Beyond the Woods 2

As summer arrived so did the rains, overflowing the river with a spate of rapid currents. I was dispatched to row through the river for stranded fisherman. Along the way, I am met by a wet Lucy. She seems alarmed and tells me about a giant alligator that swam by her house. She had never seen such an immense creature in her life and it frightened her. I explained to her that what she saw was Muja, the king of all alligators that lived in the wetlands. Every now and then he ventured into the river for food. Muja was indeed a giant to ever be reckoned with and most believed the last of his kind. Strange as it sounded to her I told her he was protected by us Rangers.

“Who would want to hurt him?” Lucy was stunned by this revelation. “It’s large enough to kill ten men on its own.”

“Poachers,” I said. “Though, not many have succeeded. Muja represents the last of the prehistoric alligators. It has been captured many times before, but he always seems to return to the wetlands. That’s where it lives.”

She then rambled on about large fishes with equally sharp teeth and barracudas that swam close to the surface of the water. She had never seen anything like it and wondered it if it was normal. Indeed, it was. The river was notorious to bringing about rare aquatic predators as well as those that hunted them down. I didn’t mention the hordes of eels that would abound the waters come winter. I didn’t want to scare her any further. I bid her farewell as I was on the hunt for Muja. I felt terrible for abandoning her this way, but I assumed she would be all right in the end. I promised her I would return when I could.

Lucy didn’t scare off as easily and remained in the old cabin. I would see her making repairs to it when I visited. Eventually, she made it her home. During my visits I discovered she was a grand baker and her chimney was constantly active. I could see the smoke swirl into the air before I even approached her place. She always offered me one of her pies, which after having one it was hard to turn down the others.