Margaret Parker’s short story is inspired in part by Nikolai Gogol’s “Diary of a Madman” and serves as one possible answer to David Daegling’s question: “What did you see?”
For the record, I was alone in the forest when I met the creature.
I had set out for MacRitchie on Wednesday afternoon. All morning my phone rang and rang, driving me crazy. I hadn’t gone to work and my boss, Scowlface, was calling. For a long time now he began his conversations with me with “What’s wrong with you?” and on Tuesday, Scowlface used the U word: “unsound”. It was the last straw. I packed a kaya toast, climbed into the front seat, coaxed the engine to start, then drove.
I left the car at the car park where the trail began. I wasn’t planning to make it back, so I took care not to make it seem like I was premeditating anything. I started up the trail, my hiking boots encrusted with dried mud from the last time. No one else was there. Yet, I was cautious. I pressed myself flat against a tree. I reconnoitered. An hour passed. The trail was truly deserted. I dived between two shrubs precisely where I knew there was a shortcut that led right to the real forest.