Who is Fred Carter? You can find the answer to that question here.
What's Fred Carter and the Mardi Gras Monster? That one's answered here.
I thought for sure I was done for as the lizard-gator-man-thing prepared to clamp its massive, tooth-filled maw over my head.
Then, just as the thing was about to bite my head off, a machete seemed to appear out of nowhere and embed itself deep in its neck. A gout of black, brackish blood spewed upward and splashed across the bare fluorescent bulbs above. The beast reared back, a gurgling hiss issuing from its mouth. It let go of me as it started flailing at the blade. Its head rolled to one side, as half of the muscles that held it in place had just been cleanly severed.
I rolled away, and realized that the machete was attached to a man: the bruised and battered archaeologist dude.
As the creature frantically attempted to simultaneously halt the spray of blood that had begun spurting from its neck and keep its head from flopping to the side, the dude worked the massive blade loose and brought it down, again. This time, the thing's head fell right off. It stood there for a couple of seconds, flailing at the stump, then dropped to its knees and fell in front of me - spraying me again with the dark ichor that passed for its blood.
I stared at it for a moment, then heaved a heavy sigh of relief, as I realized that was the last of the monsters. As if in response, the headless body lurched up, and a massive, scaly skinned arm reached out for me. Its hand curled around my leg, and the corpse jerked forward as if to pull itself on top of me. I beat it with my fists and kicked it with my free leg, but it held tight.
The dude jumped on the thing's back and brought the heavy blade of the machete down on it again and again and again, chopping its hands from its arms. Then, its arms from its body. Finally, he up-ended the blade and drove it straight down between its shoulder blades.
The corpse twitched twice, then lay still. Its severed hand was still tightly wrapped around my calf.
"A little help here," I said to the dude as I tried to force the disembodied hand to release my leg. He knelt down and the two of us began removing the hand, one broken finger at a time. Fortunately, there were only three of them.
"Colorado Jake," he said, helping me to my feet.
Jake looked around, found his brown fedora. I looked around, found Jeanine. She was sitting - dazed - against the side of the Honda, where she'd fallen when she tripped. I helped her up.
"Look what you did to my car!" she snapped. She pulled herself away from me and punched me in the chest. "You wrecked it!"
"In my defense, we were being chased by swamp monsters," I said, not that I thought it would help much.
She didn't seem to care - she stood looking at her car, her back to me. She shook her head.
"I just made the second payment," she said. "Now look at my baby."
"You must be Jeanine," Jake said, extending his hand.
"This is as much your fault as it is his!" she barked, slapping his hand away. "If I hadn't come looking for your missing ass, none of this would have happened."
She turned and went to the beast she'd capped. She kicked it in anger and turned again to face us.
"And what the Hell are these things? Huh? Frickin' swamp creatures? What's up with that?"
Suddenly, her expression changed, as her brain switched gears - from stress-induced anger to sudden realization of what had just happened. Then, her eyelids fluttered and her eyes rolled back into her head. Jake and I caught her as she wilted to the pavement.
. . . . .