The Swamp Man

The Swamp Man counted the scratches he had made on the wall. Seventeen scratches were still there. It hadn’t changed in the 3 minutes since the last time he looked. He continued to pace, feet sloshing and splashing against the smooth concrete.

Seventeen days had seemed like an eternity. His life in the swamp was a distant memory.

If it hadn’t been for that rabbit he would have never entered the room next to the playground. His cell. So many cattails to eat in the swamp, but no, he had to go greedily chasing the only mammal he’d seen in weeks. After hours of chasing the rabbit through the night from the swamp to the city, the rabbit had blindly hopped into the room next to the playground. The Swamp Man closed the door, unwittingly locking them together in the room. He chased the furry meal around his cell for hours until it collapsed from exhaustion. It wasn’t until after he had made a tasty meal of the lagomorph that he realized what he had done.

The room was an abandoned storage room of sorts for an abandoned playground. The swamp man had caught some of his swamp skin in the locking mechanism of the door when he hastily closed the door to trap the rabbit. The result was a door that wouldn’t open, neither from pushing or pulling.

After failing to jar open the door, The Swamp Man laughed at his folly and moved to make quick work of the glass with his fists. Unfortunately for the Swamp Man, his squishy fists did not provide sufficient hardness to cause the glass to crack. He pounded the glass until his leafy arms went from green to black. His feet also failed to break the glass, leaving the Swamp Man jumping up and down, holding a stubbed toe.

Cursing in frustration, the Swamp Man moved the the corrugated aluminum siding to the right of the window. He pounded his fists against the metal.  He felt elated when the top corner began to give. He grabbed the corner with both hands to push outwards. The metal bent more. The Swamp Man pushed hard. Then the metal gave way, slipping under his swamp fingers, causing his hands to slice down the metal siding, rendering them useless. He cried out in pain but persisted. He pushed at the corner with his elbows but only found himself tearing away more of his swamp flesh. He howled and kicked at the wall in frustration which left him jumping up and down again, holding another stubbed toe.

After days of brooding under the leaky drain pipe in the back corner, the Swamp Man resigned himself to rescue as his only option. However, his rescue posed two problems. One, the playground was not well attended. Since school was in session there was not a steady supply of children taking to the merry-go-round. He could go days without seeing a soul. And two, he lacked the tact to do anything but send the children running away, screaming when he did try to make contact. The last he had scared away more that 2 days ago when he pounded on the glass in excitement at a gang of youngsters spinning on the playground.

The Swamp Man continued to pace, sloshing back and forth only stopping occasionally to attend the drain pipe while it was running. The Swamp Man reached his tentacles to the drain pipe, when through the window he noticed a little girl sitting on the merry-go-round. His heart leaped. She hadn’t been there a moment ago. This was the first child he had seen alone. Not only was she alone, she wasn’t playing on the playground. She was just sitting there.

He walked up to the window and peered at her over the Winnie the Pooh seat. She seemed to be gazing in the distance at nothing in particular or maybe something out his his vision. He saw no parents or friends nearby. She seemed very lonely just like the Swamp Man. Maybe he could finally connect with someone who would be able to free him.

The Swamp Man stooped to her level in the doorway to his left. He lightly tapped on the glass, squishing swamp juice all over, and prayed that she wouldn’t run when she saw him.

The girl looked up and jumped off her seat. She put her hand over her chest and looked wide eyed at the figure behind the glass. The Swamp Man rocked back slowly, remaining in his stoop, and put his hands up. He learned from experience that children do not like sudden movements.

He gestured to himself and to the girl a few times. She had stopped looking around, for help, or an escape, he didn’t know. She was now staring at him quizzically.

Then she smiled! He was going to be free!

But quickly, despair washed over him again with the realization that she alone wouldn’t be able to help. How was such a small girl, with her Hello Kitty jeans, going to help him open his cell. The Swamp Man had to get her to go find an adult. He started to gesture wildly for her to go find help.

The girl ignored his gestures. She reached in her pocket and pulled out some sort of long object. She pressed a button on it and a knife sprang forth. She looked up and the Swamp Man, flashing a brilliant smile. She took the switchblade to the bricks next to the door and dug out the mortar. After a moment she produced a brick from the stack. She carried the brick beyond the merry-go-round and threw it at the door. The glass shattered all over the ground.

The Swamp Man emerged from his cell, finally free.

He moved to thank the girl. She struck a pose and gestures with both hands, “That’s how I do!” she said. Then she positioned herself defensively. “But, you ain’t gettin’ outta here alive.”

The Swamp Man laughed and snapped his mouth tentacles at her. How could a little girl hurt him, even with a knife? And what could she possibly want?

The girl made a sarcastic face and pointed at the sun. “You gonna die out here Trash Man!”

She was right. He had to find a sewer quickly before he melted! He frantically began looking for a manhole when the girl yelled for him to stop.

“Hey Trash Man.” she said. “Take This. For the crocodiles.” She threw him the switchblade.

He gave the girl a quick nod of thanks. She returned with a crisp salute.

Then she turned and ran; never to be seen again.

Posted for The Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words.
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The Hands of Smoke

A Louisiana Hospital has decided to ban the clothing of employees who smell like smoke. This is known as 3rd hand smoke.  Some employees have found the banning of their clothing liberating, but many argue that working naked at a hospital is not universally desirable and argue that it is less healthy than than a doctor who smokes while delivering a baby.

In today’s society, it’s important to name and categorize everything, so when bad things happen you, know who is to blame.  Many have been surprised to find out that such a thing as 3rd hand smoke exists.  You’ll be even more surprised to find out that there are actually 6 and a half hands of smoke. Each hand of smoke carries with it certain criminal fine and punishment for the offending smoker. Awareness is important.  Many victims are not even aware of the awards available for any and all instances of smoking used against you.  Since smoking is now 99% illegal, these charges have been categorized and listed by the court system.

1st Hand Smoke

You’ve intentionally inhaled an amount of smoke.  Symptoms include: “the edge” is temporarily taken off and looking a little cooler.  It is also a crime and you are going to jail.

Penalty: 25 to Life in prison
Civil rewards: Pending all encompassing class action lawsuit against the cigarette companies

2nd Hand Smoke

You’ve entered a room where someone has expelled smoke or inside of the 20 foot safety zone of a building.  After measuring the distance from the building entrance to the offending smoker, report this crime to the police.  Symptoms include having to take a shower before bed and temporary irritability but otherwise having a good time, enjoying life.

Penalty: 20 years in prison plus 5 years house arrest
Civil rewards: $35,000 per inhalation ($50,000 if smoke is blown into your face – 1.5-Hand Smoke)

3rd Hand Smoke

Smoke that lingers on clothing, couches, curtains, or carpets.  Being around someone who had a cigarette once can lead to highly damaging 3rd hand smoke.  Even smelling the jacket of a former smoker can lead to instant lung cancer and damaging bowel movements. Symptoms include: not liking how someone smells and dealing with it in a reasonable manner – then calling the police.

Penalty: Up to 2 years in prison with lifetime GPS ankle bracelet
Civil rewards: $1000 per detection of smoke residue

4th Hand Smoke

Knowing someone who knows a smoker.  This hand of smoke is insidiously dangerous.  You may shake hands or share desert with someone who knows a smoker.  The smoke residue may travel from the original smoker through your friend or colleague and enter through your mouth or nose causing an unmeasurable amount of damage.  Symptoms may not reveal for 50 years or more and will be difficult to track back to the proper source.  Since it’s hard to pin down the source of this hand of smoke so it’s best to hire a detective to follow your friend around to see if they consort with smokers.  Symptoms of a 4th hand smoke victim include: headache, back pain, being tired, talking to strangers about the weather, and hunger around noon, daily.

Penalty: 500 hours of community service
Civil rewards: up to $100 per incident plus medical bills

5th Hand Smoke

The victim has communicated with a smoker.  Be aware of raspy voices and coughing.  It’s your right to have a phone conversation free of the interrupting effects of a smoker.  Your precious minutes are wasted with asking the caller to repeat themselves or waiting for their coughing fit to end.  It’s estimated that companies lose 35% productivity each time an employee speaks with a smoker.

Formerly this applied only to voice phone communication but has recently expanded to all telecommunication including texting, email, and Facebook.  Monitor your friend’s Facebook pictures and report any smoking activity. Their family or friends may be using their phone or keyboard and it’s important that you worry about their well-being at all times.

Penalty: 300 hours community service and banned from the Internet for one week
Civil rewards: up to $100 per incident

6th Hand Smoke

The victim experiences smoke during a dream or altered mental state.  The metaphysical effects of 6th hand smoke can be far greater than that of any other kind, because of the long lasting mental effects.

You walk into your high school gym riding a giant chicken.  Your car in the middle of the gym with the engine running.  Your late grandmother, 3 of the Keebler Elves and a your ex-roommate are inside of your car, smoking.  You try to get away but everyone in the gym will laugh at you since you don’t have pants on and you are the only one who can drive them to Disney World.  You accidentally drive the car into the ocean and it turns into a Sea Lab where you live out your days studying migration patterns of dolphins.  Symptoms include: A burning desire to tell everyone about the dream you had last night, no matter how glazed over their eyes become.  Also, fear of going back to sleep.

Penalty: 300 hours community service and one week in a sleep deprivation chamber
Civil rewards: automatic $100 from each person in your dream

Please join me this November in the Walk to Promote the 6-and-a-half Hands of Smoke Awareness.  Together we can make sure nothing mildly undesirable ever happens to a person again.