Friday, June 27, 2008
Exotic with a T
Andrew Daniels didn’t believe in ghosts until the day after his 32nd birthday. It being a quiet affair he’d taken leave of his mother and travelled up to High Wycombe for a spot of hill walking. He pitched his tent by the banks of a river and brewed tea and soup by the flame of a calor-gas stove just as dusk spread across the woods.
He was awoken just as dawn filtered through the canopy by a naked woman and a man sat at the edge of the river conversing in low tones and sharing his plastic mug. He touched his stove and let out a yelp upon the discovery that it was red hot. Sucking the edge of his finger, he struggled out of his sleeping bag.
“Lovely day,” said the man who was dressed, somewhat inappropriately, in a grey linen suit, already stained from the mud of the river bank. The woman, naked or otherwise, was nowhere to be seen.
“What happened to your friend?” Andrew asked.
“What friend?” The man stood and handed Andrew the plastic mug. “There’s just me and my hound.” He whistled. “Here, Fliss.”
The biggest dog Andrew had ever seen appeared from the woods and trotted up to the man. Andrew would swear it was laughing at him.
“I’d put a dock leaf on that burn,” said the man, “and try not to camp next to a mermaid’s cave in future.”
“A mermaid’s cave?” Andrew said, but the man was already several yards away, the dog running ahead. He looked into the water. There was no denying he’d seen a woman, though. He began brewing more tea.