‘Desperate times, desperate measures, there are some bad people in this world.’ These two sentences kept him company all the way to a stone stile half way distant from the town to the crag. It was a nice place to sit and put the finishing touches to his story and record the ideas in case he forgot any small part of them in the future.

So far the day had been one of beauty and warmth once again, and as he sat thinking of summer days back home could not help wondering whether the temperature of the time of day and season was unusual. For both days spent in this new environment he had never needed his jumper. Apart from the evening and night it had been tied around his waist. Perhaps in going through the time-slip, and even though the dates matched, perhaps the spring season back in his own time and this spring occupied different parts of the year, say a two month shift or so. At any rate he was thankful for the warmer conditions and thought once again on how even in such a devastating turmoil he was lucky to have this help, or call it what you will. The other explanation of course could be his own temperature being elevated, but testing at his forehead dispensed with that argument, and besides he felt so well, under the circumstances.

“So, my name is Mac Hammerton, nothing new there,” he began. “I come from a seaside town called Whitby to the East and I am walking part of the Transpennine Trail. Last year I finished education at Southampton University and am taking some time out to travel the country for a while.”

In command of the fields in front of him was a dozen or so swifts, swooping to catch the afternoon abundance of midges and flies. Their acrobatic display won attention over the task in hand. Marvelling at their prowess and ease of flight he thought on how they fledged the nest and remained on the wing, some for two years, without touching land, they even slept in the air. A couple of them came his way, darting across the green divide likes stones skimmed across water. Just before the boundary wall they looped skyward before returning to the throng in the dale which the stile, stream and grassland occupied.

If the truth would have it he was actually enjoying himself. Making up a story and a new identity was like being a kid again playing at being grown up and pretending to be someone you are not. He set the handheld recording again. “I qualified in graphic design and have not found the work I want yet. My family are farmers, mainly milk, but are finding times hard with the supermarkets controlling prices and such.” Another swift flew past his head. “Two years, without touching land! Hope I’m not that long before I touch mine.” The last comment also went down on record.

The scenery around him could almost be back home, except for the lack of crops growing and the train just passing on the embankment half a mile away. It clattered along with a metallic rhythm but was soon out of earshot. “You wouldn’t hear that where I come from,” he explained to a bee, busy at work collecting nectar from the purple flower of a foxglove. “The trains where I come from are very quiet, as are most things actually.” The additional remark was spoken with a desperate whisper, a longing for a more peaceful way of life he was used to living, not this chaotic haphazard struggle now enveloping him.

What in the world would they be doing now, the family? No word from him for twenty four hours. “They’ll be desperate, Sal won’t have slept.” A rush of fright hit his mind paralysing both legs and arms. The lush green valley took on an aura of not involving him in it, of unbelonging and loneliness. Green seemed greener and blue was brighter in the sky, almost blinding. Even so the colours held some sort of magic about them, strangely hypnotic, trancelike. The display about him held his mind in a vice like grip, every shade vibrating too and fro, he even understood the crackling sound of the growing corn with its greeting for all to hear.

He had read about elders of the old, medicine men who had visions and visited places no one else could, or dare, perhaps this is how they felt. But they employed drugs to get them there, and only rabbit had passed his lips, and fresh water, so he was not about to visit the Gods of old unless they wanted him so badly they were forcing into his mind? Perhaps they were trying to come across and offer rescue?

Mac held tight to the stones he was sat on, his handheld fallen out of his grip into the grass. If he did not he would fall to the ground also. A crescendo of birdsong and that incessant humming sound played with his hearing, he held on more tightly. “Snap out of it.” The words forced a deep intake of breath, filling a body that was about to collapse, saving it from doing so by the very act itself. “Get a grip Mac, come on, otherwise you’ll never get back.”

Otherworldly turned to normal again and a racing pulse from a heart almost off its hanger slowed to something more tolerable. Gradually the minute hand slowed to proper and the scene in view returned to being just as it should. He rolled his head from shoulder to shoulder and front to back in order to abolish the experience and fetch back the day. The movement took effect and a body lost for a time was his once again. Letting go of the granite his white knuckles regained their colour and jumping down from the stile searched the long grass for the handheld.

It was there, but not on its own. Next to it was a tightly folded piece of paper. Mac picked them both up. Unfolding the item brought on a happy and contented moment and a forgetting of the panic minutes earlier. It was currency, twenty pounds to be precise, whatever that was. He knew it was on reading its lettering, but the amount could be worthless, why would someone loose it otherwise. At any rate fortune had favoured the brave, and what fortune, for him to have dropped his unit into the grass at that point. No one would ever have come across the lost item otherwise, not ever. It would more than likely have stayed hidden till it rotted away.

Was someone playing with him? The thought came to him again. Why would he drop his handheld and it land right next to a note of currency? Quickly, but feeling somewhat foolish, he looked around in all directions. No one who could engineer all what had happened so far would be in view anyhow, so what was the point of that endeavour he scolded himself. No, just be grateful for small mercies and get on with it. His Mothers voice came to mind again.

Turning to the task one more time he began to record again. “So I’ve found twenty pounds, going to go and see what it’s worth, hopefully it’ll buy me some food, and perhaps even a bed for the night. Welcome to the economy Mac, let’s see then if we can try and find some better place to stay, the huts ok but if the weather changes it won’t be as comfy I bet.”

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