by Doctor Jones
Kalkrut came to a halt. He drew a deep, wheezing breath; filling his giant lungs with the sulfurous bog air. Shin deep in bubbling sludge, he straightened his posture and adjusted the harness that came over his bare shoulders. Arcing backwards, as far as the oblong crag of limestone would allow, sounded out a rapid sequence of hollow pops. Reaching out to either side, Kalkrut grabbed hold of Cyprus trees to use their intertwining root system as resistance to stretch his broad pectorals. He strained and groaned.
After a few brief moments he became lightheaded. He then relaxed and, with great resolve, exhaled, boring a hole through the dense fog; A tunnel which brought hope, focus. But no sooner could these thoughts solidify into something tangible, Kalkrut’s glazed eyes witnessed the fog quickly fill in and once again became homogenous with the stifling blur that was all around. The oppressive grey air seemed to buzz and cling to his hulking physique in retaliation.
He sensed that there was still a great distance to go, and the humidity was sapping his strength; the limestone grew continually heavier; every heaving muscle ached for rest; the gunk in his lungs seemed to churn hotter with each breath; his hands clenched as frustration and rebellion simmered…
And just then, he blinked and quickly recalled the super-charged slaveband locked around his neck - a band that could easily encircle four or five of his puny captors. So, even if Kalkrut had had the strength to remove the rock and hurl it deep into the mangroves followed by a roar of triumph, he would still have to explain for returning to the building site with an empty harness; the penalties of which are far worse than trudging your way through a bog with a two ton chunk of limestone strapped to your back. Likewise, at this thought, he felt his weight cause him to sink deeper into the muck.
He ran a hand down his bald head and flicked globs of giant sweat into the murk. He slowly closed his eyes, took another deep breath, and with the strain evident in his facial expression Kalkrut pulled a bare foot out of the bog’s stubborn suction and took a stride forward…
Best keep moving.