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Mayhem Swamp (standard:fairy tales, 1706 words)
Author: Alpha43Added: May 10 2005Views/Reads: 2551/1533Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
The lost boy gets some good advise about getting back to civilization from a very unusual source.

In the early 1930’s, a young boy had been overjoyed because he was going
on his first solo deer-hunting trip, but presently he was trying 
extremely hard not to cry. He had a lot of reasons to cry; the wind was 
blowing thirty miles an hour over his damp clothes, which certainly 
helped bring on the tears. He was cold right down to the bone after 
being out in the near zero weather for something over forty hours. He 
had not eaten or slept in two days, and he was pretty sure that most of 
his toes were frozen or at least frostbitten. He was thirteen years 
old, scared, and worst of all, he was lost. 

He was mad too. He’d heard the stories for years about people going into
“The Great Mayhem Swamp” and never coming out. Stories about hunters 
finding rusty rifle barrels and camp gear, the discovery of old bones 
and clothes, and screams echoing from the swamp late at night. So the 
lad had taken his most prized possession, his grandfather’s prized 
brass compass, and he had used it. He had went due north from the 
Excelsior bog, he had not varied much from that course. Then he hunted 
the edge of a cranberry marsh, and it should have been a simple matter 
of walking due south, right at the hemlocks, to get back to Excelsior. 

But when he tried going south, he walked for almost an hour and found
himself right back at the cranberry marsh. He recognized where had been 
sitting, he found where he had relieved himself a couple of times, and 
he spotted the remains of an old campfire from years back, with his 
fresh footprints in the crusty snow and ashes. 

He was mad about what his Father would think. He thought about what his
brothers and classmates would say; “Yeah, he must have walked right 
into the quicksand, what a dumb ass”, or “Too stupid to find his way 
out of the swamp”, or “He thought he was a great outdoorsman, what a 
laugh”. He knew his mom would pitch a fit with his dad, because they 
had already been arguing about him being old enough to go deer hunting 
alone. This whole joyous occasion had turned very unpleasant and 

Well, it was about to get dark for the second time since he entered the
Mayhem swamp, and he could have eaten his shoes he was so hungry. His 
stomach had been hurting since he tried to eat some red berries that he 
thought might have been cranberries, but they gave him cramps and a 
case of the trots, nearly causing him to soil his pants. 

The worst thing was that the lad did not know what to do. He had spent
the entire second day starting from the marsh, checking the compass for 
south and heading out in that direction. Each of the five times he did 
that, he came right back to the bog. He thought about going the 
opposite direction, but the idea of going deeper in the Mayhem swamp 
gave him the shivers. 

Right now he needed food and sleep. Well, he had no food, and he decided
he better get covered in pine needles, boughs, or marsh grass to try to 
get some rest. Maybe he would be able to figure a way out after a good 
night’s rest. He found enough tamarack boughs to make a soft protective 
ground barrier and he spread armloads of minkgrass to keep him 
insulated from the frozen marsh high ground. 

He wondered if he would be able to sleep with so many things to worry
about. Would it be another cold and gray dreary day tomorrow? Would the 
tag-alders keep the harsh winds from blowing away his bedroll 
protection? Would anybody come looking for him? Eventually he found 
sleep, sweet beautiful sleep. 

He smelled smoke! Was he dreaming? He was warm for the first time in two
days and he did not want to move, but he really smelled smoke. He 
opened his eyes and saw thick gray smoke, and flickers of fire, and the 
funniest looking old man he had ever seen in his life. This guy was fat 
and looked like Santa Claus, only without the beard. He was sitting 
back about 4 feet from a nice green-wood fire, ablaze from the old 
campfire pit he had spotted earlier. The old man had gray hair, puffy 
cheeks, plump hands, and a big fat belly. 

For some reason, the lad was not scared. This roly-poly little guy
seemed more like an elf than a man. He looked like he would be about 
four foot tall if he was standing, and nearly as wide, and he had 
squinty eyes and an ever-smiling expression. 

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