Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A Winter's Tale Part 1

Darkness has come. For a few hours each day, the feeble sun clings desperately to the dim horizon, her weak rays of light and warmth powerless against the dank mists and damp clouds that now engulf the landscape. A great, grey slab of sarcophagus sky crushes all beneath. Rain has deluged the land for months, the roads are quagmires of mud and rotted vegetation. No birdsong in the bare branches, only the mournful cawing of murderous crows and rooks as they gather in the gloom, like undertakers around a coffin.

The locals struggle through each day as best they can. Crops have rotted in the fields, storehouses are empty, but for a few scabrous rats. Hunger is a constant companion. The roads and byways are virtually impassable, villages and hamlets marooned in a sea of mud and despair. The inhabitants shuffle around like zombies, searching for scraps of food, scavenging fungus from damp, dark corners, tearing bark from rotten branches, anything that might offer relief from the gnawing pangs of their shrivelled bellies.

For some, there is the possibility of redemption in the nearby forests. Drenched by impenetrable mists during the bleak daylight hours, by night the skies clear and the moons shine bright. Dead leaves crunch underfoot, brambles snag the unwary. The lifeless, dark trunks offer no comfort, no hope, and yet branches can be gathered and burnt for warmth, mosses can be scraped from stones to be added to meagre soups, lichens can be prised from rotted barks and devoured. Only the bravest would venture into these place. Only the brave, or the foolish, or the desparate......

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