BONES IN THE MUD
"Quiet now, don't let the little jerk see us," said Jake.
In all the years he had been playing tricks on the new
apprentices this was the best ever.
Another long wail broke the silence as the
construction site slipped further into darkness.
"You are a wicked old man," said a fellow conspirator
struggling to stop giggling like a schoolgirl. "And a
clever one too. I'd never of thought of getting him to
leave his mobile phone behind on charge."
"Or sending him down to the soft spot," said another.
"Can you hear me? Over here. I'm stuck in the mud.
Help!" The apprentice waved his arms as he shouted.
He shouted some more, then got back to wailing.
Jake checked his watch and grinned, "He'll soon have
company. They'll be letting the dogs run the site. I'll
bet he can find a way to slither his out when he sees
"What if he can't get out of the mud?" someone
"It's only a couple of feet deep. He can't come to any
real harm," said Jake, "Time for us to get away home
now. We'll hear his story in the morning."
The next morning came bright and fresh to the site.
Men arrived singly and in little groups. These were
difficult times in the industry so no one came late, or
forgot their tools, or admitted to nursing a hangover.
But there was no sign of the apprentice.
"Hey Jake, you don't think he might still be out there
in the mud?" said someone. They all had a good
laugh but soon went quiet. Without another word
being said, they set off down the site, slowly at first
then quicker and quicker.
Jake was soon way out in front. As he got closer what
he saw had him choking for breath and reaching out
for something, anything to steady himself.
"Stay back," he shouted to the others as they came up
to where he had stopped, pale and shaking at the edge
of the soft spot.
And they did stay back, for no one had the stomach to
go near where the dogs were grinding the bones and
quarrelling over the few scraps of flesh that remained.
One of the men slipped away behind a wall. No one
said anything, but they all heard him bringing up his
For a while they threw stones at the dogs. Still no one
said a word.
They made a sad little procession as they headed off
to the site offices. Jake shivered as he thought over
and over again of the empty, blood soaked overalls
that had so recently carried the hopes and dreams of a
Finally someone said something, mostly just to break
the silence, "Jake, I'll get you a soap on a rope so you
don't have to bend down in the prison showers." But
no one laughed.
When they finally got to the offices, the site manager
was waiting for them.
Beside him was the new apprentice who called out to
them all, "I came in real early today. Hope the dogs
liked the bones I put out for them. Oh and by the way,
I need a new set of overalls."
Bones in the Mud was published in
the print and PDF versions of
Blinking Cursor Literary Magazine
First published, Winner
(as Just Kidding)
Adult Creative Writing Club
Competition No. 94