And a Time to Live #shortstory

This is the second instalment of my short story. The first part can be found here

While Jim made his way back to the road and the houses, Martin and Marian Slope consulted their map and entered the wood via the little used Normanton Gate. Few people crossed the wood these days; the majority, like Saz and Jim entered from one of the three gates on the main road, circled the wood and left the way they had come. Martin and Marian were committed walkers and undertaking the Stephen Pilgrim memorial trail, after reading about it in the Ramblers Gazette. Their route took them straight through the middle of the wood; at first glance it looked easy: a mile on the wide open track that led from the gate, before they turned left and walked another mile and a bit to the road on the far side. Their plan was to leave by the exact same gate as Jim had left and follow the same path to the High Street for a late lunch in one of the three well regarded eateries.

Their simple plan, however, took no account of a crease in their map. This meant they were unaware of another junction, where the main track bore left but the path they needed forked a slight right. The hot wet summer had meant both a significant increase in the vegetation and fewer visitors using the track so the fork was only visible to those familiar with the route or perhaps someone with better vision than Marian and Martin.

As it happened, when they reached the junction something made Marian pause and stare at the bushes behind which the path they needed led away. For a moment she thought she saw a gap and was about to check but just then a white admiral, a butterfly she hadn’t seen in over 20 years, flew past and her attention was drawn elsewhere. By the time the rare butterfly had disappeared high into the tree canopy Martin and Marian were well on their way in the wrong direction and heading for the clearing where Jim and Saz had been earlier.

As they entered the opening Martin stopped. He was confused. Nothing like the clearing showed on the map. He muttered to himself while Marian looked about, hoping to see another white admiral.

‘Damn,’ he said. He began fiddling with his compass and sighing loudly. ‘We missed a turn. We need to go more to the east.’ He smoothed the map. ‘That way.’ He indicated the faint path taken by Jim earlier in the afternoon.

‘Have you seen this tree? It’s really weird.’ Marian stared at the unnaturally symmetrical fir.

Martin had walked to the centre and ignored his wife. ‘I wonder why they dug here?’ He picked up a stick and pushed at the ash. As he did so something sprung up, making him jump. ‘Goodness. How did this survive? In front of him a smaller version of the fir attracting Marian’s attention had appeared as if realised by his prodding. ‘What an odd thing?’

‘Martin…’ The panic in Marian’s voice made Martin spin round. He was vaguely conscious of a bright light as the top of the fir began to spin and his mobile began to vibrate. Martin had recently suffered from a bad ear infection and his balance had been affected. Later he would conclude that it was that which made him fall and lose consciousness. He was sure he couldn’t have been out for more than a moment but when he blinked himself awake he was flat on the floor, his phone was missing and Marian nowhere to be seen.

Martin shook his head. Something needed sorting out but what, he thought? And why had Marian left him on the grass? Muttering to himself about his wife’s stupid fascination with butterflies he set off to follow the faint path he had identified moments before. If he hadn’t lost his phone he could have called Marian and told her to wait for him.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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18 Responses to And a Time to Live #shortstory

  1. Ooooh, very mysterious, Geoff. I can’t wait to see where this faint path is headed. Amazing how quickly and completely we became dependent on cell phones, isn’t it?
    Mega hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ritu says:

    I need more!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha ha. How had we kept track of each other before cell phones. And so, the world turns. I wonder where he’ll end up as well. 😀 😀 My curiosity is at pitch perfect–well, it’s pitched. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh yes, more please!

    Like

  5. Erika Kind says:

    You got me hooked, Geoff! Looking forward to the next part! That is thrilling!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The crease in the map is a great device

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice to see a good old-fashioned paper map mentioned in the story, Geoff. I’m loving the sci-fi element in this, or maybe you’ve got me walking up the wrong path?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: And a Time to Live #shortstory | TanGental

  9. AJ.Dixon says:

    Another unwary traveller caught about by…who knows what? Better read on, hadn’t I? 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Um. This didn’t clear anything up. Moving on to part 3. I’m thoroughly intrigued. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: A Time to Live part five #shortstory #serial | TanGental

  12. Pingback: A Time to Live – part six #shortstory #serial | TanGental

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