Bayou - or - Fluffy the Banjo Player

by Polydicta

This is a multi-crossover between Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter and the world of H.P. Lovecraft

The now obligatory selection of plot-bunnies, orphaned scenes, omakes and idiocy that sometimes bring my mind to a grinding halt. Ongoing warnings for smut, language, character death, bashing, torture, mutilation and reader brain-damage. Brain bleach recommended.

Disclaimer:

All fiction is derivative and fan fiction doubly so. I make no claim to own any part of any of the following, all I have done is an attempt to put together the elements in a novel fashion, using words and ideas like Lego ™ bricks.

There is no money involved – all I do is to share what I do for my own amusement.

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Bayou - Part 1: Twin Bayoux

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The time - sometime in the near future.
The place - deep in the uncharted wilderness of the Mississippi basin.

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It was summer in the Twin Bayoux area, a small expanse of relatively dry land that had grown up around the Innsmouth Bayou and the Blackswamp Bayou. A community of, perhaps, a hundred dwellings and what Mrs Black descibed as a centre of excellence for folk tales of the weird and unusual.

Elizabeth Black who had inherited the worst of both her parents' hair, and thus known as Fluffy, was sat on the back porch, idly picking out a tune on an old banjo while musing upon the mystery that was her family. Of course, anyone calling her Fluffy to her face was in for a world of hurt.

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Her father, Jim, was some kind of war veteran, a mysterious, scarred, paranoid man with silver-speckled black hair that would resemble nothing less than a rooks' nest, if he let his buzz cut grow out. His wife, Jane had curly hair that would frizz up in damp weather. She, too, was scarred. She, too, had the haunted, thousand yard stare of someone who had seen battle from up close and personal.

Grampa Marsh, a grizzled old man with wide features and a slightly disconcerting resemblance to the mudskippers in the bayou wasn't a blood relation, but he was family. Jeb Marsh, normally a placid individual with the patience of a stone would occasionally work himself up to a conniption over his grand daughter who he described as a Dag'ner, whatever that was.

Then there were the Longs. Nev Long was a massive man by anyone's standards, a gentle hearted man with a core of steel. He lived with his daughter, Elizabeth's best friend, Willow and his housebound wife, Gin. Gin Long was, even by the standards of their local community, crazier than a squirrel on an electric fence, and had been since Willow's birth. Indeed, Willow's name had been given because of her mother's delerious rantings about a willow.

Yes, here in Twin Bayoux they knew all too well about the willows - both the common ones and the ... uncommon ones. Willows more animal than vegetable. Trees with an attitude ... and a temper to match. It was these trees that caused much of the devastation to the road during the winter months.

Lastly there were the Goods. Lu Good, a spacey, blond woman with a penchant for odd outbursts and exotic cooking lived with her son, Alexander and the memories of her husbant, someone by the name of Newton.

This family was relatively new to the area, apart from Grampa Marsh who, it seemed, owed the five 'Limey Lords' some great, family debt, and welcomed them onto his (now their) land. Truth be told, the Blackswamp part of the Twin Bayoux was actually oned by some British Lord or other.

Elizabeth's mom was the teacher at the local school and, because of her qualifications, the few children in the area didn't have to travel by boat and bus to the school in Fort Blackie.

She shuddered. Fort Blackie was one of those places so poor and out of the way that it was almost derelict. It was also the nearest place with a permanent road through it - a swamp-lined, alligator infested track broken by frequent, lichen-covered, wooden bridges. The school, Fort Blackie School had the motto, Letting the Sun Shine Through. Fort Blackie had less hours of sunlight than anywhere else in the Mississippi basin, and it was, quite honestly, the most depressing place imaginable - festooned by beard lichens and built between the dark, twisted forms of unidentifiable, black-barked trees. The ground was permanently marshy and wet, and grass was simply unheard of - where other communities had lawns, Fort Blackie had cat-tail sedges and wet-loving mosses.

It was a place with two exports - people and, unsurprisingly, skin and lung diseases.

Twin Bayoux, on the other hand, seemed to have an inordinate amount of sunshine - even during the rains of autumn. The land comprised a series of hillocks of fine, black soil that seemed to grow anything that you planted in it. The community was linked together by a few tracks that were maintained by the locals, and the wooden bridges across the watercourses were well maintained.

Each spring, the road to Fort Blackie was diligently repaired in time for truckloads of supplies to be delivered. Truckloads of supplies to a small community in the heart of the poorest part of the United States of America.

Each autumn, the rains would come, the rivers would shift course, and the road would disappear under the rising waters and the trees would claim their territory back once more. Jim Black would then settle down a bit, referring to the river as the watery ramparts against the march of civilisation. Elizabeth was never certain that it was civilisation, or something less wholesome that her dad was wary of.

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Elizabeth Black was a hardy girl. At fourteen she was as tall as her parents and broader than either. She was, as one of the boys from over at the Green place said, pleasently muscular, and perfectly able to strangle a werewolf to death one handed, while unloading her twelve-gauge into his buddies with the other.

In that respect, she took after her father who was infinitely stronger than his slight build would suggest.

Of course, that boy was perfectly correct, having witnessed her strangling one of the werewolves that plagued the area each winter.

No one knew where the wolves came from - certainly none of the community were involved. The one universal rule of Twin Bayoux was the wearing of a silver crucifix next to the skin.

Whither they came was of little matter to Twin Bayoux - they were just another thing to be aware of, like the mobile trees, not just the willows, and the manitou - aggressive spirits bound to certain trees. Malevolence in wood bearing an unending hatred of more physical life.

Elizabeth had been one of the few children willing to venture across Perdews Tarn to visit Idemale's Island. There did they see the squat, mushroom-shaped stones - twenty-seven in all, hewn roughly of a greenish rock with golden flecks throughout. In the centre of the irregular boundary of low stones was a fallen pillar of the same rock with, at what had been the top, the misshapen feet of some kind of figure. The rest of the carving lay strewn in a mess of destroyed fragments.

The feel of both the swamp-ringed island and the tarn, a hidden lake of unplumbed depths, was sick and unwholsome, and Elizabeth had thought, as the crows croaked softly, of her mother's tale of The Mewlips.

The disturbed ground, the result of one Inspector Legrasse's destruction of an unwholsome cult in the Winter of 1907 was now a grassy glade but, oddly for any dry land in the area, there was no indication of any animal life on the island, just open grassland, short but ungrazed. This was not a place to spend a winter's night, even if you were desperate.

She and her companions were grounded for the rest of the summer for that expedition, no reason given except that it was a particularly hazardous place for travel. Her father had been away for three days with Mr Long immediately after that. Hunting, they said, but they returned exhausted and filthy, and without anything for the pot. She had been eight at the time.

Now, coming up to her eleventh birthday, she could see that the visit had been reckless indeed. Her mom had told her that she was too much like her father in her seeking of mysteries. Her dad had told her that she would understand fully when she was ready. She thought that she now understood.

Her musing was brought to an end with the arrival of her friend Willow. Willow with the red hair and tears in her eyes.

"It's mom," she began, "she's having another crazy. She keeps screaming about a snake and someone called Tom, or something ..."

It was strange, since the one thing that no one from Twin Bayoux had to fear was snakes - even the most venomous of them would rather twine around your arms than bite - and there was no one in the area named Tom.

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It was two weeks later that the stranger appeared. A tall, dark-skinned man with sad eyes, a heavy, gold earring and wearing what could only be described as African Ethnic clothing - in purple and indigo, no less, and topped with a matching kufi cap, the same as the crawfish fishermen out on the main river wore on their boats.

He spent several hours with Elizabeth's parents, and later with Willow's and Alexander's. As he left, Elizabeth heard him telling the parents that someone called Minerva would understand, and that he would be back in a few days.

Her parents, as they emerged from her dad's study looked ... serious.

"Dad?"

"Yes Honey?"

"What's going on? Is it something bad?"

"Nothing to worry yourself with, dear. Shack was just bringing us some news."

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