I run in the woods a lot. You might have noticed.
I run similar routes a fair bit, there are only so many tracks, and only so many combinations that don’t involve you running in circles for twenty minutes until a log flows past in the river, allowing you to jump on and ride it to the next level.
That last bit might have been a computer game I played, but it was dark, who knows?
Like something out of Mythago Wood, the trees and places in the wood take on their own life and personality. There’s the Secret Village, the Deers’ Penthouse, The Giant Leaf and the corner where the Unspeakable Flappers hang out.
That last one is a bit on the edge of the wood, and when you run through, in the dark, with a head-torch on, you often hear a terrible rustling and jostling of wing-ed things high up in the trees. As though you’re disturbing an eldrich horror out of time and it’s getting ready to plop awkwardly to earth and eat you up, starting from your middle and working out.
The first few times I heard it, I got a bit of a shock, second only in scariness to the time I convinced myself there was a ghost following me (cheers for a new personal best time), but over time they’ve failed to eat me all up and have become a reassuring navigation point on a run. Flapping-flap-flap (and noise of iron claws on bark) – that’ll mean I’m almost at the Duck Pond.
But last night, it turned out someone’s logged a load of the trees at the corner of the Unspeakable Flappers, and there was no flapping. There was no running either, as I had to pick my way around the felled trees and 6″ deep mud where the tractors had been through. I should have paid more attention a couple of weeks ago when the signs went up saying the path was closed, but as it was clearly still open then, I assumed it was nothing to worry about.
Don’t get me wrong – the trees may well have needed to be thinned out – I presume there’s some good tree-management going on there, but it’s a bit sad to see a route I’ve run for nearly three years disappear in one fell (no joke intended) swoop.
The deer seemed pretty spooked too – I only saw a couple, and they were out of any of the places I’d normally see them. I guess the Flappers will have relocated to another part of the woods too, which’ll be interesting when I re-discover them and get a bit of a shock.
In the mean time, never, ever mention the Unspeakable Flappers in the wood at night – they’ll hear, you know, and they can see perfectly well in the dark to find you, you lovely morsel…