Meelo stood apart from the children with his arms tucked over his chest. They sat huddled around a small fire hanging on the every word of the tribe elder. The tale he was telling, the tale of the creature, had been passed down in the tribe for as long as anyone could remember. No one in the tribe could tell you where the story came from. Everyone just knew it and accepted it, except for Meelo.
There had been a time when he believed, when he woke up soaked in sweat with tremors running through his body in fear of the creature, but those beliefs died with his mother. His father walked through the door of their hut that day drenched in rain and blood and fell to his knees. Meelo raced to his father, “Ni’nah! What happened?”
His father started to weep, Meelo looked around for his Mother, “Where is ni’ksissta?”
“Gone,” he chocked out.
Meelo blinked a few times before he was able to process what his father has said. His stomach and chest felt tight, “Was it the creature,” he asked quietly.
His father looked up at him, his dark eyes dull and blood shot, “What?”
“Did the creature get her, there is a lot of blood, did-did the creature eat her,” tears had started to spill from Meelo’s eyes.
His father placed two hands on his shoulders, “Listen to me Meelo, there is no creature. Your mother was not eaten by some story that the Elder told you. Do you understand me?”
Meelo stood still, how could that be true? All his life his mother and father had told him to mind the Elder, to not go into the forest alone for fear of the creature, and now his father was telling him that it was just a story? That there was not a creature, he felt his head spin.
“I said do you understand me Meelo? “
“Then what happened?”
“She-“ his voice broke, “She died, she died when the baby was coming.”
Meelo shook the memory from his mind and looked out into the forest. Nothing evil lived out there, nothing that feasted upon the flesh of sapient man lived in that forest. The village elder had finished his story and was putting out the fire when Meelo approached him.
“Why do you keep spouting that nonsense?”
The elder looked up and smiled, ”Ah, Meelo, I thought I saw you lurking by the trees.”
Meelo pushed on, “The legend Elder. You know it’s not true. Why do you keep telling it?”
“I do not know that. Nor do you I am afraid.”
A sudden fire rose in Meelo’s chest, “I’ll prove it. I’ll spend a night in the forest.
The Elder raised his brow in surprise, “That would be foolish boy. Remember the end of the legend. Only a fool would rush into his domain.”
“There is no him or his. The creature doesn’t exist. I’ll prove it,” and with that he stalked off toward the forest.
The Elder dropped his head sadly and shook it, “May God have mercy on your soul Meelo.”