"There's a fucking funfair blocking off the entire Tory-ridden centre of my hometown and I'd rather do laundry and file tax papers?" I shudder and pull on my jacket.
Poor kid. Just upset and drunk. Just wants to be left alone. Drunk and angry, head hung from hooded shoulders, dripping itchily down the witching-hour pavements through half-dismantled fair rides, and rigged fairground games, whose early closing extinguished my brilliant flaming plan to win myself a goldfish. I was going to call him Mephistophiles. Five policemen in hard helmets and high-visibility smocks loiter boredly and obstructively on the outskirts of the dissolving fair. Not looking where he's going, the kid knocks a cop's flank as he trudges past. Cop takes exception to this; lays hand heavily on kid's shoulder. Irritated and inebriated, he shakes the fluorescent arm off. Policeman grabs kid by arm and speaks to him. In no mood to stop, the kid shakes him off again. A second bobby steps in with strong speech and stern arms. Enraged and confused, the kid writhes and bounces to escape his undeserved and unexplained cage of luminous yellow limbs. Police shout at him and drag him aside. Drunk, depressed, and panicking, the kid flails, half-heartedly lashing out with inchoate gestures of distress against his nightmare-logic captors. Arm makes contact once. Just once. Seven-foot copper in hard pointed hat swings the kid's arm behind his back and drives him face-first into the asphalt. Hurt and lost, the kid kicks and gulps like a fish out of water. Cuffed behind his back.
Fat, disturbed fairground proprietor-type hauls himself up beside me. "Did he - did he actually do anything?"
"He was just drunk, I think."
Arrived Gloucester Green 20:00. Proceeded to Quaint Brasenose College, where Thaddeus and I were offered an unparalleled view of the downstage-right portion of Dream. Scotch was imbibed.
The Turf was descended upon by Thaddeus, the freshly faeried Kedazzle and Myself. Pimms and Diet Coke isn't all that bad, incidentally. Drunkening progressed. Various licensing laws were breeched. Shakespeare was shouted at the world at large, and Kedazzle and myself retired to a front-garden portion of Magdalen College to fall over and nearly finish the litre of Glen Rossie and be emotionally damaged at one another. Acts of gross indecentness very nearly ensued, forestalled only by Kedazzle's insistence that the Gods would steal her degree and banish her from Oxenford if ensue they did.
Clawing my way up the roughcast wall of Magdalen, I noticed a pair of pointy-topped figures in black, and another pair in reflective yellow, standing several yards apart beyond the low wall separating street from lawn, staring.
Walked home post-shift. For ten minutes I was convinced I would never get out of the hollow-way beside Hogsback Wood. I couldn't see my own hand in front of my face. All I could see was a mushroom cloud-grey and dying ember-purple patch of torn sky held together by erratic staples of deformed treetop directly above me.
Passing by my usual mountainous short-cut, I see an eight-foot-tall, utterly inanimate, hard, conically-topped figure staring straight through me from the shadows at the foot of the path. Petrified, I stand and stare back, my chest aswirl with secreted dread. A trick of the light. Pause for a moment; move on. Nothing to be frightened of. Two more steps and every hair on my body stands alert and shivering. A block of lead impedes my heart, and I turn back in haste, relief, and shame.
Emerging, finally, into the dubious comfort of Holtspur's desperate lights and vertiginous lanes, I feel a wet crunch underfoot. Snails. Add a good half hour onto my journey thenceforward due to compulsion to pick up and relocate every snail that has foolhardily snuck out onto the sidewalk in the damp of midnight. Futile, I know; The fools will only drip back onto the pavement again when I've gone. Found forty huddling a foot from one bush. Several have weak shells. The first such that I pick up crumbles between my fingers. I register a tiny, high-pitched squeal. My imagination must be running away with me. A few snails later, it happens again. Then again. I shudder. It happens again. Cringing in existential discomfort, I abandon this patch, and step forth - onto another snail. Swinging wildly at the foggish aura of terror that pervades the space around me, I stop for a moment to be blinded by the interrogatory headlights and faded, gaudy patterns of a passing squad car.
Blinking in its wake, I spot a freshly crushed snail spread across the lane.
Adapted onto The Rhexis, from my LiveJournal, at Withiel's request.