He woke up in darkness not knowing
where he was. He was flat on his back looking up at nothing. No, not nothing, a cloudy,
starless and moonless night sky. He could see the clouds moving slowly against the dark.
There was no sound at all: all was still, eerie. He could feel, though; field- stubble was
prickling his hands. And he could smell something, a trace of something detestable. He
rolled his head sideways and the smell remained, stronger. Suddenly there was a squeaking
as from a small animal. Just one short noise and then nothing, the quiet returning.
He rolled his head back to look at the sky. His
instinct, up to now resisted, was to get up. He just could not remember how he had got
here! All events leading up to his present position were lost. Long-term memory was fine,
but the short-term was absent, shot. He suddenly realised he must find out where he was.
Where was this place, so quiet, so dark, so threatening? Yes, he had suddenly thought,
this place has unknown threats. He rose to a sitting position and the smell receded.
Quietly, fearfully, he got to his feet and looked around.
All was black - the sky was totally obscured by
clouds. He had expected clarification of his location but was denied. He moved forwards
slowly, taking small steps through the stubble. The smell had gone, replaced by one like
wet hay. He slowly moved through the dark, like a hunted animal. After a very long time
his advancing foot touched something. Something that gave slightly to his foot's pressure,
before firming. At the same time a slight ringing noise told him - ring-fence! He brought
himself up to the fence and reached up. The fence was higher than he could reach on
He would have to climb the fence, and then over!
He lifted his right leg seeking to grip the fence. After a wriggle or two, he found a
slight hold. The mesh had holes too small for his shoe's toe. But, it was enough for him
to think it possible. He swung up on his precarious foothold and gripped hard. His hands
clung to the mesh while his teeth ground. He slowly moved his free leg, looking for a
foothold. His foot gripped, and he reached up again, seeking handhold. Grip, reach, haul,
grip, reach, haul, grip, reach, haul - rest!
The hanging man had to stop, his body was
resisting. Fatigue overwhelmed him, forcing him to stop and rest. Whatever had happened to
him last night had drained him. He would normally be fit enough to climb a ring- fence. He
hung there, sweating, four metres off the ground, afraid. Through his fatigue he realised
the reason for his fear. Although the quiet remained, the smell had returned in force.
Completely indescribable, just as completely frightful, it rose in waves. It rose from
beneath him - the source was below him! Fear galvanised him into action and he quickly
His head struck an overhanging ledge extending
from the fence. His scrabbling free hand groped in the dark, seeking hope. The top of the
fence was slanted inwards, hampering progress. He drew himself up to the structure and
reached out. He could not feel the end of the overhanging fence. He was trapped here
between the smell and this overhang. Suddenly the fence swayed as if something had hit it.
There was unmistakable movement in the fence under his hands. Something was climbing it,
coming towards him, noiseless and reeking. He started to move sideways along the fence,
Sideways movement was harder than climbing, his
progress was slow. He took deep breaths to relax his mind and muscles. Slowly he began to
move in rhythm, swinging along steadily. The dark was oppressive, but the quiet was more
so. This silent flight from an unknown menace sapped his will. He fought against sudden
urges to let go and fall. He had no idea of the distance to the ground. He breathed deeply
and swung himself along the bouncing fence. The smell was lessening and, thus encouraged,
he speeded up. Suddenly his grasping left hand grasped at nothing - the end!
Again he was forced to stop and find his
whereabouts. The darkness was now relieved by glistening to his left. He realised he was
near a large expanse of water. A sudden breeze brushed his cheek, cooling his face
quickly. The fence was still - could his pursuer have abandoned pursuit? He scrambled to
the fence's end at the lake's edge. Could he escape here round the end of the fence? His
scrabbling left hand found a cruel system of spikes. Each of these stuck out 2 metres over
the lake. Could he drop into the water and swim round safely?
The stillness deepened into a sudden tension in
the air. He gripped the fence tighter, looking intently through the darkness. There was a
faint fizzing now, coming from above him. He looked up, seeing, as always, nothing in the
dark. He looked out again, his eyes boring though the dark. Suddenly, with an audible
crack there was blinding light everywhere. He looked for a second, then closed his eyes
tight. He voluntarily returned himself to the darkness, his erstwhile enemy. His mind
registered what he had just seen for a second. What could it mean to he who knew
What had he seen in his brief and bright
enlightenment? His fence was one of two: the other faced him. To his far right the field
was bordered by buildings. The remaining side was bordered by a lake, rippling lazely. All
along the tops of the fences were many floodlamps. But it was the image of the field which
haunted. It was full of animals just looking up at him. All different types and all
quietly looking up at him. The quietness had now assumed a different level of horror. A
host of animals and not one bark, neigh, hiss.
He opened his eyes again and they were still
there. From top left to bottom right, below him, in ranks. Then he noticed another fact
(and this the final terror). The animals were all ordered, shockingly, in strict
alphabetical order. Aardvark in the distance to the Zebra just below him. Though there
seemed to be a gap in the Ws. He had a sudden thought and, yes, there - the Man! Right in
the middle of the array, with the Ms. He was wearing navy overalls, was very tall and
thin. Suddenly he started to move, weaving through the compliant animals.
The Man stood below him, looking up at him,
steadily. He had a fresh, open face and clear grey eyes. He radiated calm and proficiency
as he looked quizically upwards.
"What you doing up there so high and so
Incongruously, he had a lapel badge saying
"World Cup USA". The black lettering was against a stars and stripes motif.
"Don't you think its time to rejoin the
He raised his arm with a gun-like object in it.
The man on the fence stared at the lapel badge. He fell as the Man fired his weapon,
He woke up in darkness not knowing where he was.
He was flat on his back looking up at nothing. No, not nothing, a cloudy, starless and
moonless night sky. He could see the clouds moving slowly against the dark. There was no
sound at all: all was still, eerie. He could feel, though; field- stubble was prickling
his hands. And he could smell something, a trace of something detestable. He rolled his
head sideways and the smell remained, stronger. Suddenly there was a squeaking as from a
small animal. Just one short noise and then nothing, the quiet returning.