Whilst on a walking holiday in remote regions, I chance upon a secluded valley,
away from the popular walking routes. Some distance along the valley I come
across a scene so breathtakingly beautiful that I drop to my knees in wonder.
There is something about the serried ranks of deciduous and coniferous trees
standing tall on the opposite bank of the river that sets my heart ablaze. The
colours of the foliage are poetic, whilst the arrangement of species seems
divinely inspired. Clouds swoop and whirl above the topmost branches, and the
river sparkles through an uncertain reflection below.
Suddenly, the sky darkens, and along the river advances a flotilla of huge birds with menacing eyes. The size of the birds staggers me; one is as tall as a bus, and the others not much smaller. Their plumage is a shimmering blue, but their eyes are full of hate and looming disaster. With a horrible sinking feeling, I realise that the birds have noticed me. One of them clambers up the nearside bank, and waddles towards me. I take to my heels, and scramble along the path. Gaining speed, I run at full tilt.
Then I see people in front of me, running towards me. First one passes, then another, then another. They are wide-eyed with terror, and keep taking quick, fearful looks behind them. There must, I realise, be something unutterably horrible in front of me, but my fear of the big birds compels me to carry on. More people run past me, all with the same frightened expression. They are running towards the birds, away from something unknown. I am running from the birds, towards something unknown. Not for the first time in my life, I curse my bad luck.