Small boots sink into the muddy ground, each step creating boot shaped craters that gush with murky brown water seconds later. The boots stop in front of a large black beetle and the chubby face of a young boy appears above the insect. The boy laughs as the bug flies at his face and buzzes around his nose. It takes off in the direction of a large skeletal tree and the boy plops after it, attempting to catch it. The insect flies into a clearing with the boy laughing close behind. The boy suddenly stops and looks at the giant tree in front of him.
Attached to the giant white tree hangs a rickety swing consisting of two moldy ropes and a piece of driftwood. On the swing sits a girl in a shockingly pristine white dress. The boy looks at the scene with wonder and curiosity in his eyes. Nobody besides him and his mother live in these swamps. It was the first time he has ever seen someone close to his age. He calls out to the strange looking girl. She turns around, her silver hair flying from her back to her shoulder, and regards the boy with a surprised yet curious look.
After meeting the girl with the silver hair, the boy goes on to visit her almost daily. She never speaks, only nods and shakes her head to questions or smiles when she is victorious in one of the many games the boy teaches her. Games like noughts and crosses or hide and seek, games that the boy usually plays by himself. At the end of every visit the girl always tugs on the boy’s arm and notions deeper into the swamp with her head. He guesses that she wants to play more but he knows has to leave before his mother comes looking for him.
The boy quietly opens the door to a small wooden cabin and finds his mother preparing food in the kitchen. He starts slowly climbing the stairs to his room on the first floor when his mother suddenly calls out to him. She usually never talks to him so the boy almost falls down the stars when he hears her rough voice. He cautiously enters the kitchen.
“You’ve been coming home late recently you know that?”
Her flabby arms shake as she cleaves a piece of meat in two with a heavy thud. The boy nods.
“Make sure I don’t catch you up to no good or talking to nobody”
She wipes her bloodied hands on her apron and glares at the boy. He nods rigorously.
“Go to your room and stay there” she growls.
A few days later the boy is visiting the girl again. He is in the middle of teaching her how to make mud cakes. She stares intently at his hands as they mold and shape the mud into neat round cakes.
“Pretty cool huh?” he asks her.
Suddenly they hear the cracking of sticks and heavy footsteps behind them. They both turn to see the large figure of the boy’s mother enter the clearing. She locks eyes with the boy.
“What are you doing way out here?”
She notices the girl in the pale dress next to her son.
“NO...GET AWAY FROM MY SON YOU MONSTER!” she shrieks, charging at the children.
The boy is terrified. The girl tugs his arm and he follows, too scared to think. They run deep into the swamp, his mother’s screams become more and more distant. He takes another step and sinks. Murky water fills his lungs and eyes. He tries to swim but rough hands grip his legs and pull him down. He looks down and sees a scaly creature in a pristine white dress sink its teeth into his leg before the world becomes black.