Tale as Old As Time

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Mud, Mud and More Mud...

“We could try to jump it?” Mia asked looking at the distance between the stumps.

“I seriously doubt an Olympic Long Jumper could jump that gap, but if you want to land in the boiling mud, be my guest.” Alexis told her.

“It was only a suggestion, geez, keep your hair on!” Mia said under her breath.

“What if we use the windows and curtain rails and climb around the edge of the room?” Matt suggested.

“We could smash a window and get the hell out of here, get help and then come back to find the others?” Alexis suggested, hope evident in his voice.

“That might be problematic guys. The windows have gone.” Mia pointed out.

Matt and Alexis turned to look in the direction of the windows to discover that Mia was right. All of the windows that had previously been there were now bricked over, leaving the moth eaten curtains swept to one side with tie backs.

Mia studied the stumps. She noticed they were in a pattern and she tried to draw a path through the pattern. She was only vaguely aware of Alexis and Matt talking behind her and she made it half way across the room with her eyes before she realised they would end up in the mud, so she started again. She tried three more ways before finally figuring it out.

“I’ve got it!” She cried. “We need two planks of wood that span the distance between two of the stumps.”


“Trust me. Find the planks.”

Mia led the search for two planks that would be long enough to reach from post to post, Matt and Alexis reluctantly joined in. They couldn’t find any long enough and frustrated Mia let out a loud sigh.

Alexis, however was running his hands over the rugged wood that made up the table top. He could see in the dim light that it was made up of five long planks. He inspected it closer and realised that the planks were simply nailed onto the base.

He took hold of one end of the planks and, using all of his strength he pulled, lightly unnerved at how easily it parted. Matt, seeing what Alexis was doing raced to the other end of the table and lifted the opposite end. He too used more force than was necessary to lift it and managed to hit himself in the mouth with the end of the plank.

While Matt tried to stem the flow of blood, Mia raced forward and helped Alexis remove the next plank.

“Right then genius, what’s the plan?” Alexis asked Mia as she moved her way back to the edge of the mud pit.

“We place the first plank from the edge as a vertical, then place the other plank across as the horizontal before moving the vertical.”

“I say we do it, we might even warm up!” Matt said, his voice garbled from holding his nose.

Mia and Alexis lifted the first plank and, holding it upright, positioned in it line with the central stump before lowering it with a satisfying thump.

“Now we pick up and carry the next one to place it on the vertical. We’ll all need to go otherwise we’ll get cut off from each other.”

Matt and Alexis picked up the second plank, placed it on their shoulders and set off towards the stump.

“Matt, place your end down and then lower it across the gap.” Mia instructed as she followed the two boys and watched them carefully.

“Which way? Left or right?” Matt asked as he placed the end of the plank on the stump so that it was upright.

“Doesn’t matter.”

Working closely together, Matt and Alexis lowered the plank into its horizontal slot, before walking onto it.

“Now what?” Matt demanded as Mia caught up to them.

“Now we lift the vertical, taking care not to drop it and, using this plank as a stump, we move the vertical to the next set of planks.” Mia explained.

“We don’t have the leverage to pick the plank up. The second we move it, it’s in the mud.” Matt pointed out.

Mia looked at the plank of wood and knew Matt was right. They had no way of lifting it without dropping it into the boiling wood. Glancing around the dining room, she immediately saw the answer and raced back across the plank, returning a few moments later tying the tie backs for the curtains together.

“If we stop the plank moving towards us with our feet, we can tie these about halfway across and then use them to pull it up to move it.”

“That’s smart.”

“Shockingly my GPA isn’t a fluke!”

She bent down and tied the makeshift rope to the plank of wood before joining Matt on the stump. He put his foot at the end of the plank and Mia handed him the rope to pull, which he did and the plank rose agonisingly slow. Once it was in position, Mia lunged forward to hold it in place while Alexis took hold of the rope and Matt lifted it to his shoulder.

“Duck!” He ordered as he spun around to put it into its new place, while Mia and Alexis ducked to avoid being struck by the wood.

“Now what? The Vertical is resting on the horizontal so we have no way to move forward.” Matt asked.

“One of us goes ahead and swaps the vertical onto the horizontal, before throwing the rope back and changing the horizontal to the vertical.”

Slowly they moved the planks in this manner until they reached the bottom of the stairs. Once their feet were back on solid ground again, Alexis chanced a look behind him and his jaw dropped. Between him, Matt and Mia and the door, the floor had returned to a solid hardwood.

“Come on, let’s go find Khaia and the others and get the hell out of here!” he instructed, his voice shaking slightly.

Keeping huddled close together, the three of them crept cautiously up the stairs.

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