A hell of a commute

Martianonlooker, Going Postal
Strathleven House © Copyright Eddie Mackinnon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

This is a tale of what was once my daily commute for a few months during the 70s. Admittedly, not one of the Mogadishu Express to Kings Cross or the hell of the M25 car park. A hell of a commute none the less.

I lived up on the hill to the right of this photo and used to walk down to the B road then follow it along until I saw the outskirts or lights of the neighbouring town. Then I would follow the loop back road until I arrived in work. It was fairly uneventful night-time stroll, only encountering hordes of bats that would zip past my head and vanish almost before I had time to realise what had been there.

Back in the 70s the house stood somewhat empty and forlorn. It wasn’t long before I found a short cut that meant I cut out the large loop back. I still came down the hill, crossed over the B road and then walked into a field. My journey would then take me to the rear right of the house’s high garden wall. Then I would veer north and after a short  walk through some bushes and trees, I would come out on the road very close to the work’s security gate.

A pleasant enough stroll in the dark of a night shift until one particular winter’s night:

It had been snowing heavily for a few days but not this particular day. It was a cold, clear, still, crisp night as I headed down the hill. The moon was bright and the stars seemed to be abundant. I had had a good sleep that day, a pleasant meal and some coffee just before I left.

I didn’t encounter a soul as I wandered towards the rear wall of the House. What was concentrating my mind was the need to have a pee but because of the visibility, I was holding off until I reached the tree line.

Arriving at the tree line I stood pointing Percy at a fir tree whilst looking back along my route. To my surprise (even today the hairs come up on my neck when I think of this bit) a figure was coming along from the House garden wall. I hadn’t observed anyone as I walked the field and was somewhat puzzled by the individual’s attire.

They looked like the Scottish Widows advert of a woman but instead of a black hooded cape, this one was grey. I remember thinking that with all the moonlight and the snow I should be seeing a face by now. There was no discernible features. There was now a race on between me trying to finish my pee and the figure in the cape due to arrive, damn that coffee and the cold night.

The night became even stranger as I watched the oncoming individual. She/he/it started to break up into grey globules of varying light intensity and drifted upwards. Beam me up Scotty or what? Then the bushes and trees starting thrashing about as though a gale had suddenly hit, but there was no wind at all.

At that point I decided to sprint off through the trees in what some would probably describe as sheer panic. However, I did have the presence of mind not to attempt zipping myself up. I realized that circumcision lay that way, so I ran holding Percy tightly.

I burst out into the road, feeling a distinctly unhappy bunny, zipped myself up and walked into work. In work the supervisor looked at me and asked if I was ok. To preserve my job and keep any accusations of insanity at bay, I said I was fine.At tea break, the supervisor again enquired if there was something wrong and I told him of my experience. I was expecting him to say something along the lines of, “ I thought you were doolally when we hired you”. Something comforting like that. No! He said “ Her? you are not the first to have seen her”. What? I thought, you lot never let bug that a crazed ghostie thing was rampaging about out there and let me bimble in night after night. Talk about innocents to the slaughter.

I never did walk that shortcut again and the postscript to the story occurred decades later:

My parents lived across the other side of the river, about 300 yards to the left of that House. I was there winding up their affairs. I had loaded my Volvo estate with the items I would keep and had the house clearance people in to dispose of the items I couldn’t or wouldn’t take away. When they left I needed a drink and I still had one friend from the 70s still living nearby i.e. on the side of the river I used to live on.

I arranged to call in and we would go for a pint. I left my car behind and walked across the footbridge to near that house. I tried to walk into the tree line to take the old short cut but couldn’t summon up the courage. The loop road it was to be then and when I passed the House at about where the photo was taken, I was surprised to see that it was a habitable building again. I continued on whilst looking at the House. My thoughts, in the middle of the day were quite brave. I was thinking “ You won’t get me bitch”. Then, it could have been movement of a cloud on the window or someone passing the window but all I know is that there was movement and the impression that words were being rammed into my head and they were; “ Not yet”.

© Martianonlooker 2019

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