The wall grew overnight.

The swamp had been, for many years, barely passable and largely avoided. But when the time came to drain it, to replace the pools and bogs with land that was useful, something changed.

Workmen arrived after a day of hard but productive labor to find their tools scattered, their machines batted about as if by a child’s hand. And between they and the swamp to be drained, a wall. It was not a wall of brick, or of steel, but a wall of the swamp itself.

Gnarled and ancient wood, curled in upon itself and dripping with algae. Arachnid dendrils of fresh-grown shoots, still carrying upon them the green of their birth. Even planks from the old corduroy road that had once wound its way through the thinnest and shallowest of the bog were twisted within. Twelve feet or more, it was in places studded with dead birds strangled in the matter as it had emerged and embraced.

Half of the workmen quit the jobsite that day. The other half spent the day sawing a hole large enough for passage; they too gave notice when, the morning after that, their hole had been plugged by fresh regurgitations from the heart of the swamp.

The owners, who had much invested in the property and grand plans for the drained land, persisted. They hired a new crew and set them to work building a ramp over the top of the mysterious swamp wall. It took two weeks, but the ramp was completed and not overgrown the following morn.

A full survey crew went in first, to check for damage to the work that had already been done by what was rationalized away as an earthquake. At shift’s end, none returned. The second crew deserted in droves, aside from a search party assembled by the owners and promised triple pay. Armed and equipped for rescue, they also failed to return.

Seven days later, a single man stumbled out of the swamp and collapsed at the foot of the ramp. He was covered with scratches and bites, and was completely incoherent. A member of the second party, he raved for hours about vengeful red eyes amid the rotting wood, of creatures neither lizard nor amphibian that rose from the muck to savage men with needle-sharp teeth and steel-keen claws.

That sole survivor died one week later. Sedated and restrained after several prior attempts, he killed himself by chewing off his own tongue and drowning in blood. At long last the owners abandoned their plans and surrendered the swamp to the state. The ramp was torn down after it was determined there were no further survivors, and compensation for their next-of-kin bankrupted every investor.

And the wall? The wall remains, overgrown, tangled with hollow bones. It’s said there’s a knothole, in a piece of the old courduroy road, through which the intrepid or the curious can peek to see what lies beyond, sealed off from all that is not pools of peat and rotting vegetable matter.

To this date, no one has.

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