Part One: Insides The shutter on the window keeps me awake. Tap, tap, tap. The outside night sky can be seen through the window when the shutter flutters open. There's a thick fog which is not uncommon for this area. The stench of the swamp, although a mile away, fills my room making it hard to breathe. I try to pull the sheets to my bed over my head to drown out some of the stench but I can't. I sit up in bed, feeling sticky and uncomfortable from the dense air. I stand on the wood floor, the feeling of it rough beneath my bare feet. I tip toe to the window as to not wake up Papa and Mama. I latch the shutter so it'll just stay open. The stench hits my nostrils somehow even stronger than before. I peer out into the night and see the swamp outside my window. I don't understand. The swamp should be a mile away but it's somehow right here. The fog sticks to the swamp like a dress does to me on a humid day. That's when I see him. I see a figure in the swamp staring at me. His silhouette is all I can make out as the fog and dark of night make features impossible. But, somehow, I can tell he isn't a man; at least he doesn't look like a man. Frightened, I take a step back from my window. I feel him watching me. I suddenly become very cold and I shiver so much I'm scared my body will somehow be torn apart from it. I can feel him as if he's touching me, his hands upon my shoulders. Then I can feel his breath in my ear. I am so scared and I feel paralyzed. That's when he whispers into my ear, even though he's still outside, "Kill them." I sit up in my bed, letting out a small gasp and breathing heavily. My heart feels like it's going to explode out of my body. The early morning sun is barely visible above the tree line outside my window. I can hear birds and can see a clear blue sky. It was a nightmare. It was the seventh time I've had that same nightmare. I didn't understand it and when I told my parents about it they simply told me it was bad dreams and I don't need to worry about it. It always scared me and left me curious as to why I was having them but I tried to do as they said and not think about it. I got out of bed and pulled on some clean britches and a simple white work shirt. I knew I had to help Papa today with the farm and scoffed as I put on some uncomfortable boots. When I got downstairs Mama was cooking breakfast; eggs and bacon with coffee. I tried to eat them as slow as possible as Papa wasn't there and I knew that meant he was already starting on the day. "Taking long won't stop your father from making you help," Mama joked, flashing a smile. I shook my head and tried not to laugh. After breakfast I joined Papa as he was standing amongst the cows. I stopped as my stomach flip-flopped as I stared at him kneeling over one of the cows who was in agony as she had somehow impaled herself on a fence post in the pen they all were in. Papa looked back to me and with a grimace he sighed, "Get the sledge, please, Alix." I froze. There was so much blood and the cow looked at me in terror. It was as if she was somehow begging me not to kill her. "Alix!" Papa shouted and I jolted some from the outburst. "Yes, Papa," I quickly replied and headed to get the sledgehammer from the tool shed near the barn. I returned and reluctantly handed it to him. He stood over the cow as it let out a small groan. I bit my bottom lip and watched as my father swung the sledge down, caving in its head and smashing brains all over the ground. The cow spasmed once or twice before being still. "We need to remove the carcass from the post," Papa told me, "and see if we can't sell what's left of it." And that's what he did all morning. We worked at cutting into the cow, spraying its blood and insides all over ourselves, working hard to get it removed from the pole. I tried not to vomit the entire time. When it was finished, we tried our best to wrap the body parts up in old sheets that Mama didn't want any longer. We stored them all in the barn. Even at dinner, after I had spent a good hour bathing, I felt like blood and the cow's entrails were on me. Papa ate his dinner without an issue, shoveling beef and potatoes into his mouth like he was a pig at a trough. Mama smiled at me as if sensing my feelings of dread, sadness, and sickness. I pushed at my beef with my fork and it was almost as if I could hear the groan of the cow Papa killed.