Monday, October 30, 2006

Does a scared reporter s**t in the woods? (Part I)

Hello all

Sorry for the shortage of posts. Nothing much been going on round here. I've been in touch with the outside world, but something inside me keeps saying that I should stay hidden until assurance reaches me that all is well in the world. Fat chance of that, I reckon.

However, it may all be about to change. This is what happened a couple of days ago....


I awoke with a start. It was just 4:30am, but my mind was unusually active. I thought of Dolores alone in our matrimonial bed, suffering alone without her long-term companion by her side. I imagined the Institute staff standing around with no sense of direction, no tasks to complete, no reports to file. I sensed the mood amongst the local wildlife, wondering why the man in the white coat was not coming to reduce their numbers.

My mind jumped then to Ravel, my faithful companion, body-guard, cook, scout, research assistant. I owe him such a debt of gratitude that I am almost tempted to give him a pay rise if we ever get back to the Institute....

The hut where we have been staying was very cold. Sited on the edge of a large forest, shielded from sunlight for most of the day, nothing but a log-stove for heating. I pulled the duvet over my face and tried to go back to sleep, hoping that when I re-awoke that Ravel would have put some logs on the fire and prepared my first cup of tea.

I did manage to fall asleep, and dreamt that I was running a marathon dressed as a postbox. Halfway along the course I was forced to make a toilet stop, but the postbox was so tight that the only opening was the slit at the top. I try to jump up and aim out of the slit, but disaster strikes as I lose balance and fall over, causing a huge pile-up of tired runners behind and on top of my costume. Someone yanks the lid off my postbox. It is Ravel, pulling me to safety, firing at the crowd to warn them away....

I awoke at this point to feel Ravel tugging on my sleeve and the sound of logs cracking in the fire. He was unusually animated, and insisted that I wake up. Rubbing my eyes, I saw that he was not carrying the expected cup of tea, but instead was holding a hunters cap, complete with ear guards and a badge proclaiming that Celtic are the greatest football team in the world. He pushed the cap in my direction and told me that he had found it whilst jogging in the forest.

The reason for his animation was clear. You may recall that 2 reporters from a local newspaper had been dispatched some days earlier to find me. They had returned to their boss empty-handed, only to be told that they must widen their search. They set off in completely the wrong direction and eventually went missing (supposedly). The newspaper (which I have been reading occasionally) claimed first of all that I had abducted the reporters, then that they had been killed by a puma that had escaped from a private zoo, then that they had eloped, and finally that they had faked their own deaths to claim on their life insurance.

As a bona-fide scientist with objective rationalisation at the top of my agenda, I was immediately sceptical of the whole story. The two reporters in question were well known to me, having made up several stories concerning my work and lifestyle to help sell their newspaper. I suspected that they were still in the newspaper office, and had simply latched on to my disappearance as an excuse for a story.

Until, that was, Ravel showed me the hat. I recognised it from a photo of one of the reporters.

'Where did you find that', I asked my eager young companion.

'Boss, I was jogging in the woods like every morning. I go maybe four and three thirds miles and see hat lying on the ground. There were footprints all around, like someone running in circles. I don't see anyone, only their shit on the ground where they make toilet, and eventually lose footprints in forest. So I ran quick back here. I think the reporters are here, boss!'

'Here?', I shouted, flinging the duvet off my pyjama-clad body and pushing my way past Ravel.

'Yes boss, here in the wood.'

'Oh, right. That's OK. I thought you actually meant...'

'Yes boss. We go find them now?'

'Er. I'll have to think about that, Ravel.'

'Tell you what for, boss. You eat breakfast, I find reporters. I bring them back here and we trade them for your safety.'

'Huh? Are you actually suggesting that we kidnap some newspaper reporters? Have you any idea what would happen if we did that?'

'Yes boss. The police would agree to our demands and give you clock circle protection before we let reporters go safe.'

I patted the young Bulgarian on the shoulder and smiled, saying, 'I think, Ravel, that you should learn a few more things about how things work in the UK. Maybe in Bulgaria you can do this kind of thing but...'

'True Boss, in UK it works also. I was...'

'I don't want to know Ravel.'

We ate breakfast whilst I formulated a plan of action. Half of me wanted to stay put and leave the reporters to find their way out of the forest. But my conscience was also at work, and telling me to find them, make sure they were at least safe.

Twenty minutes later we were out of the door and heading into the forest. Ravel was behaving like a professional tracker, padding along slightly bent to avoid low hanging branches, stopping occasionally to pick up broken twigs or rub soil samples between his fingers. I could swear I even saw him sniff the air on occasion, as if picking up their scent.

We had spent almost two hours in the forest before I felt that maybe this was a fruitless exercise. I had kept marking trees with some chalk so that we could find our way back, but had miscalculated how long we would need, and was down to my last 5mm of chalk. I told Ravel that it was time to go home, but he brushed away my concerns and shouted that he had heard something. I told him it was probably a bird, but he insisted he had heard human voices. Reluctantly, I agreed that we could search for a few minutes, and we headed deeper into the forest. My chalk ran out three trees later...

************TO BE CONTINUED!!!!!!!!!************


Blogger Nikki said...

You're a great story teller Dr McC.

I do enjoy reading you.

11:43 AM  

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