The sun shines bright above the jungle canopy below, the clear, blue sky contrasting against the scorching heat of Africa. Standing out among the arid savannah, a valley shelters a lush oasis surrounding an unusually large lake, much longer than it is wide. A seaplane floats seamlessly through the air, its engine disturbing the wild ambience. It descends towards the plateau, its legs skiing across the clean, still waters. Tall reeds stretch across the shores of the lake, obscuring much of the surroundings, save for the taller tress in the background. It slows down as it approaches a boardwalk stretching out from the dangling tall grass. The plane stops right at the edge of the wooden planks with a rather rehearsed precision. As the engine dies out, the sounds of jungle steadily begin to resume their usual serenade. Only a few moments later, the passenger door opens, and Amy carefully hops down onto the sturdy planks before them. Tom follows her lead, holding into his hands a couple of loaded duffle bags.
- “Thank you for a safe flight!”, Tom expresses his gratitude to the pilot.
- “Don’t you worry about it.”, the pilot waves their hand dismissively for the thanks. “Sometimes there’s someone here waiting for new arrivals. They’re probably busy though just now. If you follow the boardwalk, you’ll reach the camp without any trouble. I’d lead you there myself, but I need to take this bird back. Enjoy!”
- “Take care, and thank you!”, Amy waves to the pilot.
The seaplane’s engines rev up fairly quickly as the pilot prepares for take-off. Once more it blocks out all other ambience. Its legs slide across the water, the plane turning around and putting some distance between itself the arrived couple, eventually taking off and shrinking into the blue sky. A few moments pass, with the sound of leaves rustled by a gentle wind filling the background. Tom and Amy exchange a look of triumph to each other, but it’s interrupted by a rather loud, booming chirp over the rustling flora, followed by a similar toned reply farther off in the distance.
- “That’s a weird sounding cluck…” Tom points out, eyes fixated on the originating bird. “Since when did chickens change their fashion style?”
- “It’s a pheasant, you goober!”, Amy mockingly chastises him. “You should stop thinking so much about food.”
- “You know I get hungry after a road trip this long.”
- “You should know you’re going to make me hungry as well if you keep on going like this!”
Tom’s eyes roll over, trying to downplay their would-be appetite. A discreet smile stretches over his face as he catches another good look of his beloved, stretching out a bit. Amy is wearing a bright, floral dress that contrasts her short, dirty blond hair. It reaches down just along her thighs, a pair of worn, but cleaned sneakers keeping her slender feet away from the rough ground. While just barely covering her shoulders, and cutting daringly towards the chest, her attire doesn’t offer much in the way in warmth; not that it would be needed. Although it’s only halfway through Spring, the area they’re visiting feels comfortably hot, not unlike a gentle Summer day. Tom follows Amy’s suggestion of stretching out just a little as well, his blue lined t-shirt and black cargo shorts folding along his fit build, his own sneakers thumping twice against the dry wood beneath them. Amy turns around to notice his relaxed motion, both sharing in a warming smile.
- “Well, this is it: The Great Swamp! Thank you for finding this place out.”
- “Hey, you’re the one who got us tickets here.”
- “If you behave, we’ll be coming here again another time… probably sooner that you’d think.”
- “First, let’s check it out.”
As Amy picks her bag from Tom’s hand, repaying him with a brief kiss on his cheek, they start walking along the creaky wood. Their path is constantly flanked by tall grass, dangling seamlessly at the slightest disturbance. Occasionally, the dense reeds allow for a peek through them, just enough to see what lies beneath them - unassuming dark spots of dirt glistening due to their absorbed moisture. The walk feels like it’s taking a bit longer than expected, with an occasional sign interrupting the monotony with a warning to not jump off the planks. The camp lies ahead of them, surrounded by a tall fence on all sides. Officially it serves to protect the people inside from predators that live in the swamp. A few rumours online claim that its actual purpose is to protect guests from their own ignorance and keep them from wandering into bogs that are scattered all across these lands. Mires with silty mush dot this natural reserve, feeding the curiosity of thrill seekers, as well their worries. The camp serves as both a tourist hub and an office area for managing the wilderness around. Inside the fence there’s a two-story main building, several tents, and a tool shack. Other rustic tables and chairs lie scattered around, with a buffet close by, all covered by improvised roofing and umbrellas made from large leaves. Paths lead South, East and West towards a gate in the fence on each side. Various signs jump out, each reading: “Danger! Visitors are strongly advised to stay within the perimeter for their own safety unless accompanied by a certified TGS guide”. Tom jokingly chuckles at one of the signs, boasting to Amy, who pulls him down by his arm, just to keep him in check.
- “You don’t need to keep me shackled like this, you know.”, Tom jokingly tells Amy with a calm voice.
- “Oh, but what ever would I do if you’d wander off and get into trouble, especially in a place like this, riddled with ravenous bogs?”, his beloved makes an over-dramatic plead to him. “No, you’re staying close to me until we check in.”
- “Come on… I’m mature enough to not do anything stupid. Most of the time, at least.”
As they exchange a brief giggle, the couple enters the main building, its doors opened wide towards the exterior. At the reception sits relaxed, but focused, a lady with sharp glasses and dark hair, her light, olive skin covered by a revealing, but formal dress. Tom cannot stop himself from looking at her exposed cleavage, but with a bit of struggle his sight drifts away, along her sleeveless, delicate shoulders.
- “Uuu~, visitors… Welcome to The Great Swamp. I’m Miranda, your humble secretary. May I know your names, please?”
- “Uhm, hi - I’m Tom.”, the gentleman gives a very simple reply, seemingly distracted.
- “And I’m Amy. Hello.”, the girl lifts one hand to greet the secretary, while the other one squeezes Tom’s hand to try to get him to focus. “We’ve made bookings for several nights here, and we’d like to check in.”
- “Oh my~, and you arrived here without a proper greeting at the mooring area. Please, do forgive me for not keeping a closer watch on the time. It always flies by when I get to have a more relaxed day.”, the receptionist seems apologetic, yet both Amy and Tom can’t shake off the sweetness behind her voice. “I have your bookings here. And for almost 2 weeks as well~. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your stay here. Let me show you to your room. Are you ok with your bags?”
The couple nod silently to confirm that. With a rather coy smile, Miranda pulls a key from under her desk and proceeds towards the stairs behind them. Despite only seeing a few other people around, none of them were wearing heels. And with quite some height to them as well. Both Tom and Amy follow Miranda’s lead, neither of them unable to not see her skirt flaunting around with each step, and how - natural - her walking seemed.
- “I will have to apologise for the incomplete setting around here. We are working to get more furnishing at the camp done, but you should find everything more than adequate, at least. Better than camping out in the tents. While we work to get more rooms up and running for guests and staff, the ones that we do have all have shower facilities, spacious beds, and even Internet. Cleaning is handled either on request or after you’ve checked out and returned the key to the front desk. Despite the remoteness of the camp, we do value your privacy, so please let us know if something isn’t quite right.”
- “Sounds impressive, actually.”, Tom replies. “You wouldn’t have anywhere to order food, would you?”
- “Unfortunately, no, sorry~. Currently we only have food served at regular intervals in the morning, at noon and in the evening. Given your time of arrival, you’ve just missed lunch. But, we do offer a variety of baskets of fruit to help yourselves with in the meantime, both in your room, at the reception and the buffet. As much as you want~.”
- “That… sounds quite sweet.”, Amy replies. “Thank you managing to keep this up.”
- “We try our best. If there is - anything - you would need, just let me know, and I’ll make the necessary arrangements.”, Miranda’s voice, along with the fact that she turned quite close to Amy, caused her to start blushing. The receptionist notices the tint on Amy’s cheeks, and takes a casual step back, while also gesturing at the door she just unlocked. “This is your room. Please, relax. I’ll see - you - later.”
The two enter the comfortable, hotel-like room and, after a few moments of looking around to find the various objects of interest, they put down their bags on opposite sides of the bed in the middle of the room.
- “I think she likes you~”, Tom teases Amy as he picks up a piece of fruit. “I haven’t seen anything like this before. Do you think they’d give us a knife for cutting fruit?”
- “I was worried there for a few moments you’d be oogling all over the buxom secretary.”, Amy makes a snarky reply to Tom. “And that’s an African mango.”
- “How is this different than other mangoes?”
- “Oh, if only you had Google to help you… Maybe you should head downstairs and ask Miranda for the wi-fi password?”
- “You mean ‘we’ will be going downstairs. If my charm won’t convince her, I’m sure you’ll fare much better than me. Besides, I’d like to go for a walk, and I think it would be just lovely if you’d join me for one.”
- “Uh, fine~! I’ll make an exception from being lazy - just for you.”
Returning to the front desk, they see no sign of the friendly secretary. Looking around, most of the doors have signs that say “Staff Only”. There is however one door that says “Swamp Tours Here”, leaning opened, with distinctly feminine voices reaching their ears. They slowly peek from behind it:
- “Oh, come on, Tara! I haven’t been here for a while now, and you know how much I’d love to hang out here with you!”
- “Trust me, it feels just the way you’ve read about it, maybe even better. It’s just that soft and squishy and-”
- “Vicky, please, this place is a tourist attraction. That one time we got lucky we didn’t -”
- “Oh, but you loved every moment of it. I could tell…”
- “Besides, you don’t get THAT many visitors, do you? They wouldn’t even cover half the area immediately around the camp!”
- “Sandra, I… It’s not just tours we’re doing here. Lately there have been more visitors, yes, but still not that many, some of them not paying head to the warnings we have placed around here. It is safe… relatively, at least when I’m around. If you’d like, you can both join a tour to get a better view, but please don’t… Oh, hello! I’m Tara. Pleased to meet you. Welcome to TGS Camp. Looks like I will be giving you a private tour of the Great Swamp today. Are you ready to begin?”, a chocolaty-skinned lady smiles a bit suddenly, but feeling cheery nonetheless.
- “Uhm, hi. I’m Amy, and this is Tom. We’ve heard some nice things about TGS, a-and yes, we would like to go on a tour, actually. That’s why we’re here.”, Amy says while taking a step forward, a polite smile distracting from her pulling Tom closer to hear.
- “Excellent. All of you will be good to go, right after we get you signed in at the reception.”, Tara prompts everyone to follow her to sort out the bureaucracy. The other 2 blonde girls follow suit, one smiling with content, and the other giggling happily as she gets moving.
Tara is wearing a bright red bikini, accentuating her black, athletic build - perhaps a little too well. Joining along are 2 other girls. One fair-skinned, with a long ponytail, wearing a similar attire as Tara, but only in teal. Her silhouette, while not as toned as their guide’s, has a certain curvature that is difficult not to draw attention. The other, just slightly more tanned, is well-built and with short hair tied behind her back, with a couple of bangs on her side, her athletic frame, fitting for the term “Amazonian”, covered by form-fitting camo shorts and a cropped top. They’re all walking in sandals.
- “Do you think we may have overdressed for…?”, Tom manages to ask before being interrupted by an elbow gently placed below his ribs.
- “TGS camp does not give any recommendation for the type of clothing visitors should wear. They should expect a hot, humid climate. Most visitors seem to prefer plain, light clothing along with hiking boots. You’re all quite fine.”, Tara follows up to reassure everyone.
After having signed a visitor register and returning their room key, and been given a rehearsed speech about rules and their safety while at TGS, the group heads out through the Eastern Gate. Walking along dirt paths, they’re led along this used trail, reliably guiding them through various sights in the Great Swamp. The haven provided by the meadows on which the camp was built is steadily phased out the further they stray away from it. The familiar, tended trees and gardenwork merge seamlessly with the wild, untamed flora found at the unique intersection at TGS. A wide diversity of sounds provides an ambience that, for the first part of their journey, seemed rather serene. As the dirt paths begin to thin out and eventually get consumed by tall grass, verdant trees gradually take up more and more sunlight, to the point that a wall of mist can be made out in the distance. They could smell the air was more humid than before, yet the feelings of unease are eased by the mixture of floral scents, not quite as sweet as vanilla, but refreshing nonetheless. Small, flowing creeks appear to either dry out or thin out after a certain length covered, either feeding into a small, shallow pond, or a dried-out bed of silt.
Amy stuck close to Tom, holding on to his arm and pulling down on it, lightly. She seemed quite happy to go with him for such a nice walk, catching glimpses of wary fauna observing them from a very safe distance. Tara, despite being flanked by the other two girls and talked up by them with occasional, unrelated questions regarding cooking, clothing, and hiking supplies, she did make an effort to regularly check up on the couple walking behind them. Tom, despite trying his best to get absorbed in the scenery, was slightly on edge. Afterall, a group of scantily-clad ladies were gleefully strutting around in a mire-ridden area; to say he wasn’t fantasizing would be a poor lie. Amy was there to anchor him back to reality, though, making him feel more at ease… or perhaps just focusing his daydreaming.
- “Mangrove swamps are coastal wetlands found in tropical and subtropical regions. They are characterized by halophytic, salt-loving trees, shrubs and other plants growing in brackish or saline tidal waters. These wetlands are often found in estuaries, where fresh water meets salt water and are infamous for their impenetrable maze of woody vegetation. However, the rather odd variation in terrain height here has led, in time, to the formation of a rather unique blend of biomes that would normally be separated by a gradually higher terrain. While not exclusive just to TGS, this is how we have peat bogs in such close proximity to mangroves. However, no other place has quite so many, large and deep pits as TGS. Some speculate that these might be man-made, rather than a chance occurrence in the wild, but we haven’t been able to find concrete evidence to support that in the few studies we’ve done so far. Perhaps you’ll hear some more news about it once more studies come back, and hopefully with proof and notes this time…”, Tara muses mostly to herself, with just a hint of concern in her voice, that is quickly dismissed as she faces the others once more. “Also…”, the guide interrupts her explanation after taking a couple of steps in water reaching past her shins, “… this might be a good point to change the direction of our tour. If you look further, you’ll see that it’s actually much harder to see. The Great Swamp, while beautiful to behold, is also known for its many, and deep pockets of quicksand found scattered all over the area. As your trusted guide, I am here to ensure your safety around here, and for a group of our size to go further that way, would be too much of a risk.”
- “Oh, and here I was hoping you’d lead us further that way, maybe even show us what to do when you stumble into a deep, muddy spot…”, the shorter blonde girl replies, with a distinct, teasing tone in her voice.
- “Vicky, please…”, Tara discreetly pleads at her. “… I’ve been well trained to rescue any of you from a variety of problems that we could potentially encounter on our tour, although the risks have been reduced as much as we could. Although you might choose to overlook certain rules of health and safety we’ve outlined at the hub, I would strongly recommend we follow them, and not get too adventurous just now.”
The group silently acknowledges Tara’s wisdom, and they turn away from the misty mangroves, sticking to the dry ground. Tara climbs some overgrown roots, making her way towards solid ground, where the others were waiting for her to take the lead again. As she casually drops off one the roots, aiming for a clear patch of semi-dry ground, the muddy surface squelches loudly around her as she plunges through the misleading crust of dirt. As the ground liquifies around her calves, a distinct gurgling fills the deafened background, a sound everyone appears to recognise with a certain familiarity to it.
“Everyone, now would be good time to showcase some tips and tricks about what to do should you find yourself in my situation. As you can see, I’ve stepped into quicksand, and I’m sinking!”, Tara highlights to the others, although in a cool, recollected manner, despite the gooey mush climbing past her knees, slowly crawling up her thighs. “First of all, I am quite confident that I won’t require any assistance from you just now, and that I am able to pull myself free from this. So please, stand back. You should know that you shouldn’t panic in such a situation, as that would only get you deeper into trouble. To help you understand that, I will show you that, if you’d take the subconscious action of trying to push down with your legs against the mire, it won’t do you any good. And neither would be trying to pull on your legs. Observe…”
Tara proceeds to pump her legs into the yielding ground, a soggy slurp ringing in her ears as the clingy mud gulps at her thighs. She wiggles her body from side to side, her arms raised slightly above, reaching for her dark hair, highlighting her well-built silhouette, and the murky grip of the mire tightening around her legs, inching closer and closer to her hips, slowing down almost completely as soon as she stops her uninspired movements. Tom cannot move his gaze away from Tara sinking into the quivering silt, rocking herself forward, against the heaving mire, inching closer and closer to her underwear. A blush tints his face, growing brighter the longer he stares at her. While perhaps his head would refuse to turn, at least his eyes could look at something else, other than Tara’s struggling… Unfortunately, he only catches glimpses of her friends watching her demonstration with a very, very interested look in their eyes, with the curvier one, Victoria, seemingly biting at her lower lip, rather tastefully. His view slides towards Amy, but with no respite from the thoughts racing through his head, as he recognizes the curios glint in her eyes being the same as his own, fascinated by their guide’s body motion. It doesn’t help that she’s tugging on his arm more than before, pressing her bodice against him. As he makes peace with his lack of options, looking back at Tara, she continues with her showcase:
“What you’d need is more leverage to pull yourself out. Anything sturdy within reach, such as these tree roots, a convenient rock, a handy rope or even a helping hand, will do just fine for that. You secure your grip, and then, rather than trying to pull yourself out with just your hands, you’ll want to paddle and push with your legs as well, and try to even twist your wait out with your whole body. Despite the - tight - grip of the quicksand, if you try extracting yourself using the right technique, you should be able to get yourself without any other help… usually.”
As Tara begins to demonstrate her latest tips, the mud begins to protest, its slurping suction trying to pull its treat back in its yielding embrace. Loud squelching and gurgling interrupts the usual background noise with every wiggle and push from Tara, who slowly, but steadily, manages to free herself from her tight spot. The guide grunts as she makes progress towards her escape, slowing down just once to catch her breath. The mire almost looked it would pull down on her again, trying to drag her back in the churning mush, but Tara manages to maintain her pace and continues her self-rescue. A thin coat of mud yet clings to her legs as they wiggle their way free from the bog’s grip. After a bit more huffing, Tara manages to get back on solid ground, dry dirt feeling rather reassuring on her exposed back. Catching her breath for a minute, the scantly-clad guide lifts herself up:
- “And that, is how you can get yourself out of quicksand. There are many creeks and ponds around TGS that you can use to clean yourself up after such a - workout. Fortunately, the water is rather warm around these parts. It is still better to not be strutting around caked in mud, as you’d wear yourself out more than if you’d even superficially clean yourself up. Just be sure there aren’t other hidden dangers around there too… Let’s move on then.”
Tara takes the lead after approaching a small stream feeding the nearby mangroves, washing her legs down, the mud melting away as she carefully rubs her thighs, then her calves, and lastly her feet. Taking the group back along the path they came, they turn South on a connected trail.
- “I’ll be honest, I never saw that coming. Not quite like that, anyway.”, Tom whispers to his dearest.
- “Neither did I…”, Amy replies rather vacantly. She stops clinging to Tom’s arm, but continues to hold his hand as they walk more casually after their guide.
The Great Swamp lies in a relatively sheltered location. Although it’s not Summer, the weather has been rather warm. Despite the humidity in the air, there hasn’t been much flowing water spotted along their trek. Darkened, but cracked mud and clay beds dot the trail along which the group circles back towards their camp. The path was rather slim, and the group intuitively formed a single file line, with Tara in the lead. One particularly larger clearing has some distinguishable footprints left behind in its dried-up silt. Someone had crossed over here. The filled-up holes grow slightly wider towards the centre, until about halfway through, they seem to merge in a single line, dragging all the way towards the other side. Victoria spots something glinting in the caked mush. Amy looks curiously at her as she breaks off from the group, and calls her out:
- “Uhm, hey, Vicky, where are you going?”
- “Hey, I saw something over there. I’ll be right back.”
The shapely blonde walks rather normally towards the edge of the clearing. Whatever she saw, its shine pulls her towards her as if smitten by a charm. Victoria tests the ground with her feet, dark grey clay squishing between her toes. The markings had been filled up by sediment, hiding to the bare eye just how deep those steps must have been. She takes one brave step, and a rather calm squelch disturbs the usual background noise. Amy and Tom stare curiously at Victoria as her calves disappear in the dry mire to their side after another couple of steps. Each new set of steps feels clumsier than the last, the surface of the mire quivering along with them, gulping more of the girl’s legs every time. A soft, discreet moan escapes Victoria’s lips as the goopy clay reaches and tightens around her thighs, squeezing them lightly in its smooth embrace.
- “Oh my~… I - think I’m stuck. I - think I’m slipping in deeper too.”, a feeling Victoria confirms as she tries to trudge onward, but a loud schlurp from the thick silt denying her any further progress.
- “Uhm, Tara, I think we may have a problem.”, Sandra points their guide back behind.
Tara turns around at the prompt. Amy isn’t certain, but she thinks she may have seen her eyes rolling over… Victoria stretches over the churned surface of the clay pit, her hand reaching and grasping at what appears to be a bracelet, which she secures around her stained wrist after a brief inspection of it. As she tries to straighten up again, her hips slide forward into the yielding mush, her derriere being now cupped by the quivering sinkhole. Wetter, glistening clay oozes through the cracks in the disturbed surface, a small, slurping maw forming around the trapped blonde. A rather - pleasing - gasp escapes her, a sound which Tom seems to recognise, causing him to blush, and the others as well, it seems.
- “Vic, why did you go all the way out there? You… hang on, I’ll come and get you out.”, says Tara reluctantly, approaching the clay pit from the same point of access as her friend.
- “Tom, dear~?”, Amy calmly calls out to him. “You’re so big, and strong. Would you kindly go and pull down that tall, heavy-looking branch from over there, and pass it to our guide, please?”
- “O-of course, dearest! You didn’t have to say ‘please’ though.”, Tom replies, a not-well-hidden disappointment laced into his words. He turns away from the others, and latches onto a dangling branch pointed out by Amy, and begins to wrestle the tree for it.
- “I’ll help you as well!”, Sandra insists, to which Tom nods approvingly, and she grabs the same branch as well.
As Tom and Sandra both tug at the stubborn branch, leveraging themselves to stress it enough to break off, Amy turns back towards the on-going rescue, only to witness the ‘oldest’ bad approach she could think of: Victoria attempted to push against the quicksand to pull herself out. She comes up short(er), her hands slipping under the churning surface, the mire squelching loudly as the blonde’s heaving chest inches closer to the gloopy maw beneath her.
- “Vicky! Please, don’t struggle. You’re only going to get yourself dug in deeper.”, Tara calls out to her, trying to instil the same seriousness in her voice into the distressed damsel.
- “Oh, what ever would I do without your advice?”, Victoria sarcastically asks, settling down in the wobbly clay that’s slowly sucking her waist down.
Tara follows in Victoria’s footsteps, the smooth silt squishing audibly against her hurried steps. Now over-flowing in the emptiness left behind by Victoria, it tries to weigh down Tara’s rescue, but the guide’s trained legs quickly close the gap, although admittedly she sinks in faster as well. Lifting one knee through the thick ooze, Tara grabs her friend by her waist, both leaning back and pulling Victoria towards her. A soft moan escapes the distressed(?) blonde, as Tara’s hands slip across her belly and grip her breasts. The mire quivers as both girls pump their legs into it, churning at the sticky clay, loosening its grip on Victoria’s bodice. The guide spins around after having lifted Victoria’s belly button above the surface, although having dragged herself down to the same level.
- “How’s that branch coming along?”, Tara calls out, her head turned halfway towards the others.
- “Almost - there!”, Tom grunts as he finally cracks the branch off the tree, a thud resounding from him as he hits the ground with his back, having used his whole body to pull it down. A frivolous “Oww” can be heard from him, holding the long branch triumphantly. Sandra managed to still stand on her feet and not fall over Tom, smiling enthusiastically to him and lending him a hand to get back up.
- “Good, bring it over here and hold on to one end and get ready to pull when I say so. Vic, hang on to me.”
- “Oh, you don’t need to ask twice.”, Victoria chants with a rather sultry tone in her voice.
Victoria swivels in place, a little deeper into the yielding clay, turning towards Tara. Her tempting frame presses against the guide’s back, her silt-layered chest cushioning against Tara. The black girl pauses for a few long moments, distracted by her friend’s warmth, their bobbing silhouettes reminding her of… something fond. The rescuer shakes her head and focuses on the branch being pushed towards them. Sandra and Tom hold on to the other end, somehow managing to keep a loose footing at the edge of pit, with Amy mostly spectating, having no room to join the rescue attempt.
- “Alright, when I say, you two pull, and you and me paddle and push with our legs. Ready? Pull!”
A series of grunty moans serenade amid the jungle, laced with the distinct schlurp from the sticky clay, with a few occasional encouragements from Sandra. Slish after slosh, Tara and Victoria eventually get back to stable ground, panting from the exertion. Tom is wiping off rather unsuccessfully some gray stains on his shirt, with Amy giggling mischievously at him, her hands held behind her back.
- “Vic? Would you mind telling me now why you did that?”, Tara asks with a restrained calm.
- “I saw something that I thought you might like”, Victoria lifts her wrist, a bracelet with clay-stained pearls on it.
- “How did you…?”, Tara tries to ask, but is interrupted as Vicky loosens it from her wrist, and ties it to her rescuer’s.
- “Thank you~”
Tara carefully wipes the silt of off some of the beads, a dark, obsidian shine evident now.
- “This is… something I won’t be able to keep, but I know who will be wanting it back. I - thank you for finding it… but please don’t do that again.”
Sandra helps Tara and Victoria back up on their feet, before hugging each of them in turn. Amy’s head leans over on Tom’s shoulder at the cuddly sight, while he just rolls his eyes, but indulges his beloved nonetheless.
- “That, is an example of things you should not be trying to do around the Great Swamp. Things are not always what they seem, and a few such incidents have yielded actually nothing for the trouble that ensued. Fortunately, nothing terrible has happened from those incidents, but they were rather close calls, as I’ve read on them… Perhaps some others may have not been so lucky… b-but I shouldn’t be worrying you with false rumours. We’re not far from the lake South of our camp. We’ll clean up once we get there, and then circle around it and we’ll be back home!”
The weary group makes their way along the intended footpath, the dense vegetation steadily clearing out. Various pockets of sunlight dot their view, different varieties of colourful flowers making for a rather picturesque sight. Their sweet scent is sometimes replaced by a waft of what might be peat.
- “Watch your step! Do not walk too close to any dark, moist patches!” Tara explains and points at one of them. “This place is always changing. Day by day. Season by season. Even if you have walked this path a thousand times, you still need to watch where you go. Fortunately, the paths here are much more traversed, and unless you go out of your way…”, Tara interrupts to give a rather critical glance to Victoria, which she deflects with a coy smile, “… then you should be fine. It is safer to stay at the edge of these clearings. These are really just large, partially overgrown bogs. If you break through the upper layer and start to sink, there is nothing solid to hold onto out there.”
- “You remind me of that time when some researchers from Scotland, or maybe it was Ireland… who came here to get some samples of peat for - I think they said it was for whiskey?”, Victoria tries to recall.
- “Peated whiskey; supposedly it gives the drink a smoky flavour from the peat fires used to dry malted barley. Never tried any of it, now that I think about it…” Tom drops a little insight into the discussion.
- “Oh, I remember them! I think they looked cute in their tartan, but I was really struggling to follow them talking…”, Sandra joins in the discussion.
- “I don’t think those girls had seen bogs as deep as the ones here until then. They didn’t seem to know their way around the one they slipped in. They did look cute in there too… It was just adorable how Tara looked at them when she tried to understand what they were saying.”, Victoria finishes with a teasing laugh at the imprinted image in her head.
- “They - did get a bit over their heads then… in more ways than one… It was a first for me as well then. B-but we did rescue them! Last I heard they decided they couldn’t use the obtained samples for what they initially wanted. I don’t think the locals would have agreed to let them extract peat from TGS anyway. I think they’d be organizing another visit here at some point… Oh, over there! A nice, little, sandy beach. We can rest here a bit before we head back to the camp.”
The jungle opens up to what feels like a large sea of tall grass and cattails. The not-so wide high grass obscures the ground leading towards the lake that they saw at the South exit of the camp. Close by the sandy beach - perhaps the only one they’ve seen up until this point around here - are some old, wooden stairs that connect to the boardwalk and leads into the overgrown vegetation. Tara and Victoria step lightly on the sand, their feet slipping in the lake’s soothing waters, and begin to wash off the clay that was still clinging to their silhouettes, with Sandra settling down not far from them, just… looking at them.
As Tara begins to talk more about the local geography, Tom loses interest in that, as his attention is caught towards a missing Amy. He was taking a deep breath to call out to her, but then he looks back and spots her dress amid the denser vegetation along the path they came. Smiling with relief, he strides towards Amy… only that she’s not in her dress, which was hanging neatly from a tree branch. Her shoes were on the ground next to it. Fortunately, his concern is short lived, as he spots her not far from her dress, overlooking a small clearing amid the tall grass. She was dressed down to her favourite yellow bikini, the one she usually wears to grab Tom’s attention whenever she’s feeling more adventurous. One of her legs is calf deep in mud. The ground feels moist and a little muddy beneath Tom’s feet, but there is no water in sight otherwise. Amy pushes with her foot into the mush, the soft surface shaking as a whole at her probing. Tom was feeling quite excited at the sight of Amy pumping her leg into the bouncy mud.
- “Amy~?”, he decides to gently interrupt her. “What are you doing~?”
- “Oh, Tom! I - didn’t want to worry you. I… was looking at that”, she points a little flustered towards a large, pink flower, in full bloom. Others were dangling in the wind just around it, but that one was the biggest of them all.
- “Pretty flower… not as pretty as you though.”, Tom attempts to distract Amy from it.
- “It’s not just any flower! It’s a Swamp Hibiscus! A rare variation of it. It’s got more petals than any other I’ve seen!”
- “Oh, for a moment there you had me worried you were thinking of something else than your gardening hobby. As much as I’d enjoy seeing you getting down and dirty for your passions, I’d prefer if it was just me watching.”
- “But Tom~! I want it!”
- “And I’ll know just what to bring you on our next date! Come, let’s get you dressed up and…”, Tom is interrupted from his chain of thoughts as Amy’s eyes get a little more watery than he remembers. “What are you…? If you think that will…”, he loses his focus to speak as her cheeks puff up just a little bit. “N-no, don’t… Stop…”, he attempts to resist giving in to her unspoken plead. As soon as Amy’s head tilts slightly to her side, and her lips bloom not unlike the flowers she was asking about, Tom drops his head and sighs in defeat. “Fine! I’ll get it for you - my drama queen.”
- “Thank you~!”, Amy breaks her puppy eye charm, leaning in kiss Tom in gratitude. Her legs are now sitting at the edge of the mud pit, her feet lazily stirring in the goopy mush. “I’ll be waiting for you right here, my gallant knight.”
Tom puts up a forced, but silly smile, and begins to pull off his clothes. Just once he leans out from cover of the tall grass, trying to see if the guide had noticed them gone. A distant, cheery laugh tells him the other girls are still there, but distracted by something else. Tom rather quickly is down into just a reliable pair of swimming trunks, dark blue and with white lines on their side to break the monotone colouring. He stretches with his arms above his head, highlighting his lean build, and his rear to his beloved. A slap on his thigh interrupts his flexing:
- “Quit goofing around get me my flower!”
- “Yes, mistress! At once, mistress!”, Tom gestures mostly to encourage himself to go ahead with it.
He looks around and thinks through his approach. The flower is in the middle of the small dried-up pond, sloppy mud forming a natural moat around the little mound of sediment on which it grows. He could jump to it, but them he risks breaking it with a clumsy landing, not to mention getting himself properly stuck if the mud isn’t as shallow as he’d hope. If only he carried a stick long enough to test the ground with… Or he could gamble the mire isn’t too deep, and just trudge his way to it and then back, wash himself in the lake before joining back with their guide, and keep Amy happy with both a silly show and her desired present. Yes, that sounds about right…
Tom circles carefully around the pit, to get a clearer path towards his target. He ends up on the opposite side from Amy, but with the smallest gap to cover towards the flowers. The ground quivers with each step on the muddy edge of the clearing, squishing softly beneath Tom’s feet. He readies himself for the crossing, bouncing in place along with the jiggling mire. Within a few seconds, he’d know just how bad he did… He lunges forward, his footing starting off with the muck just shy of his ankles. The first set of steps feel promising, the ground feeling sturdier than he had hoped, but the mud still swallows his calves in its gloopy embrace. He manages to keep his momentum with the second and third sets, the mire reaching just shy over his knees. On the last, fourth stretch he reaches the mound in the middle, but by this point he loses his element of speed, as the mud gives way beneath him, the silt proving more treacherous than he had hoped. With a prolonged squelch, followed by some complementary bubbles, Tom is now sunk up to his thighs, and still descending. Tom twists in place, plucking away the biggest flower he could quickly grab, the wobbly mush inching closer and closer to his crotch.
Amy flutters her hand towards her face, but her fanning can’t really distract Tom from noticing the blush tinting her cheeks. That look on her face makes Tom get rather excited, feeling his blood rushing more towards his legs. Despite the boost he got from his love, any motion feels heavier now, the rather sticky mud clinging to his legs. Slish… slosh… slish… slosh… As the gooey mud touches his groin, a small gasp escapes his lips, the familiar feeling causing the bulge between his legs to swell into the mire’s embrace. As the muddy maw cups his buttocks, he realizes he won’t be able to move much further, and he’s only covered half the distance back towards Amy. Unable to lift his legs anymore, he leans forward, gallantly tossing the prized flower to his biggest fan, which she happily catches, holding it close to her face, indulging in its sweet scent, her upper body swaying teasingly from side to side. As she looks back with a warming smile to her beloved, she can’t help but bite on her lip at the sight of Tom thrusting his hips forward in the squelching mire, clawing at its mushy surface to get him closer to the edge. Alas, he tires out, huffing as he surrenders to the mud, lazily climbing higher over him.
- “Well, I think I’m stuck.”, he grudgingly admits. “And a bit tired, too.”
- “Oh, Tom~, I remembered you lasted longer than that…”, Amy teases him.
- “I don’t recall you lasting too long while on top either.”, he hits back with a cocky tone. Amy’s eyes roll over, deflecting his riposte.
- “You did get me what I wanted. Now, I could just leave you to your natural fate…”, she teasingly threatens him. Before he could protest in any way, she follows up: “… But, I am feeling generous today, and I’ll pull you out from your - distressing situation.”
- “How long have you been waiting to say that?”
- “A little bit. Now, try not to go under while I come to your rescue.”
Tom makes one last attempt to move closer towards Amy, his lean frame jerking against the sucking mire, but other than stirring the mud to gurgle around in protest, he didn’t make any more progress. Amy puts the flower down next to where she was sitting, and grunts as she gets herself off her bum. She leans forward in her squatting position, her hands plunging into the squishy mud, squelching softly as she attempts to crawl her way towards Tom on all-fours. Slish after slosh, Amy reaches her beloved without too much trouble, her shape(s) at first hovering above the glistening mud, and then dragging across its wobbly surface. She refrains from calling Tom out for adhering to his masculine nature and staring indiscreetly at her bosom, as the girl is worried, she’s losing any grip she has against the mud as her bodice starts to sink horizontally in it. Amy’s now slithering across the quivering mush, although a bit slower, as the silt caresses her around every of her curves within its enveloping reach. She manages to grab onto Tom’s outstretched hands, pulling each other closer. Panting, they can’t hold themselves back from a brief, passionate kiss, their lips suckling at each other’s. As Amy’s back straightens against the quivering bog, she grunts as she forces herself to lean towards the edge of mire. With her hands hooked below Tom’s armpits, she tries to lift his heavier frame up from the squelching mud’s grip, while her partner paddles with his legs from deeper in the mush. Amy falls over on her back, her shoulders plopping softly against the squishy mud. She blushes brightly as she finds herself with Tom on top of her, her legs spread apart in the quivering mire, with the bulge in his trunks pressing - comfortably - against her lower lips. Her hips are also now sunk under the shaky surface, cupped in the pit’s mucky embrace. After exchanging a long, flustered look to each other, Amy interrupts the moment by breaking the silence:
- “Now - isn’t the best moment.”
- “Of course!… Of course. Are you still able to move?”, Tom asks worried, now standing taller than he was before, mud glistening on his abs.
- “Yes, I think I…”, Amy tries to speak, but is interrupted by a rather loud bubble popping on the surface, drawing both their attention… and another bubble, and another.
The couple are now sinking faster into the mire than they were before, the loose ground beneath them yielding into a sinkhole. Gurgling furiously, the mud isn’t feeling generous enough to let go of its guests. They attempt to wiggle out of sucking maw forming around them, but they only manage to churn their way in deeper in the squelching mud.
- “Call for help?”, Amy asks a little scared to her partner.
- “Call for help!”, Tom confirms with a nod.
They call out as loudly and clearly as they can for their guide, pausing a bit just to catch their breath before another set of callouts. Despite their persistent yelling, they’re only answered back with the hollow reply from the jungle wildlife. A minute passes as they continue to plea for rescue, although it felt like it lasted for much longer than that, having both slipped in deeper, up to their armpits, their chests cupped in the sticky silt.
- “Tara!… Tara?!”, Amy yells out, helpless before the mire’s shallow gulps.
- “Amy, look, we’ve talked about this before. If nobody’s coming very shortly, I’ll push you out and you go…”, Tom tries to explain to his dearest, but is interrupted quickly by her.
- “Don’t speak like that!… and I know… Tara~!”
- “Tom? Amy? Is that you?”, their guide’s voice can be heard somewhere faintly through the high grass.
- “Tara! We’re over here!”, Tom calls with his booming voice.
- “I’m coming! Hang in there!”
The tall grass is waving about, the source of the disturbance making its way closer to the distressed couple. Both of them look down as the mud churns and bubbles, before Tara emerges through the reeds.
- “There you are!”, the black girl smiles with relief.
A long vine is bundled up over her shoulder, reaching down through her cleavage. Their guide is, unexpectedly, covered in fresh mud up to her chest, covering half of her bikini top. With tired arms, she pulls the vine off her shoulder and begins to unbundle it. Amy and Tom remain silent as they watch their guide’s handiwork, measuring lengths of the vine at a practiced pace.
- “Here - grab tightly and I’ll pull! Push with your legs and pull with your hands as well, as much as you can. This vine can take it.”, Tara finishes by throwing her improvised rope to the stuck couple, its tip landing right next to them.
- “Amy, you go first.”, Tom takes the initiative and lifts Amy as much as he can, even as he pushes himself deeper in the process, the mud inching ever closer to his shoulders.
Amy looks back at him as if to protest, but she refrains and follows through. Being careful not to hit Tom, Amy pushes with her legs after she grabs the vine, twisting her way out of the gurgling maw of the mire. Her bosom, and few moments later her hips are soon out in sight again, the blonde sitting on her belly as she’s making significant progress towards safer ground. Tom spreads his arms to his sides after having made sure Amy is out of danger, and relaxes at the sight of her jiggly rear as she makes her way dragging across the quivering, muddy surface. Tara is pressing with her heels against the yielding edge of the pit, steadily taking a step back to make up for her slipping into the mucky clutches of the pit while pulling at the vine. The mud rolls up in front of Amy’s breasts, as if trying to make the extraction more difficult than it already is, but Tara continues to make steady progress. As soon as Amy flops with her breasts onto the squelching edge of the mud pit, Tara lets go of the vine and lunges forward to grab Amy by her arms, and drag her over herself. Tom quirks an eyebrow amused to what looks like Tara hugging his girlfriend.
- “One out, one to go.”, Tara muses to herself, panting as she gently lumps Amy off to her side, and prepares to throw the vine again.
- “Don’t worry, take your time. I’m not going anywhere.”, Tom replies sarcastically, trying to keep himself floating with the mush just over his shoulders now.
- “Oh, you’re in quite deep. Here, grab the end of the vine, but don’t pull at it. We’ll do the pulling, and as soon as you feel yourself getting a bit more loose, start paddling with your legs, okay? Amy, can you help me here?”
Tara and Amy brace themselves as Tom grabs the other end of the vine, his hands grasping at it from beneath the meavy mush. On the guide’s signal, the two girls start tugging at the vine, bracing their heels against the smooth silt at the edge, while Tom waits for the suction around him to yield. Despite its bubbly protest, the gurgling mire releases him from its grip after several moments. As soon as Tom feels its embrace weakening, he begins to twist and wiggle his way towards the surface, and shortly after to paddle with his legs. His rescuers are panting a fair bit from their effort to extract him from how deep he got. It’s going slightly smoother for him as his frame follows through the same disturbed trail left behind by Amy, with the mud still clumping up in front of him. Closing in on the edge, Tom is picked up under his arms by his rescuers, but his expectations for a soft landing are met with a faceplant against the moist dirt. Fortunately, he takes it on his chin.
- “Are you alright?”, Tara asks as she looks over the others.
- “We’re - just fine now, thanks to you.”, Amy follows with a reassuring reply.
- “We… wandered off not far from the group, then we - somehow - got lost, and got stuck here.”, Tom hurriedly constructs an excuse.
- “We - hope you didn’t get into too much trouble looking for us. You look like you did though.”, Amy follows up after Tom, concerned about their guide’s mud-slathered silhouette.
- “Oh, this… Don’t worry about it. I’m glad you’re all safe now. We need to make sure everyone gets back to the camp in one piece. I… did blunder into a bog myself while I was looking for you. I’m not sure how, or why, but it’s not easy to hear anyone calling you out from among these reeds. Victoria and Sandra are safe, back at the camp. I went back looking for you. I - did get worried I wasn’t going to be able to reach you, when I sank so deep… Fortunately, Shetani, the jungle girl, intervened and helped me out.”
- “Wait, you hire jungle girls at your camp?”, Tom interrupts with a genuinely curios question, before being nudged lightly in his ribs by Amy’s elbow.
- “W-what? No, no, we don’t! Or rather, we can’t. Shetani is one the local inhabitants around this large area. If we could hire her, she’d be a far better guide than any of us at TGS. Sadly, she seems to just keep to herself. But, she DID save me. Although, I think she was after that bracelet we recovered earlier. The vine she rescued me with was the same I used to get you out. I was intending to return her the bracelet anyway, given we knew it was of local make, but she offered to trade said vine for it.”
- “Interesting…”, Amy follows with a rather hollow reply. “Once more, thank you for saving us. What now?”
- “Well, you’ll probably want to clean yourselves up before heading back to the camp… or you can make use of our shower facilities there. Just be careful not to lose out anything else around here, such as clothes and shoes. We don’t go out of the way to recover those. I’ll - wait for you just over there, after I’ve cleaned myself up. There’s another spot for you over there.” Tara finishes by pointing to two clearings towards the lake. “Please, don’t wander off too far.”
The two nod reassuringly to Tara, who follows through with what she said. Tom gives Amy a squishy hug from behind; she could feel him having been worried. She holds him by his arms wrapped around her, before asking:
- “Why did you ask her about jungle girls?”
- “I, actually, was curious about that. After all we’ve seen today, it just sounded… plausible to me.”
- “Oh, and you’d have thought they’d be wearing leopard bikinis and carry a flint spear with them?”
- “Well, kind of, yes… minus the spear. You wouldn’t need that to catch me though.”, Tom suggests to his beloved, placing the flower in her hair.
- “I’ll think about it…”, Amy gives a teasing reply; but she did seem content with her present.