His long white night shirt had a dark triangle of sweat moving down his back. Joe’s feet were bare and bloody, leaving a red trail for the slugs and the bugs to feast upon. He felt no pain only tiredness and emptiness. He moved on and reached a clearing. He screamed out her name.
‘CATHY, CATHY, where are you?’
But only the rooks and the crows replied. "She’s not here you old fool". Their hard beaks snapping at him from their high wooden thrones, laughing, cajoling, and cawing.
He spun around and around, but there was nothing else, only that avian sound. Confused, he moved deeper into the trees now, growing ever more desperate to hear her voice once more. He stopped again and sank to his knees.
In the long sterile nights back there, he’d often hear his wife speak to him.
“Joe love, now what would you like for yer’s tea? – got a lovely steak from Kelly’s.”
He sighed and pushed himself up again. Must go on, she can’t be far, just a few more yards and … but there was nothing, just more trees and leaves and grass and stinging things grabbing at his arse.
It was getting darker now so he turned around and shambled back somehow. Through the tentacled nettles and the wet grass and clinging leaves but they didn’t hurt him. They couldn’t hurt him. And now he was back there, facing the great white thing with its lights on and the people with their white coats on.
‘Thank God you’re back Joe, you naughty man, look at your feet,’ they said, ‘let’s be getting you back to your room. You’ve missed your medication you know. Come with us and we’ll make yer’s a nice cup of tea.’