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Thread: July 2017 - LM - The Follower

  1. #1
    Global Moderator kilroy214's Avatar
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    July 2017 - LM - The Follower

    LITERARY MANEUVERS

    The Follower

    The winner will receive a badge pinned to their profile and given a month’s access to FoWF where you’ll have access to hidden forums and use of the chat room.

    This is a Fiction writing competition, and the prompt for this month in 'The Follower' Pick your own title, write about whatever you want, as long as it's related in some way to the prompt.


    The Judges for this LM are: pluralized,kilroy214, smith, and Terry D.
    If you want to judge and I left you out, send me your scores by the deadline. If you're listed here and don't wish to judge, let me know at once (please).

    All entries that wish to retain their first rights should post in the LM Workshop Thread.

    All Judges scores will be PMed to
    kilroy214.

    All anonymous entries will be PMed to kilroy214.


    Rules







    • All forum rules apply. The LM competition is considered a creative area of the forum. If your story contains inappropriate language or content, do not forget add a disclaimer or it could result in disciplinary actions taken. Click here for the full list of rules and guidelines of the forum.
    • No Poetry! Nothing against you poets out there, but this isn’t a place for your poems. Head on over to the poetry challenges for good competition over there. Some of us fiction people wouldn’t be able to understand your work! Click here for the poetry challenges. Play the prose-poem game at your own risk.
    • No posts that are not entries into the competition are allowed. If you have any questions, concerns, or wish to take part in discussion please head over to the LM Coffee Shop. We’ll be glad to take care of your needs over there.
    • Editing your entry after posting isn’t allowed. You’ll be given a ten minute grace period, but after that your story may not be scored.
    • Only one entry per member.
    • The word limit is 650 words not including the title. If you go over - Your story will not be counted. Microsoft Word is the standard for checking this. If you are unsure of the word count and don't have Word, please send your story to me and I'll check it for you.








    There are a few ways to post your entry:








    1. If you aren't too concerned about your first rights, then you can simply post your entry here in this thread.
    2. You can opt to have your entry posted in the Workshopwhich is a special thread just for LM entries. You would put your story there if you wish to protect your first rights, in case you wish to have the story published one day. Note: If you do post it in the workshop thread, you must post a link to it here in this thread otherwise your story may not be counted.
    3. You may post your story anonymously. To do so, send your story to the host of the competition. If you wish to have us post it in the workshop thread then say so. Your name will be revealed upon the release of the score.









    Everyone is welcome to participate. A judge's entry will receive a review by their fellow judges, but it will not receive a score. Please refrain from 'like'-ing or 'lol'-ing an entry until the scores are posted.

    Judges: In the tradition of LM competitions of yore, if you could send the scores one week after deadline it will ensure a timely release of scores and minimize the overall implementation of porkforking. Please see the Judging Guidelines if you have questions. Following the suggested formatting will be much appreciated, too.

    This competition will close on:
    Saturday, the 15th of July at 11:59 PM, GMT time.

    Scores would be appreciated by Sunday, the 30th of July.

    Click here for the current time.
    “On the chest of a barmaid in Sale, were tattooed all the prices of ale. And on her behind, for the sake of the blind, was the same only written in braille"


    "Ambiguity is one of the greatest faults in a craft. It comes from vague ambitions. One may inspired by good ambitions, but the immediate concern of the craftsman is to know what he is capable of doing at present; and to do it."
    - Edward Johnston

  2. #2
    Member plawrence's Avatar
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    The Messenger - 650 words

    Jason wiped his brow. "It stinks in here. Why can't we leave?"

    Sammy sneered. "Because it's still out there. If you want to turn into a smoking pile of mush, be my guest."

    "Oh, c'mon. It's not even nearby."

    Sammy put his fingers to his lips. "Shhh! It's right outside."

    "Where? I don't see it."

    "Will you shut up. You're gonna get us both killed."

    The screech of a rusty door hinge sent waves of goose bumps over Sammy's body. He turned his head slowly, searching for whatever had suddenly entered the room. "I saw something move," he whispered. "Go over there and check it out."

    "You check it out," Jason said hoarsely. "I'm not going over there."

    They both sat shivering; staring into the darkened room, praying it was a rat or some other non-threatening creature.

    Clomp, clomp, clomp. The sound of the cyclon startled them, spinning their heads around. Sammy peered out the window. "It's close," he whispered.

    "Damn it, Sammy," Jason said, "I'm going crazy. Between the cyclon and the bortags, screeching door hinges and blinding darkness, my last nerve exploded. I can't take this anymore."

    He jumped up and ran out of the room before Sammy could stop him. Sammy strained his ears, hoping to hear Jason making it to the other side of the plaza.

    Bzzzz! Whomp! The sound of a plazmag weapon pierced the air. Sammy's ears rung. He squinted, trying to recover his sight. As the stars faded away, he finally focused. Halfway across the plaza was a smoking pile of what must have been Jason.

    "My God," he cursed. "I told him this would happen—damn cyclon."

    He sat with his head in his hands. How in the hell am I gonna get out of this? I've got to get this message through. The resistance depends on it.

    The clang of the cyclon split the air. Sammy crouched down, peering out the window. As the cyclon came into view, it's seeker scanning the buildings, Sammy dove behind an overturned metal desk.

    Think. Think! He can't see me behind this metal desk. His only weakness is his joints. If I can jam something between the cam and the follower of the leg joint, I can disable him. Then I can grab the plazmag. At least that would make it a fair fight.

    The rebar! I can use the rebar. The hydraulics can't crush that.

    He inched out from behind the desk and peered out the window. The scanner was searching the other side now. The cyclon was past the door.

    If I can slip out and run the ten yards without being discovered, I have a chance.

    He grabbed a length of rebar from the damaged reinforced wall, crouched down, and inhaled fiercely, preparing to run.

    Just then, he heard the cyclon turn, as if it had heard something. He dove back behind the wall and waited. Terrified, he held his breath.

    If it engages its super-hearing, it's all over. It can hear my heartbeats. Six seconds. Just hold your breath for six seconds. It drains the power too much to use it longer—but it might still come to investigate.

    Clomp, clomp, clomp. It was coming. His knuckles turned white clutching the rebar. Maybe, just maybe, I can shove it into the follower before the cyclon fires. Otherwise, I'm dead. He crossed himself and said a prayer.

    The cyclon ripped the door off its hinges. Sammy slid across the floor, rebar in hand, straining his eyes to locate the joint before it was too late.

    Whiz. Whomp. The sound of the plazmag was deafening. The flash might have blinded him, but when the cyclon fired, Sammy was behind its leg, jamming the rebar in the joint. Something in the far corner screeched as the cyclon took one halting step, then toppled over.

    Got it! Now to get the hell out of here.
    Old retired guy working to fulfill a lifelong dream to be a published fiction author.
    I've published, and been paid for, technical articles for Securityfocus.com and I am
    a chapter author (chapter 6) for AVIEN Malware Defense Guide for the Enterprise
    My first book, Prayers Were No Help, is now available as an ebook and on Amazon.
    Follow me on Twitter and Facebook. My webpage.

  3. #3
    Damien Steelthunder (561 Words)
    By Yonathan Asefaw

    Damien stumbled around when a flight of stairs started appearing from beneath his feet. All he had noticed was the darkness descending below from the stairs that slowly moved downwards. On Navigator Island there was a hold called ‘The Follower’ that carried a wealth of great treasure, spoils that one couldn’t have imagined in their wildest dreams.

    Damien gripped his dagger of souls tightly and headed into the stairs below with caution, who knew what was down there.

    “Who goes there?” said Damien taking slow steps down.

    He held his torch across the underbelly below and made sure that he’d succeed in finding what he seeks; the entire containment of jewels and gold inside the hideout. The depths inside were revealing to be confirmed as the hideout of the follower.

    As he walked down across the stone of stairs things began to make sounds that were unknown to Damien. ‘Wooosshes’ and ‘Csssssss’ were all around his ears and at every bend of the passage down.
    Damien swung his dagger around like a blind man at a pinata party like he was afraid of being struck down by something bigger than he was.

    From right his direction there were flying thrones and dead priests all surrounding him and he ran trying to avoid their attacks against him. Reaching down to the end of the path was his but not to fight that was to remain at arms reach.

    Damien’s sapphire suit was being ripped out of him from the claws of the undead priests that stuck him, leaping into his view as he dodged their long pointed claws like a vultures. They were the main problem unlike the thrones that just charged at him one by one.

    He then rolled over the way and took his dagger to vacuum them into his weapon sealing their souls inside and killing them in the process.

    “In you go foul things!” he yelled.

    A beam of light absorbed them in, winding them up like a wormhole in space, making sure that they all go in and to return out into the surface.

    All was reassured again and the ruin was calm at last. Damien glanced around the dark pit among him and noticed couldn’t see a thing once his torch blew out. Things were starting to get interesting as the slice in the room was showing another big problem for him. How was he supposed to get out now. He can’t see a thing.

    A beam of light arrived within minutes with everything getting strange than before. The walls crumbled and the ground beneath him was turning into some sort of a space-time continuum leaving Damien to plummet into the cellars beneath the other floors ahead.

    ***

    He coughed and wheezed, trying to get up carefully and without any problems at all. He then blinked seeing what appeared to be the spoils of the follower and to his eyes this was it. The end of his exploration to find what he needed to search. The entire trove of the wealth he desperately needed.

    Needing to find a way out, he had to scavenge up the jewels and gold he need to take and trot down to the island. A hole of light remained there for Damien to crack open and leave to take his wealth right back to Navigator Island.
    www.yonathanasefaw.com - under contruction
    twitter.com/yonathanasefaw

  4. #4
    Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    Nightfairies (649 words, language warning)

    Nightfairies


    ‘O Faun! O Faun!’ – Mordie Arrowsong


    Sam closed the hardcover flap of The Rod, feeling curiously bereft. Reading left him like that, especially when the writing reeled him in to a fabulous new world. The Rod had been no exception.

    Bing! A follower, on his social media. So full was he of the tormented world of Jondra that he swiped the app, ready to gush to anyone about its secret byways.

    Mordie. How funny. Same name as the winged protagonist. He tapped the profile. Mordie comes in from The Rod, it quoted. Wiping fire! His finger hovered over the accept button, then fell. The pixielike avatar looked as he’d imagined. Intriguing. His inbox plinked.

    Ready for the big beat? the message said. Ting-ting?

    ?, he sent back. F. Scott’s agent had done that once, prompting a ! in reply. Sam didn’t to have wait long.

    Meet me at Nightfairies tonight.
    You know me by wings and sight.




    Two brutish doormen, convincingly garbed as minotaurs, manoeuvred streams of clubbers through the door. How would he find Mordie in all this? He scanned around. Several girls had sparkling clip-on wings – could they be her? But their friends ushered them along, all accounted for.

    “Hey Sam!” An androgyne with electric blue hair materialised from nowhere, grabbed Sam by one twisted horn, and shook it. “How ya doin’?”

    “Hey!” Sam had to shout over pulses of sonic architecture blatting from industrial wringers. “I’m looking for – ” he paused “ – someone.”

    “Fine.” The androgyne whisked itself away, hungry for intoxicants, or companionship. Two faceless svengalis bobbed podiumside, heads covered. “Good luck.”

    And then a lone figure stood at the bar. The cut of her jaw, the hurt line of her nose, evident from her avatar, wings wrapping themselves round her shoulders like the arms of a secret lover. As Sam closed in, she turned.

    “Damn, are these real?” His wide eyes traced her wing-edges.

    She looked above his head. “Aren’t your antler things real?”

    Shit, oh shit, oh shit. “Why did you follow me?”

    “I wrote The Rod, silly. You called to me by reading it.”

    This was impossible. “No way,” Sam replied. “You can’t do that.”

    Mordie nodded. “I can. But we have to be quick. We can’t hang around.” She took his elbow, and indicated the doormen. “They don’t like it.”

    “Where’re we going?”

    “Never mind. Come on.”

    In a back room that Sam had never seen, she fluttered out her wings with a sensual quiver. His jaw fell open.

    “What?” Mordie said. One teasing finger flicked his nose. “Why would they have beds back here, if not on which to f– ”

    She stopped. From the dancefloor, the electronic meat-grinder sounds intensified. She looked towards the noise.

    “We don’t have much time!” she cried. And suddenly her eyes were imploring. “Please! We have to do this, to save Jondra!”

    But before Sam could rest one trembling finger on Mordie’s shoulder, curtains flew back with a metal swish. Beyond huffed a minotaur-doorman, steam flooding from its nostrils. It bellowed.

    “Come on!” Mordie shrieked. Sam’s heart spasmed. He leapt up, took Mordie’s pale arm, kicked open a fire escape. But before he could take two steps the bouncer was on him, one leathery claw round his shirt, hurling him into the drenched alley. The door slammed, cutting the music and the nightfairy off forever.

    Sam looked around in the greying dawn.

    “Mordie?”

    He sat alone on the cobbles.

    Mordie!” he yelled. No reply but the flat echo of uncaring stone. Had she been a manifestation? Or was she still inside? He felt eviscerated. Rain streamed down slick walls like tears. He peered through the gloom.

    On the wet brick, a violent slurry of green graffiti dribbled down a scorch-mark like toxic waste. Sam stepped closer to it, not trusting his senses.

    Ready for the Big Beat? it said. A streetcar trundled past. Ting-ting!




    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

    *

    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!





  5. #5
    Friend Request (637 words)

    An exasperated snort drew Nate's attention away from his monitor. Sean, his cubicle buddy, was tapping his phone.

    "What is it now?"

    "He keeps liking everything she posts," Sean said, and Nate nodded, though he felt Sean was overreacting a bit. Sean's fiance, Kathy, had recently added a coworker on Facebook, and he seemed to be the type of loser who hit the "like" button for everything, even his own comments. It was annoying, sure, but Nate was sure he was harmless enough.

    "Have you talked to her about it?"

    "No," Sean admitted, "I mean, I don't want to come off as that guy, you know? I just think it's a bit creepy."

    "Maybe he just doesn't have anything better to do."

    "Yeah."

    As the week wore on, Nate noticed that Sean seemed more and more distracted. The unwelcome friend had apparently tried to send him a request, and had started going through and liking Kathy's old posts. Sean suspected he'd also tried to follow Kathy home one night.

    "I don't like it," Sean had lamented.

    "Yeah, definitely a creeper," Nate had agreed.

    On Friday, Sean left early to take care of some personal business, and Nate relished the relative peace and quiet. He'd never had a problem with Sean, but the drama with Kathy's coworker had been wearing on his nerves. He was able to get through most of his backlog, and left on time.

    Nate's weekend was uneventful, and he returned to work on Monday, refreshed. Sean didn't, though, and Nate chalked it up to whatever had called him away on Friday. When he didn't turn up Tuesday, Nate tried to call him, and didn't get an answer. His manager didn't know anything about it, either.

    "I was honestly going to ask you," she'd said, "He hasn't called in or anything."

    After work, Nate drove out to Sean's place to check on him. Both cars were in the driveway, but the house looked empty and quiet. He stepped up onto the porch and rang the doorbell. There was a moment of stillness, as though the world was listening, then he heard a noise from inside. It sounded like someone slowly descending the stairs. Nate had a quick moment of doubt, where he was tempted to flee, then Sean opened the door.

    "Oh, hey, Nate," he said. He didn't look good. There were dark bags under his eyes. He didn't invite Nate in, just stood there in an old t-shirt and jeans.

    "Are... you okay?"

    "Huh? Oh. Yeah. Just taking care of some things."

    That's not suspicious, Nate thought, but said, "Mind if I come in?"

    "Yeah, no, I should really get back to work, man," Sean said, giving Nate a weird smile, "I'll give you a call later and we can go out for drinks, on me."

    "Oookay," Nate said, trying to peer around Sean, but his cubicle buddy shut the door without so much as a goodbye. Nate had seen enough movies to wonder whether he should call the police. Was it even okay to call the police just because a coworker was acting funny? He didn't know, and decided not to do anything yet.

    When Sean missed work again the next day, Nate decided to make that call. The police found Sean and Kathy, ruled out suicide, but that was about the only definitive thing about the situation. Nothing had been taken or forced.

    Nate felt sick. The killer had probably been in the house yesterday, when he'd visited. He wondered if he could have prevented it somehow, if calling the police sooner would have made a difference.

    He looked down at his phone and saw a notification. A new friend request, and a new message request. Both were from a familiar profile: Kathy's coworker.

    Looking forward to getting to know you, Nathan.

  6. #6
    The Legend of Follower Leyline

    "Prithee soir, could'st thou direct me to the Spirit Tower?" asked a shamble-postured fellow of The Old Geezer. The latter had sat himself on a boulder still a little warm from summer sun.

    Hidden by darkness, a squint of disinclination creased the geezer's face. Skin beside his left eye wrinkled deeper.

    "Here… is the drying rocks of the bath-house pool," he replied finally. "Knowest thou at all the way of these paths? On the grounds, our stand here is DIAMETRICAL and OPPOSITE the place you seek. It matters little how you proceed.

    "From here ALL ways fetch you closer."

    The Summer Rendezvous met in Langtum Forest, under whose dappled shade were proffered wares from all the realm. By night, parti-colored booths and umbrellas reduced to flickering candle-lanterns.

    Insufficient to render the petitioner's features.

    Only glint-reflecting eyes appeared in the cowled shadow.

    The one who sought the Tower replied not.

    Neither did he pass on.

    The old geezer assembled an inclination to generosity and offered escort. At FAIR he often found himself—abnormally—in the throes of civility.



    Over generations' use, totems rose and fell at the Langtum Grounds but none so hoary as the Spirit Tower. Once, legend said, initiates emerged—were born anew—from between the logs of its tripod base. They came out in full dark. Naked, save a coating of colored mud applied by Potters and Herbalists. Medicinal goo concocted to dim vision and stop tongues.

    New Mud People were released individually, and chased from the Tower Ground by Actors bearing demon lanterns.

    The clinging slimes emitted each a scent making the color tribes distinguishable by smell to ones blind and dumb. Like genital-sniffing dogs, the Mud People sought matches through olfactory inspection.

    Antidotes in the herbal enchantment became activated when enough mates of a color gathered to form a pheromone huddle of sufficient heat and variety. Each initiate knew a memorized a clue which, combined with those of the color-mates, led to a rendezvous where judges timed arrivals and counted members and awarded initiate-tasks accordingly.

    Color clans thus formed crossed trade-guild lines, and once made, in the administration of commerce, an important, life-long political counter-poise.




    "What shall I call you?" asked Geezer.

    "I am a seeker along the Ley Line," replied the cloaked gent, "and so must assume no name."

    "I will call you Leyline then, for I must know what's what. Lest my confusions multiply.

    "Follow after me.

    "I should myself visit the Tower again, before I finally take myself away."

    The pair set off, both three-legged: Geezer leaning on a cane and his follower wielding a twisted staff, perhaps of willow root.

    A ways into their quest, the presumably more adroit Leyline slipped off the crossing-planks into Indian Slough. Mud soiled his left arm to the shoulder. Geezer helped him up by holding firmly upright the crooked staff, but the follower slipped again, and, flailing for balance, planted a full, muddy hand-print on Geezer's cheek.

    Geezer explored the drying mark with his forefinger.

    "No matter," he said, "in the night no one will notice."

    A bit farther along Geezer said, "We confront a forked path; right follows the river's bend in a semi-circle to our goal while left the Mirrored Passage cuts straight across. Straight if false turnings can be avoided."

    There was no question. Geezer turned confidently into the maze. Candles reflected everywhere.

    Leyline followed.



    Of the happening in the maze, legend concocted much conjecture. Most confirmed in Leyline the returned spirit of the Mud People, and postulated great significances from the gritty prints marking a dead-end path into the mirrors.

    All confirmed Geezer's disappearance from ensuing history.

    Leyline, however, haunted the myths in multitudinous guise.

    None greater though than the presaging fate which only seems to follow.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. Steven Wright

  7. #7

  8. #8
    Forum Moderator H.Brown's Avatar
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    Into the party. (648)

    It was Saturday night as usual I had no plans. How dull am I? Frowning I looked at my boring blond hair,hanging in limp curls, framing my small oval face. The trill from my phone interrupted my dark thoughts. Lauren the screen flashed.

    “Hello Loz.” answered smiling.

    “Hey party pooper, now what are you doing tonight?” Her laughter was infectious down the phone and I could hear her favourite song playing the background.

    “Nothing why, what do you have planned?”

    “A party, derr.” Lauren said.

    I was shocked Lauren never invited me to parties, not knowing how but they’d become friends as small girls and even though Lauren had become one of the most popular girls in school and Megan had become one of nerdiest with her big glasses and hair that never behaved. They’d remained fiends.

    “You..”

    “Nope don’t you even dare, you’re coming!” With that Lauren hung up, leaving me with the problem of not being able to back out.

    Lauren was one of those people that everyone followed, including myself. What the hell it’s the end of school, why not? I thought looking through my depressingly small wardrobe. Grabbing the only suitable dress, I shimmed into it just in time for Lauren to come bouncing through the bedroom door.“Now that’s what I’m talking about.” She beamed as the door banged against the wall. Walking around me she evaluated how the black dress hugged my small frame, highlighted my curves and legs. Lauren didn’t understand why I kept my body hidden, she always said I was gorgeous but I’d never been able to ditch the baggy jumpers. “Right now time for make-up.”

    Half an hour later we were walking towards the seafront. A beach party. That’s what Lauren had in mind. Glancing across at Lauren’s confident swagger I began to wish I was still at home but continued following her lead. Carnaize hill dropped away in front of us as we left the small town behind us. It was steep as we walked down, my boots silent next to Lauren’s wedged heels. Drawing closer and closer to the beach music and shouting began to fill the night air. Lauren grabbed my arm to keep me from bolting and steered me towards the noise.

    My feet sunk into the ground as we transitioned from hard cobbles, to soft sand. With the smell of salt mixed with the sharp scent of smoke. There fifty meters down the beach grew an orange blob and it grew with each step. Lauren’s arm linked through mine kept me walking. I had no choice. My heart was pounding and I felt sweat erupt across my brow. Why was I here? This was a mistake. My mind screamed at me. “Courage, Meggs you’ll be fine.” Lauren had to shout now to be heard over the music booming from someone’s stereo. I tried to smile but it must have come out wrong on my face.

    Lauren sighed and grabbed a cold can from an upright container. It was heavy in my hand and I looked at it, Cider, as Lauren commanded. “Drink.” I took a swig and looked up. It was too sweat at first but with each mouthful it began to taste nicer and nicer until I found myself reaching for another.

    "This isn’t too bad.” I shouted. But Lauren was gone! Melted into the crowd. Terrified I popped the ring pull on my second can, drank and watched-lost in my thoughts-as people danced, frolicked, drank and passed cigarettes. Smiling, laughing faces lit up in a garish orange light from the fire. I took another and another until I felt a little dizzy. Then suddenly I was on my feet. Then amongst the crowd. One of them as I danced and laughed. Glad that I’d followed Lauren tonight.

    I felt something loosen within as I danced all night.
    Last edited by H.Brown; July 15th, 2017 at 04:42 PM. Reason: title

  9. #9
    Onwards and Upwards (Language)

    Sarah arrived at the monthly gardening group, late. As in, one hour and fifteen minutes late. The host could not draw a map if his bloody life depended on it. Arrrgh! Okay, it did not help she had forgotten her reading glasses and there were several motorway bridges, blah de blah excuses.

    The Speaker was already in full throttle delivering her spiel on bread making while demonstrating the finer points of dough kneading techniques. What the fuck had bread making got to do with gardening? She thought, as she tried to slide quietly into a vacant seat at the back of the room.

    Sarah tried to look interested but the stress of finding the rural venue, where GPS co ordinates would have been more useful than a pigging map, finally gave way to a throbbing pulse in the back of her head. Damn, a headache was all she needed!

    Interest waning she zoned into her own thoughts while the Speaker droned on about yeast, proving, this, that and whatever... yawn.

    Finally, the applause signaled the bread making torture was over and she could enjoy the talk on cork trees, which had always fascinated her. The host waved to the group that they were to follow him. And follow him they did. Like lemmings.

    The talk on cork trees was sold as a stroll through the host’s garden. Sarah blindly followed the group down a lane and up a stoney track. She was amazed to discover that when they harvested the bark from the cork trees the farmers painted the year on the tree... and ...and.. .

    That tree was over a hundred years old. Really? Camera at the ready Sarah snapped numerous photographs while chatting to other members of the group.

    Eventually the facts melted into the heat of the midday sun as she realised the gradient of the track had increased significantly and they were now climbing like goats up the side of a mountain. The host droned on... and on... .

    ‘How much further?’ Sarah ventured to ask, her nose almost in contact with the track in an effort to keep her balance.

    ‘Not far,’ said the host as he strode onwards and upwards. ‘When we get to that ridge we are almost there.’

    Sarah looked up and her footing nearly gave way. Was this man crazy? This was not a stroll it was a full blown hike.

    The rest of the group were also struggling.

    As they reached the top of the ridge, Sarah sighed with relief.

    ‘Are we nearly there?’

    ‘Almost,‘ he said, as he pointed to a house no more than a distant speck down in the valley.

    Realisation then struck like a lightening bolt: she had followed a madman halfway up the side of the mountain, in the midday sun. No water, no hiking boots, no walking stick to help her on the decent and she began to cry.
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