I heard the whispering squish as my shoes sank in the warm water, and I froze, thinking I was going to catch a switch on my skinny rear end when I got back to camp. I pushed the thought aside, and squished on toward the stand of willows where I’d last seen the white wolf pup. I’d been following it for a half hour or so, and I wasn’t ready to give up the chase just yet. My ten year-old brain was doing double time, thinking how impressed all the kids would be if I arrived at show-and-tell with a white baby wolf. I heard a strange sound, and stopped in my tracks.
There it was again, coming from within the grove of willow trees; a snap, followed by a short buzzing sound. It sounded like grandpa’s bug zapper that hung blue on the front porch. I moved quickly and cautiously to the first of the trees, and when I peeked around its trunk, I saw a flash of the white pup, followed by another snap-buzz. I was almost blinded by the bright blue flash that followed. Bug zappers?
No way, I thought. Who would put a bug zapper out here in this spooky swamp?
I leaned around to take another look, and when I did, a little girl with the most beautiful white hair and startlingly big green eyes I’d ever seen was standing right there beside the tree, grinning at me.
“Woof!” she said, in almost a whisper.
I did my famous Drew Barrymore scream, and turned to run. Unfortunately, my shoes did not go with me, and I could hear the little girl giggling as the mud streamed between my toes, causing me to slip and fall face-first into the murky water.
Oh, yeah, I’d be doing the circle-skip-dance for sure now. I could almost hear Mom’s voice; “Go get me a switch, young man!” I rolled over and sat up, and I could not believe what I saw as I wiped the mud from my face!
It was the white wolf pup, standing atop the swamp water, holding my dripping shoes in its mouth. It had them by the strings, and they dangled above the water, with not a drop of mud on them. I stood up and when I looked down, I saw that I too was standing atop the murky water, and I was clean from head to toe. The wolf pup dropped my shoes, grinned a wolfy grin, and then yipped at me, while my shoes slid toward me as if they had eyes.
I bent to pick them up, and just as I touched them there was another snap-buzz-pop. When I looked up the pup was gone, and I was once again standing ankle deep in the water.
I heard mom calling me, and after one last search around the sunlit swamp, I turned and sloshed back to solid ground, then walked back to our campsite.
“What’ve you been up to, Robert?” Mom asked. She was smiling while looking me up and down to see if I’d gotten dirty, as she placed a bag of chips on the concrete picnic table.
As I plopped down on the hard bench, I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Nothin’.”
Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn
Just a little something for Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday. I’ve been reading a lot of Robert McCammon lately; or could you tell?