I wandered into their world at Hallowe’en, when the boundaries between our realities are at their thinnest.
The further I fled from the city, the lonelier the roads became, until I found myself quite alone, coasting down country lanes. Destination anywhere.
Just the hum of my car, the whirr of its tires, and all around me, the mesmerising colours of autumn. It was meditative, yet almost sublimely unsettling, driving into a forest that had once been so verdant, so full of life, but now was withering.
I sped through a beautiful melancholy. Around me, it felt as if the spirit of nature itself was dying – or fleeing, aware of the advance of a malign icy force lurking over the horizon. A presence that was slowly obscuring the sun, concealing its light, lengthening the shadows. I could already feel its chill influence when I ventured outside, a frosty spirit that sapped me of energy, encouraging my primeval self to retreat back to my shelter.
For our ancestors the encroaching winter must have felt like a malevolent invasion, as if the world around them was fighting for its continued existence. Precarious, anxiously awaiting the chilling, killing, smothering shroud of snows.
I stared through the windscreen at the passing blur, feeling a lingering sorrow for the leaves, their lifeforce being inexorably extinguished by the cold enveloping mists. Never was the passage of time so evident, at Autumn we watch as what was once so exuberant shrivels with age, yellowing and tumbling before our eyes. Annihilated by an invisible, irresistible power, one scarier than any monster we can imagine.
Perhaps our unease at this time of year fuelled folk tales of ghosts and vampires. Yet they don’t haunt our imaginations in the dark depths of midwinter, their time is at the end of October, when the world around us is visibly dying. Hallowe’en was a memento mori, a reminder that regardless of your youth or your power, vitality was transient. That everything you held dear, all you’d ever love and struggle for, all would ultimately shrivel and fall. It was inescapable, indisputable, immutable; whether meek or mighty, in time we’d all share the fate of the leaves.
A chill sensation ran over my skin, raising goosebumps. And it felt like everything and nothing had suddenly changed…
The alphabetical retrospective of stories reaches the eerie, metaphysical tale Runway.
This story was written for Halloween, but is not about ghosts or ghouls, but something I regard as much, much scarier: the sensation of feeling that we no longer belong.
What readers have said about this story:
“Very atmospheric, with an ending that was both satisfying and left me wanting more. So much feeling packed tight into such a short story.“
“This is a wonderful story, well written and very descriptive. The
description of the seasons is superb and I’ve been down a few autumn
roads as described. But I have always had a plan. If you’re running away from something without a plan then you are left with two chooses Left or Right. Take Your Pick.“
“A dream of a story in many ways – it teases you over to another world so
smoothly that you don’t even notice the transition. Beautiful, evocative
writing – her soul seems to blend with the landscape.“
“What I love about the spanking genre is the scope for such variety of
style and treatment. I guess this is magic realism, beautifully written. The heroine can’t stand to merely fade into a future without reason
for existence. She makes a bold decision to simply go, and discovers
that transition is possible, though she must accept it. Then follows
rejuvenation, unprecedented fulfilment and welcome…“