It was hopeless, truly hopeless. How could Albert realistically expect to track down the little green sharp-toothed bastard? He’d charged off through the swamp and spent the best part of an hour frantically searching behind every tree, bush and cranny that he’d come across. He’d only succeeded, so far, in banging his head on a couple of branches and stubbing his toe on a rock.
Albert slumped down at the foot of a tree nursing his swollen right hand. He was hopelessly lost, although since his ship had slipped into the swamp anyway, it didn’t really matter where he was, there was no turning back now. One good thing had come of the chase: his rage and the throbbing pain of his hand had successfully obliterated all elements of the fear he’d felt previously. For now, his mind was well and truly off the fact that he was all alone, miles from home with no chance of return, stuck in a spooky swamp at night.
He looked up and saw moonbeams peeping through the swamp tree branches. He felt strangely comforted by what he saw. He imagined being back on Jud quenching his thirst with some exotic fruity beverages. His mouth watered in anticipation. He may well have had no idea where he was, but there was something eerily familiar about this place. That the atmosphere was capable of sustaining life should come as no surprise, his ship’s computer had been programmed not to bring him down in hostile environments. Besides, if the planet’s atmosphere was unable to support life, he wouldn’t have been around to consider the good fortune.
There was at least one sun, though Albert hadn’t really seen it thanks to the lush vegetation. But since he was now sitting in darkness, he realised that there must have been a sun in order for it to set. In the sun’s place high above in the sky, there sat a moon. Albert looked up. Yep, a moon, there it was, all shiny and white and up there in the sky right where it should be, and, crucially, it was all on its own.
There was plenty of water too, although Albert hadn’t yet tasted it. Evidently though this was a swamp with a fair amount of vegetation, so the water was probably OK if not exactly potable. Albert was no botanist but the trees looked vaguely familiar too, and the birdsong. Indeed, the birdsong had positively cheered him up earlier. There were certainly swamps back home and this place looked very much like the ones he’d seen on TV. And his phone, his phone had a signal even if no of his contacts were available.
Albert looked back up at the moon. “I’m back,” he said in disbelief. He started jumping around, “I’m back! I’m back! I’m back on Jud. Oh what a plonker. I’m home, home on the range. Beautiful, beautiful Jud.”
He was dancing and spinning and kissing the trees. But then he stopped dead in his tracks. He had indeed seen swamps on TV back home, but he was pretty sure he’d never seen nasty little green goblins that spoke perfect, albeit slightly quirky, Jud. And even though his phone had a signal, he was pretty sure he’d never heard of the Workplace. He walked over to the nearest tree and patted and stroked the bark. “I’m back,” he said to himself and the tree, but shaking his head not fully convinced, “..yeah, I’m back. Definitely. I just need to keep walking, I’m bound to see some signs of civilisation soon.”
Albert set off walking through the swamp at a steady, deliberate pace. Although he had no idea which direction to travel, he felt sure that he was doing the right thing. Well, maybe not 100 per cent sure, but 90 or at least 80 per cent sure.
He walked for about an hour and took a small rest, then again for another hour or so before taking another slightly longer rest. He set off again, but it wasn’t long before fatigue started to set in. He rested up against a tree and upon sitting down felt a sharp stabbing back in his left buttock, he sprang up and looked down, the glint of something metallic caught his eye. He held his sore hand to his forehead, he was starting to feel extremely tired all of a sudden, he placed himself down on the floor carefully, “hmm, just a quick nap, that’s what I need,” he said to himself, “a nice, restorative snoozzzzzzzzzz.”
Not for the first time in his life, Albert’s nap though would turn into a lengthier affair than he intended.