Emily Miller


She resides somewhere between the squelch of the earth and the scent of decay brought on by a lack of oxygen—by a high acidity that preserves the bodies of her prey for her so neatly under unnaturally still water. She never takes from the peat bog more than it is willing to give. They are equals, and she knows this by the press of the stagnant water upon every tendon of her body: a portentous embrace.

Tonight is what her prey call Hallow’s Eve, and she is hungry for the taste of freedom, for carnage, for the heaving chests of men as she suffocates them with her palpi. She feels that the day of the hunt has arrived in the way the mud begins to shift more freely than usual under her tendril-esque toes, in the excited scent of the water through the olfactory glands in her ever-writhing tentacles.

Under the cover of the water her limbs unfurl one at a time: a haon, a dó, a trí, a ceathair… until eight appendages cut the visage of the bog she has inhabited for centuries and stretch outward, tasting the atmosphere which carries a chilling fog that settles over her tentacles like a shroud. She plunges out of the suctioning mud and wrenches herself from the hold of her home. Her skin glistens and she feels delightfully cold as the foggy night atmosphere clings to her form. A shiver runs through her; she stands.

Wherever she steps there is decay. Grass dies, turning muddy brown. Flies follow in her wake. No frogs croak. She lifts her grotesque head and let’s the bioluminescence of her limbs permeate the bog air so the land glows electric blue: an ominous beacon.

This is their sign. Let them know she is coming. They have no means of escape from her annual conquest. The squelch of her feet upon the dew covered ground precedes her form, and the first human she comes across waits too long to realize it is she that has come for him. She shoves three tentacles down the poor man’s throat while he strains to see what could be making such an unholy sound. They writhe until they can reach no further down the man’s esophagus, and two more hold his arms to his sides so he cannot struggle. His strangling, gargling suffocation lights a spark in her core, and as the life drains from his eyes and his form goes slack around her, she emits a sound that resonates like the slow creaking of an ancient hinge. For her, it is a gleeful laugh.

Her harvesting continues through the night until the corners of the sky begin to morph from black to a deep purple. By the time she has returned to the bog, she has sixty-seven bodies in tow. One by one she drags them into the water and lets their lifeless forms sink to the muddy floor, their empty gazes catching her own. The bog will keep them fresh for her until the next Hallow’s Eve; it will gather death and smother oxygen to preserve all organic matter just to her liking.

When only one body is left, her first victim of the night, she sinks back into the comfort of the bog, digs the teeth of her suction-cups into his bruised flesh, and feasts.


Emily Rose Miller is a recent graduate of Saint Leo University where she received her BA in English with a specialization in creative writing. Her work has been published in Red Cedar Review, Inklette Magazine, The Dandelion Review, Sandhill Review, and is forthcoming in The Dollhouse Magazine. She can be found online on Instagram @actualprincessemily and on her website or in real life cuddling with her five cats.