The Low Road
by Arthur Saxon
It was a little after eleven o’clock in the morning when hikers Lucy and Karen Repton reached a fork in the track. Puzzled, Lucy consulted her map, but it did not show the fork and she was not certain which way they should proceed.
“The town of Augustine should be just a few miles that way,” she said, pointing straight ahead, between the two forks. “But I don’t know – either of these tracks could go there.”
Karen, the older of the two sisters by just over a year, shielded her sky-blue eyes from the sun as she studied the fork. The right-hand track led slightly uphill, bending around to head for a pass between two low hills, whose summits lay a mile or so hence. The left-hand track curved around and led downhill, towards a grove of tall and leafy hardwoods. “Are you sure you’re reading that map properly?” she inquired. “Neither one seems to go in the direction we want.”
“If you want to map-read, you’re welcome to,” grumbled Lucy as she tugged impatiently at a tangle in her long blonde hair. “I’d be the first to admit I don’t have a very good sense of direction, but I’m doing the best I can. And I got us to Nethley, didn’t I?”
“You did,” agreed Karen in a soothing tone. “And you’ve done very well. It was just a question! If we’ve taken a wrong turning somewhere, I’d like to know sooner rather than later.” She pulled a water bottle from her backpack and took a long swig.
“Yes, well, I’m not sure we haven’t taken a wrong turning,” said Lucy. “But God! It’s at least two miles since we passed that last turning next to the ruined cottage.”
“A junction which was also not on the map,” Karen reminded her.
“Yes! I know!” said Lucy crossly. “Which I took to mean we should ignore it and keep straight on. But maybe we went wrong further back – I don’t know!”
Karen shrugged her backpack off her shoulders, and lowered it to the ground. Rummaging through it, she found her bottle of sun cream, and squirted some into her palm. As she rubbed it all over her left arm, she said, “You should put some on too – the sun’s getting pretty strong.”
“I’ll be fine,” said Lucy. “I’m not the one who burns to a crisp every time the sun comes out, Ginger.”
“Hey!” said Karen, scowling with mild annoyance. Her wavy auburn hair was much admired by boyfriends past and present, but that did not stop Lucy from teasing her about it. Of course Lucy, with her long slim legs, slender waist, and pretty face with its big brown eyes and cute little nose, was unquestionably the more attractive of the two – but that did not stop her from being envious of her older sister on occasion.
This was mainly because Karen, with her fuller, curvier figure, boasting breasts that frequently made men stutter and drool, somehow always seemed to attract the better boyfriends. Perhaps it was her infectious laugh, or the serenity that she seemed to project so effortlessly, or the way she seemed to light up any room she entered … or perhaps it was simply her enormous cleavage, which she was quite shameless in showing off. But Philip, her latest beau, was a highly respected up-and-coming journalist, a man of talent and not inconsiderable means who also happened to be tall, gorgeous, and very, very buff. By contrast, Lucy’s current boyfriend was Chris, a waiter at their local French restaurant. Oh, he was sweet and sexy and romantic, no doubt … but he was certainly no Philip.
Both men had wanted to come on this hiking trip with the two sisters. “It’ll be dangerous, just the two of you!” Philip had protested. But the young women were determined – this was an annual tradition for them, a chance to re-bond with each other after a year spent mostly apart … and they were not about to spoil it by bringing men along.
“Who’s that?” Lucy asked suddenly.
Karen followed her sister’s gaze, and spotted a bearded old man making his way towards them down the side of the hill. He used a gnarled wooden staff for support, and next to him trotted a long-haired collie. As he approached, Lucy waved to him and called out, “Hi there!”
He did not respond until he had come right up to the far side of the dry stone wall that ran alongside the track. “’Ello ladies,” he said in a thick rustic accent.
“We’re trying to get to Augustine,” said Karen. “And we’re not sure which of these tracks to take. We think we might have got lost somewhere.”
The man looked over to where the track divided, and he nodded sagely. “Ah,” he said, “yes, you should ’ave taken the riders’ track back at the old Stonehouse farm. But no matter – it’d be quicker to carry on than go back at this point.” His speech was measured, thoughtful, and almost irritatingly slow.
“Stonehouse farm,” said Lucy. “God, that’s miles back!”
Karen nodded. “So we can still get to Augustine from here? Which track do we take?”
“Either will take you there eventually,” said the old man. “They join up again ten miles from ’ere – just before Augustine, in fact.”
“So,” said Karen, trying to remain patient, “which would you recommend?”
“Ah,” said the man, scratching his beard contemplatively. “Well now, it’s entirely up to you. The low road – that’s the one on the left – takes you down into that woodland over yonder, and on into a five-mile stretch of treacherous mires and bogs – a place folks round ’ere call the Sucking Swamp. It is said,” he continued in hushed tones, “that the place is still ’aunted by the spirits of those as ’ave perished in the swamp. Moreover, a foul mist ’angs over the place, disorienting those that venture within its nightmarish confines, and the path disappears and reappears confusingly, further increasing your chances of losing your way.”
“I see,” said Karen levelly. “And the high road?”
The man’s cheeks crinkled in a warm smile as a faraway look came into his eyes. “Ah, the ’igh road goes up into the ’ills, whereupon it passes through beautiful meadows filled with the ’umming of ’oneybees gathering nectar from the almost bewildering variety of flowers that grow thereabouts. An abundance of birdlife can also be found in those meadows, a veritable treasure trove for ornithological enthusiasts, if ever there was. After the meadows, the path crosses a river, and from the centre of the bridge you’ll ’ave a perfect view of one of the prettiest little waterfalls in the country. From there, the path descends through a picturesque valley until it rejoins the low road, just south of Augustine.”
“Well that settles it,” said Karen.
“Indeed,” said Lucy with a shudder. “I’m terrified of bees.”
“And my hay fever would give me ever so much grief among all those flowers,” said Karen. “The low road it is.”
The old man’s brow furrowed in puzzlement. “But … the swamp,” he said.
“Come on Lucy,” said Karen, picking up her backpack and slinging it over her shoulder. “Let’s try and get another couple of miles under our belts before lunch.”
“Did I mention the sucking?” added the old man.
But Karen and Lucy were already sauntering cheerfully down the track, leaving the old man muttering in their wake. For a while the going was easy as the path led slightly downhill, and became more grassy and less stony. As they reached the woodland in the bottom of the valley, the sun disappeared behind a cloud, and beneath the trees there was a sense of gloom that pervaded the air and made the women shiver, despite the warmth.
“I thought it would be nice to walk through the woods,” said Lucy, looking around a little nervously. “But somehow it’s almost … unsettling.”
“I know what you mean,” agreed Karen. “But let’s press on – the track’s very clear and obvious here, despite what the Prophet of Doom said.”
Lucy laughed. “Yes, he laid it on a bit thick, didn’t he? A haunted swamp? Give me a break.”
Karen chuckled. “All the same, let’s make sure we stick to the path – it does look as if it gets a little bit boggy up ahead.”
Indeed, as the path descended further into the valley, it wound sinuously among larger and larger puddles of water and weed-clogged patches of mud. The air seemed to grow cooler by the minute, and a damp mist clung to the ground, making it hard to see more than a few feet of the path ahead of them. Lucy stepped on what looked like a firm patch of dried mud, and cursed as she sank up to her ankle. She tugged on her foot, and it came free with a slurping sound.
Then they stopped. “Uh-oh,” said Lucy. “What now?”
The trees had thinned, and were now spread few and far between. Directly in front of them, a large pool of water covered the path, its far end invisible in the thickening mist. “Looks like we’ll have to go around,” said Karen. “I don’t fancy wading through … and I’m not sure which direction to wade in, anyway. At least if we walk around it, we’ll run into the path at some point.”
“Sounds like a plan,” said Lucy.
Their feet squelched in mud and deep sphagnum moss as they skirted the edge of the pool. Before they had got more than a quarter of the way around, they had lost sight of the track. Lucy hopped across a narrow stretch of mud to the next tussock, wobbled for a moment as she struggled to keep her balance, then jumped to another firm-looking cluster of vegetation. Karen followed close behind.
Lucy guessed they had got about half way around when she came across a small reed-topped ridge of mud leading away from the pool. “I think I’ve found the track,” she said.
“Are you sure?” asked Karen anxiously. “It doesn’t look like much. Perhaps we should carry on a bit to see if there’s something more obvious further on.”
Lucy grimaced at the wide patch of soggy-looking mud on the other side of the ridge. “I really think this must be it,” she said. “Beyond it there’s just mud, mud, mud.”
“All right,” said Karen, “let’s try it, then.”
For a while it seemed like they had made the right decision – the ridge stayed pretty solid, while around them the reeds and shrubs gave way to broader stretches of mud, interspersed with pools of water and the occasional struggling marsh plant. But then their track began to grow more squishy as the plants on which they were walking became more straggly and infrequent. Lucy hopped across to one pathetic-looking specimen, only to gasp as it gave way beneath her and she sank up to her ankle.
“Perhaps we should go back,” said Karen, not sure where she herself was going to find firm footing next.
Lucy looked ahead, and saw that the plant growth seemed to become more dense about twenty yards away. “I think we’re still on the right track,” she said. “We’ve just hit a bad patch, but it looks like it starts up again over there.”
Karen looked, but was sceptical. “It doesn’t look like much of a track to me,” she said. “In fact, what we’ve been walking on hasn’t looked very track-like for the past ten minutes. I think we should turn back.”
“But that’ll take ages!” whined Lucy. “Honestly, I think we should just keep going. So we’ll get a bit muddy – what difference will it make? My shoes are already caked in the stuff.”
“The phrase ‘sucking swamp’ is kind of sticking in my mind,” said Karen.
“Oh that old fool was just trying to scare us,” said Lucy dismissively. “As long as we move quickly, we’ll be fine.”
The clinging mist thinned slightly as a hint of a breeze drifted through the valley. Karen’s eyes narrowed as a dark shape appeared ahead of them. “Is that a tree?”
“I see it!” said Lucy. “We must be coming to the end of the bog. You see?”
“All right,” said Karen, nodding. “Let’s try and get across this last bit, then.”
Lucy fancied that a patch of mud a few feet ahead and to her left looked drier than the rest, and reasoned that it would probably provide better footing than the surrounding mud. It was quite a leap, and in fact she landed a foot or so short.
“Ugh, damn it!” she cried, as she immediately sank up to her knees.
“Nice one, Lucy,” said Karen, rolling her eyes. “I don’t think big jumps are going to help much here.” She herself gingerly stepped out on to the flat mud, and shuddered as she put her weight on her front foot and sank well over her ankle. She quickly took another step, and leaned on her other foot as she tugged to extricate the first. This worked quite well, so thus she proceeded until she was level with her sister.
“Karen, I’m not having much luck here!” complained Lucy, a note of worry in her voice. She had succeeded in pulling her right leg free, but her left had now sunk up to mid-thigh, so that the mud was grazing the hem of her denim miniskirt.
Karen never understood why Lucy insisted on wearing miniskirts for their hiking trips – they hiked alone and in remote places, so it was certainly not to attract men. Karen’s own skirt was much more modest, stopping just short of her knees. “Lie down,” she suggested. “If you spread your weight out over a wider area, you won’t sink, and you should be able to work your leg free.”
“Ugh, lie down on this mud?” said Lucy. “I don’t think so!” She tried leaning over to her right, while kneeling on her right knee, but all that happened was that her right knee started quickly sinking into the mud. After a minute of yanking ineffectually at her left leg, her right was now buried almost as deeply, except that her foot, now some fifteen inches below the surface of the mud, was on roughly the same level as her knee. Not so for her left foot, which was now nearly three feet under, and still sinking. “FUCK!” she yelled, pounding the mud with her fist in frustration.
Karen, meanwhile, was having better luck. Each time she took a step, her foot was sinking only a few inches into the mud, and each time she was able to recover it and take another step. The tree up ahead was now clearly visible – it was clinging to the side of a huge boulder that was sitting alone on the valley floor, mostly buried in the mud. The soil and vegetation that had crept up over its exposed surface, however, appeared to be deep enough for the tree to survive there, its roots probing down into the mud and anchoring themselves in cracks in the rock.
The sight of dry land was quite a temptation for Karen, and she decided to take a chance on a more liquidy stretch of mud in order to get to the rock more quickly. She took a large step, and placed her left foot in the centre of the liquidy patch. Immediately it sank to her knee, and kept on sinking. “Damn it!” she cursed. As her leg sank, she found herself practically doing the splits, which was highly uncomfortable, so she brought her right leg forward and placed her foot on the ground next to where her left had been before it had disappeared beneath the surface. But her right foot, too, quickly sank into the mud as she put weight on it, trying to free her left leg.
“Ugh, this mud’s a nightmare!” she said.
“Tell me about it!” said Lucy.
“Our backpacks are weighing us down,” said Karen. She took hers off and swung it back and forth a couple of times before hurling it towards the rock. It landed a few feet from the tree, then rolled off and landed on the surface of the mud. Fortunately it stayed there, and did not appear to be about to sink. Karen turned towards her sister. “Throw me yours.”
Lucy did so, and Karen tossed it towards the rock. It landed on the rock just beyond her own backpack, and stayed put. Now Karen turned her attention to her legs, both of which had sunk so much that the bottom of her skirt was beginning to fold up on the mud’s surface. She tried to pull on first her right leg and then her left, but merely succeeded in making herself sink more quickly. She cursed in frustration.
Lucy’s skirt was by now half buried, the mud having risen up between her legs until it was a couple of inches below the crotch of her white silk panties. As she struggled to free her right leg, her left sank deeper and deeper, and she shivered as the mud reached her panties and began to mould itself around her silk-shrouded labia. She wriggled this way and that, causing the mud to slide back and forth between her legs, stroking her pussy through the flimsy material. The mud squished further up inside her skirt, oozing into the gaps between the denim and the front of her panties, and around her buttocks at the back.
Karen was sinking more quickly than Lucy, and was soon catching up to her sister. With a sense of unease bordering on fear gnawing at her stomach, she lifted up the front of her skirt and looked down to see the mud creeping up her bare thighs, climbing inexorably towards her own panties, which were cotton, and pale pink in colour. Disgust warred with fascination as she watched the mud slowly close the gap: two inches, one and a half, one inch, half an inch, a quarter… And then it connected with her panties, and she continued to watch as the mud began to ooze up the front. She could feel the mud against her buttocks, too – spreading out around them, enveloping them, cupping them, caressing them…
But then she shook herself – what was she thinking? The mud was not rising – she was sinking! And she had better do something about it, quickly. She looked over at the tree, whose roots were dangling over the edge of the rock. So close … and yet so far. It was at least six feet away – there was no way that she could reach any of those roots without first freeing herself from the mud. Unless…
“Lucy, I’m going to try to snag one of those roots,” she told her sister. “I’ll have to make a lasso kind of thing out of my t-shirt and skirt.”
“Well do it quickly!” said Lucy urgently. “I’m sinking!”
Karen looked over at Lucy, and bit her lip in fear – her little sister was now buried up to her waist, with her skirt no longer visible at all. “Don’t worry,” she assured her sister. “I’ll get us out of this. But listen – you’d better try to make a rope of your own, so that I can pull you out once I’ve got hold of a root.”
“All right!” said Lucy, her brows knitted with anxiety. She pulled her tank-top up and over her head, revealing a lacy white C-cup bra. “There’s not much of this,” she said forlornly, looking at her top. “It’s not going to make a very long rope.”
Karen had taken off her own t-shirt, and was in the process of working her skirt up her torso while her panties slowly sank beneath the surface of the mud. She looked over at Lucy. “Rip it from your armpit down to the bottom on each side,” she said. “That’ll double its length. Then you can zip a corner of one end into your skirt’s zipper for a few extra inches.”
Lucy looked quizzically at her older sister, momentarily distracted from her muddy peril. “Have you done this before?” she asked.
Karen chuckled, and tapped the corner of her forehead with one finger. She was no cleverer than Lucy, really, but she had a good measure of common sense, which counted for a lot. She was about to rip her t-shirt the way she had instructed Lucy, but then she had a better idea, and instead began to tear it from the middle of the neckline at the front, down to an inch above the bottom hem. Then she did the same in the back. Now she had a long piece of material with an armhole at each end – useful, she hoped, for snagging things.
Her pleated skirt proved too tough to tear anywhere but from the zipper downwards, unfortunately, which meant that she could not use the zipper to attach the skirt to her t-shirt. However, the material was thin, so she simply twisted one corner into a short rope, which she tied around one of the t-shirt’s armholes. Now, she judged, she would be able to reach the root, part of which was helpfully sticking upwards and looked easily snagable.
“Hurry!” said Lucy urgently. The mud had climbed almost to her pristine white bra, but she had stopped struggling, since doing so seemed merely to make her sink more quickly. Instead she was working diligently on her makeshift rope, following her sister’s instructions to the letter.
Karen cast her own rope, but fell short of the root by several inches. She pulled her skirt and shirt back, then tried again, this time leaning forward as far as possible, so that her large breasts, which were threatening to spill out of her F-cup bra, squished into the mud to form two shallow depressions. This time, by some miracle, the far armhole of the t-shirt caught on the upturned root, and as she tugged on it, it held. “Yes!” she cried jubilantly.
“Nice!” said Lucy. “Here – can you try to catch this?”
Karen let go of her rope and leaned the other way, her expansive pink bra now mostly brown with mud. She reached out as Lucy tossed one end of the butchered tank-top towards her, and managed to catch hold of it. “Good girl!” she said.
“Hey!” said Lucy excitedly. “A dog! Here boy!”
Karen flicked her head around, and gasped delightedly as she saw a scruffy-looking black sheepdog standing atop the rock, watching them intently as it raised its leg against the tree. “Where on Earth did he come from?” she wondered aloud.
“Never mind that!” said Lucy. “Go and fetch your master, boy! Or girl – whatever you are. Go! Fetch master!”
But the dog seemed to lose interest in them. It lowered its leg, and then started nosing around, sniffing the rock as it came closer to the sinking women. When it found Karen’s t-shirt, hooked on to the upturned root, it stooped and closed its jaws around the garment.
“No!” shrieked Karen, lunging for the other end of her rope. But it was too late – the dog had whisked it out of reach. With its prize gripped firmly between its jaws, the dog turned around, scampered up over the top of the rock, and disappeared from view.
“Damn it!” cried Lucy. She looked down at the surface of the mud, which was creeping up over the top of her bra cups, and her lower lip began to tremble.
“The owner can’t be far away,” said Karen. “Help! Somebody! Help us! We’re stuck!”
Lucy joined in. “Help!” she screamed, so loudly that Karen winced and inclined her head to protect her left ear, which was turned towards Lucy.
But after two minutes of screaming, nobody had shown up, and now even Karen’s bra was beginning to sink into the mud. Lucy, buried almost to her shoulders, was beginning to panic. “Help me, Karen!” she wailed. “I don’t want to die!”
“Neither of us is going to die,” said Karen firmly. She reached out and gripped her end of Lucy’s rope. “This is what we’re going to do. You’re going to pull hard on your end of this thing, and I’ll pull hard on this end, and we’ll pull ourselves towards each other. That way, we’ll both pull ourselves out, and then … and then we’ll just make our way towards the rock somehow.”
Lucy was not at all sure that this would work, but she sniffed and wiped a tear from her cheek with the back of her hand. “All right,” she said. “Sounds like a plan.”
“Ready?” asked Karen.
“PULL!” cried Karen.
Both she and Lucy were worried that one of two things would happen almost immediately. Either the tank-top would tear in half, or it would pop out of the zipper of Lucy’s skirt. But as both girls tugged harder, somehow neither of these things happened, although the tank-top seemed like it was being stretched to breaking point.
“It’s working!” said Lucy, as her shoulders began to climb up out of the mud. But at this moment, the skirt and top suddenly parted company.
“Never mind!” said Karen, stretching out and flicking the far end of the tank-top back towards Lucy. “Grab the other end of the top – quickly!”
Lucy had pulled herself close enough to Karen to do so, and now the sisters resumed pulling as hard as they could, while kicking sluggishly with their feet in order to better propel themselves out of the mud. As the distance between them closed, Karen worked her hands along the tank-top, while her breasts dragged through the gloop, leaving twin furrows that flattened out as her belly followed behind.
“Bother!” said Lucy. “I’m losing my shoes!”
“Fuck your shoes!” gasped Karen breathlessly. “If we make it out of here alive, I’ll treat you to a new pair.”
“I’m going to hold you to that!” replied Lucy. Then, a moment later, “Argh – my socks too!”
The viscous mud had also claimed Karen’s left shoe, and it was now working on her right. She was sure that her socks would stay on, at least, but as her bottom began to emerge from the depths of the mud, she felt her left sock sliding gradually down over her ankle and along her foot.
Lucy reached out and took hold of Karen’s outstretched hand. “Oh thank God,” she said, with palpable relief.
Karen smiled. “Now nothing can beat us,” she said. “Oh crumbs, my panties are coming down!”
Lucy laughed. “Mine are around my knees.” She turned on to her side, her torso half-submerged, and flexed and extended her right leg until it popped out of the mud, prompting a cheer from her sister.
“Don’t free your other leg just yet, though,” said Karen. “If you come out before I do, I’m just going to end up pulling you in headfirst as I try to get out. We need to try to get free at the same time.”
“Easier said than done,” said Lucy. “I’m almost free already. But I’ll try to brace myself, or something.” She wriggled her left leg, working it a little deeper into the mud.
The young women pulled hard on each other’s hands, and Karen’s thighs began to slide upwards out of the mire, while her panties crept inch by inch down towards her knees. Finally, she was able to kick her legs free, and she heaved a sigh of relief.
“I’m out,” she said.
Lucy rolled on to her right side, attempting to lever her left leg upwards. Slowly it rose through the sludgy mud, and as it reached the surface, she rolled on to her back, panting. Her beautiful blonde hair was soaking up some of the more liquid mud on the surface, but she did not care. She was free.
Or so it seemed. But now that the women had hauled themselves out on to the surface of the mud, they were in fact starting to sink again, albeit less quickly than when they had been standing up. Karen noticed this when she attempted to turn herself over on to her back in order to pull her panties up – her legs had already partially sunk beneath the surface. She kicked them free, one after the other, but now her pelvic region was practically submerged. She arched upwards, and her shoulders began to disappear into the mud. Cursing, she pulled her panties up quickly. They were full of mud, which squished against her pussy and oozed between her buttocks as she tugged them into place, but that was the least of her worries right now.
Lucy was floundering about in the upper six inches or so of the mud, struggling to stay on the surface. Her once-white panties were still around her knees, but after having rolled herself over on to her front, and over again on to her back, she found she was floating high enough to afford the time needed to pull up the skimpy garment. The back of her panties ballooned outwards as it gathered mud on its way up her thighs. As she pulled both sides up to her hips, the mass of mud inside squelched against her buttocks, and, with nowhere else to go, oozed upwards between the gusset and her labia, finally spreading out as it became trapped in the front of her panties. Then, as Lucy scissored her legs, trying to stay on the surface, she grimaced with disgust as she felt mud working its way between her pussy lips and moulding itself around her clitoris.
Karen was experiencing the same sort of sensations, but with more ambivalent feelings. As she writhed in the sticky mud, attempting like Lucy to stay afloat, she rubbed her thighs against each other, and this caused the mud in her panties to rub rather distractingly over her clitoris. Despite the coldness of the mud around her, she began to feel a definite warmth emanating from her loins.
“Well are you going to get us out of here or what?” demanded Lucy.
Karen was snapped back to reality. “Yes! Um…” she said, thinking quickly. “Let me see if I can snag that root again, this time using your top and skirt.”
“Fat chance!” said Lucy. “You’re much further away from the tree than you were before, and your rope was longer than mine.”
Karen sighed. “I know,” she said, “but I’m doing pretty well at staying on top of the mud. I think I can probably work my way closer to the tree, and then use your rope – or maybe even get to the rock without it. You should try too.”
“How?” inquired Lucy. “You think you can swim through this stuff?”
“It’s worth a try, Negative Nancy!” snapped Karen. She grabbed her sister’s top and skirt, and attempted to put them back together using the zipper. But the zipper was now jammed, having been bent by the force of Lucy and Karen’s attempts to pull themselves towards each other. Improvising, Karen passed one end of Lucy’s top down through the skirt and around to meet itself, tying it off with a simple reef knot. This vastly shortened the rope, but it would have to do.
She started trying to swim towards the tree, but as she bent her legs, they sank deeper and deeper, and she did not have the arm strength to haul herself through the thick mud. It seemed to fight against her, surrounding each of her limbs and dragging at them, slowing her movements and tiring her out. It clung to her, so that she felt as if she had been thrown into a swimming pool wearing unbearably heavy clothing. When she raised her arm above the surface, it was encased in a thick, sticky coating of mud that seemed reluctant to part company with the rest of the mud below. Only with vigorous shaking was she able to rid herself of the mud and see glimpses of her own skin again. But then, back into the mud it would have to go, if only to continue her struggle to stay afloat.
She fought off a growing sense of despair as she felt her legs sinking further and further into the mud. Even her chest was buried now, although her back was still mostly exposed to the air. “I’m knackered!” she panted. “Can you see if you can do any better?”
Resisting the urge to say “I told you so”, Lucy levered her lissome limbs languidly through the glutinous gloop until she was as afloat as she was likely to get. Then she attempted to scull along backwards, jellyfish-style, and for a moment she thought she was making progress. But for every three inches she gained, she lost two-and-a-half as she brought her arms back and the mud rebounded. It was also hard to stay afloat like this, and the more she sank, the less progress she made.
“Shit, Lucy,” said Karen, “you’ve got to help me out of here! I think I’m in trouble!” Her struggles to keep her head above the mud, coupled with the descent of her legs, had pivoted her torso until it was nearly vertical. Now her legs were as deeply buried as they had been before, and still she was sinking.
Lucy, with some difficulty, rolled her upper half over towards Karen, while her legs remained stuck in their current positions, angled slightly downwards and buried beneath nearly a foot of mud. “Hands!” she said.
They linked hands, and then, by unspoken agreement and for extra grippage, took hold of each other’s wrists. “Pull!” said Karen.
But this time, the tug-of-war was much more one-sided. After not even a minute, Lucy was sliding free of her muddy cocoon, her panties once again around her knees, while Karen had barely moved.
“At least I made some progress towards the tree,” said Lucy unhappily.
Karen nodded, trying hard to keep frightened tears at bay. “Listen, Lucy,” she said, “I seem to be pretty well anchored here – why don’t you push off against me so you can get over to the tree?”
Lucy frowned, and would have folded her arms if they had not been busy kneading the mud beneath her in a partially successful attempt to keep her from sinking. “How’s that going to get you out?” she demanded.
“If you can get to the tree,” said Karen, “then you can go and get a branch or something for me to grab on to. With both of us in here, we can’t do much for each other.”
Lucy looked over at the tree, then back at Karen. “All right,” she said, “but if you sink in the meantime, I’ll never forgive you. Or myself.”
“I won’t sink,” promised Karen. “But you need to hurry. Go for it.”
Lucy, paddling her limbs ineffectually through the gooey mud, tried to manoeuvre herself into a position from which she could push off against Karen with one of her feet. It was not easy, but Karen helped, reaching out to grab one of Lucy’s legs and pull it across in front of her.
“Okay, here goes!” said Lucy. She slowly pushed back against Karen’s upper chest with her bare foot, and pressed downwards beneath her chin with as much surface area as she could organise using only her hands and forearms. Unsurprisingly, her arms nevertheless sank smoothly into the mud, but at least she managed to keep her torso on the surface. As she straightened her legs, she scooted through the uppermost four or five inches of the mud, closing the distance between herself and the tree’s nearest roots by more than two feet.
“Keep going!” instructed Karen, reaching up with her arms to grab Lucy’s feet and then pushing them forward. Lucy allowed her legs to bend until Karen’s arms were fully extended, and then she pushed off again. This gained her another two feet.
But her outstretched arms were still more than four feet away from the roots, and as she frantically dog-paddled towards them, she found herself slowly sinking, and not making any further forward progress. “I can’t reach the root!” she wailed.
Karen grabbed Lucy’s top and skirt, and tossed them towards her sister. They landed just beside Lucy’s head. “See if you can snag it with this!” she said.
Lucy took hold of the tank-top, and cast it forward, trying to hook the root with the skirt. But it was no use – it was far too short, barely covering half the distance. “Still can’t reach!” she gasped, panicking as her chin sank into the mud.
“Your bra!” said Karen. “Take it off and fasten it around your skirt – that should give you an extra foot maybe.”
Lucy, desperate to keep her head above the mud, dragged her knees forward as she pushed down on the mud with her hands. Immediately her legs started to quickly sink beneath her.
“Stay horizontal!” said Karen. “You’ll find it dreadfully hard to get out otherwise!”
“I can’t!” cried Lucy. “My head was sinking!”
Karen forced herself into calmness, though she herself was still sinking, and feeling increasingly frightened. “Just do the best you can,” she said.
Lucy reached behind her back with one hand and fumbled at the clasp. Ordinarily this would have taken her a scant second, but her bra was muddy and slippery and the task seemed suddenly impossible with one hand. “It’s…” she began, but then it popped open. She quickly shrugged out of it and trod mud with her legs while fastening it around her miniskirt. “The skirt’s too long!” she said. “I’ll hardly gain any distance with this.”
“Tear the skirt from the zipper downwards,” said Karen. “But stop short of the hem. Then tie the bra around that part.”
Lucy struggled with this – the skirt was quite tough to tear, even at the zipper – but eventually she managed it. She shuffled the skirt around and pulled her bra into the new slot. “That gives me an extra few inches, I suppose – not nearly enough though.”
Karen slowly pushed her hands back through the mud and around behind her back, where she unclasped her own bra. Pulling it up and out of the mud, she threw it across to Lucy. “Make this the next link in the chain!” she said. “And no comments about how enormous it is, or how it’s industrial-strength, or whatever.”
But Lucy was in no mood to tease her older sister about her bra size. She passed one end of it through her own bra, and then fastened it. “That might work!” she said. She threw it, but it seemed she had been over-optimistic – she was still at least a foot short. “Ugh!” she yelled in frustration.
“Can you get your panties off?” asked Karen. “It looks like you’re almost there.”
“Might be tricky!” said Lucy. “I’ll try though.”
She had not bothered to pull her panties up after the last time they had been dragged down, and while she had been treading mud, they had descended to her ankles and were now encircling just one foot. She heaved her knee upwards through the mud, which unfortunately brought the rest of her body downwards, but she managed to grab her panties with her hand, and brought them to the surface just as her nipples were disappearing into the mud. Quickly she unclasped Karen’s bra, and refastened it through one leg-hole of her panties.
With her next throw, she almost managed to catch the upturned root. After another three tries, she had done it. “That’s it!” she cried.
“Well done!” said Karen, who had by now noticed that she had, in fact, stopped sinking. Her shoulders had never fully disappeared beneath the surface of the mud, and they did not appear to be about to do so. “You know,” she remarked, “I’m not sure we can fully sink in this mud. I don’t seem to be sinking any deeper.”
“Good!” said Lucy. “But let’s not make any assumptions. Maybe it’s just because you’re not struggling at the moment.”
“Maybe,” said Karen, but she was doubtful. She was floating higher in this mud than she would in water, and this made sense to her – the mud was heavier than water, so, as happened with swimmers in the salt-laden waters of the Dead Sea, she was achieving neutral buoyancy at a higher level.
“Besides,” added Lucy, “not sinking is not the same as getting out. If we remain trapped here, eventually we’ll die of thirst.” She was pulling hard on her rope of clothing, but as the bras and her panties became stretched tighter and tighter, she began to worry that something would snap. Probably not her sister’s industrial-strength bra, but perhaps her own bra or panties.
Then a figure appeared over the top of the rock. It was boy in his late teens, shabbily dressed in a threadbare t-shirt, Wellington boots, and a very old pair of jeans that were held up with string. He stared at Karen and Lucy, his mouth stupidly agape. Standing next to him, wagging its tail, was the dog that had stolen Karen’s skirt and t-shirt. It did not seem, unfortunately, to have brought them back.
“Well hello there!” said Karen.
“You all right?” asked the boy.
“Of course we’re not all right,” snapped Lucy. “What are you, the village idiot?”
“Lucy!” exclaimed Karen, shocked.
“Yeah,” said the lad, his cheeks reddening.
“My name’s Karen,” said Karen. “What’s yours?”
“Darren,” replied the boy, and he broke into a gap-toothed grin. “Can I rescue you?”
“Yes please!” said Karen. “If you could just help my sister Lucy get out first, that’d be grand.”
The boy started to walk out on to the mud, but both women cried out in alarm. “Don’t!” Karen warned him. “The mud’s not safe – you’ll sink!”
Darren hastily retreated to the safety of the rock, pulling his right welly out of the mud with a sound not unlike that of a loud, wet fart. He looked instantly embarrassed. “That wasn’t me,” he said, pointing at the rapidly infilling hole his boot had left in the mud.
“We know!” said Lucy exasperatedly. “Look, you see that low branch up there? If you grab on to it, you could probably lean out over the mud and reach my arm. Then you can pull me out.”
“Great idea, Lucy!” said Karen.
“Thanks, I thought so,” said Lucy.
Darren frowned in puzzlement as he stared at the branch, then at Lucy, then at the mud. Finally comprehension broke out over his face, and he stepped on to the upturned tree root in order to reach the branch Lucy had pointed to. Hanging on to it, he leaned forward and walked his hands further out over the mud, until his body was at roughly forty-five degrees to the mud. He reached forward with his free hand, but could not quite touch Lucy’s outstretched fingers.
Next to where his other hand was gripping the branch, a small twig was protruding downwards. It did not look strong enough to carry Darren’s weight, but nevertheless he suddenly went for it before Lucy realised what he was doing.
“No!” she squealed, but it was too late. Darren succeeded in grabbing the twig, but it broke off in his hand, and he wailed as he plunged hands-first into the mud, landing on top of Lucy’s string of clothing.
“Help!” cried Darren, his eyes wide with terror. He flailed around in the mud, turning back towards the tree and lunging for the nearest root. On the rock, his dog frantically dashed back and forth, barking in distress.
Lucy reached into the mud to try to catch hold of her tank-top, but Darren’s struggles had pushed her clothing deep down into the mud, and the only garment she could still see was her panties, still caught around the root and stretching down into the mud. No doubt Karen’s bra was still attached to them, but it was now buried.
Darren continued to flounder in the mud, wailing and crying as he desperately tried to escape. Finally his left hand, swiping through the mud in front of the upturned root, caught hold of Karen’s submerged bra. He grabbed it with both hands and pulled for all he was worth. Both the bra and Lucy’s panties, still snagged on the root, were stretched to breaking point as he hauled himself closer to the rock. Finally the bra snapped, but by that time, Darren was close enough to grab on to the root itself. As he pulled himself up, sobbing miserably, his legs kicked fruitlessly through the mud, pushing Karen’s bra and most of Lucy’s clothing way down into the depths of the mire.
Eventually, covered in mud from neck to toe, he succeeded in climbing out, whereupon he staggered away, up over the rock and out of sight. His dog barked once more at the mud, then it trotted over to Lucy’s panties, which were still draped over the tree root. Grabbing them in its jaws, it dashed away after its master.
“Hey!” cried Lucy indignantly. “You’re not going to just leave us here, Darren?” She looked over at Karen, perplexed. “Do you think he went to get help?”
“I wouldn’t count on it,” said Karen with a sigh. “What happened to your clothes? Can you still reach them?”
Lucy tried, but gave up after a minute or so. “Damn it!” she said. By now she was buried up to her shoulders, like her sister. “So what next?”
“Try and get to the tree on your own,” said Karen.
Lucy snorted. “Fat chance!” she said. “I haven’t a hope without a rope.” She brightened a little. “Hey, that rhymed. I’m a poet and I didn’t know it.”
“I know it’ll be difficult,” said Karen, “but I honestly think we can float pretty much on top of this mud if we put our minds to it. Try to work yourself into a horizontal position.”
“I’ll try!” said Lucy. “But I think you’re being over-optimistic.”
“The alternative,” said Karen a little tersely, “is to give up and die here.”
Lucy shivered. “All right, all right, I’m working on it,” she muttered. She leaned back and started to bicycle her legs through the mud. It was hard work, and they moved very slowly, but they did move. With her arms she paddled against the mud on either side of her, keeping her upper body afloat. Gradually her breasts, piled high with mud, began to emerge from the mire. “I think it’s working!” she said excitedly.
Karen was attempting to do the same, but the mud around her was a little thicker than that surrounding Lucy, and she was getting tired very rapidly and not making much progress. “Good girl,” she said breathlessly. “Keep trying.”
It was exhausting work, but slowly, Lucy managed to incline her body further and further towards the horizontal. Eventually one leg broke the surface, and she gave a joyful whoop. “That’s it, I’m up!” she said.
“Now try to swim, or roll, towards the tree,” gasped Karen, whose breasts had only just emerged from the mud. “Take your time – and stay horizontal!”
Lucy began to swim, using a kind of asymmetric breast-stroke, the squelching mud caressing her naked body as her limbs writhed against it. Each time her legs parted, the mud flowed in to envelop her pussy and ooze between her buttocks, and as her legs came back together, the mud was squished away again. The resulting sensations were not lost on Lucy, who subtly began to grind her pussy against the mud whenever she spread her legs.
“What are you doing, dear?” asked Karen, watching as the mud over Lucy’s bottom undulated in a decidedly un-swimmerly fashion.
“Nothing! Just swimming,” replied Lucy, her cheeks turning crimson. She was thankful that she was facing away from Karen.
It was a long and tiring swim, but it was not without its rewards. When she was a mere twelve inches or so from the root, Lucy shuddered as the mud rubbing against her clitoris brought her to a delicious climax. She bit her lip, trying not to moan, and hoped that Karen had not noticed anything.
Soon afterwards, Lucy finally managed to grasp the root with her outstretched fingers. Weak from her exertions though she was, it was then a relatively simple matter to pull herself to the rock and haul herself out. The mud seemed to drag at her buttocks and legs, as if reluctant to lose its new lover, but soon, with a rather disgusting sucking sound, Lucy tugged her legs free and climbed up on to the rock. Panting heavily, she turned around and sat down.
Karen had almost got herself horizontal, and she was finding she could move her limbs more easily, now that they were not buried so deep. “See if you can find a branch or something!” she called out to Lucy.
Lucy nodded, and got to her feet, wiping a thick layer of mud off her breasts and belly. Standing on top of the rock, she saw that it extended back far further than she had at first thought. Beyond it lay grass, leading slightly uphill into the mist, along ground that looked firm and solid … which explained how Darren and his dog had got here.
She jumped up and grabbed on to one of the tree’s more slender branches. Pulling it down towards the ground, she worked it up and down for a while, but she was unable to break it. Giving up, she traversed the rock to look at the other side of the tree, and found there a dead branch protruding from the trunk about a foot above her head. She grabbed hold of it, tugged it sharply downwards … and it snapped.
Returning with her prize, she stood at the edge of the rock and held out the branch towards Karen. “Here, see if you can catch hold of this,” she said.
Karen reached out, but the branch was a little too short. “Hold on,” she said. By now she was floating high enough in the mud that she was able to swim like Lucy had done. It was only a couple of minutes before she had made enough progress to be able to reach the branch. “Okay!” she said.
Lucy heaved, her face contorting with effort. Karen slowly began to slide through the mud, kicking against it to make her sister’s job easier. Her panties, which had stayed up throughout the process of getting herself to the surface, now began to slide down her thighs as she was pulled along. She reached down with her free hand and grabbed hold of the waistband, pulling them back up. As she continued to slide forward, more mud began to collect inside her panties, piling high around her buttocks, but she did not care.
Once Lucy had dragged Karen fully on to the surface of the mud, the going was easier, and within another minute she had pulled her sister all the way to the edge of the rock. Karen reached up, and the two women locked hands. A minute later, on top of the rock, they hugged each other and cried. They continued to hold each other until their tears stopped flowing, and the moment started to become awkward.
“Okay this is a little weird,” said Lucy, aware of Karen’s large and very naked breasts pressing against her own, much smaller pair.
“Agreed,” said Karen, pulling away and chuckling. She reached down and lifted up her backpack from the surface of the mud, into which it had sunk only a little. She put it on, mud squishing against her back and providing some cushioning from the lumps and bumps of the supplies she had packed.
Lucy put her own backpack on. “Looks like we go that way,” she said, pointing to the grass beyond the rock.
“Right,” said Karen. “Let’s go.” The thought of walking into Augustine, naked apart from her panties, made her feel queasy. At least she had her panties, though; poor Lucy was completely naked. “I wish to goodness we’d packed spare clothes.”
“We didn’t have room, with everything else you wanted to bring,” grumbled Lucy.
“I know,” sighed Karen. “Oh well, can’t be helped.” She set off over the top of the rock, hoisting up her panties, which were crammed full of an enormous quantity of mud.
“You could empty those out, you know,” said Lucy, eyeing her sister’s bulging panties with disapproval.
“I could,” acknowledged Karen, pulling up her panties a little tighter so that the mud oozed between her buttocks and labia. “I could indeed.”
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