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Walburton Park

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Curtis held on to an unfulfilled joy for exploring.

The prospect of discovering new places always enthralled him, and often, whether he was just lazing around at home, slacking off during a lecture, or just hanging out on a sober night with his friends, he would often daydream of travelling the world to diverge himself in the vast cultures of many countries.

Unfortunately, he was unemployed and was still living in his home town after 21 years. Also, he came from a lower-middle class family who couldn’t afford many luxuries, especially in this lousy economy, and after all the CVs he had sent out, and all the interviews he had stressed himself through, he just couldn’t seem to get a full or part-time job, no matter what. He didn’t have the resources to travel to places abroad. He couldn’t even drive, so his options were limited even in his own local area.

His impatience and unrest to break free from the small town to explore the world was rapidly beginning to catch up with him, so he did his best to satisfy this need by walking the dog everyday. He would go to pathways and nature walks he had never walked before, explore forests and lakes that were well out beyond civilizations’ way, and climb up steep hills in the countryside and gaze around at square miles of fields, forests, and hills. If he was walking the dog through his local neighbourhood, he would even go into housing estates he had never been to before, just for a change of scenery; to see what the houses there looked like. He even had a peculiar habit of estimating the demographics of estates he visited, based on the type of houses they lived in and the cars they drove.

Today, he decided he would walk the dog by the nearby pond. Recently, he had been frequently going to a forest a few miles out, and he hadn’t walked the dog by that lake for around a fortnight now. The surroundings of the forest were starting to become all too familiar to him now, and seeing as Spring had just arrived, the scenery would not be changing anytime soon. The thirst for a change of scenery was really beginning to tickle his throat.

So he grabbed the leash, strapped it on to Sylvester (who heard the sounds of the leash being removed from the drawer, and in his usual response, ran eccentrically into the kitchen), and headed out to the nearby pond on an unusually scorching April afternoon. He walked by the row of identical houses that he lived on, imagining taking breathtaking pictures of giant castles in Germany. After that, he walked through tufts of grass and straws of chickweed at the rusty, abandoned railway road, dreaming of drinking bourbon in a red barn with people he just met in one of the rural states of The USA. Finally, before he crossed the road to the park where the pond was, he envisioned touring through the Southern French countryside, embracing the sweet smells of France’s wine country; he envisioned relaxing to the sound of oars splashing the water, while slowly sailing through the rippling canals of Venice; and he envisioned gazing up at the empowering pyramids of Ancient Egypt with the desert sun roasting his milk-pale skin and bleaching his brown curly hair.

Yet when he reached the lake, it only made him depressed that he would most likely not be visiting these countries anytime soon, and frustrated at the fact that after all the painstaking job-searching he had done, that he was still unemployed and lacked the resources to satisfy his travel-hungry mind. Trying to ignore his annoyance and to just enjoy the beautiful, sunny day, he approached the section of the path which started down a short but steep hill, and which diverged into a left path and a right path in the shape of a bident. From here, he could gaze at the rippling pond, sapphire in the flourishing sun; at the flat plains which surrounded it, deceivingly emerald on this bright April; and at the fancy new private hospital which had only been recently built. Looking at the colourful, sharp design of the hospital, his attention caught the entrance to a small housing estate which was located right beside it.

It was not that Curtis had never noticed this housing estate before, he had just never thought to journey into it. Walking by it all these months, he had only ever noticed two things about it; he had always seen its large green area just past the entrance, which had a single sycamore tree sprouting out from the middle; and the centre road, which all other lanes in the estate emerged from like branches from that tree. The main road of the estate had also been a hill, although its steepness had been rather more subtle than the sharp drop of the hill which he was standing on right now.

Curtis wondered whether the houses all looked different, or if they all looked the same. Perhaps there were sections to this estate, where the houses all looked the same in their own individual section, but the design of these housing sections were all unique. He wondered what brand of cars the neighbourhood in general owned, what their gardens looked like, and perhaps he could get to glance into the inside of their houses. Gathering all this information, he could try guess what kind of people lived in this estate. He yanked Sylvester’s leash, and trotted down the left path of the steep hill.

He crossed a small stone bridge over one of the stream which fed into the pond, took the path around the large, circular plain surrounding the pond, and started walking on the footpath beside the road. He continued walking until he was directly opposite of the entrance, waited for the two oncoming cars on either side of the road to pass, and jogged quickly across the road when the second car had driven by. Imitating Curtis, Sylvester sprinted ahead of him in a sudden burst of excitement.

“Walburton Park” was etched into a sparkling, light-grey boulder in all-capitals, which sat on a small patch of grass on the corner of the road. There were three houses on either side of the road at the entrance, and all six of them were small, white, two storey houses. After the houses was a cross roads. Down both the left turn and right turn, there were seven medium-sized, two-storey, redbrick houses on either side of the streets, totalling 34 houses at the entrance. The road continued on to a t-junction at the very back of the estate, and there, the right street was about equal length to the two streets at the entrance, and the left street was much longer than the rest of them.

The houses on of both these streets were nearly twice as big as the houses at the entrance. All houses were on one side, while the other side was a field separated by a line of old, large oak trees. They all had two main parts to them; one part was a white two-storey, while the other was a brown dormer bungalow. There were four of these houses on the right street, and another ten down on the left street. Before that, there were two green areas in between the crossroads and the houses at the t-junction. One was the clean-kept, well-maintained green area with the large sycamore tree spurting out from the middle that Curtis had always seen, whereas the other was a shaggy, overgrown green area with a swing-set and a slide, surrounded by three grey concrete walls. Curtis had never noticed this area before, despite all the times he had walked by this estate.

While Curtis was walking down the street observing the ten large white and brown houses, something odd occurred to him. As nice as this estate was, it was eerily quiet, and from what he had seen so far, was totally deserted. Of course there was nothing wrong with these quiet estates. In fact, if Curtis had noticed groups of hyper children playing around here, he would more likely have shied away from coming here in the first place. However, Curtis had not seen a single soul. No children out playing around the sycamore tree or on the swings, no middle-aged people sitting on their sofas watching television, or even any senior citizens out gardening, basking in the glorious sunshine. The quiet wasn’t just attributed by the absence of people out and about though; Curtis couldn’t even hear any cars driving on the main road he had crossed to get here, or on the road which he knew was beyond the fields and rows of tall oak trees. He didn’t hear the trees sway in the wind or even hear any birds tweeting. All he could hear was his own footsteps and the ringing of Sylvester’s collar as he trotted alongside him.

Curtis reached the end of the cul-de-sac, turned around, and decided to have a look at the four houses down at the other side of the estate. While walking, he looked up at the trees, swaying silently in the brisk spring wind. He noticed that grey clouds were beginning to quickly accumulate from what he guessed was a west-south-west direction. He checked the time on his phone. It was 15:30 exactly. He decided that he had enough time to have a look around the remaining streets of the housing estate, before making his way back home before four o’clock.

When Curtis reached the top of the right street, it looked as if the four houses here were exactly the same as the ten he had just observed. This street was slightly curved however, so he continued walking just to make sure that he wasn’t going to miss anything. Slowly, the hidden remnants of the last two houses emerged from behind the front two houses, and to his disappointment, Curtis found that they were in fact just the same as all twelve other houses at the back of this estate. This anti-climax, however, was short-lived, as almost immediately Curtis had noticed a sharp right turn just after the last house. Quickening his pace, he observed that this newfound section was identical to the two streets of two-storey redbrick houses at the entrance of the estate. Curtis looked back at his phone. 15:41. He walked forward, looking at the Volvo parked in the driveway of the first house on the right…

…and was then halted unexpectedly. Dazed for a very brief moment, he turned around to find Sylvester sitting down, all four of his paws pressed into the concrete.

Curtis jerked on the leash twice more, urging Sylvester to walk on with him. “C’mon boy! C’mon! C’mon Silver, c’mon!”

Sylvester continued to sit stubbornly, staring solemnly at Curtis with those wide, watery brown eyes. Curtis stared at him, defeated. Had Sylvester been a Chihuahua, a Jack Russell, or even a King Charles, he could have dragged him down the street easily enough, but he was a well-fed, sturdy Weimaraner, who Curtis knew would have put up a tough fight. Curtis whipped the leash up in the air feebly, then Sylvester sprang to a stand with his ears pricked, and followed Curtis away from the street of the hidden fourteen houses.

Curtis led Sylvester to what looked like a young Ash tree, growing amidst the old, looming oak trees. He tied the leash around it, and bent down to rub Sylvester reassuringly. Sylvester tried to lick at his face and sprang at Curtis, as he walked down the street away from him, but was jerked back by the tight knot which secured him to the tree.

Trying his best to avoid the guilt from Sylvester’s puppy eyes, Curtis walked along the middle of road, glancing at all the redbrick houses without looking back. All houses appeared in good condition on the outside, although a few had messy, unkept gardens. Curtis counted six of these gardens, five of which had at least one children’s toy recklessly skewed about somewhere. It reminded Curtis of the discomforting, empty, overgrown green area with the cheap slide and swing-set near the entrance of the estate. The remaining gardens had their edges and corners blemished with haphazard bunches of flowers, their colours vividly clashing, yet relievingly soothing to the eye. Their lawns were flatly even and fresh spring green, and one or two had a few rusty coloured tiles matching their redbrick house, just as a cherry on the icing.

Curtis reached the end of the cul-de-sac, marked by a mossy, grey concrete wall with long green grass at its bottom corner that towered at what Curtis assumed was at least 15ft tall. Following it up to the top, Curtis noticed that the sky was completely overcast with thick, light grey altostratus clouds. Fearing the small risk of rain, Curtis decided it was best to head home straight after this, also deciding to observe the types of cars on his way out. Looking around at a few Volkswagens and Hondas, and remembering that one Volvo at the very first house on the right (which was now the very last on the left), Curtis looked for the car at the house directly opposing that one. While doing so, the same eerie thought from before struck him from out-of-nowhere.

While it was weird enough to have absolutely no human activity on one stretch of housing in this estate, it was getting all too unnerving now for him that there was no people on this street either. Again there were no children playing, elderly gardening, and not even anyone sitting in their front rooms, from what Curtis could remember.

While approaching the left turn back onto the street at the back of the estate, Curtis noticed something stark that made him halt and recoil in swift panic.

Sylvester was gone.

Curt’s muscles intensified, he was breathing heavily, immediately sprinting, profusely panicking and cursing himself for leaving the dog all by himself. “SILVER. HERE BOY. COME HERE SILVER.” he said loudly and desperately while running at a sharp pace. He whistled thrice, and loudly called for him again. “HERE, SILVER SILVER SILVER. C’MON BOY.” He was approaching the turn when he began to shout for him, straining the muscles in his dry throat. “SILVER. SILVER. SIL-‘’

His shouting was brought to a halt, as sudden confusion washed away Curt’s fretting. He should have been running on the road between the oak trees and the large brown and white houses. However, unease was tingling down Curt’s spine, as he looked around at the redbrick houses, standing only a few feet away from the tall, mossy, grey concrete wall which marked the end of the street he had just turned away from.

Curtis was anxious, wondering how he had just unexpectedly hallucinated or daydreamed that whole fiasco. But as he looked back up to the top of the street, Curtis saw once more that Sylvester was nowhere to be found. Curtis sprinted again, his thoughts a little more collected and his worries pushed aside briefly. As he approached the turn for the second time, Curtis noticed that the leash was also missing, signalling to him that someone had found Sylvester and took–

He looked around at the redbrick houses, standing only a few feet away from the tall, mossy, grey concrete wall which marked the end of the street he had just turned away from.

Curtis was frightened. He had definitely not hallucinated that. ‘If I had, why would I be panting so much?’ he thought to himself. He sprinted once more, faster than the previous two times. He was fatigued, but he kept himself motivated by that thrive to break free from the seemingly-infinite maze. He was thinking to himself again. ‘Perhaps if I just try to glimpse at the white paint of the house around the co–

He looked around at the redbrick houses, standing only a few feet away from the tall, mossy, grey concrete wall which marked the end of the street he had just turned away from.

He was dreaming. He trembled fiercely and glanced around frantically, feeling like he was going to go blind if he stared at one thing for more than three seconds. His energy was absent from all the running, but he kept walking, doing-so rapidly while swirling his vision around in circles, his only motivation fear and despair. The Ash tree that Sylvester was tied to jumped back and lurched toward him every few seconds, like his rapidly beating pulse. His shaky legs attempted to pick up a jog once more. Trying to glimpse for one of the white houses again, he peered intensely through any gaps, blotches appearing quickly in his central vision while his outer vision blurred. When he couldn’t find even a hint of white housing in any gap anywhere on this street, Curtis clutched his head into his hand, flailing his legs into a chaotic run towards the left-turn, only hanging onto a thread of hope th–

He looked around at the redbrick houses, standing only a few feet away from the tall, mossy, grey concrete wall which marked the end of the street he had just turned away from.

Curtis lay down on the cold concrete in the shape of a foetus, burying his face into the warm, dark depths of his palms, his emotions latent on his pale, blank face apart from the wordless tears which gushed from his hazel eyes. He unintentionally scratched his brown curly hair against the harsh surface of the road, refusing to look at any of his surroundings. Curtis was surrounded by unchanging scenery, and total, maddening silence. There was not a single soul to share or polarize his never-ending suffering.

Hundreds. Hundreds of dead arms slowly materialized from beneath the nucleated evergreen trees where Curtis had submerged himself into. Rotting flesh, crusty and glistening, the colour of mixed pale grey and deep blue. From all floors on the houses; behind the numerous windows in all the large, white and brown houses, bodies of pale grey and faces of deep blue, with large circular black eyes, thin, stitched lips, and noseless faces, scratched softly at the window, sometimes drumming all five fingers on the glass. You couldn’t hear the sound, but the vibration left an echo in your chest, an echo so dense it was like a protected kick from a startled horse. Their vacant eyes spoke the messages that the muscles of their stitched mouths struggled to.

Sylvester snarled at the slow-moving arms, and barked viciously at the dead eyed children emerging from the sewer. Sylvester whined for Curtis to return, and with every passing minute, the sky turned an even deeper orange.

Sylvester pulled full force away from the black, dying tree. Each leaf that fell onto his back was scorching him. The deceased children swayed from side to side, slowly moving in on helpless Sylvester. Not a sound could be heard from anywhere, as Sylvester violently shook the leash which had bound him. Sylvester snarled and barked viciously once more, in a futile effort to intimidate the emotionless, dead children still swaying slowly toward him.

Sylvester turned away from them and then towards the tree. He walked backwards, until the leash was at its very-most strained. Then, he shook his head rapidly from side to side, tightening the grip of all four paws that were submerged into the muck. Slowly, the leash began to slide over his neck, the nylon scraping painfully at the back of his ears. The ball in his throat became rapidly swollen as he struggled to breath with the collar wrapped so tightly around it. The heavy friction made the collar slip past his ears extremely slowly, awfully anxious about the emotionless, dead children swaying toward him painfully slowly.

His vision blurred when his head jerked back violently and when the air flooded back into his lungs. The moment he released himself, a pale grey arm swung toward him and their rust-coloured, razor-sharp nails dug past his thin silver coat and into the soft tender flesh just above his hip. Sylvester yelped, then snarled and barked mercilessly at the noseless, stitched mouth, void-eyed, dead child, sinking his teeth into their ice-cold flesh. The child stalled and pulled away, with just enough time for Sylvester to dash away from them.

He galloped left, down the subtly steep hill. The orange sky swirled like a gyroscope right above him, but Sylvester never looked back once. He galloped towards the entrance, where a slit of light shone blindingly bright in the dead centre. Surrounding the blinding light, was nothing but total darkness. The pale grey, deep blue bodies of men, women, and children hung, gloomy and still, from the thickest branch of the withering, black, dying sycamore tree. Sylvester stopped to snarl and bark at the dissolving children sitting on the swings, and the eyeless men and women drumming their fingers on the windows from the small white houses at the entrance.

Sylvester continued running and running and running, running towards the blindingly bright light, until it was that, that was all he could see. At that moment, the entire world seemed to shift entirely onto one side, while Sylvester could see nothing but blindingly bright lights, hear absolutely nothing, and floated in the air, feeling gravity pull him to the left.

Sylvester landed onto his side, a sharp pain throbbing just above his hip, and a dull burning sensation all over his back. He barked a few times while his vision spun around dizzily in his mind. A few seconds later, after he rubbed at his eyes with both his front paws, Sylvester looked around him curiously, readying his teeth to snarl. Families of smiling adults and playful children were walking around the lakes with their noses and eyes in tact, and their mouths unstitched. Cars were driving on the roads and the sounds of birds tweeting and ducks quacking still echoed through the beautiful, sunny April afternoon. Sylvester loosened his jaw, and started to pant.

All that was missing was Curtis.



Written by CrashingCymbal
Content is available under CC-BY-SA

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