He turned his head from side-to-side. There was no sign of Hel, or her hounds. He dropped his head hard onto the rough ground. Well, at least it was quiet now.
There was no sound at all.
‘Help! Help me!’
What the hell was that? Joe lay still listening hard for the voice. Had he imagined it?
No, he hadn’t imagined it. It was a man’s voice and it was coming somewhere to the right of him.
He pulled himself off the floor. He was absolutely filthy and smelled worse. Joe hated being dirty. He didn’t like dirt at all.
He held his hands out in front of him. They were caked in mud and a thick red graze covered both heels of his hands.
‘Help! Come quick!’
Joe looked at his hands, gave a deep sigh and rubbed his hands on his hoodie. Today was not a good day.
He turned towards where the voice was coming from and set off through the trees.
He’d only stumbled a few metres when a small clearing opened up before him encircled by more oak trees. There was a muddy bog in front of him, with a small, fat man stuck up to his waist in it. A large branch reached out towards him, it’s fingertips just out of the man’s reach. The man’s forehead was beaded with sweat as he was trying desperately to grab the branch but it was a couple of centimetres too far. The man was well and truly stuck.
The man looked up.
‘Help me, please,’ the man pleaded. ‘I can’t get out! I feel like I’ve been here an eternity and I don’t know how much longer I will be able to survive. I’m so thirsty, please help!’
Joe moved forward to assess the situation. ‘Hang on,’ he said, looking around for a branch long enough to reach the man.
‘Please hurry,’ said the man who seemed to have sunk a few more centimetres into the mud.
‘Okay,’ said Joe, locating a branch that he thought was long enough for the job, ‘just don’t thrash around or else you’ll sink even further.’
He grabbed the branch and began to feed it across the mud to the man.