Wind Across The Playground
Mr. Overworth, Miss Voss!” screamed a dozen voices as a group of children appeared at the staffroom door, “Wendy’s caught in the swamp.”
“Simmer down!” Noel snapped and glanced at the eldest child there. “John, you tell me.”
“Wendy’s stuck in the swamp,” the ten year old explained in a panicky voice. “Right up to her neck, Mr. Overworth. You have to come!”
“Right,” Noel replied.
He broke into a run down the corridor and out to the playground. After racing across the football field, he leapt over the end gate and into the school pine plantation that covered a steep bank down to a gully. Noel almost slid to the bottom and pushed his way through thick undergrowth of creeper to the school boundary fence. Just about the whole school was there and parted to let him through
He could hear screaming and shouting before Wendy came into view.
Three other senior pupils were over the fence and in knee deep stagnant water. This was the notorious swamp in the neighbour’s property. Noel’s eyes, though, were on the sobbing thirteen-year-old girl who was further out in a circle of grey gunk. Her thrashing body had moved the green slime across the rest of the surface and, even as he watched, the clinging ooze splashed across her mouth.
Noel turned and waded in as far as the pupils had and stopped. He knew that if he went further he could very well be sucked down himself. Once caught like Wendy, there was no way to get free. Only a few weeks previously a cow had been caught in the swamp and was sucked under before anyone knew where it was.
Wendy still had her two arms out and was trying to use them like a swimmer to propel herself forward but only succeeded in being sucked further in. A long whimpering cry of sheer terror filled the air.
She dropped, mud covered her chin and she immediately started to panic again. Arms flung wildly and waves of mud shot out in huge circles. Noel edged forward but his front foot began to sink. She was in a desperate situation. Just one arm now remained free and, only by tipping her head back did she succeed in keeping her face out of the ooze. She had stopped screaming but the petrified eyes focused on Noel and a wide mouth spat out mud. This told him everything.
Noel leaned forward but she was out of reach. He stepped forward, found something firm under his front foot and moved towards the girl. Cold stinking mud gripped him and he could feel the octopus like suck on his skin but where was Wendy!
Wisps of Cloud
“I’ve just about got to the Grover Road exit. I’ll go up to the road and if I don’t see her, will continue up the track.” Karla clicked and almost ran up the steps to the road; saw nothing except rain and an empty bus shelter. She sighed, returned back down to the track and walked up a steep zigzag section. It was quite eerie here and would have been scary for a little girl. After the steps changed direction twice she came out onto open section with a creeper covered cliff on her left and a down slope of grass in the other direction. The rain hit her face as she glanced around. There in the mud were several tiny footprints.
She stepped forward and frowned. Even though the muddy surface continued, the footprints stopped three quarters of the way across the open section. She almost ran the dozen or so metres, slipped and just managed to stay on her feet. The grass on her right had a narrow crushed line that dropped down into trees about twenty metres away. Beyond them the ground dropped into a deep gully.
“Stephanie.” she screamed. “Just stay still. I’m coming down!”
It was a steep slope. After only three steps she slipped, fell sideways and skidded down with a mini landslide of mud and debris accompanying her. For a moment she was disorientated with only the sensation of feeling soaking wet, that her arm had banged against something and immediately ahead was a steep drop into the gully. If she fell over that! She brought her knees up and lashed out with her arms, found a clump of fern to grab and managed hit her shoulder on a tree trunk She reached out, grabbed an adjacent root and stopped herself from going further. Covered in mud, she stood, rubbing a scratched and bleeding arm. At least she didn’t go over the cliff
Sobbing on the left reached her ears.
“I’m sorry Miss Spicer.”
There cuddling in against the tree was the little girl everyone was looking for.
“Oh Stephanie Sweetheart, there is nothing to be sorry about” She grabbed and hugged the little girl. “It’s all okay. I’ll phone Mummy. She’s been really worried about you.”
Karla looked down and realised her mobile phone had gone. Damn, she must have dropped it on the way down. She glanced up but could only see mud and grass where she had slipped, the rain was cutting across in a torrent and further up, everything was hidden by the misty conditions.