Many of my readers have asked if I have ever written fiction but the few attempts I have made have come up very short because I simply do not have the imagination for it.
Recently my youngest granddaughter turned thirteen and I began casting my mind back to when I was thirteen in an effort to compare our lives.
All I could come up with were small snippets of memories or experiences except for one frightening little episode that was never resolved at the time.
It struck me that if I strung a few of these memories together I could possibly have enough to hold the interest of some of you for yet another page.
This is as close as I have come to fiction to date.
It was a beautiful summer day in the North East of England and, as we were on summer holiday from school, Adam and I decided to take a bike ride.
We set off south along the coast road discussing where we should go and by the time we came to the small town of Seaton Sluice we had decided to head up the 'Avenue' to Seaton Delaval.
As we crested the small hill on the turn we could already hear the noise about half a mile up the road. With a little fear in our hearts we cycled on knowing what was ahead. There, on the right of the road, was a large stand of tall trees. Impressive as they were, it wasn't the trees which were the object of our apprehension but the hundreds of crows nests, all with residents present, high in the branches.
The noise of the crows was deafening as clouds of them circled the area blocking the sun from time to time.
Adam and I looked at each other and then started to pedal as fast as we could past the trees. Any fear of the birds was far surpassed by the fear of being called a coward.
Entering that section of road was like entering a different realm where the birds were in charge and humans were no longer the dominant species but rather toys to be played with while in their domain. The noise was so loud that communication was impossible even if we had felt like talking. Then a dozen or so crows broke off and dived for us in an obviously threatening move, their beady eyes looking for any sign of weakness. As they swooped by I could see their large yellow beaks and felt the wind from their wings making my hair stand on end. We pedaled frantically on through attack after attack and finally came out into the sunshine at the other side and continued to ride hard all the way past the derelict country house Delaval Hall and on to the 'Avenue'.
It was then we heard the sound of a bus coming. We knew that the #49 bus, a double decker, trundled up the 'Avenue' once every hour so we decided to try to beat it to Seaton Delaval. Fat chance, of course, since the bus hit speeds of about 35 to 40 mph on this stretch of road so soon it drew alongside and passed us. An amazing thing happened then. Pedaling furiously and then caught up in the slipstream of the bus we actually were managing to keep up with it.
This was really exciting and it never crossed our minds that the bus must have slowed a little for us to be still there. Had we been thinking we could have deduced that the only reason a bus driver slows on an open road is for the comfort and safety of his passengers and the only place on this road where that would happen was the railway level crossing.
Too late we saw the bus bounce over the rails and both bikes hit at the same time.
Level Crossing was the correct name for this kind of meeting of road and rail but I guess 'level' is a subjective word.
When my front wheel hit the first lump in the road it sent a numbing jar all the way through my hands and arms to my shoulders and then the bike went airborne coming down hard on the back wheel somewhere in the middle of the track. The second shock wave travelling up through the saddle of the bike could have easily rendered me childless for the rest of my days.
After examining the bikes we found that no repairs were needed except for a little air in the tires. (A testament to the engineering skills of the Hercules bicycle company.)
Riding a little more carefully now we rode up the 'Avenue', a beautiful road with forest flanking both sides, to Seaton Delaval and decided to head back for town through the fields.
The footpaths we followed through the fields was no shorter a route than the road because they followed the sides of the patchwork of farmers fields zigzagging towards town. The fields were flanked by hedgerows or fences and we knew the best route to take to miss having to open gates or worse climb over styles with the bikes. It was also a lovely quiet place because seldom did we ever see another soul walking or riding on these paths.
We had just started to head east towards the sea along a long straight path with a high hedgerow on our left when we heard a zing close by followed immediately by a pop. Even though I had absolutely no experience with guns at all I knew someone had shot a rifle at us. When another round whined between us we took off at a speed at least equaling what we managed behind the bus.
At the end of the hedgerow which was pretty long we came to a tee in the path and stopped to look back but no one was following. We turned left heading for home but had gone no more than a few feet when up ahead a large man in a chequered coat and knee high boots with a rifle slung over his shoulder stepped onto the path and put up his hand as though to stop us.
Without a word of discussion we swung our bikes around and headed back along the path as fast as we could go. The path we were on now paralleled the coast road and we were heading out of town so as soon as we thought we had enough distance between us and the homicidal maniac in the chequered coat and knee high boots we took the next left and headed for the main road. Unfortunately we had to cross a style but finally we were on the cycle path of the dual carriageway and heading into town and safety.
As soon as we hit town we headed for the back lane rather than staying on the main road. This was what we always did except on Mondays. In our haste we had forgotten
.this was Monday.
In our town in the early fifties Monday was wash day. Everyone washed their clothes on Mondays. After boiling, bleaching, possing, and mangling the clothes they were hung to dry on clothes lines crisscrossing the back lanes. Everyone knew to stay out of the back lanes on Mondays.
Barreling around the corner into the lane we were met with a solid wall of pure white, sodden wet bed sheets and unable to stop found ourselves, first plucked from our bikes before the sheets broke from the line and then, buried in a white prison.
Before we could extract ourselves a large man grabbed hold of us pulling us to our feet and asked if we were ok
A large man in a chequered coat and knee high boots.
It turned out he had been shooting at crows thinking he was alone in the fields and when he saw us through the hedge realised he may have hit one of us. His attempt to cut us off and check to make sure we were ok had sent us off in the wrong direction so he had simply walked into town towards Adams house because he had recognised him.
The only fiction in this tale is the ending since we never did find out who was shooting at us and why. I'm sure Stephen King would have come up with a better solution but this seemed the most likely scenario put forward at the time.