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Goats and Gunshots

Page 5

On and on we run. Now I'm really cold. But he doesn't pause and so neither can I. The wind is getting stronger now and colder.

At last we reach the end of the strange labyrinth of lanes. There's a tall brick building. No, it's a tower with slits in its stone walls and an open sort of terrace, a platform, on its peak. I look back and see that we seem to have run through looks very like a castle, or what used to be a castle, much of it is in ruins. Or it could be a row of houses, or both.

I spin around again to find my man. He is ahead of me gesturing wildly for me to follow him again. He's in a field. It's almost, but not quite dark. There are swings and three children playing on them. And there's a woman.  She's bent with age, a scarf wound around her shoulders, neck and head conceals her face, and her dress is long, loose and full. It's a dull grey or dirty blue like the man's coat. She wears sturdy leather boots, almost certainly a man's work boots. My man rushes up to her. She embraces him briefly; fishes into the pocket of her skirt, finds a piece of paper, seems to read it to him, points at each of the lines written on it. He nods all the while. She gives him the paper, turns to face me, points at me, gives him a gentle shove and waves us both off back the way we came.

Exhausted I fall to the floor and sleep. I wake briefly and stagger into the bedroom.  It's darker now - the sun has moved away from the windows. And it's cold. The air conditioner has sprung to life blasting an icy wind through the room.  I fall across the bed and pull the blanket around my shivering body. Sweat has dried on my skin and I smell salty and slightly rank. Uncaring I lay down and shut my eyes.

Still following the man with the dirty coat, I carry a laden basket, my hands aching from the weight of it. He carries only the piece of paper the old woman gave him. He reaches up, grabs something, and turns and throws it into my basket. I'm warm now and no longer sweating. But I can still smell the sickly fatty smell of meat and blood. 

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