Sunday, 17 July 2011
01:48:17 PM (GMT)
In the beginning, I was walking down a dirt road. Or maybe it was gravel.
Regardless, I was walking down this road when I saw the cow. Wait, that’s not
right. I wasn’t on a road, I was in a forest, and there was no cow. I walked and
walked. I realized I was dreaming. I walked even though I didn’t know where I was
going. I kept moving, hoping for a sign of life. Were there even any birds?
At last I found someone. A boy was chopping down a tree with an axe. “Where am
I?” I asked. He did not look up. “I’m trying to find a way out of this
forest,” I said, but he seemed not to notice. “At least tell me what are you
doing here?” I watched the tree crash to the forest floor. The boy turned and
walked past me as if I did not exist. In the space where he had been, a line of
fallen trees stretched into the forest as far as the eye could see. The boy resumed
chopping, and I continued walking.
Shortly thereafter, I spied a girl building a pile of twigs. “Would you tell me
where I am and how to get out of this forest?” I asked. No response. I was as
invisible to her as I was to the boy. “Surely you can spare a moment,” I
implored. She stood up straight to inspect her pile. Satisfied, she brushed past me
to begin a new heap of twigs. Behind her, waist-high piles of twigs stretched into
the forest as far as the eye could see. I walked on.
I soon came across a boy sitting in a tree, tearing off leaves and dropping them to
the earth below. “You won’t speak to me, will you?” I said. The boy plucked the
last leaf and jumped to the ground. The ground was littered with amputated leaves.
“You don’t see me, do you?” I said. The boy leapt into the next tree. Behind
him, a line of naked trees stretched into the forest as far as the eye could see. I
left him to his psychotic task. This forest was full of unhelpful children doing
meaningless things. I wanted to wake up. I felt angry. I felt trapped. I struck a
tree with my fists until blood ran from my knuckles. Finally, I sat on the ground,
silent and exhausted.
That was when I heard the bell. I rose and walked toward the sound. The bell led me
to a clearing in the forest, and there was the cow. She was black and white with a
bell around her neck. She gazed up. “Where am I?” I asked. She chewed her grass.
I laughed at myself. The cow tore another mouthful of grass and chewed. As I turned
to leave, she spoke, “There is no way out”.
“But there must be”, I protested. Cow chewed lazily. “You are the only creature
in this forest that sees me,” I said, “please help me.” After a moment, Cow
nodded, “Follow me if you like.” She began walking and I followed. The forest
grew darker and the vegetation thicker. She took long breaks to chew mouthfuls of
grass. Finally, she stopped before two large trees and stared into the darkness
beyond. “Beyond these trees”, Cow said, “is the way out. You cannot return.”
I did not plan to. I stepped forward.
All at once, the wind was knocked from my chest. I tried to shout but had no voice.
My body shattered like glass as I fell at the speed of light. I saw nothing, heard
nothing, and felt nothing save perfect emptiness… and a slight tug. Something
tugged the back of my shirt. Cow.
As I caught my breath, Cow turned and began to walk off. “Your choice” she said
over her shoulder. I watched her disappear into the forest. I stood before the two
trees as the sun behind me cast rays of light into the darkness beyond. I could make
out faint shapes in the distance. Children. My eyes adjusted to the dark and I could
see clearly. Swaying the in the wind from the branches of trees, the children were
A glint of light caught my eye. An axe lay on the ground not five yards away. I
picked it up and it felt good in my hands. I went to the nearest tree and swung until
it fell to the earth. Pleased with myself, I went to the next tree. This one fell
more easily. I paused for a moment to listen. Birds. Glad to have music, I resumed