by Hydrargentium

Kat-grrl reached out, straining to catch hold of the jeep as it raced by. She felt her claw tips drag against the metal, but it was smooth and unadorned, and yielded nothing for a grip. As it bounced over the low brush, the engine roared, then it was gone among the trees.

She swung her arms around in frustration, twisting at the waist, stifling her own useless roar. Her wild movements only made her sink deeper in the viscous sludge. It was now past her belt.

She had no idea how deep this stuff was, but the odour, turned up to eleven by her enhanced sense of smell, reminded her of rancid oil and soiled diapers. She forced herself to sniff at it, and detected nothing that suggested it would kill her — at least not right away. She was still sinking, and if she got too deep, she’d never get out.

Looking around showed no branches or ropes or long-handled tools or discarded pipes or two-by-fours — nothing that would have made getting free any easier. She did see a few leaves resting on the surface, which gave her nothing to use except an idea.

Tentatively, she slapped her palm on the surface, squeezing her eyes almost closed and turning her face away to avoid any splattering. The impact threw up blobs in all directions, including one that landed just above her ear. As she reached with her other hand to wipe it away, it slipped down into her ear canal with a sound that made her wince. She shook her head but failed to dislodge it, and fought the urge spit in disgust.

Slapping the surface again, it became obvious she’d be able to swim/crawl her way to solid ground, just a few feet in front of her. With a sigh she leaned forward, chest-first into the goop.

“Ew! Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew.” She’d hoped to be able to crawl more than swim, and keep her head and shoulders above it all, but with her first outstretched stroke, her hand plunged deep. It was only her cat-like reflexes that let her turn her face away to keep her mouth clear.

Accompanied by grunts of further disgust, she settled into a cross between a push-up and a breast stroke, kicking her legs randomly to try to gain my traction. After a few minutes, she caught solid earth with one hand, and dug her claws in. More frantic kicking and pulling followed as she dragged herself to safety. Her hair, dragging across the ground as she moved, felt heavy with the weight of leaves and twigs that had stuck to the sludge.

She lay there on the cool forest floor, panting as much in frustration as exertion. Her breath was loud in her ears.

Even louder, though, was the click of the safety being thumbed off as the muzzle of a gun was pressed to the base of her skull.

“I’m sure I don’t need to tell you not to move,” a male voice spoke behind her, carrying more than a hint of chuckle, “but just in case: don’t move.”