Father always told me not to stray too far from the walls of the village. When I asked why, he told me that the Eyes of the Swamp were always watching, keeping us safe so long as we stayed where we belonged. As soon as we wandered out too far, it would gobble us up.
When I got older, I stopped believing. The eyes in the dark were just animals, I thought, nothing we couldn’t handle. I took my friends out with me on a dare. We were going to hunt the eyes and bring it back, prove it was just a story to frighten children into staying close. We were sure of ourselves and confident that we would finish our task in no time at all.
When we spotted the eyes we grew quiet, pulling out our weapons and spreading out to surround it. What we didn’t expect was the monstrous maw that opened up out of the swamp or the way it closed the gap on us so quickly. I had never seen such a creature. Its jaw opened horizontally and closed over three of my friends. Their screams spurred the last of us into action and we ran as fast as we could back home.
When we returned, I received the worst scolding of my life mixed in with the relieved tears and hugs as my parents were thankful that I had made it back alive. I never scoffed at my father’s tales again; for while I knew some of them might not be true, the Eyes of the Swamp were out there watching.