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Here I am, scrambling over the boulders that litter the steep slopes of Goat-fell, Isle of Aran, with a skull full of steaming pus. It sloshes around my head, seeping through my glands and ventricles with vitriol and purpose.

I am chasing a girl of my latest desire up the mountain, or at least I should be, but the smothering embrace of a ghost hinders me, evil on it?s breath. The mountain tilts. The clear water streams reverse their flow. The sails of the boats in the bay far below taunt me with contempt. My demon rises, stinking of shit and menace, from the depths of my uncertainty where I had, temporarily it now seems, bound him with my hope for life.

I try to ignore it. Look at the girl, the beautiful girl, skipping over the rocks ahead of me, giggling in the warm Scottish sun, casting a coy glance back at me and urging me to follow.

Look at the girl, rasps my demon. Ha ha ha ha. I stop for a moment, on the pretence of admiring the view ? and it would be a quite magnificent view for one not as willing to accept the inevitable terror as me, and close my eyes to confront the demon.

He?s in the shadows, dancing behind my eyes, reluctant to show his putrid face. Ha ha ha. Open your eyes. Look around you. I obey, of course. I haven?t even begun the fight.

The world outside my head defies me. The mountain is a pimple, the girl a strange stick of flesh and bone, the lush heather now alien razors which sway gently despite the??the?...wind? Seagulls circle above my head, looking like nothing I have ever seen before, yet intimately familiar ? a memory briefly forgotten drifting in the?..wind?. This wind, this breeze, feels like the caresses of an ancient wickedness, looking for a way in, probing and whispering vile promises of reality. A plastic bag smeared with the demons shit wraps around my head, choking off breath, and the stones and pebbles beneath my feet wriggle for freedom. Look at the girl. Where am I? I know, yet ? I?m lost. Lost in a world of bickering alternatives where everything I?ve always known is swathed in a cloak of foreign ice. Where am I?

?Come on Martin?, the girl shouts.

Please help me, I think. ?Ok, coming,? I reply, in a voice I?ve never heard before.

(C) 1993 Martin Horton.
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