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Large sloshes of mud sprung from beneath his feet at he galloped through the murky bog. The strong stench of decaying life overwhelmed him as he ventured deeper into the darkness. With him, John held only a lantern with a small, low-flickering flame. It lit barely enough space to notice. He passed many things on his way. Toads sat quietly on water plants and watch him with ever-turning eyes. A sole crane stood motionless atop a fallen log. Its wings were tucked neatly upon its back and its head stood erect on top of its long slender neck. The only movement it showed was that when it followed John and he ran past.
What was worse than the still of the silence was that of the smells. If one were to wander into this place only one thing would come to mind. Death. Everywhere. It lay motionless on the ground beneath John’s feet. It floated peacefully on the murky waters of the shallow ponds. It grew up the long-dead trees, where it hung from the decaying branches. It scraped the ground and it shadowed the land. It was everywhere.
As John continued to run, his heart pounded in his chest. He ran for what seemed like hours. He leaped over soggy branches and skipped over puddles. His shoes were socked to the core from just the mist in the air. His shirt, torn from wear, was now green with sludge, and his pants could get no wetter.
He looked back periodically and saw no one. Yet he continued to run, and he continued to look behind him from time to time. And still he saw no one. Suddenly, he leaped over a log that came into view in seconds. On the opposite side however, lay a deep pool of murky sludge. As he landed in it, his arms were pushed backwards and his head fell towards the log. It hit with a low, deep swat. He raised his head once more to look around. He was now neck-deep in the stuff and only one arm was free from it.
Then from in the clouds overhead came a silvery slice of light. It flew from the sky down towards the bog, twirling and flipping through the air. It fell at first like a flattened stone, cutting through the misty air. When it had come within ten feet of John it began to slow down. From the backside of the slice opened two slits. As they began to enlarge, something protruded from them. A light flashed so bright that John was forced to turn away, but for when he returned his gaze, in front of him her saw something he never had expected to see in a place like this. One foot from his face sat, floating in the air, a small glowing person. Two inches in height and with four tiny wings, this person was no larger than the rock from which it had come.
John, becoming nervous, began to struggle with the concrete-like sludge that still engulfed him. As he flailed his one free arm, the little person let out a small giggle. John immediately froze solid, staring at what sat before him, not knowing if it was a friend.
“Hello”, said the tiny man.
John sat still and spoke not a word. He looked into the little one’s eyes.
“I said ‘Hello’”, repeated the tiny man.
“Um. Hello.” John replied nervously. His gaze was now away from the man.
“My name is Rudnok. I am a fairy.” The tiny man was now flitting around John’s head and dancing wildly in the air.
“Wh-. What did you say?” John was now twisting his head in all directions in an attempt to keep up with the fairy,
“Fairy. That’s what I said. And that’s what I am. A fairy. I am a fairy.”
John had now closed his eyes. He pressed the knuckles of his free hand against his forehead. “I can’t be seeing this. I’m going crazy. I’m crazy.”
“Oh no! Not so! You are quite well. I am here, with you now.”
“No. No you’re not. You’re not a fairy, and you’re not here. Oh my god I’m going crazy.” John had begun to mumble under his breath.
The fairy had now stopped flittering around John’s head. He sat still, hovering a foot above the pool of sludge and looked straight at John. “So you say I’m not real? You say I’m not here? Well I’ll show you I am, and I’ll prove I am here.” With a flick of his tiny wings he soared into the air once more. He flew ten feet above John’s head and with another flash of light he was gone. The same silvery slice of light was now in his place. It fell as a rock once more. It landed in the sludge around John. Slowly the rock tipped on its side and sank, gurgling into the muck.
John now sat alone, stuck in a bog, with silence. He sat there by himself for ten minutes. “Ha. I new it was not real. Now that I have regained my mind I should try to get out of here.”
Suddenly, the sludge around his body began to bubble. As the bubbles reached the surface, they grew larger until they popped. Then the sludge began to glow. The light was first small and dim – from beneath feet of muck. Then as the light grew, the sludge became a blinding pool of light. John forced his head back against the log. Light flooded from his trap, it ran wild across the bog, turning what was once night into day. The death itself retracted, and mist and darkness dissipated.
When John returned his head to become upright, he blinked a few time to assure himself of what he was seeing. Around him the lands had changed. The bog was nowhere to be seen. The mist was gone, the dead trees were gone, and the dark had turned to light. He pulled at his arms and legs, expecting to feel the pressure of the sludge around him. Instead, he felt nothing but cool air, all around him. He looked down to see that the sludge had vanished. He now stood in an empty hole.
Looking around, he saw a forest, a beautiful labyrinth of intertwining trees and bushes, tall grass and vines. The sun shined through the leaves atop the great trees, making a speckled pattern on the ground below. Bird songs could be heard in the distance and gentle breezes ran through the grasses, making them dance uniformly.
John pulled himself from the hole and looked down into it from above. At the bottom, covered in mud, was the tiny rock – the tiny slice of light in the bog that now seemed so far away. Suddenly, the hole grew shallower and thinner. As it began to fill itself, the stone began to be buried. John quickly jumped back into the hole and dug wildly with both his hands. Mud flew in all directions as the hole continued to close. The earth around him pressed against his shoulders. Finally, he moved enough ground away and saw the glint of the rock. He dug his hand down into the last patch of earth and grabbed a handful of it.
Jumping from the hole, it closed around his foot. He pulled it free as mud and grass splattered everywhere. Now he lay, sprawled on the grass, with the rock clutched in his hand.