On this day :
1968 Dr King is assassinated, 1776 Washington begins march to New York, 1933 Man who took NASCAR mainstream is born, 1865 President Lincoln tours Richmond, 1949 NATO pact signed, 1968 Martin Luther King Jr is assassinated, 1933 Dirigible crash kills 73, 1841 President Harrison dies after one month in office, 1918 Second Battle of the Somme ends, 1949 NATO established, 1960 BenHur wins 11 Academy Awards, 2013 Legendary movie critic Roger Ebert dies, 1928 Maya Angelou is born, 1913 Muddy Waters is born, 1843 Yellowstone photographer William Jackson is born, 1841 Harrison dies of pneumonia, 1865 Lincoln dreams about a presidential assassination, 1982 Gretzky finishes season with 212 points, 1967 Martin Luther King Jr speaks out against the war, 1975 Operation Baby Lift aircraft crashes, 1918 Germans and Allies step up operations near Somme, 1884 Yamamoto Isoroku Japans mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack is born,

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Mudman

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It was the second of September. Our school had organised a trip for us to the Rann of Kutch and the entire class had come. It was the second day of our trip and we had already seen several sights. My friend Rahul still complained that all he could see was mud. In the afternoon we stopped at a wayside eatery to have lunch. The children were allowed to buy their own food. This caused a crowd near the counter. When things got out of control, a random stranger shouted, “Beware of the Mud Monster!”

All the children left the counter and rushed to surround the white haired old man who had uttered this sentence. He said, “Never leave your vehicle at night in the Rann of Kutch!” Then he passed out. Rahul, I noticed, got very scared and started shivering. I told him not to believe the ramblings of a drunken slob, but after that he never stopped clutching my shoulder.

As our fortunes had it, the school bus broke down in the middle of the night when we were returning to our hotel. It appeared that some mud had entered the engine. The children were unfazed; most started listening to songs on their electronic gadgets. Rahul did not, as he was busy shaking with fear. I could not, since he was still latched onto me. To end this farce, I stepped out of the bus. Rahul was forced to since he was my jacket, metaphorically.

The teacher came out to stop me, but Rahul got scared by his voice and lashed out. I then ran away, so that the teacher would not scold me. I ran for some distance, and ended up in the middle of some muddy swamp.

I dropped Rahul on the ground and screamed, “Look around! Do you see any mudman? Do you see?” He looked around, shook his head and got up. He also stopped shaking. He said, “Now that I think of it, it was an unbelievable thing.” He chuckled a bit; I laughed. Soon we were laughing and roaring about the stupidity of it all. Rahul was rolling on the floor. When he got up, he noticed that I had gone pale and was staring in one direction. He looked, too. At some distance was a humanoid figure, but made completely of mud, with sludge dripping down its shoulders.

The next thing I know was that we were screaming and running for our lives. I caught sight of the bus and pulled Rahul with me. When we got near the bus, we shouted to the children, “Mudman!”

We were catching our breath when the mudman appeared behind us. We turned around and we were paralysed with fear. The mudman moved closer, and then wiped his face off.

Suddenly the teacher, whom Rahul had pushed, was in front of us, covered in mud.

Neither Rahul nor I have spoken about that day ever since!

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