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The Swamp

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The Swamp
I run to the green water, my legs burning red with the effort. My hair whips wildly behind me and slaps my face with sharp stings. It mimics the approaching storm in the gray air. The birds are long gone, hiding somewhere safe until the rage passes through my village. They are the smart creatures. I know I am getting closer as the smell infects the air I breathe. The moist, dirty smell of the water the old ones love so dearly. My grandfathers’ words repeat themselves loudly in my head. “The green water is our gift and we must love it tenderly,” Grandfather Benedict rasped, his voice creaking from time. “You must honor it always.” He wheezed and clutching my hand with his strongest grip. I nodded to him, wanting desperately to leave his dying little house. I kissed his thin cheek and ran out the door.
Now I am almost there. Almost at the swamp my grandfather loves so dearly. I must see why a man’s dying words would praise a swamp the rest of us despise so greatly. I must go to the place I’ve only gone to in my daydreams. A place my mother has deemed forbidden, for untold reasons. I am sixteen now, I should be able to see for myself these dangers. Grandfather must know something the rest do not. Surely he must have been brave one day in his youth, and ventured out to see the wild lands. I must see what my grandfather means, to honor him before he is gone from this world.
I stumble towards the bank of the huge monster. Fear grips me, tugging at my brain. I stare at the Vasyugan, my heart frantically urging me to part from this evil place. Frogs croak and leap effortlessly into the endless puddle of bile. I watched them, mesmerized. How could they have no fear living here? How could they just throw themselves into the most dangerous part of the world, without a care? I giggle. Such little animals, with more courage than all the young men I know!
I look down and notice I am ankle deep in the water. I shriek and almost dart away, never to return again. Foolish, foolish girl, you have gone too far. But instead I stay. In a deep breathe I make the decision that there is nothing to fear. Grandfather was right. This place is vile, yet beautiful. The swamp is endlessly green and brown and full of kind little frogs. A smile is born on my lips, and I turn to run home, to tell all the villagers how terribly wrong they are to have fear! Just as my feet begin to move, I hear a soft swish of water.
A rough, dark olive lizard floats in front of me. It is longer than any man at home. In fact it is the bigest thing I’ve ever seen. Its teeth stick out of its mouth, crimson and slick. The eyes lock on me, eyes that are yellow and are filled with murder. I whimper, and my entire body trembles with utter fear. I cannot move though my entire being is screaming, RUN, RUN, RUN, RUN! I know I am going to die, that this creature will devour me; it will violently rip me apart until I am nothing more than a bloody pile of skin and bone. Still I scream, until I feel the thing’s teeth in my body, and the world disappears.


Lightening rips apart the sky. “Ana still hasn’t returned home darling, and its dinner,” says mother, her eyes leaking drops of dread down her lovely, pale cheeks. Father meets her eyes and kisses her forehead hard. They know what must have happened. Grandpa told them that he watched me run towards the swamp. He told them how I faded from his failing eyesight, and he figured I was just going to admire its splendor from a distance. I had stood a sweet, safe distance. Oh grandfather, how I wish the truth fell from you lips. How I wish I could have never listened to your sick ranting’s of your lovely swamp. Mother cradles herself in her own arms as father runs wildly toward the cursed place, as I did before the storm’s crescendo.
Of course he will find nothing, for my killer was very, very hungry.




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