swamps. hardly the initial place one thinks of when pondering upon where best to live. of course, the most natural of places to begin at would be a shared apartment, or even perhaps renting a room as a lodger somewhere. alas, as shinji flicked through page after page of properties in the local newspaper, not a single home seemed at all welcoming. cities, bustling with constant life and noise, were never going to call to him as a reasonable place for him to stay, not after the dramatic and frightful events back at tokyo three. no, he couldn’t face another busy metropolis.
he had been close to giving up hope when he’d spied the warning, the red-marked exclamation that the local ogre was back to his old tricks. ogres? such things existed? shinji at first though the warning to be a joke, perhaps an april fool’s prank of some kind, but nothing about it seemed to be amusing. the photograph provided featured not only the grim shadow of the supposed beast, but also of its apparent home, a glossy, moss-coated tree root within which had been carved a rather picturesque little home. not one inch of it seemed to be the kind of place a terrifying monster would reside within. in fact, as shinji fingered the photograph, deep in though, he supposed that such a place would be a dream to live in, certainly as opposed to the bleak, loneliness of the intimidating city.
it had been a whimsical thought, a fancy which had seen shinji gather up the bag of his belongings and catch a train to the edge of the forest. trees towering akin to skyscrapers greeted him at the forest’s mouth, however instead of terrifying him, shinji felt somewhat shielded by their gigantic might. they were protective walls of natural beauty, something he had only found upon the outskirts of tokyo, as opposed to within its famous streets.
the trek through was nothing short of nerve racking. shinji knew not of how best to address an ogre, whether or not the half-dead house plant he had saved from his previous home was a better gift than nothing at all and whether or not he should have called first to ask if it was alright for him to stay. all he knew, simply from admiring the picture in that newspaper now tucked into his back pocket, was that the swamp was where he wanted to be. forget want. he needed to be there. ogre or not, that swamp had called to him as if a siren’s song could hum from the paper’s page, beckoning to him, urging him to venture there.
after a half hour of nervous, quickened walking, he reached the prized location. all about him derelict tree stumps protruded from the ground, the occasional blip of the heated mud pool causing the timid boy to jump as he walked. of course, it stank rather foully, but shinji was not yet put off. instead, he embraced the aroma as if it was merely a passing fad, a drifting scent soon to be forgotten. reaching the front door, shinji paused. what was he going to say? what if the ogre decided not only to ignore him but eat him as punishment? well, he hadn’t thought of that. fear settled in upon the boy’s brow in the form of freshly formed sweat beads, glistening beneath dampened hair as he raised a fist and knocked upon the door.
something stirred from within.
although it was too late to turn back, shinji at once began to fear for his decision, regretting instantly that he had come there at all. how could he have been so stupid? of course living with an ogre was a stupid, stupid thing to do! could humans and ogres coexist? the thought was ridiculous fantasy and tears pressed at the corners of shinji’s eyes as he remained fear-rooted to the doormat. however, he was given merely second to revel within his own idiocy for after three seconds of silence, the door creaked open.
it was as if the pearly gates above had thrown wide their metal casings, that angels had suddenly risen from their clouded abode to reward him for his plight. yes, the ogre had answered the door, but whilst shinji had been expected a giant, menacing and hideous beast as a future room mate, the truth of the ogre’s beauty had been very much underestimated. a rich, onion scented breeze seemed to catch shinji off-guard, swaying him as he gazed up into the narrowed glare of the pine-shaded beast, his very presence enough to daze the young evangelion pilot almost instantly. with a low, husky voice the ogre finally spoke, in response drawing shinji’s mouth agape as the beautiful monster uttered seven simple yet tantalising words.
“what are you doing in my swamp?”