Ghost Story

It was a cold night, winter night. Black and sharp with cold, without frost or fog to whiten the blackness, no wind to move the still picture of blackness, no sound to waken the cold black night.

He walked quietly between the ragged hedgerows, his gaunt figure and stiff gait matching the winter wracked twigs of hawthorn, invisible in detail but caricatured in charcoal imagination, The world was like an ink whirlpool funnelling down to this one dark man pacing like a wooden puppet down a corridor of time. It was in time that he came to a crossroads, the place is of no importance. In four directions the world spread out into immaterial distance. Here and now at the cross-roads, he stopped and like a death the world stopped moving and became still and silent in total. As if his steps had been the last heartbeats, the pawl of darkness, the shroud of silence descended. Down the whirlpool, within the man his thoughts revolved. The blackness came into him through his eyes, the cold through his skin He stretched out his mind to grasp a sense, some rock to save him from the vortex. Within his head he fought the current which pulled him down. Fear came flooding in like a dark tide, raising the hairs on his neck, wetting his palms, drying his mouth. Alone and drowning in the centre of the' world he felt his sanity slipping under. He had lost it.

Suddenly he could not breathe, he could not move. He felt the ground tilt and his ears sing with vertigo. He was not alone. Nearby was something else, inhuman, mindless, but alive. Alive or nearly dead. He could feel through his skin the warmth from it.

Something was causing invisible eddies, the thermal of warmth from its body brushing imperceptibly against his nose. Now he could smell a trace of warmth carried with the odour of broken vegetation, of animal manure or something which did not belong to this night in this world. With each sense he pulled himself slowly back together. His eyes ached against the blackness but to close them was to invite attack, to risk falling to the ground or maybe further.

A metallic click echoed through his mind and disappeared over the black hill of his mental horizon. His memory chased after it to ask from where it had come, by whom it was sent. Neither returned. He froze for an age, his body seemed for sometime cramped and crushed by the oppression of the darkness until, without recollecting any change, he felt stretched out, his limbs forming a star in the crossroads. Then he got confused, couldn't remember where his feet were on the ground, if his hands were open, if his arms were folded. Only his head was level. At least his head was level. Everything else in the world could tilt but his head was level.

Another metallic click. It caught him by surprise. It sent him reeling under its unexpectedness. He cursed himself for not being ready. He had been tricked by the quietness. He wanted to groan, to swear, to wave his arms and shout but his mind raced ahead of his panic and held him still. The surprise of the click could help him if he could determine which direction his panic was pulling him. The direction of panic is not a direction in space. It is not a path on a crossroads. Nor is it a direction in time. It is a direction without words to describe it. His and sought that direction, hidden in fear, in the unknown. Below his consciousness an ancient unknown instinct answered plainly to an unknown language. It was the answer he wanted, he knew, but he could not translate it. The instinct raised its voice and pointed.

There it was. The source of the click, the cooling body. Without looking he knew where it was. Without seeing he knew what it was. He knew it intimately, every contour, every appendage, knew it from his past and remembered it from his future. Now, here. He was moving without will. Approaching the thing. Without control of himself, his own body like an automaton moving in a predetermined order, a well rehearsed act.

Ignition on, lights on, electric start. What a night to have to undo your motorbike kit for the call of nature:

He continued his journey.