The old lady smiles at me today, yesterdays scowl an anomaly I guess. Her fat King Charles Spaniel continues to drag her onward, heaving, determined to get back. He doesn`t recognise, nor like, the ambient whistle in the wind. He looks back at me with his ugly bulbous eyes and stops for a second. A thorn bush sways one way and the wind blows another as she clumsily yanks him along, surprised at his distraction.
Entirely too close for comfort, the empty self-driving bus now sweeps through the speed ramp, as if it were a nothing more than a worn-out badger to be further pulverised into the yellow lines. A sudden white light bounces off the inverted horse shoe that hangs on the red door across the road. As the sun sits high above, with great precision and immaculate timing, she conspires with the rearview mirror to briefly obscure my vision. Blinking through blindness, I see the red door hanging lonely on an old stone wall painted white. Once one of four; it now stands alone, the fresh paint appearing to act as a barrier to the creeping green trying to strangle it.
It`s a little bit dull now as I approach the couple ahead, she swerves behind her man with an unmistakable fear in her eyes. A weak smile and a wide berth from him before the nervous laughter begins. A poor case she must be.
My refuge is ahead anyway; I approach the old school. I need to mull over the hammering. I`m haunted by this persistent thud. Are the beating drums imagined? I need to know what this means. The sun, in its dying years, has now ballooned into a fucking enormous red blotch in the sky distorting any sense of distance and spatial awareness. Before we are swallowed whole, I would like to maybe know just one thing about myself.
The school is gone. Looking over the plain, there`s no form in the school yard, no high rise central area, no traffic management gates hindering my path. Just smouldering concrete and `Ken M likes male sheep` daubed across the large crumbling wall.
The trembling of the earth is noticeable as i drift across the gravel. The hammering becomes more pronounced but i`m still wondering where the school is. My feet vibrate and the spine rattles. Cracks in the concrete start to race towards me from all sides and the floor swallows me up. I plunge to the depths and I impact to the sound of screaming. Immediately, the beating drums come rushing up behind me; a sticky drool lathering my head and neck as large teeth grip the scruff of my neck in a soft bite.
Suddenly hoisted by my newly loose skin, I feel no pain. I`m airborne, buoyant and in the grip of the gargantuan Fat King Charles. He barrels through a kaleidoscope tunnel of colours carrying me like a favourite toy, each excited, slobbering breath pasting me further in drool. Swinging uncontrollably, I laugh as my nostrils burn with the whiff of a million rotten bones.
The screaming around us evolves into a single, impossible, immeasurable howl. I see the ghosts of all my past indiscretions manifest and raw. I live and die them all over again.
A bridge appears on the horizon. I am still registering the sudden, deafening clap of thunder when a lightning strike veers toward me. It slowly but clinically punctures my loose skin. I relax and relish each sleepy inhalation. The beating of the drums starts to slow down; we are in a soft, organic trance. We are the wind in every possible movement in every possible direction. We are transition.
The world is slowly winding down and the hammering begins to soften. The fat King Charles drops me from his mouth.His ugly bulbous eyes bear down on me. `Wake me up before the sun dies`, he says. `wake me up for the red giant`.
With that, he runs the other way and i fall away into a deep sleep.
I awake at the bottom of a dirty wall and splutter into a panic. I`m outdoors, surrounded by dank blackness, and a morbid odour stings the air. I navigate towards the only light source I see; a small square on my right. As I crawl through it, the flash of light renders me blind, if only momentarily. As a bus passes, I gather myself and cross the road.
Looking back, blinking through blindness, I see a red window hanging firmly on an old stone wall painted white. Once one of four; it now stands alone, the fresh paint appearing to act as a barrier to the crawling moss trying to consume it.