A Walk in the Woods

John loved to walk in the woods just out of town. The canopy of trees shielded the harsh Summer sun and afforded shelter from the wind and snow in Winter. During his walks, he was able to steal some alone time, away from the office, family, and friends.

He parked his car at the entrance, sat on the tailgate and laced up his favourite hiking shoes. They weren’t really necessary here on the well-trodden paths but they were worn in and comfortable.

He locked the car, dropped the keys into his pocket and set off. The woods were shaped like a half moon so if he kept on going he would eventually return back to where he had set off from. No need for maps or a satnav.

It was just an uncomplicated affair between him and the trees.

The ground was parched and dusty, most unusual for this time of year. Summer had been hot and dry and it hadn’t rained for over three weeks. A few orange and brown leaves, scattered here and there,  crunched under his boots as he walked.

He sensed that the wood was just waiting for a brisk breeze and a little rain before letting go of its autumn costume.

It was mid-afternoon and he was alone.

He picked his way between sweet wrappers and crushed soft drink cans, cursing the incivility of the other users of the woods but the path was clearer the further he ventured from the car park, and after a few hundred yards, he only had to avoid stepping in dried dog poop and crushed desiccated branches, strewn along the footpath.

He came to the apex of the wood and paused a moment. Without reason, he turned to take the centre axis. The long wide path with streams to each side would eventually take him back to his car. He felt a change would do him good  and hoped there were other paths that he could discover on the way.

The woods were calm and the birds must have been taking an afternoon nap because there was a strange absence of sound. It was most peculiar.

Then without warning he felt the ground rumble beneath his feet and a clatter of hooves as a horse and rider appeared from nowhere, galloping down the centre aisle straight at him.

Flashes of films played in his head but there was no lance, no sword outstretched, no trumpeting of horns.

With no way of avoiding the collision, he watched helplessly as they raced towards him.

He remembered flying before the  pain coursed through his body. He even caught a glimpse of the horse and rider as they disappeared into the distance before he blacked out, but was unable to give an adequate description of his assailants, who were never apprehended.

It was a clear case of Woodland hit and run.

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