Our small team eyed the manor house suspiciously.
“Where did that come from?” I asked, scratching my head till the scalp bled.
“Eeee I’ve got naa idea guv’nor!” cried Jules in an undecipherable accent.
“We have no choice,” chimed in the soon-to-be-dead Paul. “We’ll have to head into that valley and try to cross the river.”
At the mention of such a horrifying feat, James ran into the nearest wall. Paul grabbed him by the scruff of his neck.
“No time for dashing yourself against the rocks, my dear boy,” he growled. “There’ll be plenty of time for that when we’re neck-deep in rapids.”
“I know, I know,” insisted James. “It’s a compulsion of mine. I’m over it now.”
And so the four of us headed into the forest below, leaving the manor house behind. The going was tough, the flies even more furious at our intrusion than before. They must have sensed our weakness.
Harsh conditions and deady plants awaited our every step
Finally we could hear the roar of the mighty river. It loomed into view like a piddle from Neptune himself. How on Earth would we cross? After following it for some time, it became clear we would have to wade.
At this point there was a split within the group that none of us would ever recover from: to wear shoes, or to go bare-footed? Paul and I striped off our footwear, whilst the other two chose to dampen their soles. Both pairs eyed the other with suspicion. For the first time in the day there was discord. If the river didn’t kill us, would we kill each other?
The rapids were freezing and teaming with pebbles, but the four adventurers plodded on, determined not to be sucked under and destroyed.
And then suddenly, I tumbled forward. “I’m done for!” I screamed above the din of the rushing waters. But by sheer luck I stuck out a hand and steadied myself. For a moment I was worried about Piranha fish, a fearsome predator found in such rivers as this, except in the Amazon.
After much crying we finally made it to the other side. We had crossed the mighty river and were in familiar territory once more. Just a short two hour trek home through the forest and we’d be home.
Three of the four share a final drink together, each aware of their fate, but too damn brave to mention it.
Rain sodden and demoralised we finally stumbled into the cottage that evening. A full seven long hours since we set off. Like all good gents, we settled down to a hearty meal, stiff drink, and a game of battlestar galactica the board game.
The following morning, out of curiosity, we decided to follow the road outside the cottage, to see where it might lead.
A few minutes along we saw it. The manor house! Oh woe! We had wasted several hours and risked life and limb for naught! All four broke down and wept.
“This world is too unjust!” screamed Paul as he placed a whole jacket potato in his mouth and bit down. The following explosion took his head clean off. James, unable to cope with the horror, threw himself against the nearest fence.
It was a dark time.
Later that afternoon we returned home. The journey was uneventful.