In that dream, I walk through the woods near my childhood home, along the road towards my grandparents’ house, a narrow, circuitous route over the railway lines, where I cycled regularly to find new places to play, idle and adventurous through those days of exquisite freedom. In the dream, it always dusk, long shadows cast amongst by the surrounding trees, night burning at the edges. I carry a gun, wear a satchel of wartime canvas across my chest. I always have the feeling I am being hunted, but I seem to relish the instinct for survival, as though all of my life has been building towards a time of universal crisis in which I intend to thrive. Apocalypse seemed never seemed far from those days of my youth, where my grandparents stored preserved fruit and pickles in the spare bedroom of their cottage, and I overheard my parents discussing the practicalities of nuclear war. The path through the woods leads me, inevitably, to an old shack of corrugated iron, the black paint blistered and the metal corroded. The building was known locally as a gypsy chapel, offering a site of faith for the local travellers, but had long since fallen into disrepair. It always resembled something from a malign fairy tale, collapsing into disrepair and suffocated by ivy, but as I break inside, I feel a sense of solace and safety. The bare boards are covered in dust and brittle leaves. I secure the door as best I can, hiding behind an overturned pew as I bed down for the night.
Published by Dan Bennett
I'm a writer and poet. My first novel, All the Dogs, appeared in 2008, and was described by Niall Griffiths as 'a stirring debut, a compellingly written tract on the importance of finding a place on the earth.' My fiction has appeared in London Noir, Crimewave, Black Static and 3AM. I live in London, where, amongst other things, I teach Creative Writing for the Open University. https://absenceclub.com View all posts by Dan Bennett