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  • Writer's pictureleodoulton

A Walk

Updated: Jul 31, 2023


See you soon! The stones roll beneath my feet. Fucking humans.

New trees?

There cannot be new trees. I must be imagining them. Grass grows on the soil by the trees, but they were not there yesterday!

There are more new trees behind me. I walk.

I do not want to.

There is a dog, barking. Too close.

It is raining. Blow wind, come wrath! I must learn the rest of that… You must not rage for too long, it does no good. But I can for a while, surely? I am young.

If you must.

The Master? What would the Master do? Take the less-travelled path.

I leave the path to a barely-beaten track down the hill. A small stream blocks the way, and is leapt over. New trees! Birnam Wood is come to Dunsinane!

I do not want to go down the main path. Up the hill! Skip and jump! I climb.

I do not wish to.

There is a man in pink. Did he see me? Why is he on my hill?

It’s not yours; you could no more own the sun.

Faster - avoid him. There are more new trees! They were not there before! How are they


Onto the grass - two dogs and their owner, staring at me.

Avoid them. Up onto my hill.

It is safe here, there are no trees. This world cannot be real. There cannot be new trees in a day! Why would you come from such a lovely place? Because you’re poor. Poor is real.

No, it can’t be real, the world is breaking.


We are on top of the hill. It’s safe here.


Safe. Keep this focus - the world is not real, it cannot be.

The light on the green field in the distance is beautiful. There is the church, you can hear the children laughing.

No - beauty is how you’d distract me from realising!

Loggers in the wood. New trees are even here on top of the hill! Where could they come

from? There isn’t enough matter and stuff - it’s like a game breaking. Down the hill to see the loggers - what are they doing? The trees have been felled, and a new steel gate stands, small and petite, with a new fence by the sodden floodplain. How typical - OWNED. MINE. The trees were old. Perhaps now they will build here. The young logger lifts a corpse and walks away.

The sunset on the floodplain is beautiful, gleaming off pools of water to the south. The other way it is dark and cloudy. It is going to rain.

Do not be distracted by beauty!

There is thick mud, and I must cross it. Forwards on the grass. There is no more way forwards. I am stuck. I am sinking. I should ask for help - I could ask her.

But you never would, even if she were here.


Onto the mud, onto the hard ground of the bridge. The river is flooded - no, it has not burst

its banks. A bubble comes, I watch it go under the bridge, but do not see it come out the other side.

The birds are frightened! What scared them? A dog? There is no-one here.

There is a tree in the road. I must take the path right to the army base. I am a soldier! Kicking my legs high, skipping forwards to the gate.

I am at the fence, trapped with barbed wire. There are no cameras. A place with no security cameras! The gate is locked, with a chain. The chain hangs loose in my hand - how is the gate locked? With a padlock. It is not the army here - I was always told it was the army here.

But they always say…

The buildings - I want to see inside them - walk along the fence, and I can see they are empty. I could break in by throwing a carpet over the fence.

I am in the field. Scared, like a horse.

I am a horse. Scared horse. Frightened horse. Scared horse. Leave the field - no, it is safer there. Scared horse. Sitting Bull. Guilt. The tree is still in the path - I must walk through it. I am trapped inside the tree! What if someone finds me? What if no-one finds me? It is a prison!


And I am free!

I have achieved something!

The road stretches out before me, a sign in the distance. A bird flying over the sunset-lit field. It is beautiful, hawthorn hedge extending on either side of the road to eternity.

Walk down the road - this is wonderful. This is lovely. But the sign is no nearer; what if it cannot be reached? What if I am stuck on a treadmill, and can never reach the end of the road?

I can see over the bridge - a pheasant! A fat pheasant running into the bush. A person! Two pheasant coloured dogs with them. Hide. Off the path, did they see me? Behind the fence the ground plunges to the river; they are ahead of me, walking into the sunlight. Near here is the adder shooting range.

I walk over the bridge. The old sandbags are now hidden, the encroaching banks covering them. A narrow river goes under the army bridge - one day, I will follow it to its end. Today, I go onwards up the hill. On either side dark pines hide hidden worlds. I know this path to the left; it goes to green fields and the swamp. I stay on mine, onwards.

I can see things sticking out the ground, small chimneys. And hidden paths, never reaching this wide one. The dark pines protect me from the rain. A concrete layby, which seems never used, on the left. One of the hidden forest paths almost touches it, but does not. Upwards. A path flanks on the left - to the top! Do not be flanked! I can hear a loud and winsome world ahead, beyond a steel bar - I leave this path for a large and sandy plain. There is a stop sign.

I ignore it.


The ground here is pitted and track-covered, like there had been a battle. But there are no bodies. Why are there no bodies here? The battle was immense. Pools of silver water lie in shell-pits. To my left, the tracks extend into the wood, but I continue on the sand. Ahead is the sea, and I walk around it, the rain pouring down.

I can hear the world, and turn my face away from it - there are still no bodies. There are giants! In pairs, marching down the path, from sky to sky! and I walk under them, onwards.

Where are all the bodies? Here there are trenches and still the wood - I go onwards towards the house of the one they call the arms dealer. This must be the path an army took to the battle. I go around another sea, and on along this never ending road of sand. There are green fields! But they are not the arms dealer’s fields, they are the fields before the swamp. I stay above them, and move on.

Here is a high hill, it is the fortress of an army. I try to climb it, and the wind resists, pushing back, but I am above! It is my hill! Ahead is one road, to the west another, leading between thorned bushes into the wood.

I stay on my sandy path - here, at last, is a sign of the battle - a tyre in the sea. Reeds are growing from it - the battle must have been a long time ago. This sea is too wide to go around - and yet I must. The tyre will not move, and I cannot leap over the sea - into the woods I go. Silver lies all around me, but there are no new trees. It is good here.

A pennant hangs in the distance, walk towards it - it is orange, coloured like an ageing egg-yolk, still high on the tree. Nearby a smaller red one lingers - perhaps here was another battle. Trenches stretch into the distance, deep and damp at the bottom, in all directions. A chocolate wrapper lies, discarded, in the dark.


I walk onwards, now on the other side of the most immense sea. I hear a dog, but there are no dogs. It is a bird that sounds like a dog. A lake lies before me - how to cross? The colour of beer, the stench of stagnation. I walk across a sunken and narrow path, water into my shoe.

There! There is the house of the arms dealer, to be feared. East is a creek between two cliffs, clad with thorny bushes. Between there and the arms-dealer’s house is a scarf, green, buried in the sand. Towards it - I am sinking! The sand rises above my shoes, and am I to be stuck?

Not this time.

I see the scarf - the closest thing to a body that there is on this shell-pitted, trench-ridden battlefield. I now creep silently through the woods above the arms dealer’s house, the birds singing above me. The arms dealer’s home is like a Roman villa, an emperor’s, with children’s toys and a pool, watched by nubile statues. I walk down, scared to be seen, forced to stagger down one of the trenches.

The noise and clamour of the world, here it roars past, maddening! Hide between an oak and a holly tree - I cannot be seen, but there is no way on - the arms dealer’s house blocks the way, with golden gates below and I must go into the loud and terrible world! On its edge, I see me looking back from it, to hide my face, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, breathe, but no, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 - out over the hard ground underfoot, the effluent wash of humanity all around, bottles, cans, cigarette boxes, the staring eyes, do not look at me, 1, 2, 3! Over, forwards, back to the other side of the arms dealer’s house, down the slope as their menacing black jeep climbs to their villa, where I had been. Onwards, away from the noise into the shelter of the mansions protected by the arms dealer’s home.


The golden gates swing shut behind me, the quiet lane boasting another two pairs of gates - one massive, white, wooden, one massive, black, wooden. The path is empty, stretching on between white and black.

But this is not where I may rest. Trees mark each side again - deeper and thicker, hiding the mansion from the noisome world.

A pub - what was once a pub, now taken by the arms dealer and living in their villa’s view.

At the end of a path are the gypsies, their white caravan looking out on their field, bare of grass, bricks sticking up out of the barren ground. I know near here is the iron fortress.

Another bridge, a full river, and here the gypsies have placed two benches and a table, like a fine city park of their own.

The path ahead forks - one to the farm, that was once ablaze, the other marked by the army as their own, barren and brown of mud. Onto the army path.

Plastic sticks out from the ground, and the thick oaks above do not shield me from the rain.

The outsiders’ house looms above me - I stay low. It is called a farm, but nothing grows there.

I pass by the lair of hounds, and two birds fly away - I know now why they do - they fear me.

Onwards, on the endless path, more filth and broken shells beneath my feet.

The house where an old man dies alone is here, but I go on, for the storm is rising.

And here iron walls rise high, topped by black spikes, shielded from the rain, and here I will hide. There is the gate, that I dare not touch. A pile of feathers from a dead bird.

Onwards to the rose arch - there are no roses, but the thorn remains. Through it, and silently forth into the iron place, unseen. This is where we will shelter from the storm, and hope the horizon will come to us, the path temptingly lain behind us. Into the place silently, unseen, unheard, and high - high and safe. Outside, there are new trees.

They are still waiting.


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