Bobby Robson

I was having a very strange dream one Friday morning when all of a sudden I was awoken by an incredible and frightening sound.
The sound was definitely coming from behind me; it was definitely something getting in my bedroom door …
Then a new sound appeared which was certainly a female shrieking something Inside my bedroom.
My throat was closed up half way down, I quickly made the decision to spin round and face the person having been staring at my blue curtains, which were still dark.
I spun round, saw the fat hysterical woman in the half light and then proceeded to roll forward out of bed in a defensive manoeuvre, wrapped in my duvet. I had on my Garfield Pjs.
I was close to being petrified at this invasion and said something like

“What my … outside? Stop went dark!”

The woman looked at me and paused then looked away again and this time I heard some of the words she spoke. “… Disease … everyone … half city … brother … everyone … !”

‘So the disease has gotten to us then has it?’ I thought as I tried to remember the details of how I had ended up in the cellar of a building sitting on a large wooden box with a group of crying Mums.
I could not see my invading woman. The room was big and dark.
‘Half the city infected and cordoned off with army tanks and troops? I hope I can still go to my athletics club reunion this afternoon.’ I thought to myself whilst losing a game of chess to a sobbing Chinese woman some time later.
As soon as she had beaten me I got off the box and noticing a football rolling towards me in an inviting way, scored a fantastic goal in the makeshift net that had been set up by some previously unseen kids.
‘That ball was too light, those kids were transparent.’ I thought as I locked them all in down there from the outside.


Everyone turned up for the reunion except Sam and Paul who were dead, Rachel who had not been invited and Nick, Nicola and other Paul who were cordoned off on the other side of the city. I had gone straight there in my ‘Super Silent 350’ micro light helicopter, which I kept behind my flats. I had not spoken to anyone yet, or heard anyone speak.
We were all standing at the deep end of the swimming pool in our trunks and costumes. All of the girls were untoned and overweight, most were obese. There was a disgusted silence, which radiated from every male but one. It had begun instantly and remained until Louise did a very loud fart that stank.
After the smell had subsided I looked around at everyone again. I felt bad.
All the boys looked disgusted apart from Neil who was looking at me in a way and was standing in a way which suggested that he might have an erection, then he looked back across at Kirsty’s massive breasts.
All but one of the girls looked physically disgusting and in a stupor. Their desire to act upon their lust radiated from them making their disgusting appearance seem right. They were all pouting their lips and checking their fingernails – apart from Kate who (without make up) stood alone outside the gathering near a metal pole.
She looked defensively angry, upset and trapped, however she was physically undesirable in her unfitness also. However she did not radiate the desire to open her thighs and I found it different to observe her, as she stood alone. I almost went and stood with her but doubt over my opinion stopped me.
Some of the ‘feminine’ ones had petit leather handbags with them, others had orange faces and others had little tattoos.
I looked across at what I thought Kirsty was looking at; it was the ‘No petting’ bit on a ‘Not allowed’ poster.
I was about to say something offensive to her concerning her big belly when I noticed Rob pick up a fork out of a small drain hole and start licking it. This put me off balance for a second but I quickly regained my focus on Kirsty’s trolley.
I was about to say something offensive to her when above the sound of buses and cars in a traffic jam outside the big nearby window, a voice came over the loud speaker system.

“All reunion guests attention, we have an infected person in the medical room. The first two persons to swim to the other end of the pool will get to come and see the attempts at cur ration. The winners should pick up germ masks from the reception. Thank-you.”

I was already in the water and swimming as fat as I could towards the shallow end before the word “will” was transmitted. I was doing front crawl.
I used to be the best swimmer anyway and had no problems beating everyone else even though Rob was not that far back.
Getting out the water in a dramatic way, without making eye contact with Rob when he looked across at me from the left, I looked back towards the deep end of the pool.
Obscured slightly by a designer glass screen, I could see the backs of Paul and Mat and someone else’s ankle heading into the locker area. To their right almost all of the girls were where they had been a minute ago although now two of them were putting on some lippy, one of them was texting someone on a little pink phone and Kirtsy had put a silk bra on in place of her bikini top. Neil was still stood there as well but he was closer to Kirsty than he had been, he was grinning and looking down at the water.
Then I noticed that no one else was in the pool apart from Kate (who was half way down the pool doing breaststroke with the same expression as before) and only Rob was stood next to me. I looked at him without smiling and he said

“Some kids are laughing at us in that bus outside.”

“What are they laughing at?”


I unfolded my arms and headed for the door marked ‘Medical room, This way.”

The door to the medical room had a round window that was big enough for me, but not Rob, to look through I noticed as I approached it.
Rob was not far behind. When I was about to look through the window he tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a rolled up white towel when I turned slightly in his direction. His towel was across his shoulders like a short cape and he had something else, which was white, in his right hand. I said

“Nice one.” as I turned back to face the door. I did not bother looking directly at what was in Rob’s hand as I did this however, it was probably something he had picked up out the drain, the weirdo.

With my rolled up towel under my arm I leaned forward and peered through the glass.
I could see a figure on a fold up medical bed, it’s face was covered with a cloth. The rest of it was mostly blocked by the backs of two doctors and their wide white coats. One of these men was holding the infected person by the shoulders while the other one seemed to be frantically rubbing it’s thighs and groin with something. The doctor then screamed to his right

“We need more sandpaper!”

I noticed that there were green leaves on the floor all around the feet of the doctors and the wheels of the bed.
The victim was now moving its head from side to side in a desperate manner. I decided it was time to go in and get a better look.
I shoved open the door, which was not locked, and took a step inside, stopping abruptly with the edge of the door to hold it open for Rob in an impatient, instinctive gesture.
Just as I did this and at the same instant that the different smelling, colder air of the medical room hit my face, Rob shouted from behind

“No wait you need your mask!” In a muffled concerned voice.

It was too late. I stopped my breathing half way through breathing out, then turned round and sprinted back down the corridor, leaving the door swinging on its hinges and Rob standing there with wide eyes and a germ mask on his face.
I threw my rolled up towel away into the air in front of me with an aggressive over arm throw as I ran. The towel unravelled in mid air and sailed down to the left. From inside it, my germ mask, which was much lighter, stayed in mid air and seemed to fly into my face making me grope at it in shock. I flung it down and carried on sprinting.

I did not stop sprinting until I burst into the room that housed all the numbered lockers, knocking over a plastic table full of plastic cups of orange juice as I did so.

“What a crazy place t…” I said to myself but was interrupted by the loud speaker again.

“Attention. Infected person alert, the winner of the race is infected, alert, do not approach, inform police if you sight him.”
I knew this was bad news for me in the short term and probably the long term as well.
I felt as if I wanted to go and be friends with my old athletics club mates now. I hope they ignore my infection, I thought.
I could hear male voices behind some of the tall lockers, their tone was worried and excited. I crept along the grey yellow tiles with my back against a row of the tall green lockers, trying to get close to the voices to see what they were saying. The conversation was probably about me. The realisation that this was almost certainly correct made me cough hysterically. At this the talking stopped, Mat’s head appeared round the end of a locker not far away then disappeared with a quick movement, probably before he saw the pathetic smile appear on my entire face.
Then hurried voices could be heard, plastic bags could be heard and finally a heavy door slamming could be heard. I heard all this and I did so without moving.

I had taken my back off the lockers by leaning forward slightly. My top lip was extended downwards and was tensed up, my arms were loose.
Anger now revealed itself out of the shock and sadness. I felt my heart or something inside me fill with a wave of some sort of something. I looked around in every direction not expecting to see anything and then knew I had to escape. This meant that the next thing I felt was intense fear, excitement and shameful littleness.

The first door I kicked open in my search for the exit was the girls changing room. This was unintentional.
The room was finely decorated and smelled of chemical flowers.
The surprise of this mistake made me look around in amazement. Unfortunately, the sight was not desirable.
In a few seconds I saw: leather knee length boots being pulled onto blotched blubbery legs towards pink panties. Someone in a mirror on the toilet with their rolls of fat covering their naked midriff and their wet, greasy, hair sprayed hair partially covering their slack, purple, veiny nipples as they put their head in their hands. The face of this creature, who I recognised as Jane, look pained and grey.
I saw used sanitary towels littering the ground and slimy black stubble in the bottom of a shower.
All the girls seemed to be there, some naked and horrific, others dressed and slaggish. I made eye contact with Kate as my presence was noticed and then heard the inevitable screaming, screeching and also obscene swearing coming from everyone except her. Eye contact was lost as I retreated, feeling amusement … and fear.

I was still lost in the locker room, having kicked open doors to various cleaning rooms, (one of which contained Kirsty and Neil ramming themselves endlessly into each other with brutal force, Kirsty’s fat rippling and moving in time to her deep grunts and snorts, both faces in tight, pained concentration.) rooms with big generators in and a basketball court with chained up fire exit, when I turned a corner and saw Kate ahead of me.
She was running round and round in a figure of eight. She had only her jeans and bra on and was sobbing. In her hands was a drawing pad which she was drawing on whilst sobbing and running, her head down and her face covered with shiny damp hair.
Every time she was at a certain point in her repeating journey I could see that the image on the paper was a face. I was moving closer and when I got close enough I grabbed her by her jelly arms.
The pad fell along with the pencil. The pad landed the right way up in order for me to look away from Kate’s bulbous and desperate face and see the identity of the image. It was, unsurprisingly to me, me.

“What’s going on?! What’s going on?! What’s going on?!” Kate cried.

My expression changed from dominant aggression to compassion. My grip relaxed on her untoned biceps and triceps. For a second I saw her eyes and the rest of her face as nice.
It was a nice face, I had to look away to the left.
My arms fell to my sides as she wailed and then stumbled away to my right. I felt a great loss, but the need to pursue her was not overwhelming.

Eventually, after walking along green painted corridors fro some time I came across a door which was wooden instead of metal. I gripped the handle as if on the other side was something I might not want to see. But of course the door swung open and as it did I was blinded by an intense blue light. Through the door, into the light I could just about make out the silhouette of a horse. However, as I approached it (shielding my eyes from the light which came from the front and to the side … and behind me as well I discovered as I turned round to see the non existent door) the horse said


I had had horse riding lessons when I was about seven but had never ridden a cow so I got on the back of it shrugging my shoulders thinking that it was probably pretty much the same thing, the cow did not seem to mind. I reached out and took hold of her horns and as my grip tightened the animal moved forward out of the light.
I thought to myself of this episode, it seemed familiar, depressing.


Several hills had been overcome and the city was far behind by the time we came to a particularly steep hill going downwards.
The hill had thick rhododendron bushes growing on it as far as I could see left and right. In front of me, slightly to the right, was a gap in the plants which was not very wide but wide enough for me and the cow to descend, however the ground of this “path” was wet and muddy and the cow refused to approach it from our stationary position on level ground at the top of the hill.
I got off the cow and as I did so she looked at me, snorted in a friendly way and started eating some grass which looked fresh and nice.
I took a few steps towards the muddy path and as my viewpoint changed I noticed that at the bottom of this decline was a small, round, muddy clearing. It looked as if the ground had been repeatedly trampled. The clearing was surrounded by the hill, which swung around it. But the main feature of the bottom of the hill was a massive, still, lake.
I moved to the right of the top of the path to get a better view and holding onto a bendy branch noticed that the lake was massive, more massive than I could even make out, in fact. The angular shores of it extended away from the clearing (where they met at a point) into mist and sky along the foot of the hill. The water looked clear and was very still as if no wind at all disturbed it.
The cow was still eating the grass which seemed longer than before as I moved to the left hand side of the top of the downward path.
On this side there were exposed roots which led invitingly down towards the corner of the lake and ended in a sort of nest on the edge of both the muddy, trampled clearing and the lake.
And so I used these roots as a ladder to get near the lake, which I felt drawn to.
The path looked very treacherous in its steepness and slipperiness and I was grateful of the roots; without them I would surely have slid down into the round clearing.
I eventually found a nice root to sit on inside the nest of roots. The lake was at my left and I had my hand under its clean surface.
I took my hand out and looked at it, relaxing. But, causing me to re focus my eyes in shock I noticed that my hand was covered in little water fleas who now began biting my skin and drinking my blood.
I was sickened that this was happening and used my right hand to angrily rake the bloodsuckers back into the lake, which appeared innocent and lovely.

I was moving across to the other side of the nest and was trying to work out what the clearing was when I noticed that seated to my right was another person.
The person was between the ladder and me. He was wearing a thick grey suit, was facing away from me and had grey hair on his white skinned head.
I approached him, moving well over the uneven floor and sat down on the same root that he was sat on. I said

“Excuse me.” in a way that was meant to sound polite but might sound sarcastic.

The man turned his face towards me and I was taken aback by the realisation that I was sat with the ex England football manager and current Newcastle United manager, Bobby Robson. What took me a back even more was his expression, which suggested to me that my presence was greatly unwanted.
He looked at me like that for as long as I looked back at him. His mouth was half open and his eyes were unforgiving.
When I looked down at the piece of paper in his hand this triggered him to whistle loudly twice in a row.
I could not make out what was on the piece of paper but I quickly stopped trying to when out of the thick mud and onto the surface of the clearing, dug three giant crabs.
I jerked my head round and almost fell backwards. But managed to compose myself as I guessed the whistles were a summoning whistle and that Bobby Robson was somehow the crab’s master.

“I taught them this dance, it is a dance aimed at people like you, that I don’t like I might add. You can join them down there if you wish, they have sharp claws Sunshine.” said Bobby Robson who then whistled a few more times.
The three giant crabs began dancing, the dance was circular and repetitive. Throughout the dance the crab’s eyes were fixed on me, their sharp claws clicked together, worryingly powerful.
Another whistle and the crabs burrowed back into the ground leaving only their black eyes above the ground, still permanently focussed on me, who by now was regretting many actions from the past.
The only thing I could think to do as I kept my focus on the muddy ground was mumble

“What is that you’ve got there? That bit of paper I mean.”

“I am picking the starting line up for Saturdays game Sunshine. Who do you think I should play in full back position?” This was said with contempt and after a long pause in which I turned my head and saw something very interesting and uplifting taking place behind him.

“Bobby Robson.” I replied as I jumped up and scrambled behind him and up the ladder as fast as my half fit body could manage.
Behind me piercing whistles attacked my ears and scared me with their loudness but most of all what they no doubt meant.
I reached the top of the ladder and was greeted by a hurried moo from the cow. The cow was standing next to a large, upturned barrel of petrol which I had seen empty itself onto the ladder when the cow deliberately aimed and knocked it over.
The cow was snorting and I saw that she now had a box of matches in her mouth which she had just coughed up, but of course she only had hooves so it was up to me to grab the matches out of her mouth and throw a lit one onto the ladder.
The crabs were blown backwards from nearing the top of their awkward yet frenzied climb and they screeched as their cracked shells and flailing, burning legs flew backwards.
All three of them smashed down one on top of the other on top of Bobby Robson and he was instantly crippled but remained semi conscious. The crabs all died in the fall but lay on top of Bobby Robson, one on top of each other.
Bobby and I watched the lake as a giant queen water flea chose that moment to creep out of the lake with hooked climbing limbs. Her body was black and wet and was the size of a beach ball. She proceeded to climb onto the crabs and starting with the top crab, reduce the three crabs to hard shell, legs and claws. Next I watched as a desperate Bobby Robson continued to try to wiggle his demolished body clear of the flea which without hesitation moved from the last crab down onto the nest of black roots and bit into Bobby Robson’s upper back.
Bobby Robson was now moaning as his body was sucked dry. I watched all this in fascinated terror from the back of the cow at out high angle.
Soon though I decided that this place was fat too hazardous as the flea can probably jump. So we watched the giant flea reduce Bobby Robson to bone then watched as her bloated body was carried back into the lake by her thousands of tiny workers. Then we left the scene behind us just as the sky turned to darkness as black clouds quickly filled the sky.


It was about three months later when I reached the top of a high hill. There was an enclosed bowl shaped crater on the other side of the hill. In the crater there was green and light everywhere. Where I was, on the outside it was all grey and brown, apart from back in the distance where it was green again, hours or days away.
I had left the cow at the top of a path which led to a train station in a small town about seven weeks ago. This, strangely, had been the first town I had seen since leaving my town through the light on the cow.
The crater looked like a brown hill from anywhere but above where I was standing. A river ran down from the grey and white mountains on the other side. The mountains stretched left and right as far as I could see. On the bottom of the crater, in the middle, was the only building in the crater, it was a metal barn with a curved roof.
I looked at the distance between the building and me. Around the building there were fields and a few trees. There was a small lake (which looked separate to the river) then a circular ring of trees half a mile thick which went round the top of the shallow crater and enclosed the barn, fields, river, lake and the few individual trees. Also I noticed a man raking some hay. I could not see anyone else.
I put my telescope away and then covered my micro light helicopter. I walked along the top of the crater for ten minutes until I arrived at a place where the trees were thinner for a while heading into the crater. I began walking into the crater down the shallow slope.

When I was not very far in, a person ran out of the trees in front without noticing me.
She carried on running. She was wearing a jogging outfit and was wearing Adidas running trainers. Now she noticed me as she looked towards the top of the crater. She was healthy looking and in her hands were plastic coated dumbbells, she was clearly fit and having good fun jogging!
As she came closer and the Sun reflected off her golden hair and her smiling face, I saw that this woman was in fact Kate from my athletics club. She kept running straight past me without making eye contact for more than three seconds in which she appeared very happy and unsurprised. I smiled back at her and felt happy too. As she past me she did not look back but started singing

“… Everything loves everything else …” repeatedly. The song demanded full attention, it was sung in a good singing voice, which did not annoy me. Then I watched her as she disappeared over the top of the valley, her ponytail bouncing around and shining, tied up with a pink ribbon.

I was glad (as I stood filled with a great feeling for Kate) that I had heard one of the crying Mums, who were surely out of my cellar by now, say that girls could only catch the disease from an infected person if the disease had been in their system for less than an hour and even then it had to be through definite skin contact. This meant that I had not infected Kate (boys can catch the disease from breathing in its spores which appear from an infected person after ten minutes of infection, these spores are only a danger for a minute once airborne. Boys can be infected through touch as well.) I knew it had infected three quarters of the planet, this had happened over the space of ten hours in which hundreds of modified fertiliser planes had been seen flying into the distance in large groups. I had seen this on the news then gone to the shop and then locked myself in my flat. I did not watch the news after that, all I did was play computer games, I remember feeling half angry, half delighted as I did so. Then I had gone to bed looking forward to going out of my flat the next day to go to my athletics club re union. Then in the morning I had been woken by the woman who broke into my room.
I felt depressed after thinking through all this so I raised my head and sat down on a mound of green grass. I looked across at the shining river and wondered when my infection would end its incubation period. I was not petrified of the disease, I never had been really (despite my panicked sprint from the medical room) … but I am sure that I would have chosen not to be infected if I had the choice … I gladly remembered again how happy Kate had looked just now.
I got up as I remembered Kate and as I started jogging I remembered Neil. I had almost certainly infected him … I wondered where Kate was going and if she would be alright.
I entered the place in the trees where Kate had appeared from. Straight away I could see a track in the dirt which went from left to right. There was a small wooden sign next to it which had written on it in blood “Kate’s running track which goes all the way round this crater! Feel free to use it.” I decided not to anyway and instead stepped over it. Then I started jogging down the slope through the trees.

I ran out of the trees and straight onto a path made of sand coloured stones. The Sun was brilliantly warm and I noticed how great I felt. My heart was racing in my chest and I felt as if I had stirred up positive feeling in my entire body.
For a second I felt as if I realised everything loves everything else, and so I agreed with what Kate had sung. It seemed obvious and exciting, it seemed to repel doubt.
I started walking very slowly along the path which was lined with tall, light green grasses on my left. I was determined to remind myself of Kate’s song in future and of that moment I had just experienced. I hoped Kate would sing her song to others on her journey.
As I walked however, this led to some questions … I lost hope again and so, with an impatient expression, I started jogging again. I wondered about death – this made me stop jogging within one step.

I carried on walking along the path, hoping Kate was correct. I now felt myself to be beginning to settle on the belief that she was correct, but all the time I could not see the full picture or fully accept the idea. I felt doomed and nearly started crying when I imagined Kate to be horribly wrong by way of a few Hellish visions.

Soon I came to an old wooden fence at which point the path curved away from the trees on the right and into the centre of the valley. The fence had only one post and the path now went around it. I leaned on the fence on the side of which I approached and threw down the piece of grass I had been chewing. I watched this stalk of grass land on a mole who sniffed it then dug a hole and disappeared underground. I wondered how many snails I had trodden on in the last few days and weeks. I guessed that … but thankfully I managed to look up at the unthreatening sky and so avoid answering that question. The clouds were white and at different heights, some moved left while others were spinning.
I was brought back to the fence and the path when my eyes detected movement not far away. The colour of the movement was green and brown and was dominated by a human face that I noticed quickly. The man approached, he did not have his hay rake with him, only a pair of worn out brown gloves in his right hand.

“You are on the right path. I am Nigel, come alongside me to the barn and you will commence upon receiver food.” the voice sounded flat and deep but not impatient. His eyes showed no sign of fear or distrust, his mouth was patiently smiling slightly, he had a greying beard and long hair.

“Ok.” I said rounding the fence “What is your situation here, what is this place?”

“You mean you were not sent by a Messenger of The Kingdom in your dreams?” said Nigel with a suggestion of surprise as we moved away from the fence.


“Oh. Well then rather I am dutied to welcome you to the ‘Crater of The Kingdom …”

It became clear from Nigel’s disjointed phrases and gestures that he had been sent to this crater thirty years ago when he was twenty eight. He had been sent by the king of this kingdom who possibly still lived, I was told, in the ‘Black City’ the king had ordered that the crater be kept as free from war and people as possible so that if the king should need refuge then this secret crater would provide it. The barn was to be refitted by runners (who would afterwards commit suicide in honour of the king) in the event of the king seeking his refuge. Nigel told me that the war had often been visible through the mountains as flashes of light but not for many years had anything been seen or heard. I asked him questions and he answered them all. He had not seen Kate, he was awaiting his replacement upon reaching the age, I was the first person he had seen for one and a half decades, the war had not come close to the place but if it had he was to send himself into a trance which would fully repel invaders, and no, he did not know of England or the Atlantic Ocean.
Shortly we arrived on the worn out ground in front of the open ended barn. There was a large black table at an angle to the barn which was underneath a tent of sewn together leather on wooden poles. Nigel threw his gloves onto the table, one of them fell off but he did not pick it up.
The fallen glove lay alone on the ground in the shadow of a table leg. The table was sturdy as I gripped it. On the table was a mess of worn out and dirty possessions. There were mallets and peeled carrots on one side, carved wooden animals and a bow and arrow on the other. In between were many items which all surrounded the central feature of the table which was a pile of clothes.
I picked up his glove placing it near the other one and turned to see the back of Nigel putting wood on a fire which was nearly out. He was sitting on a bench, there was another bench. I looked up at the place near the edge of the valley/crater where I had seen Kate and noticed that the sky was changing colour. The empty bench was just about reflecting the orange flames of the fire, I went and sat on the bench.

I watched Nigel silently getting some food ready to put over the fire. I did not mind that I might have to talk to Nigel. I remembered about the disease again for the first time since before meeting Nigel. I decided not to say anything about it because it would already be too late anyway. Nigel turned, leaned forward and glanced at me but I noticed that he was wearing sunglasses now and his mouth was closed and straight, I breathed in and said

“I thought you had to keep this place free from people.”

“I am near the ultimate time here. The replacement’s destiny is to replace me. Nothing can stop this event. You are no danger, however the replacement may not agree. If I begin to now disagree I can start my trance sequence and then you would certainly leave the Crater.” The flames and the rising full moon were reflecting in the big dark lenses of his sunglasses as he stared at me motionless. I looked away and tried to swallow but my mouth was dry. I noticed that leaning against the inside of the barn was a yellow diamond shaped kite and next to that was a quad bike. I thought that leaving the crater might be a good idea but I remembered the motorbike armies that had been chasing me for the last two weeks and would probably be racing across the desert by now. On the other side were the huge mountains of ‘The Kingdom’. The crater was probably safest then (I was curious anyway) but if Nigel had fuel for my helicopter I might as well get away now.

“Have you got any petrol here?”

“No, do you desire ration this meat? You can stay the night, we sleep in the back of the barn in some hay. It will probably be my last night, the replacement must arrive tomorrow, then I go on alone and without memory of my work as leaving the crater erases the memory of the events in the crater, and the replacement receives my power.”
I did not say anything to this but carefully took some cold cooked meat off a wooden plate and slowly ate it whilst watching the sky turn dark with as relaxed a face as I could manage. Then there was more meat (hot) and the mood between us quickly improved. Later Nigel showed me ”How a violin is meant to be performed.”

The hay was quite new and there was a lot of it in the back of the barn. Nigel had gone into the far corner where there was a nest in the hay. I went some distance away and because I was tired and full of food which had taken until the moon was high in the sky to eat, I lay down straight away without feeling very bad at all. Although instantly I thought about Kate again and the fact that she might not remember her song and how happy she had appeared to be. What had happened to her between the re union and today? The hay was sharp and I could hear lots of creatures inside the barn and outside it, but soon I woke up in the morning.

Stepping out of the shadow of the barn into the Sun I could not see Nigel anywhere but knew he must be up because his nest was empty. I felt like I needed a wash so I headed for the river looking in every direction for Nigel on the way, but not shouting anything. There was a worn trail leading to the river that Nigel must have created and I followed this.
Nigel was not there at the river, at least not on the small sandy beach where the trail ended. I looked up and down the river and saw floating birds of some kind who saw me and did not seem bothered that I was there. I watched them swimming around and diving down. There were three of them on my side of the river and one smaller one on it’s own on the other side. The one on it’s own was trying to swim across to the other three but the middle of the river was too fast flowing for it to get there. The small bird started making a loud noise, which was not desperate, but certainly frustrated, however the other three larger birds immediately stopped their play fighting and swam across to their friend. All three then floated around each other a few times making relaxed noises. They looked happy as they started climbing around on some rocks near the other bank. There was only really room for two of them on the rocks and I watched and listened as they played around.
I took my trainers off and edged into the clean, ice cold water. I could feel the mid morning Sun on my face and for a second I froze and let it happen. But just then an enormous fish jumped out of the river with it’s fangs aimed at the duck type birds who were in deeper water again. The birds took off and flew towards the trees screeching as loudly as they could. The shiny black fish landed with a splash but it must have spotted me on the bank because it immediately stuck it’s head out of the water and spat water in my face with great force from at least ten metres away! The fish was big enough for me to decide only to wash myself in the shallow water near the edge of the blue river. I did so and all the while the big fish watched me with an angry expression, it’s eyes just above the water, but it did not move.
I dried myself with my tee shirt, which I had taken off, and turned round to head back.
After taking the first few steps, something hard but light hit my back and bounced off. I spun round ready for a fight and saw a fly-away football which had ‘SUPER TELE’ printed on it rolling towards the river leaving a trail of wet sand behind it. I noticed movement from the river, it was the big fish, he was three quarters out of the water near vertical, his tail was moving fast to keep him in position. He did not look angry anymore, he was looking at me – hopefully? I threw down my wet tee shirt, took a couple of well placed steps and booted the ball back towards the fish with satisfaction. Except the fish had seemed to have disappeared by the time the ball flew over his spot, but before I could get too disappointed a jet of water flew out the river, hit the ball and sent it flying at least a hundred metres into the air and into the bushes on the other bank. I laughed and as I was walking away again heard over my shoulder a very happy sounding

“WAAAAAA!” and then a big splash (it was the fish).

The walk back towards the barn was very relaxing, the weather was hot and still, faint noises echoed around me and the air seemed to want to pick me up. I moved very slowly running my hands through the grasses next to me. I wished I was the ‘replacement’.

I was almost sleep walking by the time I turned the corner in the tall spiky bushes which pointed me towards the barn. Nigel was stood near the smoking fire with someone else who must be the replacement. This figure was a man, he was thin and was wearing a dirty, sleeveless leather jacket. I walked closer and Nigel saw me and waved unexcitedly, the other turned around, it was Rob from my athletics club.

“Where were you just recently? Asked Nigel seeming really down now. I said

“At the beach at the end of this path, I saw a massive shark or seal type fish.” as I finished saying this, Rob and I made eye contact, he looked tired and tense but nodded at me in a friendly way which I repeated back to him. Then I looked at Nigel again who had apparently not noticed this exchange as he was looking straight up at the sky, and I said

“Are there other dangerous animals in the crater?”

“Those fish merely want to play, they eat only salt which they gather from the dried up mud banks further upstream, other animals? There are many.” He was looking at Rob now as if it were mildly important he hear this. After twenty seconds of dumb silence Rob said to us both, his tone and face apparently serious

“I have told Nigel of my dreams, he has told me of the Kingdom being dominant. It seems I must guard this place alone, however before you go …” now his backpack came off his shoulder and he began unzipping it. I noticed his left arm which was skinny but toned had on it a red mark and around this mark were five smaller red marks. I recognised these as the mark of a vaccination or healing injection stamp. I knew then of Rob’s safety from the disease. Now the crater and Nigel’s power were his for the next few decades.
I could not decide on how all this made me feel as I watched Rob finally reveal from his bag a top quality orange leather football. He smiled at me as he used to and I smiled back how I used to, he threw the ball at my chest, I controlled it and passed it along the nearly flat ground to Nigel (who just about noticed it from being looking straight up again) he controlled it with his left foot, smiled and said

“My life is not ended.” We all stood and felt engulfed with confusion yet acceptance.

The Sun was shining as Rob and I followed a noticeably (but not much) more happy Nigel around a giant compost heap onto a flat area of grass which was the size of a football penalty box. The grass had been cut in stripes and the overall effect was as good as a Wimbledon tennis court.
Nigel, who was walking ahead went and stood in one corner and Rob and I, who were both smiling cautiously at a joke Rob had just told about Kate (who he had apparently not seen), went and stood at angles to Nigel forming a big triangle. Just before we split Rob took me by surprise by whispering
“My mission from the king is actually to get Nigel out of the crater the only way he will accept, then leave it myself. The war is over.” I blinked. Rob dropped the ball and we began passing it to each other along the ground.
We continued this passing game in silence for so long that there formed on the ground a triangle worn into the grass caused by the ball. We carried on. I was considering my next actions as the others probably were, but the situation was unusual and so each time the ball arrived back at one of us the best option seemed to be to just control the ball and enjoyably pass it on. Then a couple of seconds later the ball would arrive again.
Eventually, Rob, who did not look impatient as Nigel did not, chipped the ball up to me. I was not feeling impatient either but for some reason I caught the ball in my hands thus bringing the game to a break, or an end. Rob stood there and as his expression changed I looked across at Nigel who looked stunned for the first time making him appear different. I looked down at the ball in my arms, but my arms were not arms anymore, they were branches with twigs and leaves on. I looked down at my feet and body but they were a tree trunk and roots. I thought “Oh No!” as my neck solidified.
The last thing I saw before my head expanded and turned to wood was Rob and Nigel each hurriedly ploughing over the lines in the grass between themselves and myself with small ploughs. And in the air as my face became fixed, I saw Kate in my helicopter (which had ghetto blasters strapped to the sides) smiling and waving as she commenced her song through a microphone. Then lastly my eyes were bark and wood.
For the next five hundred and twenty years I stood on that spot on the lawn in the Crater of the Kingdom and felt only the Sun on my leaves, the mountain water on my roots and that everything loves everything else.



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