Torment in Hell

Torment in Hell

It was hell... or at least some variation of it, I'm sure. You may think that I'm exaggerating (and now that it has ended, I'm starting to think the same), but it sure didn't feel like it at the time.

There were five of us all told: me, my dad, Pete, Chris and Steve. We are all part of a mountaineering club. I am Xilmin Nerrar, and I've always liked going on these holidays, if only to get away from the pressures of life in a town, but also to get some decent exercise. My dad has been hill walking practically all his life, even before he joined this club. Pete is the head of the club and organises everything... and is renowned for his terrible jokes. Chris and Steve are two of the other members, but I can't say there was anything that made them remain in my memory particularly well; I just know they were there, and went on these holidays from time to time. I was the only girl... the only child in this group... which was the first clue that made me think that maybe I was out of my depth, or just weird for wanting to do exercise.

That day we were to climb a mountain (surprisingly enough, since it was a mountaineering club...) called Ben Damph (or something to that effect). It was the highest in the area and it was our last day at where we were staying, so I thought that it would be fun. The weather over the past week had been amazing. I was in the north of Scotland and I had got a tan... it just wasn't right, but I wasn't complaining. However, that day the clouds were low and the wind was cold. Nevertheless, everyone else was confident that it would clear (or maybe they were just being optimistic).

We got in our separate cars (Steve and Chris in one, and me, my dad and Pete in ours) and drove to the foot of the mountain. We were practically at sea level so I knew it was going to be a tough climb. I looked up and saw where we were heading. The very top was out of sight so I couldn't tell the height we were to get to, but the part that I could see looked barren and steep... very steep. What fun! was my immediate thought in my usual sarcastic tone.

In my rucksack that I had taken with me, I had my personal stereo that I liked to listen to when I walk. I considered taking it out, but changed my mind, thinking that I'd leave it to later so that I didn't seem completely impolite by ignoring everyone else. I picked up my rucksack, which also contained my lunch, hat, cloves, waterproof trousers and other stuff (including chocolate... I can't forget that!), and walked up the road from where we parked the car after everyone else to where the track was to start.

And what were we faced with but a bucket of disinfectant. We had been having a breakout of foot and mouth disease here in Britain and everyone was being very cautious about people walking in the wild. This started my mind wandering about an idea for a story. I always do this. I see something and I instantly think I could make something out of that... very helpful when I have writer's block.

Now up on the path... and it certainly was up! It was surprisingly steep even from the start... but the surroundings were pleasant. We were walking through a pine forest on a very well maintained track. The green foliage grew around the pine-needle-littered path. On one side of the land it stretched upwards as I walked, so the trees held their branches high over my head. On the other side, the ground dropped away into a shallow gorge where a narrow river flowed. The trees, determined to live there too, grew with their roots clinging desperately to the steep side. I could look out over the tops of those trees to the ones on the other side of the gorge. It reminded me of walking in the Pyrenees in France - just beautiful.

I was surprised how quickly I was tiring. My immediate thought was I was terribly unfit, and I gave no argument against that, since there was no argument to give. At home there was (and still is) nothing to do, so I spend my entire life in front of the computer and the TV, occasionally taking the time to sit and write in my room or read one of the many books I've accumulated. I'm surprised I've stayed as fit as I am... although I could be much fitter.

I contemplated taking my jacket off. It was a thick ski jacket and it was making me very hot, but I didn't want to stop and get left behind so I continued on, enduring it. I'm the kind that can usually ignore things that annoy me, so I just focused on keeping up with everyone and paid no attention to what was bothering me, or rather concentrated more on it, since my mind gave me nothing else to think about, making the torture worse, yet still I didn't complain.

We stopped at a viewpoint and I looked down at a waterfall. It wasn't the most spectacular one I'd seen. In fact, compared to some, it was quite pathetic. But I didn't care about that. I was just glad to get a breather. Then I looked at my dad and saw that he was soaked in sweat and was breathing hard. So I wasn't the only one who was having difficulty. That was good; I wasn't alone.

Then Steve pointed out where we were heading. The top was still out of our sights, but the high point that I had seen earlier was lost in clouds. Oh, this was getting better and better. I had walked in clouds before on other mountains so I thought I knew what to expect: limited vision - only seeing a few hundred metres ahead - and a moist atmosphere. I didn't know what I was really heading into.

My dad wiped the sweat away, still looking at the clouds, and said, "Once I'm up there, the heat I'm giving off will evaporate the clouds. The sweat's dripping off me!" As usual, my dad's sense of humour had some hint of education in it, but I was used to hearing it. I just thought of it as a reminder of my geography lessons, which was helpful as I had exams coming up and I needed to do revision.

We continued up, with me behind everyone as always. I don't like drawing attention to myself so I try to stay inconspicuous when around people I don't know very well (or people I do, but those that don't know me). The land opened out as we left the trees behind and I looked out over a very inhospitable land. The terrain was covered in bumps, rocks and boulders, heather and poor soil. However it was this scenery that I've grown up with, the scenery that I can't get enough of. This was the reason I came up north; this was the reason I put up with all the things I did to get there – the incredibly long journey, followed, usually, by bad weather, and people that insisted that I do something social with them. But at that moment, I was all alone with no civilisation... I was in my heaven... if it were not for that boiling heat that I was feeling inside my jacket and that ache in my legs from the long climb. Least now the land was flatter for a while and I could take it easy.

I met up with everyone as we stopped at a fork in the path. They pulled out a map and I waited for them to figure out where we were going. They came up with the conclusion that both paths led to where we were heading for, but one involved some 'scrambling', as they called it. However I was guessing that they meant actual rock climbing up a cliff face, although maybe not so difficult.

As we were waiting, two guys came up and joined us, then went off on the 'scrambling' track. Were they insane...? It was starting to drizzle and they were both wearing shorts. Even I wasn't that stupid.

Everyone was looking at the map again. They commented that we had already reached two hundred metres. The mountain itself was about nine hundred or so (if I heard correctly). I immediately thought that if I had got up to where we were with only being a little hot and tired then this was going to be easy. I really needed to learn not to underestimate anything I was doing.

We all walked on. The path now was starting to deteriorate. Obviously no one saw the purpose of keeping it in good condition now that we were in a less appealing landscape. Only the crazy ones like us who enjoyed (and I use the word loosely) these trips of exercise would ever use that path. What was the point?

Steve and Chris were now moving much faster than the rest of us were. I only planned on going at the same pace as my dad, and he wasn't going too fast because I was behind him, and that worked fine for me. Pete was talking with my dad and so wasn't going to be going ahead.

I pretty much ignored their conversation and I now don't remember what it was about. I can't even remember what I had been thinking. I kept my eyes on the path most of the time, since I kept tripping up on the jagged stones that jutted out the path, put there just to get in my way. But somehow I followed the path over the bumpy, slowly rising land. It was when it got steep and windy that I noticed where I was. We had already climbed over the floor of a corrie and the calmness I had felt for those last few minutes was quickly disappearing. Now we were climbing up the steep back end of it up to the ridge.

My ears were starting to sting in the cold wind and my hands were getting a little nippy too. I took a moment to look back and saw how far we had come. The path wound its way across the brown and grey land until it disappeared into some trees. Those trees were the ones that had been growing up that steep slope around the path that I had climbed not that long ago, and the foot where we had parked the cars was completely out of sight. What I saw beyond the trees was a loch - dark blue under the ominous sky - with a small village (something beginning with a 'T' I think, but I can't remember the name off the top of my head) cuddled next to its wet, marshy side. I looked to the right above the trees and I saw the land travelling across a hanging valley floor where a small river wound its way down... the source of the waterfall.

My dad stopped just ahead and told me that I should put a hat on. He was even starting to feel the cold so obviously I was cold too. I was too stubborn to agree with him, but merely grunted a response and took it out like it was a chore, even although I was secretly glad. As I took it out my bag, I saw my stereo still sitting in there among a nest of tapes (I can never decide what to listen to, so I usually take my entire collection with me everywhere). Now there was no chance of me listening to it with the hat pulled tight over my ears. I guess I'll just have to live without, I thought glumly. I'll only get bored... Then I remembered what it felt like to be bored. Only? I'll be bored! I moaned to myself with a bit more emphasise to the phrase, and plodded after Pete and my dad.

The path wound its way up the ever-increasingly steep end of the small corrie in a zigzag fashion. My mind started giving me a geography lecture on the formation of the corrie. Yet more revision for my exams, I guess. It's like fieldwork in some ways...

My stomach grumbled. Hey, wait! I'm hungry! I complained to my dad about this and he said once we caught up with Chris and Steve, we'd stop for lunch. I looked up, following the path with my eyes. Three dots were sitting on the ground just before the edge of the corrie. Three? I shrugged and continued up, spurred by the thought of food.

The path got worse. The stones were no longer secure, more like scree. The ground was turning into mud and some of the path was starting to fall apart and slide down the slope. It reminded me of the peat fields I had seen while in other locations in Scotland. I practically slipped upwards on that last stretch to lunch, occasionally pulling myself up with my hands, holding on to the tough grass.

I heard Pete and my dad talking about something. Looking up from the slope, I saw that two of the dots had moved off and were continuing to climb. Maybe it wasn't them leaving us behind them, and they were still waiting. I just couldn't see the second dot sitting down.

Then a horrid thought crossed my mind. If it is them going on, then we won't be able to have lunch! I was feeling kind of weak in the legs and my stomach was really complaining now. We gotta stop! We gotta!

No! No! NO! My dad and Pete weren't heading towards the dot (or rather the splodge now we were closer). No lunch? No lunch! You can't do this to me!

But to my relief they turned to walk in a straight line across the slope to the sheltered place to... the man I'd never seen before. So the others had gone on. Figures! But at least we're stopping...

I collapsed onto a rock, not caring how uncomfortable it was. I felt rain on my bare hands and the looming clouds overhead told me, 'Time for the waterproof clothing'. I struggled out of my rucksack and pulled out the trousers, trying not to loose my stereo and everything else at the same time. I then had the wonderful fun of trying to pull the waterproof trousers over my climbing boots so I didn't have to take them off in the cold while standing on a precariously steep, wet slope. My face went bright red as the stranger watched me stumble around on the grassy hill. My dad then 'insisted' that I wear the cagoule of my mum's that he had brought with him for me if the weather got bad. Again I didn't make any attempt to say no, but merely grumbled when he said it. My hands were getting cold now that I wasn't moving to keep myself warm. I pulled on my gloves as well.

Now I was faced with the difficulty of eating with the thick gloves on. I opened the box my mum had handed to me as we had left, filled with my lunch. I looked at four sandwiches, a chocolate-and-cherry cake, and some peanuts... Peanuts? I asked myself. I'm not a monkey!

I sat on the hillside eating the sandwiches while Pete and my dad talked to the stranger. Apparently this was as far as he was going as the weather was putting him off. I understood why. As I watched, the clouds came lower until they were rolling over the ground on the ridge above my head. Yet we were still going on. Why? I didn't know. Determination, I guess, since there didn't seem to be any other logical explanation.

After about ten minutes, the man said he had better be going, and left us. I was still trying to pick up my sandwiches without dropping them, while the adults took out a map and figured out the bearings we were to head for if it got too hard to see. As I listened, I finally figured out what was ahead of me. There were apparently three tops, the last being the highest. They were now trying to figure out the bearings from one top to the next. I decided that I should leave the rest of my lunch (the peanuts) for later since I was likely to need 'refuelling'. I shoved it back in my bag, which was now much lighter now that I was wearing most of what had been taking up the most room, and hoisted it onto my back.

I pulled the hood over my head. I was now completely covered from head to toe with several layers of clothing; the only part of my body that was free was my face and the flaps of the hood were protecting that.

I continued climbing up to the top of the ridge and a gust of wind nearly forced me backwards. I fought against it and plodded off to the left towards the rising ridge edge that we were to follow. As we were about to climb, we heard voices. Looking down, we say Steve and Chris. So they hadn't gone far after all. We greeted each other and continued again.

We had found a slight path that led us in the general direction of where we wanted to go, so we followed that. I soon found the extra layers of clothing hadn't been the best idea in the world. I was starting to feel a little hot and even the freezing breeze of the wind couldn't reach my face to cool it down. I followed, now in the middle of the group, Chris and my dad behind me. I kept my head down and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other to keep walking and not lag behind.

We were at that point walking in the clouds. As we went higher, the distance I could see got shorter. However I barely comprehended that, as I was just too hot to care about anything else. To my relief, after some time, the path started to level off, turning slightly to the right. If we were still on the ridge, I couldn't tell, as the edges on either side were completely missing from view. But the width had obviously increased; otherwise, by now we would have walked off the edge. Yet still the torment went on, me plodding in stifling heat that increased the further I went.

After what seemed like hours, everyone suddenly halted. They talked about how the path we were following was leading us in slightly the wrong direction and we had been walking on a level ground for far too long. I looked in the direction they were pointing to, the direction we were to go. Up? You've got to be kidding me. I didn't come here to go up! I didn't come here to faint and die of heat!

But they ignored my thoughts and walked off. I was at the rear, yet again. But this time I wasn't caring about staying in the background. If anything, I wanted attention. Then maybe they would take pity on me and turn back. I followed them over the bumps, like giant badly carved steps, overgrown with grass. Then we somehow ended up on the middle of some crazy hill made completely of rocks, or so it seemed. They were all wet; they were all slippery; they were all jagged; and worst of all, they all moved!

I started to lag behind. I felt like some strange pet creature to this giant on some stupid maze-like construction. It just wasn't fair. What had I done to him?

I looked up and saw the shape of my dad ahead... and no one else. Even my dad's figure was fading away in the cloud. If I stayed behind, I'd be left behind, left forever. I staggered on, leaning forward, not noticing the rain or the wind anymore, only noticing that irritating heat the clothes were creating. I moved my fingers slightly, in some vain attempt to find some cool spot inside the gloves. And to my surprise I did. No wait, it wasn't air that was cold, it was a liquid. Some liquid had collected in the gloves. Was it the rain? Weren't these gloves waterproof? I was sure they were. So where was the liquid coming from. Me? Was I sweating that much? But it made sense. I felt hot enough to sweat and fill a bucket.

I felt like I could just tip forward and fall onto the ground. I just wanted a break. I tried to breathe harder, only to find I was panicking. My breathing was heavy and uneven. Don't leave me! I can't be left behind! I don't like this!

Somehow I persuaded my mind to keep me walking. I came to a patch of grass and stopped, watching the grey figure disappear until just before it was gone completely and then followed after it.

And I reached the end of the giant's playhouse. I had defeated it. But I was still hot and tired, too hot to care and almost too tired to keep going. Then out of the cloud as I continued my slow pace, I saw a new shape, with figures sitting on the top. A cairn? A cairn! We had done it! We had reached the top!

I sat down on the side of the cairn and took deep breaths, calming myself and giving me a chance to cool down. I listened to their conversations again. They were talking about how this cairn seemed too big for only being a high point and not the top. They discussed how maybe we had passed the other tops on the journey along the path. We had walked a long way, seeming to have avoided going up or down. Therefore, maybe we had reached the final summit.

We were finished... Could it be true? I had done it and we could go back now... I had coped... not very well, but I hadn't stopped and given up like I used to do when I was younger and reached a difficult point. I had continued even though everything else was saying, 'Don't go on!'

It was then that my dad pulled out a compass and said that we should try and continue on the bearing he had taken. If we walked off a cliff then we were at the proper top. I pulled myself up from my seat grudgingly and followed them off to the right of the cairn. Least I had caught my breath and was cooler, although not cold like I wanted to be.

We started to go back down again. The route we were now taking was much easier than the way up, thankfully. A couple of rocks were strewn across our path, but mainly we followed pale green grass. The wind was picking up. I could hear it whistling around my hood, but I felt nothing. I plodded after everyone else. Hardly anyone was talking now. I guess they were all tired now too and weren't really in the mood to hold a conversation. I could understand that. I stayed close to my dad. He was the only one I was paying any attention to; in fact he was the only one I could see clearly. I wasn't really caring enough to see beyond my dad and myself. They could take care of themselves.

I was looking for the cliff edge that would mark the fact that we were actually at the final top. But it didn't come. Everyone was safe and we continued walking, now along a narrow ridge. I've been on narrower ones, but I travelled those on days with good weather. Never had I walked along one in thick cloud. It was nerve-wracking. I saw the ground I was on clearly, but as the distances increased, it all turned to grey-white. I looked to my left and right, expecting to see an edge, and saw nothing. Was that worse? I didn't know. I hate heights (why do I go up these hills then? I don't know) so seeing sudden drops always makes me dizzy. But seeing nothing... it was disturbing in its own way. The wind howled up one side, trying to blow me over the other. It got stronger and stronger until I found I had to lean into the wind to stay standing. I felt like I was walking at a forty-five degree angle. I started wishing I wasn't quite so tall and relatively light (something I'm proud of being in normal life). I was going to be blow off. I could just tell. I was going to go tumbling off the edge and hit my head repeatedly as I fell, and be left unconscious, or even dead, at the bottom of the valley where no one could reach me. I didn't want to die like that! I didn't want to die there!

I followed the figure ahead of me as best I could. Dad! Slow down, please! But I wasn't going to shout out there. I was expecting some avalanche to start below my feet and drag me down the steep side. And even if I did shout, there was no way he would ever hear me.

The ground started to rise and my balance on the ground became even more precarious. And now I started to see small patches of snow. I was going to slip any minute now. Everything was against me. This evil mountain didn't want me reaching the top. But why not? What had I done to it? I only wanted to do this to release some of my built up energy. I didn't want to do this at the cost of my life.

And something was stirred in my memory. My dad had said something about three tops, hadn't he? But that meant that we still had two more to go. This was hell! I couldn't go on. I was going to die on this desolate place, my body never to be found by another human again. I moved faster, trying to ignore the horrible thoughts. It wasn't going to happen. Now stop thinking like that!

Then suddenly we were finished. I couldn't believe it. We reached two cairns on one top. Everyone was stopping. It was the end. I had done it. I gladly took a seat on the edge of the cairn and pulled my rucksack off, leaning back, relaxing. It was over!

But what had happened to the middle top? Oh forget it! I don't care about that! I looked into my rucksack, ready to eat and 'refuel' myself. I deserved some food after that. Then my dad handed me a Mars bar. I practically drooled. That was a whole lot more appetising than what I had left, a bag of peanuts. I pulled off my gloves, glad to be free of the trapped sweat, glad to be out of the stuffy heat, glad to feel the fresh air, glad to be able to open the Mars, and then eat the reassuring chocolate. Finishing that within several seconds, I went back to the peanuts. I remembered something from a science class several years ago... peanuts had a lot of energy in them... for some reason I couldn't remember. But that didn't matter. I needed as much energy as I could get for the way back down.

For some reason, I usually find the way back down worse than the way back up. I usually blame it on my fear of heights. When going down, I can see the drop before me, I can see the huge distance I will fall, and I get nervous. Least on the way up, I can concentrate on where I'm going without having to see how high up I am.

I worried about that while I ate the peanuts. But soon I discovered that I wasn't that hungry. I couldn't understand it, but I couldn't eat any more. I put the food away and settled down, watching the others taking out their own 'emergency rations' as my dad likes to call snacks for success on hills (or non-success but when you need a bit more energy).

Unfortunately everyone started moving, readying themselves to leave. At first I was glad. We were going back; it was over. But it wasn't over. The 'going back' was still ahead of me. I looked around myself, but saw little. The clouds were still hugging the mountaintop.

I got up reluctantly, moaning slightly about having to go to my dad, but he just laughed. I followed behind everyone, going at the same pace as them although I wanted to go slower. However, any slower would mean I'd lose sight of them and probably end up walking off the edge of the ridge.

The wind still swept at high speed over the ridge, trying to push me over and again I walked at the awkward angle so as not to fall. My sense of direction was gone. I almost felt like I was walking upside-down for some reason, instead of just backwards. There was nothing other than the pile of stones I stood on and the blurred shapes through the mists to judge my direction on.

I started imagining another terrible fate of mine if I were to fall over the edge. I'd bounce and tumble to some overhang and lie there in eternal pain where no one could reach me. I'd be left there, sitting on an unstable rock, lost in a cloud.

I shook away the feeling and went back to concentrating on the heat I was having to endure again. After the break I had cooled down, but now that we were on the move again, I was feeling the heat build up among the many layers of clothing. I plodded after the others.

The area of land we were walking on spread out again and but we saw little more. My dad checked the bearing with his compass and I followed after him. However the others seemed to have their own opinion of the direction they should go in, and the group spread out. Still I continued following my dad. I trusted him more than anyone else. In fact, at that vulnerable time I was in, he was the only one I trusted. I continued to follow him over the treacherous ground with the dangerous moving rocks and wet grass.

The others suddenly started to accumulate around my dad as he stopped again to check the bearing. I stopped beside them, glad of a break, although it didn't count for much since nothing was cooling me down and making me feel any better. They were trying to decide whether they should try and go straight for the path that we had been following earlier for so long, or go up to the high point of the hill and down again. The first way was almost certainly quicker and easier, with no ups or downs, but was much more dangerous, especially in the terrible weather that surrounded us so tightly. We could easily find ourselves wandering over the edge of a cliff one by one with no knowledge of the others' fate since the wind howling and our sights were drenched in grey. The other way though meant climbing up again, only to go down once more over that evil mound of rocks that had tormented me so much earlier.

The first way! I cried in my mind to no one that could hear. I would rather go the dangerous way over the way that meant more effort, even in such an awful place where I understood the dangers. Yet the others seemed to think that it was too much of a risk. I looked up, and saw little.

Following only my dad yet again, we walked up the little hill on top of the mountain. But my dad, understanding the tiredness of me, as well as the others no doubt, and himself, cut off actually going to the top and we rounded the edge, ending up in the centre of the wet, slippery, jagged, moving rocks. I tried to stay close to my dad, but ended up being closer to... Steve I think, but it was hard to tell in the terrible conditions. My legs started to trembled as I attempted to go down the dangerous rocks. Seeing as I was now on a steep slope where I had to watch my footsteps carefully, because my legs shook, my steps were heavy and had little grip, even with my climbing boots on.

Slip! Thud! Crack! Rumble! A variety of sounds blurred together brought my attention away from my own troubles. I looked down just beyond me to see Steve had lost his footing and had slipped, landing painfully on the pointed stones. He pulled himself up quickly, seeming to not want to get left behind either. I avoided where he had gone, choosing my own path as best I could in the foggy surroundings.

Somehow I managed to come to the end with only quick breathing and unstable legs to show for it, not to mention the terrible cooking feeling I was having underneath the cagoule. Pete was now much further ahead, and I heard my dad tell Steve that Pete was looking for the path that had to be off in that direction if we were where we thought we were. The rest of us followed behind him slower, wondering where Pete had the energy left to continue on at such a fast pace.

He was nearly out of sight, when to my great relief I saw him wave to us. As we caught up with him, I heard him say, in a loud voice over the loud noise around us, that he had found a small cairn, and he pointed to a mound of stones. We were obviously on the right track. At least I knew we weren't completely lost... we could get back; we just weren't entirely sure where we were, since one of the tops was completely missing. Or maybe they knew what was going on; they just weren't telling me.

Thankfully we were now on the path that was relatively flat. But now I'm trying to remember what that section of the way back was like; I find that point a black screen. I know I wasn't paying any attention, and I'm sure I was thinking about how what I had just been through would make a good story, so I guess I wasn't looking at where my feet went. I know that that part of the trip was not exciting, just excruciatingly long and excruciatingly hot, something that I'm sure you've heard me mention dozens of times already.

It was when we got to the where we had come up onto the ridge that I begin to remember. This was the last hard part for me, but, after the evilly laid out stones on the climb to the first top, this had to be the worst of all. It was going down. Make that 'It was going down steeply!' As I've already said, when going down I get more scared than when I'm coming up, and when I'm walking on scree it really doesn't help matters. I envied the others, since everyone except my dad had walking sticks to help them go down without landing heavily on one leg and injuring their knees. My dad didn't really need one anyway. He may be quite old, yet he was still fit and his knee joints weren't as 'fragile' as the rest were making theirs out to be. He could practically run down the hill, and I wouldn't have put it past him to actually do that if I hadn't been there to make him slow down.

I felt the shaking in my legs again, yet this time it was worse. I could feel the vibrations going right up my body, making walking almost impossible. Yet I staggered on, determined not to give up when I was nearly back. It's nearly over, I kept reminding myself, the only thought that refrained me from sitting down on the damp grass and waiting for the anxious feeling to leave me (and preferably the heat too).

Yet my mind constantly wandered and the time passed relatively quickly (or at least that is how I remember it now). And beyond that point, there was nothing that worried me; it was over and done. I had completed that evil hill and returned.

We reached the car with the rain pelting down upon us from heights that we had visited. I took off the clingy clothing that had caused me so much bother all through the 'walk' (and that word really doesn't give the trip justice). I shoved the waterproof clothing into the boot of the car, glad to be back in my sweatshirt and jeans again. I settled back while my dad drove us back to the cottage where a fire roared and kept the place warm.

You would think that would be the end, and how I wish it were. There is one last thing that happened; it had to be the worst of all. While unpacking my disgustingly soaking wet objects from my bag, I discovered something that made me think about how terrible the walk must have been for me to forget about it.

It was wrapped in a purple foil that was now nearly falling off it. The normal colour had been reduced to a strange greyish white. The horrific sight was almost too much for me to bear. I immediately dived for the fireplace to let it dry out, only hoping that it wasn't completely ruined. I left it there, warming in the pleasant warmth of the fire, while I did similarly.

When I went back to it, it was the day to leave the place and packed it carefully in the side pocket of my rucksack so I wouldn't forget it while on the journey home. I didn't. When we stopped for our lunch, I ate it.

"Oh sweet chocolate! I'm so sorry for what I did to you! The only way I can think to repay you is to eat you!" I have to say it had a unique taste, but it didn't make me sick like I thought it might. In fact, it was quite tasty in a different kind of way...

***

True story, really! Including the chocolate bit! :) Its the first and last (I'm sure) true story you'll get outta me, since my life is usually pretty dull... unless you want a story about exploding light bulbs or butterfly cakes (although both of those had 'interesting' side-effects to say the least...) Mercury and sugar is a BAD mixture!!! ... Probably best not to ask... ;)

As usual, comments, criticism & compliments (if any) are always welcomed.