The dwelling in front of him was not his home, it almost enjoyed the same position as his own property but was definitely not his. Built of brick whereas his was stone, in an estate with many more houses crammed into the same area, he finally had to come to terms with the reality that his had changed.

In the garden there were daffodils and red tulips in full bloom, so that cheered him a little. Also the lawn, though much smaller than his, had just been cut, possibly that morning because a fragrance of clippings was in the air.

The aroma transported him immediately to his childhood and a municipal park down by the river. Freshly mown grass always invoked images of those lazy summer days playing on the green and fishing for tea. Mac worried and wondered about where that world had gone and how he would ever see the riverbank again. The fact remained that it had gone for sure and he had no idea of what the future now held for him.

In reaching the street which should give his address Mac had passed through the town. It seemed to be set out almost, but not exactly the same as his home town, but it was not his place of birth. Finding his way through the streets a number of observations had caught his attention, some had displeased him immensely. Firstly, and most importantly, even more upsetting than large inappropriate storefronts replacing individual shops of character was the filth on the streets. Plastic bottles, drink cans and all manner of litter including odd rolled up waste paper products seemed to be discarded anywhere, worse still, where bins were provided for the purpose of its proper disposal. The whole town looked shabby, unloved, unkempt and unclean. He had never encountered a scene such as it wherever he had travelled and he had been far and wide, both local and abroad.

To add to this, as if that wasn’t enough, was the apparent lack of interaction between most of the residents out on the streets. Granted he knew nobody and few returned his greeting with vigour, and many not at all, but incredibly only a small number appeared to greet each other either.

Everyone seemed to be caught up in their own task, busying themselves with the job in hand, rushing from here to there with no interest in conversation or interaction. This upset him more than anything and he feared how we would get along in this enforced new world without conversation and discourse.

Even the public houses seemed more geared up to television and music, apparent from the noise coming from them. “Not going to have a conversation in there!” he had murmured on passing the wide open door of one on the high street. Such a shame because inside was the only place which had looked anything like inviting. Nevertheless he knew where to find it later if need be for it stood in the same place as he would have normally found the bread ovens.

Worse still, when he had heard anyone speak, it seemed on occasion to be vitriolic and in bad taste. Young people in particular, shouting and misbehaving, gathered on street corners and to be perfectly honest he had felt quite uncomfortable, in actual fact threatened by their behaviour, a feeling he had not encountered before. Sadly he came to an immediate impression that they were bored and unfulfilled, gladly this the absolute opposite to his own formative years. So it was a different existence he had come to, for whatever reason and by whatever means, that much was now for sure.

Looking at the semi detached in front of him now the awful truth was more obvious than ever it had been during his first hour or so in this altered dreamlike existence. He was somehow, somewhere in another dimension, ripped cruelly and crudely if the truth be known from his own idyllic world into one completely alien.

He stared at the daffodils and daydreamed a little, of his own garden. Also he brought to mind odd occasional reports of persons disappearing from time to time. The news had always puzzled the authority for want if an explanation. Most incidents had been put down to people just wanting anonymity or passing over quietly without fuss and now it appeared that he was one of those statistics. It was the only explanation making sense at the moment, but he felt unable to rationalise and digest all the facts at the present, his mind wandering from fear of the future to his ability to cope with any immediate difficulties which obviously would come.

He needed a strategy, and much quicker than he would like too, for striding down the driveway was an elderly lady in blue pinafore and slacks shaking her arms and shouting something at him. “What are you doing standing there? I’ll call the police if you don’t go!” In her hand she had some kind of telephone so it was obvious she meant every word she spoke.

Why anyone would behave so angrily towards him was a puzzle and he flinched awkwardly but thought very quickly. He remembered the odd occasions when teachers had scolded either him or his friends at school for pranking. This stand off felt like one of those incidents. “I’m lost my dear!” Well it was the truth he concluded. He did not lie as a rule so his explanation sat well with him. “I’m looking for a Mrs Hammerton, Hall Gate Lodge? This is where I understood I would find her.”

The lady seemed to warm to him slightly and dropped her initial hostility. She looked like she ought to know everyone, but she shook her head then spoke. “Doesn’t ring any bells, are you in the car? Is it your satnav sent you up here?”

The bells colloquialism brought a wry smile to his face once he had quickly digested it’s meaning. Had he come in a car? Good question he realised, and one he ought to have an answer to. He had seen a bus in the town centre, one of too many vehicles which in his opinion were on the roads, passing him as he walked about town. They all were powered by far noisier and dirtier engines than he knew, and the smell of exhaust fumes as they had driven by him had at times caught in the back of his throat. “Public transport,” he informed his inquisitor. Don’t offer any more information he told himself. He did not want to talk himself into a corner, he did change the subject though. “Lovely garden!”

“It is but it takes some keeping these days.” She added a further snippet of interest to his predicament too. “I can’t say I recognise the road name either, you’d be better nipping into town, the newsagent will know more than likely. There’s so many new houses built a lately that you can’t keep track. They build em anyway and everywhere.”

“It certainly seems that way doesn’t it.” So he wasn’t alone at least in his opinion of the haphazard construction of housing.

“You’ll find the newsagent by the church.” The grey haired womans statement was delivered as a finality to the conversation, that was obvious not only by her tone, but also by the fact she began to retrace her steps slowly backwards up her driveway.

Mac betrayed a slight hurt expression at her behaviour but quickly composed himself. It had not stopped her endeavour anyhow. “Thank you …. Very much. I’m sure I will find both the newsagents and Mrs Hammerton eventually. Sorry to have disturbed you.” He added the last snippet for he realised that his presence at her property truly had done just that.

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