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1884 First roller coaster in America opens, 1738 Patriot printer publisher and postmistress Mary Katharine Goddard born, 1903 Ford Motor Company incorporated, 1862 Union thwarted at the Battle of Secessionville, 1961 Russian ballet star Nureyev defects, 1999 SLA member captured after more than 20 years, 1896 Tsunami ravages Japanese coast, 1958 Leader of Hungarian uprising executed, 1963 First woman in space, 1977 Brezhnev is Soviet president, 1943 Charlie Chaplin marries Oona ONeill, 1904 James Joyce meets his future wife Nora, 1965 Bob Dylan records Like A Rolling Stone, 1890 Alaskan explorer Fred Fickett leaves Army, 1858 Lincoln warns that America is becoming a house divided, 1968 Lee Trevino wins his first US Open, 1961 Kennedy agrees to send instructors to train troops, 1965 More troops to be sent to Vietnam, 1970 Communists isolate Phnom Penh, 1918 Battle of the Piave River, 1940 Marshal Petain becomes premier of occupied France,

Stories

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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