Well, this is all you’re getting for the moment folks – or I’ll have K. onto me (and others) saying I’m giving too much away! Its not much really though; just one short episode in my life which contributes to the main story. Anyway, this stuff has never been published before, as I said. So I am just treating ‘loyal’ readers here to a small advanced preview.. Hope you enjoy it for what its worth . . .
ROAD TO NOWHERE [Part 2]
But my adventure was only just beginning and I’d survived the first hurdle, not yet completely away, but out of their immediate clutches. I knew I must now be especially alert and keep out of sight, because the search would be on and even nearby farmers probably alerted. A more chilling reflection was that hoards of screaming zombies would suddenly come charging over the horizon; all given special permission to ‘break bounds’, and dispatched in all directions with instructions to find and report at all costs. Of course, this was highly improbable, especially in view of the fact that it couldn’t have been much past five o’clock; but the thought alone gave me enough incentive to head quickly for Pulborough with the intention of slipping quietly through its sleeping civilisation, to be safe from the threat of any immediate detection. In fact, it was nearer than I thought, and in less than an hour I was at a round stone bridge which led the river around the town.
Cautiously, I emerged and checked a signpost; then, to the sound of an echoing church clock, ran along a main road for several hundred yards to another one in the distance which I prayed would herald a tiny road, safe from traffic. In fact, it was a narrow lane and, with a sense of relief hurried on, protected by high banks and early morning mist. It was six o’clock and I intended to walk furiously until lunchtime, ducking off the road at any sound of traffic. That I was fairly safe was verified by the fact that the road was not even marked on my map – although distant place names on other roads showed I was in the right direction.
Passing through villages, I would act casually, sauntering leisurely and perching the bird on my arm to distract from obvious identification. (Apart from this, for the sake of speed, I kept the bird tucked under my jacket.) I entered a remote village store and bought some such need food and milk. Packing a carrier-bag, I learned that Horsham was not much more than ten miles away.
Fairly tired from my long walk, I found a sunlit glade and settled down to eat. The bird went into ecstasy over the milk, and made gigantic holes in a tomato I thought was hidden. Wandering freely on the ground, it made no attempt to escape; in fact, it would follow me everywhere even if I pretended to walk away. I rested for a couple of hours before beginning the long trek to Horsham.
The road was ideal, being practically deserted, and several hours more brought me within two miles of the town. It was dusk, so I decided to settle down for the night rather than risk getting lost or spotted among dazzling lights and buildings. It was a dangerous time, when little boys were all too conspicuous in a grown-up’s world, and I wanted only the solitude of the night. Off the road, I found a disused hut and set about making a bed amongst the disused rubble. The place had obviously been used for storing fruit or vegetables for small wooden crates and sacks were piled against the walls. I arranged these to ‘seal off’ a corner and, using sacks to lie on and for covering, lay silently to await the approaching night.
The bird perched with ruffled feathers – a comforting shape in the darkness – and beyond, stars glinted in a clear sky which gave the only light through a single window. I looked at them, intently aware that these seemed to hold a million secrets, and ‘house’ strange beings that were way beyond the world of school and everyday understanding. Such beings must exist somewhere, I reasoned. And surely if they did, they would have to be superior to the lowly humans who pursued worthless knowledge and neglected their children. But if they existed, they were too far away to help; I was on my own on this tragic earth and there seemed nobody to help.
But I knew that, apart from these, there must be God and the kindly Goddess that I had been assured watched through the night over people and all Nature. I could sense her somewhere in the distance telling me not to be afraid because She, alone, understood how I felt and the wrongful way in which I’d been treated. I must trust Her because she did care and I must try and understand this as imparted by my mother. She was not dead, but with Her in distant glory, wanting just to show me she shared in my sadness. I fell asleep content. A whole new world was breaking all around, and I was glimpsing a Truth that lived beyond the world with all its petty miseries.
That night, I awoke to the sound of thunder rumbling ominously in the distance. There was no rain but lightning lit the hut, and I quickly noticed some dark figure standing in a corner. I watched intently thinking it could be some uninvited tramp who had come in for shelter. The next flash of lightning revealed it was still there; unrecognisable, but it was definitely the shape of a motionless man. The next flash of lightning revealed ‘he’ had gone, but he had done so noiselessly and I was concerned he might still be inside the hut. Switching on the torch, I dubiously scanned the hut, but saw that it was completely empty. I contemplated leaving and risking the storm, but I had the torch and it was not long till daybreak, so I snuggled back between the semi-warm sacks; relieved the figure had gone, but aware that out of all the deserted huts in Sussex, I had chosen one that might have been haunted.
The sky eventually lightened and, cramped and stiff, I got up to await the sunlight. I ate the last of my sandwiches, and crept towards Horsham, aware that this large town presented a real danger of capture. It was not so much the police that concerned me (I’d hardly considered the fact that they might have been alerted), but a terrible vision of officials or prefects from the school pouncing on me at the station. Luckily, nothing of the sort happened and I slipped on a train and invited little more than amazed looks from some people at the tame bird quietly perched on my shoulder . . .
© David Farrant [From the new autobiography]