Travelogue

I am on a bus. It is very late. I have a handleless wood file which I drum on my head in time with the tapping of my foot. The seat beside me is vacant and, although the bus is quite full, I am only aware of one other person, an old Chinese woman who sits directly behind me. I gaze out of the window at the late-night restaurants, and hope I am in time to catch one open, but my watch reveals that it is past one o’clock, so I am already too late. We pass some which appear to be open, and I feel a strong urge to get off but I suppress it until we are far past. I decide to get off before my stop as it is quicker to walk from here. The road ahead is dark and dead and, as I proceed, I am uncertain that this is actually the right way after all, but I can always work out where I am when I get to the end. I can see lights up ahead now, so I decide to cycle as it will be much quicker. I sense movement far behind me and hear a child calling out in the distance, ‘Daddy, Daddy’. I cycle on regardless, towards the lights, but as the child gets nearer I realise in horror that he is calling to me. I pedal frantically in an attempt to escape but the harder I do so the cruder my bike becomes until, finally, I must pick it up and run. The child is almost upon me now so I give up flight and turn to face him. He is pushing a huge, black thing on stone wheels, it is hideously medieval. ‘Mummy wants to make some changes to you’ he intones solemnly. I scream in panic and hurl my bicycle at him, by now nothing but a flimsy piece of cardboard.

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