Harwood is a quaint village that sits cosily on the outskirts of a town surrounded by forest and field. Its inhabitants, most of whom are over the age of fifty, are used to and appreciate the lifeless status-quo that has been solidified over the years.
I know I should check my privilege before denouncing my upbringing in an idyllic, stately part of town, where your only concern is to avoid Mr and Mrs Telholm at No.82 because their policeman son is on speed-dial, but speaking as someone a third of their age, village life can only expose you to so much of what’s out there. There’s an answer for everything out here:
‘That howl you heard in the distance? That’s not a werewolf, that’s the fox we saw one time eating rubbish from a plastic bag.’
‘That alarm isn’t someone breaking in, Jeanette’s kids keep knocking the bonnet of their car with a tennis ball.’
Stay in nice old Harwood; you won’t get hurt. Stay away from the Hill at night, you’ll scare the cows. But what if I do go up there? Alone. At my most vulnerable. What if I do stray so far away from suburbia that the only company is a herd of sleeping cows? Are they cows?
The fear that I crave lies less in knowing exactly what to avoid, but knowing indefinitely, absolutely nothing of what I will find before me. Being conscious that, as I stumble away from the last drips of light, and into the enveloping darkness, anything could happen. Yes, most of it is nothing more than a perverse thought in an obsessed mind, but that creeping on your spine, the hastened breaths, shows you that logic has left you by the door. For most, these sensations overwhelm them, drag them back to the light. I embrace them, welcome them with open, if not quivering, arms.
The fear of the unknown is a common one, as is the enticing call to safety. Keep walking into the dark and you’ll find your answers. It is a mortal resolve, one that may be necessary to find your reality.