Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
Today marks week 29 of the 52 week writing challenge!
The prompt for 23rd July is ‘Mythical Creatures’:
Mythical creatures vary from country to country. Japan has some interesting folklore, including a giant foot monster that stalks your house if it’s dirty! I’ve chosen the Japanese River Monster.
The Kappa is a type of water imp with a human-ish form, but the height of a child. It usually has reptilian features, like webbed feet and hands, and it loves to eat children.
‘Must you leave your socks on the floor? Can’t you pick them up?’ Nina’s mother complained.
Her father shrugged from his position on the couch. ‘I forgot.’
‘You always forget. It drives me nuts!’ her mother replied.
Nina shook her head and eyed the door. The argument was a long standing one, which would last until her mother ran out of things to complain about. Nina thought of the state of her room, put her book down, and stood.
‘I’m going out with friends!’ Nina yelled over the din.
Mother nodded absently. Her father shrugged. Nina toed on her shoes and slipped out the door.
‘If they paid attention to me, they’d know I don’t have friends,’ Nina muttered as she kicked at the dirt.
In the distance, the river sparkled. Nina wiped her brow and eyed it longingly. No matter how hot it got, no child dared venture near the river. Well, she wasn’t like the other children, who teased her and pulled her hair. She was different. Special. At least, that’s what her parents said.
Nina passed the well on the outskirts of the village and counted the cucumbers in the fields. ‘One, two, three… fo… Where’s four?’
Nina frowned. There were seven the day before. ‘Mr Fibbs must have eaten them all,’ she said to reassure herself, and continued towards the river.
At the edge of the fields, bells tinkled in the wind on nearly invisible rope, painted grass green and camouflaged from view. If any animal dared to approach, the farmers would know about it.
Nina stepped over the rope and made for the river. A movement by the shore caught her eye, and she paused for a moment to glance back at the village. Home. Safety. She shook her head. If she dared to go where no one goes, maybe the others would respect her.
With a determined glint in her eye, Nina stepped forwards, further than she’d ever gone before, and strode straight towards the river. She wasn’t afraid of monsters.
As she drew closer, frantic splashes rippled the water in front of her. A frightened neigh pierced the air. Mr Fibb’s horse struggled against a small turquoise creature in the depths of the water. The creature let out a rude farting noise and wrestled the animals head underwater.
Nina gulped and took a step closer to the bank.
‘What are you doing?’ she asked the creature. She twiddled with her skirt, then, more boldly, called out, ‘Let the horse go!’
The creature whipped its head around. Its face twisted into a smirk, and it released the horse. Frightened limbs splashed as the horse scrambled for shore. Once its hooves connected with the river bank, it fled.
The creature slunk closer to the shore, eyes narrowed. A forked tongue snuck out from between parted lips. Nina gulped and took a few steps back.
‘I am sorry, my child,’ the creature murmured from the edge of the water.
Nina watched as it ducked its head under. When it emerged again, an odd membrane on top of its head sparkled and sloshed with water. She tilted her head in wonder and took a step closer.
‘How come you speak my language?’ she asked.
The creature barked out a harsh laugh. ‘I have watched your kind for centuries. Even helped myself to a few cucumbers.’
Oh. That explained the missing cucumbers.
‘You like them?’ Nina asked.
‘Not as much as I like children,’ the creature replied with a crooked smile. ‘Come into the water child.’
Nina bit her lip and glanced back at the village. She could hear her parents from here. Still fighting. When she turned back to the river, she let out a startled gasp. The creature was right in front of her now, stood on two webbed feet. She began to back away.
‘What if you eat me?’
‘That’s the plan,’ the creature replied, and leapt for her.
Nina fell to the ground as the air was knocked out of her. She held up her arms to protect her face and kicked out against the creature. It let go. She rolled to the side, to her feet. Ran.
Up the hill, away from the river. Towards the fields and bells. The creature was clumsy on land, but still, it followed. Nina leapt over the camouflaged rope and into the cucumber fields.
She turned to glare at the creature. Taunted, in a sing-song voice, ‘Come and get me!’
The creature growled and lumbered towards her. When it tripped on the rope, bells pierced the air. Even her parents shouts stopped. Nina gasped as water spilled from the membrane on the creatures head. She rushed to its side as it collapsed in the dirt.
‘Please… ‘ the creature begged, voice raspy. ‘If I don’t get water, I’ll die.’
Nina frowned as footsteps pounded on the dirt track nearby. She looked down at the fallen creature. ‘If I save you, you have to promise not to eat me.’
‘I will forever be in your debt,’ the creature replied.
Nina glanced at the sun. If she and the monster were friends, she could visit the river any time. She grabbed the creature under the arms and dragged it behind a bush. Mr Fibbs appeared by the bells, katana in hand. Nina held her breath as he scouted the area. Nothing stirred.
‘Dumb kids,’ Nina heard him mutter. He slung the sword over his shoulder and walked away.
Nina wasted no time. She rushed to the well and yanked up a bucket of water. When she returned to the creature, she poured the water into the membrane. The effect was instant, and it perked up.
‘Thank you. Help me back to the river?’
‘Of course,’ Nina replied. She helped the creature up. ‘What’s your name?’
‘Kapros,’ the creature hissed.
Kapros nodded, and they made for the river.
Sat on a rock in the middle of the river, with Kapros beside her, Nina relaxed. Her bare toes swung through the water, and a hand came up to her chin.
‘You say you like to eat children?’ she asked.
Nina grinned. ‘I have a few in mind…’
Thanks for reading!
I had a lot of fun researching the Kappa. Japanese culture and folklore has always been of interest to me. I loved anime when I was younger, and Studio Ghibli’s ‘Spirited Away’ is full of references to Japanese legend!
Read more about the Kappa here: The Japanese River Monster
Have a good anime recommendation? Let me know in the comments! If you spot any errors, or have any suggestions for improvements, let me know!
Next Sunday’s prompt:
The prompt for 30th July is ‘Myths/Legends.’
If you try next weeks prompt yourself, let me know how it goes. Post your attempt on your blog on the 30th July, and leave a link in the comments below this post so that I can read it 🙂
If you can attempt the prompt in less than 140 characters, you can also #sunscribbles on Twitter. I am super interested to see what you all come up with 🙂