Based on a picture I have in my gallery. A collaboration between me and my friend Stefani. We hope you enjoy!
The noise of students rushing to their long-awaited weekend nearly drowned out the clanging of the last end-of-class bell. Except for two girls, one raven-haired, the other brunette, wearing the uniform of their dorm.
Jasmine swished the blue of her mini-skirt and twirled a length of shoulder-length brown hair impatiently, "So Mindy... are you ready to go yet?"
"Almost," the black-haired girl didn't look up, busily stuffing her books in her bag. She did up the satchel and swung it over her shoulder, straightening out her white, blue-trimmed top. "We can go now."
Jasmine glanced furtively out of the classroom, "She's at the door. Let's get moving... " Mindy joined her and peered out too, seeing the long blonde hair of girlfriend Alexis Rhodes among the other departing students. Trying not to make it too obvious they were following her, the two girls walked along behind the crowd, out of the building and grounds.
Alexis was cutting through the forest that covered most of the island Duel Academy stood on. Although it was a bright blue sky afternoon, the densely packed trees overhead made the forest dark, illuminated only by the odd sunbeam that dared to strobe through its dim paths. Rarely touched by the drying warmth of the sun, the ground was damp, the leaves coldly clammy against their legs, as they tried to stay unseen by Alexis, blonde hair bobbing through the undergrowth ahead.
"Are you sure we should be following her like this?" Mindy whispered. A dry twig cracked under her foot, and the two girls darted breathlessly behind a tree as Alexis glanced round at the sound, before moving on. With a sigh of relief, Jasmine made sure the girl was on her way before silently tugging on Mindy's sleeve that they should continue.
"You've been wondering as much as I have where she disappears to at weekends." Jasmine replied quietly, " I bet she's been sneaking out to see a guy!"
Suddenly, they noticed Alexis' blonde head had vanished from their sight. They quickened their pace as quietly as they could but it was almost as if she had disappeared completely.
"She's gone! She was just there a second ago!" gasped Mindy.
"Let's keep going on," Jasmine replied, "We might still find out what she's been doing."
They moved quickly through the trees, along the path Alexis had been on, until it ended in a dark clearing. The eerily unlit grass gave way to spots of damp brown mud, and the occasional glint of water that caught the high, almost hidden sun.
"What the heck is this place?" asked Jasmine, "Is this what she was heading for?" She and Mindy stepped to the edge of the clearing to take a better look.
"This place gives me the creeps," Mindy replied, caring less about Alexis now, than her own safety. She glanced around nervously, "Can we head on back, Jasmine?"
Before Jasmine could answer, they felt something pushing them forward hard, making them stumble into the mud of the clearing. Soft and clinging, it oozed right up their royal blue boots but when they tried to lift their legs it held them fast, rippling and quaking like a thick brown jelly under them. And they were slowly sinking into it.
Mindy began to panic, trying to pull her legs out with wavering unsteady motions. The dark mud undulated like a trampoline in slow motion, keeping her off-balance as one leg gurgled deeper, then the other, creeping dirtily up her thighs.
Her heart pounding, Jasmine tried to remain calm, realising struggling would only make her sink faster, like Mindy. She was slowly descending into the soft gripping mire as well, already up to her trembling knees, feeling the implacable weight of cold mud holding her fast. She pondered how strange it was to be liquid enough to sink into, yet solid enough to stop them from easily stepping out and escaping...
Mindy, still struggling and pumping her pale thighs, was now deep enough for the hem of her short blue skirt to be swishing and dragging in the damp dirt. She let out a gaspy shriek as the cold wetness soaked through her undergarment and touched her intimacies, like a groping cold-fingered stranger.
Making soothing sounds, Jasmine tried to calm her friend. Cold fear crept up her spine, like the mud relentlessly inching up her legs, and she reached out to Mindy. Her friend was now almost waist deep in the rippling bog, growing more frantic. Jasmine tried to put her hands under Mindy's armpits, in an attempt to pull her up, but the deep mud held her fast like glue, and she found herself being sucked down even more. Like Mindy, she felt the freezing fingers of filthy fluid find their way under her short spreading skirt, round her hips, and between her thighs, forcing a teeth-gritting gasp from her parted lips. "This must be quicksand... "
Sand so soft, so fine, so saturated, it was like silty mud, unable to support even their slender weight...
Inch by mucky struggling inch, the two girls settled in the soft sucking sand... Mindy wildly flaying as it dragged at her ribs with a crushing clench, and Jasmine holding grimly onto her, pulling at her the other way, a fierce determined tug-of-war against nature. Not the caring kind Mother Nature of storybooks but the cold-hearted bitch that slay unwary animals in the law of the wild, and careless travellers with her unemotional elements.
Mindy tossed her raven hair as she struggled, and pushed down against the scummy surface of the swampy sand, only for her hands to sink in the slime too. Jasmine was now waist deep beside her in the quivering quagmire. Under the muck, Mindy kicked her legs back and forth through the mushy mud, like a swimmer treading water in slow-motion, hoping to find a solid bottom but around and beneath her spoiled boots, the soft sand just gave way, and gave way, unendingly.
Jasmine started as Mindy let out a scream as the quicksand reached her heaving chest. At the rate they were sinking, she would be the same depth in less than a minute, and Mindy would be up to her neck. "Heeelllpppp!!!!" Help us..." Mindy cried out, sheer terror in her voice. Still struggling and screaming, Mindy sank deeper, the surface of the shivering sand seeking her shoulders as she spread her submerged arms out. The cold clinging mud now reached Jasmine's chest, penetrating her top and oozing round her body, and she cringed at its fluid but firm fastness. Hands still under Mindy's arms, she squirmed as slowly her friend was sucked deeper, a slimy stranglehold around her slender neck. Then mercifully, perhaps reaching a point of buoyancy, Mindy didn't seem to sink any more, but as Jasmine tried now even more to pull her back up and out, the only reward for her energetic efforts was to settle to the same depth, soft sand surrounding her shoulders before it, too, threatened to throttle round her taut throat.
Realising she could no more help Mindy than herself, Jasmine let go and spread her arms out too, hoping it would stop her sinking as well, and with the clinging mud around their chins the two friends cried out into the forest for help. But there was only a faint echo of their pleas through the dark trees, standing silent vigil around them, the only witnesses to their predicament.
Or were they?
The girls had all but forgotten Alexis, the reason for their plight. Over the squelchy sucking sound of the quicksand as they sank slowly but surely from sight, Jasmine heard the rustle of undergrowth being moved through, and at the edge of her vision caught a glimpse of blonde hair. She didn't ask, didn't care, that the snatched impression she had was Alexis wrapped only in a towel, hair tied-up in a bun, as if cooly prepared for a bath. Didn't wonder where she had got the rope, draped over a slender shoulder one minute, then slung out over the quicksand the next, splashing sloppily between her and Mindy, but simply glad she had it.
Both girls grasped greedily at the lifeline, Jasmine wrapping it as best she could round the mud-covered Mindy, and holding on to her friend as the fit Alexis tied the other end expertly round a tree, and began to tug the two girls out.
It wasn't easy... both were deep in the quicksand, its weight around them sucking on their submerged bodies, holding them in a viscous vice. Slowly, hand over hand, Jasmine crawled her way along the rope, pushing Mindy in front of her. The slimy sand shivered round them, threatening to drag them back down if they so much as hinted at giving up the struggle. After what seemed like an eternity, Jasmine shrugged off the grim grip of the gritty slough from her shoulders and chest, wrigging waist-deep, as she got Mindy free, her friend lying on the splashy surface of the swamp so she could at long last kick her muddy legs out of the mire. With slow deliberate swimming motions, Jasmine guided her friend over the soft sand until she was within Alexis' reach, the blonde pulling her to safety. Then over more eternal minutes, she too 'swam' out of the sucking swamp, emerging exhausted from the effort, to stand on firm ground she thought she might never feel again, swathed in slimy sand, and dirt dripping from her. Relieved, the two girls hugged each other, shivering, encrusted in slowly drying mud.
It was some breathless moments before Jasmine could face Alexis, still clad only in a towel but now streaked with slime from her rescue, and ask the inevitable.
"Um...Alexis? What exactly are you doing out here?"
Taking a breath, Alexis smiled nervously at her friends before replying, "The mud here is like that of a spa bath. I come out here on the weekends to let the mud work its magic on my skin."
"But... you disappeared... along... the way!" Mindy stuttered, still in shock and shivering cold from the incident.
Alexis rolled her eyes, as if a silly little girl, and shrugged, "I forgot to bring a rope with me... to help me back out after. It's sometimes not so easy to get free of these pits once you're in them. But then I just roll out there and wallow, I don't go jumping in feet first like you did!" Jasmine nodded her understanding as she hugged Mindy even closer to keep her warm. But, staring at her two mud-covered friends, Alexis thought, 'Good, they don't seem to know at all. They'd think I was crazy if I told them I come here to enjoy the quicksand.'
Alexis directed the two girls towards a stream she knew, where they could clean themselves up from their ordeal. When she eventually saw Jasmine and Mindy disappear from her sight, Alexis made her way over to some nearby bushes and pulled out a hidden camcorder.
"Someone, please help!!!" Jasmine's cries for help emanated from the camera while Alexis watched the performance her two unknowing actors had put on. She enjoyed the fact that everything she planned had worked out in the end... they hadn't even suspected it was her who had pushed them in... that she had worked her way, quietly unseen, to these bushes and captured the whole of their terrible torment on tape!
A sly grin spread across her face as she replayed Jasmine and Mindy struggling in the quicksand again and again.
"The guys at the forums are going to have a field day with this."