. Something… something really fucking weird happened, and I told you to get rid of her. I remember it getting dark, and it was raining, and there's nothing in front of me but black when the ground seemed to disappear under my feet—really, it did—like it just opened up and I was falling, screaming for you… and you were suddenly there. Holding me. Then we were falling together… I remember—well, I don't know if I remember… She just keeps showing up in my head."

"She?" Charon asked, his tongue shriveling up in his mouth to tumble back into his constricting throat. "You mean that doll?" He asked hopefully.

His employer shook her head and looked up at him. "No. I keep seeing a woman. Throwing me over her shoulder, taking me somewhere, petting my hair… singing to me… but every time I try to see her face, I—… I just can't… she keeps turning away, like she doesn't want me to look at her. Then she starts singing again, but sadly this time… I think I asked her what her name was."

"What did she say?" He asked.

"This—… this is the part that scares me… this is where it gets creepy. Er—creepier." She tucked her hair behind her ear and looked up to him with her bangs falling into her eyes. "So I guess the fact that it's a hallucination makes sense… I mean, what she told me was—… well, what she told me, she couldn't have known unless we met before, and I'm sure we haven't…"

"What did she say to you, Emmy?" Charon asked, frowning more and more as she continued explaining the things she saw in her head. Emmy took a deep inhale, as if she were about to embark on a long and tedious story, and then spoke.

"I am Alpha, and Omega. I am the beginning, and the end."

The familiar passage made the ghoul's milky eyes widen. "Your mother's biblical passage..."

She nodded. "Yeah, but she didn't say the rest of it. She said something else in this really weird voice… I don't know, like she was making fun of me, or something."

"Well then, go on." He ushered her impatiently, but she didn't seem to notice. The fear that wrung through him was intensifying the more details he received, and he didn't like it. He knew that this wasn't some dream or hallucination that Emmy was having—the swamp woman had a knack for knowing things about you even if you had never met her before. She proved that to him very well.

"I can't remember most of what she said… it's really hazy."

"What do you remember?"

"Something about a bird, and death, and not being able to keep her mouth shut… then she started talking about songs or music or something. Then she talked more about death… although…"

"What? Although what?" Charon asked her impatiently again.

"I—... Charon…" She looked up at him, chewing on her bottom lip nervously and he gripped her shoulders gently to let her know that it was alright.

"It's alright, Emmy… you can tell me."

"What's a—… a ferryman?"

Emmy shrieked and Charon instinctively slung his combat shotgun off his shoulder and readied it when the window slammed open suddenly, and lightning cackled in the distant planes of Point Lookout and the slanted rain began to pound the side of the motel and the wind caused the curtains to flail and dance ominously. As the ghoul scurried up to close the window tightly shut, there was a hitch in his step when he could have sworn that with the lightning and the rain and the wind was the barking and maniacal laughter of the woman from the swamp.


Charon growled at the morning sun that flittered dully through his tightened eyelids as he stepped out onto the front step of the motel room. He pressed his fingers to his eyes, then let his digits roam down the side of his face to rub the back of his neck and he finally opened his lids, looking out onto the small and broken civilization that docked the carnival pier. The sun barely pierced through the thick clouds that hung above, and the air was drowsy, warm, and suffocating. A thin mask of green swamp gas hung over the soft ground and cracked roads and sidewalks. He looked to the grove of trees where, beyond that, did the swamp lay to any and all who dared to enter it. It was the day after the sudden storm that emerged upon that part of Maryland when the two had packed to leave, and they—fortunately and unfortunately in their own rights—were cooped up inside until it had passed that morning. They ate, talked about a game plan on what to do when the storm was over, slept, and the pictures Emmy saw in her head weren't mentioned at all after he explained to her that a ferryman was someone who operates a boat or some other sea-worthy vessel. Like Tobar.

"What's a—… a ferryman?"

The ghoul closed his eyes again and heaved a drawling and pathetic sigh before turning back to look through the open doorway of the motel. He saw Emmy sitting on the edge of the filthy bed, her knees hugged to her chest so she could tie up the laces of her boots. Her eyes carried a vague sense of awareness, as if she were deeper in thought than should be allowed. She heaved a pathetic sigh of her own, and when she looked up at him, a feeble smile came upon her thin lips.

"You sure you want to do this?" He asked her hoarsely as he made his way to the bed. His employer bowed her head, as if unsure. "We don't have to."

"But I promised Catherine…" She murmured, and then her eyes met his. "I promised that I'd bring her daughter back, and Nadine's in the cathedral with those Tribals. I can feel it. I have to get to the Mother Punga out in the swamp."

"That brat can wait," He hissed and knelt down on one knee in front of her. "My concern is for you. If you are not ready to enter the swamp then we don't have to."

"I'm going to have to eventually," She furrowed her brows together and her thin lips pulled back into a long frown. "What? Do you just expect me to run away? Do you expect us to go back to the Wasteland with nothing for Catherine?"

Charon looked back to the open door of their motel room with his cracked lips pursed together tightly in thought. He did not want to have Emmy endure the swamp any longer, but he knew that she was right all the same—they would have to go back eventually. Damned if it was to find Nadine, or because he wanted to look for that crazy bitch and her "garden shed."

"But should you attempt to return to me before your end of the proposition has been fulfilled, well… your search will fail. I will only appear to you when you have what I ask for."

Somehow and somewhere, deep in his churning gut, he knew that the woman's words were right. He had a feeling that if he ever did try to find her, his search would be fruitless. Even so, he didn't want to go looking for her so soon—not when he didn't even know what it was that he should give to her in order to regain his skin and dispose of the mottled tissue and muscle that barely covered his bones. He was tired of living so long in this withered body—no, this withered carcass—and he couldn't consider this living at all; he was just surviving in a cage of putrid and decaying flesh that he wished to escape from. Hell, everyone out in the Wasteland was trying to survive, but he was a fucking ghoul for Christ's sakes. A zombie, and although the Wasteland critters (like yao guai and mole rats) didn't care about where their next meal was coming from, Wastelanders and Raiders and everybody else that could be catalogued in the 'in-between' weren't afraid to poke at him with a sharp stick just for shits and giggles because he was unfortunate. He was worse off than the rest of them and that's what made the Wastelanders and the Raiders and everybody that could be catalogued in the 'in-between' want to fuck with him because it reminded them that "hey, my life ain't so bad—at least I ain't a fucking shuffler."

I miss being human… He thought sadly, when a hand suddenly clapped down on his shoulder, and he looked up into Emmy's face. She was smiling at him—really smiling at him. It was small, but it was there, it was honest, and most importantly it was happy.

"I'll be fine—really. The moment we find Nadine, we'll leave and we'll never come back here."

"What about Desmond?" Charon questioned.

"He's an ass and I've got a bad feeling about him... he's going to either give us trouble or get us into trouble." She spoke as she got up from the bed. The springs squeaked as they were released from the weight that was placed upon them. "So once Nadine's found, we'll go back to D.C. and never set foot back in Point Lookout."

"Then finish taking what we need and let's go." He sighed as he got up as well and ambled towards the doorway to stand in the dull sunlight easing through the thick swamp clouds. He looked back at Emmy momentarily to watch her pack, when a scratchy voice echoed in the back of his mind.

"Every man holds something that they cherish—something that they hold close to their hearts and adore in all the whole wide world."

Then what is this thing that I cherish?... His vision suddenly blurred and he blinked energetically before closing his lids finally and rubbing his fingertips into them, massaging his eyes. A thick gust of wind bothered the dead strands of hair on the crown of his head, and when he removed his hand from his face and looked up, he could have sworn that he saw movement in the fog—a figure nearing the town. He grabbed his combat shotgun from his back and strained his eyes, trying to see the figure clearer. Whoever it was suddenly stopped, as if he (or maybe she, he couldn't tell) knew that they were spotted.

Charon's vision blurred again and he swayed in place as if he were suddenly dizzy. He held his head to keep it from swimming any further, he tottered into the doorway and slammed into it with a heavy thud, and his combat shotgun dropped to his side. He groaned audibly at how lightheaded he was suddenly feeling.

"Charon, are you all right?" Emmy came up behind him and gripped his elbow. "Charon?"

The ghoul opened his eyes, looking up in the direction of the figure to find whoever it was (he felt—no, he knew that it was that swamp woman standing there) still standing in the fog, unwavering. He growled angrily, yellowed teeth bared and crusty skin twisted up between his furrowed brows, he lifted his combat shotgun and took off into the fog after her.

"Ch- Charon!" Emmy yelled after him, startled that he had suddenly taken off. She strode out onto the front doorstep, shielding her eyes from the sun with one hand and watched him run away.

He continued to run through the fog with his combat shotgun armed and at the ready as he made a beeline for the still figure. It was that woman, he knew it had to be—she was there to fuck with him! What had he done, playing with things he didn't understand because it offered him something he always wanted since he lost it? Being completely human again dazzled in his eyes like a fantastic dream that was so close to becoming reality, and he allowed himself to be ensnared within this game. He was too deep in now to pull back… but did he truly want to? Would he ever want to abandon the only chance he would have of having skin once again? He shrugged the thought away and let his anger consume him completely, drowning out his thoughts and suffocating his lungs into heavy pants as he finally came up behind the woman and seized her shoulder, throwing her onto her back in the dirt and he stood over her, pointing the shotgun at her head.

"Don't you follow me," He growled.

"Charon!" Emmy cried as she finally reached him and stopped at the woman that was on the ground. "Charon what's wrong with you, taking off like that? You're supposed to stay with me!"

He didn't even bother looking at his employer as he knelt down and grabbed the woman by her ratty shawl, which had been thrown over her head when he shoved her to the ground. "On your feet," He demanded.

"What are you doing?" She exclaimed, hands on her hips and watched with pursed lips as he pulled the shawl up. Her eyes widened and her jaw went almost unhinged as it popped open. She took a wide step back. "Ch- Charon…"

This—This isn't… He thought with his own eyes widening as he let the heap of cloth drop from his hand and onto the ground.

A figure had been made out of bound branch and bone into the shape of a hunched human. A cracked skull was the headpiece of the strange body, which met a hunched spine bound up with twine. The limbs were made of thin branches weaved together where they branched off into the hands and clawed fingers, feet and long toes at the ends. In one hand was a doll, which Charon recognized immediately—and unfortunately, so did Emmy.

"That—That's the doll!" She shrieked, pointing down at it with a trembling hand, her entire body convulsing. "That's the fucking doll that I was telling you about! The one I found and you threw it! You can't tell me I was hallucinating!"

"Emmy," He pleaded quietly as he stepped over the figure, taking a moment to stomp down on the skull so it shattered and went to her with his shotgun at his side. He knew that the swamp woman was close by, and he hoped she knew that his boot upon the skull was originally meant for her. "Calm down. It's just a coincidence."

"It is not!" She insisted, stepping back again just as he reached her and gently took her by the arm. "You can't tell me I was hallucinating, now!"

"Emmy, it didn't happen."

"...You can't tell me this didn't happen." She quickly shook her head and pulled her arm back from his grip, hugging herself tightly as the tears rimmed her eyes. "You can't..."

"Emmy, please—"

"I know it happened!" Emmy shrieked as the tears fully surged and trickled down her cheeks. "I know it happened, I know that it's real!" She hugged herself tighter, turning away from him as she bit into her trembling lip. "Deep down, I—... I know it's real... I know it..."

Charon frowned softly to himself, stepping forward to put his hands on her shoulders and turn her back to face him. She stared up at him, helpless and desperate, as the tears continued to roll on down her cheeks.

"What happened out there didn't happen... you ate some bad punga and you began to hallucinate."

"Then how do you explain that?" She screamed at him, pointing accusingly down at the doll that laid in the hand of the bone and twig figure.

"You're paranoid." He spat, the words sounding acid when he didn't mean them to be and she suddenly stilled under his hands, gazing up at him with broken eyes.

"...You know something... don't you? You know that something happened out there and you won't tell me! Why, Charon? Why?" She looked to his hand that was upon her arm, her eyes tracing along the bandages until a thought struck her. "Something happened to you out there, too... you're hiding something from me and I know it! I knowyou!"

Maybe you don't know me anymore, he thought a little sadly, and his heart leaped up into his throat when she pulled back from him and grabbed his arm, clawing at the leather cuff and glove he had fashioned and put over his skinned arm.

"What are you doing?" He demanded harshly, half-heartedly trying to pull his arm out of her grip. Part of him wanted to see what he was to become, what he wanted to be again, and part of him didn't want her knowing—because, maybe, to get what he wanted he would have to become more of a monster than he already was.

"I want to see what happened to your arm!" She exclaimed as if he were stupid, and continued claw at it, trying to rip them off and he winced when her nails dug in and felt as if they were going to pierce straight through them. He finally yanked his arm out of her grasp and held it above his head, hopefully out of her reach.

"Stop it, Emmy." He warned firmly.

"Why are you lying to me?" She shrieked. "Why are you lying to me about all this? Why, Charon? Why?"

They stood in silence for only a moment or two until Emmy didn't want to wait for him to answer anymore. She jumped up and latched onto his arm, catching him by surprise so he dropped his shotgun and was almost brought to his knees when she finally got his arm in her grasp again, held against the side of her body under her armpit. She tried pulling the glove from his fingers now as a starting point. He growled and yanked back, then grabbed her by her upper arms so tightly he almost hoisted her up from the ground, with the tips of her toes barely grazing the dirt.

"Stop it, Emmy!" Charon barked, and she stared up at him with her mouth dropped open, completely stunned by his sudden attack. She went limp in his arms, as if trying to pull away from him but she still kept her eyes on his face.

"Have—Have you gone feral?..." She murmured under her breath in a small and frightened voice, and her words rolled around in Charon's head like a hornet's nest—stinging all his insides mercilessly. He put her back on her feet slowly, after a long pause between them. All he felt was regret, and anger. It was all he was able to feel for the last few days, since they dragged their battered bodies out of the swamp.

"...No." He murmured quietly back to her, as if he didn't want the word to leave his mouth but it did so, anyways. "I'm not feral. You would know."

"But you—you've never…"

"I've never what?"

"…You've never yelled at me like that…"

Charon stared at her with hard eyes until he looked away shamefully into the fog, almost expecting the swamp woman to be standing there and watching what she had orchestrated. He knew she set up the figure for him—probably a warning, or even a reminder.

But a warning for what? A reminder for what?

"...I—... I want to leave..." Emmy whispered and she hung her head down as she started to sob into her hands.

He froze. "...What?"

"I want to go back to D.C., Charon… I want to go back home." She looked up at him, her face contorted and pinched. "I want to leave. I don't want to be here anymore. This place is bad, Charon! It's doing things to me… It's doing things to you! We need to go back to the Capital Wasteland!"

Charon stared at her in horror, his heart tense in his chest as it pulled and tugged at all of the muscles in that area—constricting upon his lungs until he was no longer able to breathe properly. It wasn't supposed to be like this! He was supposed to get skin, again! He was supposed to become human again! Completely human! He couldn't leave now, not when he didn't even figure out what he could trade to that fucking swamp woman so he could get his skin back!

He had to convince her to stay, he had to convince her somehow…

"It's not that bad here. You're just paranoid."

"Charon, you grabbed me!" She screeched with more tears rolling down her face. "You yelled at me when I'm only concerned for you! You're hiding things from me, I know you are, and I don't know why! You can't tell me that this place isn't changing you, too!"

Charon stared at her, blinking idly and he said nothing because within his heart he knew she was right. This swamp was fucking with both of them… but he felt that he couldn't give up now. He would stay until it drove him completely insane because it would be worth it… right?

The ghoul stared down at his employer as she choked on her sobs and hiccupped, tears running down her reddened cheeks and mucous caressed her upper lip from her nose. He quickly wiped away the tears from her face, and chose to ignore seeing her flinch from his gentle touch, as if he were about to strike her across the face or grab her again.

I have nothing to give the woman… nothing at all…

"I'm sorry, Emmy… I really am." He murmured and more tears rolled down her face upon his apology. "I didn't mean to scare you. I apologize."

"Can—Can we… go home?"

NO!

"…Of course."

"Really?"

NO!

"Yes, Emmy… we'll go home."

NO, NO, NO!

Emmy trapped him in a tight hug and buried her head into his chest, her shoulders bobbing as she started sobbing again. He pet her hair because he didn't know what else to do; he felt lost and cornered, confused and despaired. Would it end like this? Would it all end like this? Was he even allowed to leave Point Lookout and stray so far from the swamp woman? He honestly didn't know, and he was almost… afraid, to find out if he actually tried. He finally looked down at Emmy and froze when a voice rang out in the back of his head.

"She is your possession to keep safe!"

She—She's not mine… I am hers.

"It is you who is incorrect!"

Stop it! He held her tighter. This is how it is. I am hers… I belong to her. I belong to Emmy. I'm all hers.

"It is you who owns her, ferryman of the tormented, and those who lead and those who follow eternal damnation you own as well!"

I don't own anyone. I don't own anything.He closed his eyes and hunched over to bury his face into the top of her head amongst her hair.

"It is you who owns her, for it is you who protects her!"

I don't own her. Just because I protect her life doesn't mean that she owes me it.

"She is your possession to keep safe!"

Or does she?

"She is your possession to keep safe!"

Maybe… she is mine…

"She is your possession to keep safe!"

No—this isn't right! This is wrong!

"She is your possession!"

Not mine, not mine…

"Your possession!"

NEVER MINE!

"She is yours!"

SHE IS NOT! SHE IS NOT! SHE IS NOT, SHE IS NOT, SHE IS NOT!

But then, a little voice in the back of his head whispered to him—and it was somehow louder than the yelling that echoed in his mind.

Emmy belongs to you. She is your possession. She will give you skin.

Charon was terrified to realize that the whisper was his own voice... the voice he had before he became a ghoul.

"C'mon, Charon..." She spoke softly as she pulled back to look up at him. A genuine smile graced her young face, and she didn't see or notice the panic in his expression. "Let's get back to the motel. We'll gather the rest of our things, see what we can get rid of to Panada and make our way back to the docks."

"...Okay." He answered as he stared down at her helpessly. Emmy took his arm and began to walk, as if guiding a blind man across a busy street. He fell in step behind her, allowing her to guide him back to Homestead, and within his gut he felt the bile beginning to rise.

It suddenly all made sense. What he owned, what he had to give in order to get his skin back—it was Emmy. He was a bodyguard loyal to the contract first, and then to his employer second. He had nothing to give but Emmy because, in truth, she has always been his... he didn't own his contract, it kept him bound to whoever bought it but she wasn't like his best employers. The people who owned his contract before also owned him, but Emmy?... She owned an old piece of paper. She didn't own him. Emmy allowed him to be his own person, to rightfully be his own man with his own ideals. Emmy made him happy and wanted, loyal out of want and not out of obligation.

She gave him a chance to feel human again, and now she was going to give him a chance to be human again. His metamorphosis would never be complete. He had to finish it. One body of flesh for another.

Charon watched as from out of the fog did the motel come to them as their feet hit the cracked streets of the tiny town. Coming back to the motel door, Emmy opened it and they stepped inside—in his sudden running towards the swamp and out of her sight, neither of them grabbed any of their belongings. She closed the door behind him and went to the trunk that was positioned at the foot of the bed, opened it, and sorted through it as he watched from his spot in the open doorway.

The motel room had a different air to it than earlier... it was definitely happier. Lively. Relieved. It was because of Emmy. She just radiated light and life from her... Emmy was beautiful.

...What's it going to be, Charon?... Her, or being human again? Charon pondered sadly, then realized the question was not needed when he felt his hand upon the handle of his combat knife. Slowly pulling it from the sheath on his thigh, he silently advanced Emmy as she stood up, fumbling with something in her hands as he came up right behind her.

"Oh, I forgot about this." Emmy turned to face him, her head bowed down to the thing in her possession. "I've been meaning to give you—"

Emmy's words were silenced as the ghoul grabbed her roughly by the shoulder, pulling her forward into his combat knife. He felt it plunge deep into her stomach, felt the ripple of the serrated blade penetrating her flesh travel up his arm to quiver his heart, and the words parted from his cracked lips almost on their own—mechanically, as if he felt nothing, but this was completely destroying him inside.

"I'm sorry, Emmy... I'm so sorry..."

Her eyes were wide, gazing up at him and he could see past the glazed over blue of her irises, her thoughts tried to click together like the gears of a clock, trying to catch one another so the hands would succeed in moving. Unable to make the gears catch on her own, she slowly turned her eyes down where they met with the blade in her belly, his hand retreating from it as he slowly stepped back from her towards the wall with the words still mumbling forth from his lips almost incoherently.

"I'm sorry... I'm sorry..."

"...Why?... Wha—?..." Emmy's words trailed off as she continued to stare at his knife protruding from her. She still didn't understand—he didn't want to have to explain it to her as her blue eyes slowly turned back up to meet his, her bottom lip trembling. "...What have you done, Charon?..."

"...I'm sorry..." He replied in a guttural sob as he felt his eyes sting, his back connecting with the wall and it was the only thing keeping him up. "I'm sorry!..."

Her brow furrowed together, her face twisting up into one of realization as she began to sob, the item in her hands dropping from her grip to hit the floor with a hollow thud. It was a little trinket—a Vault Boy bobble head holding a giant needle. She bit by bit stepped towards him with weak legs, stepping over the trinket.

"...You stabbed me..." She muttered quietly, a faraway smile coming to her lips out of awe and disbelief of her bodyguard, and best friend, murdering her. He was the person she trusted most, and he fucking stabbed her. A soft chuckle slithered from her lips as she stopped in front of him. "You stabbed me..."

"I had to." Charon replied impassively. He wished he had some other answer to give her... he didn't want his last words to be that he had to kill her when, deep down, he didn't have to. He shouldn't have had to. Had he known it would have come to this—... how did it come to this?

"You're killing me..."

"...I'm sorry, Emmy..." He murmured as her body pressed to his, Emmy standing before him with her glossy eyes trained upon his face; her tears matching the ones that trickled down from his own eyes. "I can't tell you how sorry I am..."

"...You're killing me..." She spat again, blood forming upon her teeth within her mouth but she continued to smile, the last of her tears rimming her cheeks. "And all I ever did was love you..."

Emmy's eyes rolled up into her head as she collapsed forth into his outstretched and waiting arms. The only answer that parted from his gaping mouth was a strangled sob as he fell to the floor with his dead employer, cradling her on his lap with his hand patting at her cheek, his other arm wrapped under her limp body as he held her close to his chest. Charon rocked back and forth, continuing to let out an orchestra of strangled and incoherent sobs—but the words were only clear to him.

"And I loved you."


Charon traversed the swamp for three days, with the dead bod of Emmy cradled in his arms—his knife still deep within her belly. He couldn't bear to remove it from her let alone touch it, so he allowed her body to claim it. It was no longer his.

As he walked through the marshes and bogs, passing poacher shacks out in the wild and creatures of other sorts, the swamp folk sat on the porches of their shacks on the steps and in their rocking chairs, watching him walk on by with silent looks while the creatures squatted amongst the reeds, making curious noises to one another. It was like some spell had taken over the swamp. It was like he was safe here... or maybe they just wanted to keep away from a crying ghoul that carried the dead body of a girl through the swamp trees and muck.

He had to find the swamp woman. He had to find her and give her Emmy—complete the deal, but now his desires were hazy and almost foreign within him. The returning of his skin felt so disgusting to him; but another part of him, some dark and twisted and feral part of him pushed him forward and told him that this pain he brought upon his shoulders would be gone and wiped clean once he was given back his skin. Emmy would just be another employer, his contract would go to someone else, and she'd spiral deep into the blackness of his mind where he would, night after night, force onto himself a lie of how she died by the hands of someone else and not from his blade plunged into her.

Charon blinked away the tears from his eyes, as they had not left since the day he killed Emmy and took her body with him out to the swamp—he felt, maybe somehow knew, that he wouldn't be rid of the saltwater upon his mottled face until his employer officially left his hands and he was rid of her... but he didn't want to be anymore. He didn't want to be away from her. He couldn't stop walking or looking ahead, because every time he stopped moving and his eyes fell upon her discolored face, he so desperately wanted her to open her eyes and smile at him and ask if they were home yet.

He had never wanted anyone so badly; he had never felt so much loss or pain or longing desire in losing someone. He never loved someone like he did Emmy—and it was love that was more than just the love of a friend or a lover or a sibling or an employee. It was love she never asked for or earned but he, somewhere down the line, had just given it to her... it was the unconditional love that Charon thought he didn't have the ability to give.

Rising up from out of the swamp gas and thick, discolored fog that swam around him did figures of twisted bone and twig emerge—hanging from their outstretched arms hanging dolls. Charon ignored them because he knew that he was getting close to the swamp woman, after three days of walking and searching, he was going to find her and it was all that was beginning to matter. The dolls would lead him back to her garden shed.

After some time of walking amongst the fog and the twig and bone figures and the ruined dolls with the judging button eyes, he found it in the middle of a small clearing surrounded by beautiful swamp trees swaying amongst the mist lazily with the wind intertwining within their branches and leaves to have them dance. The mouth of a cave protruded from the ground, covered over by heavy cloth curtains, and to the side of the cave's mouth did the old woman stand with her back facing him, on her knees with her back hunched, as she tore into the ground with clawing fingers and broken, bleeding fingertips. From across the clearing where she was, she sang an incomprehensible song with a broken voice, as if she were crying. The jar of eyes that he recognized from before was set on the ground next to her, watching her work, and when he stepped into the clearing they danced erratically within their jar before immediately turning around to stare back at him. The woman immediately stopped clawing at the ground, her shoulders squaring out, and her singing ceased.

"...I—... br- brought her... Emmy... the only thing I have left." Charon murmured, stepping towards the woman who remained still. "I had nothing left to give... she was all I had! The only thing I prized—! You made me kill her!"

The swamp woman rose to her feet suddenly, almost gliding up straight and immediately turned back to face him, the back of her hand striking him across the face with such tremendous force that his body was thrown backward, Emmy's body collapsing from his hands and onto the ground at the woman's feet. Charon landed in the mud, splashing it up onto him, and he gazed back at the swamp woman as she began to screech and sob.

"This was NOT what I asked for! I asked for what you cherished MOST in this world, you foolish—FOOLISH-! You damned foolish ferryman, Charon! What have you done?... What have you done?... WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!"

"This is it! This is what I give you!" He screamed back, struggling to sit up from the pain that laced up his spine from how hard he hit the ground. "I cherished Emmy! I LOVED HER!"

"FREEDOM." The woman spat, an immense grimace upon her trembling and bruised lips as she collapsed to her knees over Emmy, her mouth contorting to a shriek as she yelled at the sky, throwing herself over Emmy's body. "You played God again when you are nothing but a measly ferryman of souls! I demanded your freedom from your pole and vessel! Not death! NOT THIS!"

The broken ghoul stared at her, milky eyes wide upon watching the swamp woman lay over his dead employer's body and weep, like that of a mother crying over their dead child. The woman pulled Emmy into her lap, desperately hugging her tight with Emmy's head against her chest as her trembling hand, nails torn from digging and horribly bloody and infected, combed through her pale brown hair as more incomprehensible singing poured from the woman's quivering mouth. Harsh tears heavily stained the blindfold over her eyes.

My... freedom...?

Horrified realization caused Charon to flop back against the mud, gazing up into the rapidly darkening sky as clouds formed over his head and the rain pelted mercilessly down upon his battered body and the sobbing woman as she cradled and pet Emmy's cold face. He kept his eyes open, the tears that had plagued him for three long days abandoning his eyes as the rain fell upon him and the weight of the mistake he had made crushed his lungs of breath.

Charon loved Emmy, that was undoubtedly true. He loved her, as friend and employer, so deeply that he knew without having to admit aloud to anyone that if she were to ever die he would certainly follow after her because death would have been kinder. Love was different from cherishing, and what he cherished was his freedom because it was a gift the Emmy had returned to him. She owned a piece of paper. She didn't own him and the paper didn't own him anymore. He wasn't a slave. He wasn't a bodyguard. He wasn't a brainwashed being. He wasn't a ghoul. He wasn't an animal, or a man, or anything else. He was—... he had been—... she gave him—!

I was free.

Turning his head over, continuing to watch the woman howl bitterly at the sky while still clasping Emmy to her, infected fingertips digging into her brown hair and curled around the combat knife sticking out from her, Charon saw Emmy gazing back at him. Her eyelids were parted, and peeking out from between them did the blue of her eyes show like chips of dull sapphires and the words, once again, rippled through his brain like a tidal wave—completely washing over him—as he allowed his eyes to close, letting the last of his tears to fall.

I... was... free...


Part o' ten of the town's best men

Headed for old Hattie's shack—

Said Swamp Witch magic was useful, and good,

And they're gonna bring Hattie back.

Never found Hattie, and they never found the shack,

And they never made a trip back in.

'Twas a parchment note, they found tacked to a stump said;

"don't come look'n again."


A/N: Alright, SO! To explain the ending of this story, it basically goes as this;

Charon is told by the swamp witch that in order to get his skin back, he has to give over something that he cherishes most in this world. He convinces himself that the witch means Emmy, but it turns out that the witch was referring to Charon's freedom. Realizing much too late, Charon realized that the reason WHY he loves Emmy and would die for her is because she gave a lot for him and helped him see that his contract did not define who he was. She made him feel like a free man.

The witch previously stated, in Chapter Two, that; "I will cover your body in the skin that you once knew, and return to you what other else you have lost." meaning that along with his skin, his complete freedom would be returned and the contract would no longer be a burden to him. Charon, a free man under Emmy (but still technically under the rules of his contract), kills her, so the contract between them becomes void and he has to do what he has always done when he is no longer in service to his employer. He must take his contract and find a new person to hold it, meaning that he has, again, become a slave to his contract by killing Emmy so he is no longer free. Now that he's no longer a 'free man', the deal can't be made between him and the swamp witch and he will never be given his skin.

If you're wondering why the swamp witch was digging into the ground near her home, it was because she knew beforehand that Charon had killed Emmy and so she was trying to dig out a grave to bury her in. She just didn't have the proper tools to dig, so instead she used her hands and had been digging so much that she broke her nails to the point that they bled, and the mud and dirt she dug into infected her fingertips.

A few facts for you!

One of the endings I had in mind was that the swamp witch (whom I named Frog-song) would actually turn Charon into a doll out of anger for wrongfully killing Emmy. I went with this ending because I felt that Charon having to live on with his guilt was a much more cruel punishment-just because I imagined that now that he's been retied with his contract for murdering Emmy, one of the rules is that he can't commit suicide so he would have to live on the rest of his life knowing what he has done.

Another fact for you; In the end of the first two chapters, Frog-song sings 'The Hearse Song' and 'Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby'. In this chapter, I was planning on having her sing '4 O'Clock' by Emilie Autumn, but based on Charon's final thought of being free, I felt that it would take away from the atmosphere of Frog-song suddenly singing (even though she is singing) so instead I left it as-is. I imagine it's the song she's singing/humming while she's digging Emmy's grave, though.

Frog-song is, if you hadn't guessed by now, a Swamp Witch. Charon wasn't hallucinating or dreaming or going crazy-everything that happened DID happen. Frog-song is gifted with unnatural abilities, so if Charon had given her the right thing, he WOULD have been given back his skin and hair and everything else that's good about being human. Who Frog-song is and how she came to be is a mystery, but in Chapter Two when she mentions a 'he' among the mentioned lines; "But you don't scream.You don't scream like he did… would you still hold me, if I cut off your arms? Would you still walk away, if I cut off your legs? Yes, yes, a delicious idea! Then you will never leave again!… " and "Would you like for me to sing to you again? He didn't seem to like my singing… so I took his tongue if he thought he sounded better. But you like my singing, don't you, my darling little sparrow?", it can be guessed that she maybe had a lover once whom left her and the experience has left her bitter-to the point where she most likely severely harmed him out of her anger.