Zack tried to swim toward the edge of the thick brown bog, but it was no use.
He could feel the bog sucking and pulling him down.
Eleanor was right, he thought. He should have taken her advice and stayed in the butt shelter. He could have been happy with his false butt. After all, it was self-wiping. And what more could anybody ask of a butt?
Zack was getting tired. The midnight butt rally, the butt-mobile crash, the Great Windy Desert, methane madness, the stink tornado, the Brown Forest, and now this. They had all taken their toll. And to make things worse, he hadn't had a proper meal since the needleweeds and stinkants, not that he felt like eating anything with his churning stomach. All he wanted to do was sleep. His arms and legs were moving more and more slowly as he felt the tiredness spread through this body - his mouth sinking closer and closer to the bog as he closed his eyes and began to nod off.
But just as the bog was about to pull him under, Zack heard someone call his name.
"Zack? Zack, are you there?"
Zack opened his eyes as wide as he could and tried to focus on the voice, which seemed to be moving through the trees toward him.
I'm here!" he called.
Then, as if in a dream, Zack saw Eleanor riding toward him on her butt-hopper.
She dismounted and stood at the edge of the bog.
"Don't tell me," she said. "It was an accident."
"You have a lot of those, don't you?" she said.
"How did you know I was there?" said Zack, ignoring her jibe.
"I didn't," said Eleanor. "The Kicker said you sped past him on an out-of-control butt-hopper. If it had been up to me I wouldn't have wasted time looking for you. But the Kicker insisted."
That was the nice thing about Eleanor, thought Zack.
She didn't leave you guessing about how she felt about you. She just came right out and told you.
"Thanks for your honesty," said Zack, shrugging off the tiredness. "Now, can you help me get out of here?"
"I don't know," she said. "You're a long way out and a long
way under, but if I hover over the top of you, I might be able to
pull you out."
She got back on her butt-hopper and floated out over the top of the bog.
"Give me your hand," she said, reaching down.
Zack strained to pull his arm free of the sucking bog and reached out to grab Eleanor's hand. But she was too far away.
"I can't reach you," he yelled. "Can you come any lower?"
"I'll try," she said.
She lowered her butt-hopper as close as she could, her knees almost touching the bog.
Again she stretched out her hand.
Zack touched her fingertips but still couldn't get a grip.
"Closer!" he yelled through the gritty bog that was seeping into his mouth.
Eleanor leaned right down, her knees bent and feet tucked up. This time she grabbed Zack's hand and started to pull.