What happened to me today is barely believable. I’m so glad it’s over.
I’d been on the verge of cancelling my 33 mile walk from Fort William to Fort Augustus due to the forecast for heavy rain. But I decided not to be a weather-wimp and off I set in my waterproofs at 6am.
For several hours I trudged as the torrential rain blasted my face then leaked through my jacket and trickled down my neck. I was pretty hungry but it was too wet to get anything out of my rucksack so I plodded on, hoping to find somewhere to shelter to silence my growling stomach.
I was on the remote side of Loch Lochy, catching the odd glimpse of the trunk road on the other side, when I became aware of someone walking a distance behind me.
Unsure whether to be pleased to know there was another human in this isolated location, I glanced behind me from time to time. The gap between us was closing and I could make out that it was a man in khaki overalls, a long stick over his shoulder that looked remarkably like a rifle. Surely not a hunter out in this weather?
Feeling nervous, I increased my pace, but it was difficult. I’d been walking for four hours without a break or anything to eat.
Before turning a bend I took another quick look behind me and felt sick with alarm. The man had stopped and was pointing the rifle at me. He looked as though he was taking aim.
My heart started hammering. Surely I must be mistaken? But no, I looked again and there he was: one foot in front of the other, the gun against his shoulder, pointed straight at me.
I started to run – not easy in walking boots and dripping wet. I stumbled along, trying to get my mobile out of my pocket. I’d switched it off to save battery and it took ages to turn back on. Large drops of rain landed on it and I tried to wipe them off, still running. This couldn’t be happening!
I turned a bend and took advantage of being out of sight of the stranger to race into the thick forest beside the path. About twenty metres away from the path I hid behind a tree and watched, hoping the man would pass. I was sweating and breathing heavily, and trying to operate my phone with wet hands. The screen wasn’t working and anyway, the words at the top were clear: ‘no service’.
When he didn’t appear, I got scared he’d seen me enter the woods. In a panic I turned my head this way and that, shaking with fear.
Bang! I heard a shot and jumped out of my skin. My phone slipped out of my hands and disappeared into a swampy hollow beside the tree. I threw myself to the ground; I’d never been so terrified in my life. I should have stayed at home and written my book.
Which, of course, is exactly what I’d done.
No way was I walking 33 miles in the pouring rain…
Loch Lochy: when you run out of ideas to name your loch.
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If you enjoyed this, you might want to consider my dark-humoured thriller set in the Highlands: GLASDRUM. One town. Five women. Dark events. Available here: http://amzn.to/2o0dnnI (Amazon UK) or here: http://amzn.to/2o0dnnI (Amazon.com for USA/Canada)
GLASDRUM was published on 1 April 2017, and my previous novel, DAUGHTER, DISAPPEARED, a family survival thriller set in Tunisia, was published in November 2016 – please see the top reviews on Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2gUe8fM
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