It was a fine morning here in the charming university town of N__.
So fine, in fact, that I positively skipped my way along the marigold plains that line my walk to work.
But halfway there, dear Reader, I formed the impression I was being watched.
I turned around, but saw nothing but the immensely tall, waving heads of the marigolds above me, blocking my sight.
When I turned back, I saw that there was a fork in the path.
I hesitated, then chose the left-hand path.
I walked, dear Reader. I struggled through tangled undergrowth only to find myself at the same point. I chose the right-hand path. Some time later still I found myself back at the selfsame point.
In the meantime a dense mist had descended. I had developed a slight twitch in my left eyelid. My mules were crumpled. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up.
I could not shake the impression I was being watched.
Suddenly, a sound, as of infinite desolation, slowly soared in the opaque air. A complaining clamour, modulated in savage discords, filled my ears. It seemed to me as though the mist itself had screamed. It culminated in a hurried outbreak of almost intolerably excessive shrieking, which stopped short.*
The marigold clump ahead of me shook.
An elfin figure in lycra jogging bottoms burst out of the bushes before me, headphones on, singing ‘Happy’ by someone with the enviable name of Pharrell Williams.
‘Asafetida Lovage, as I live and breathe’, I breathed.
Asafetida cast a look over her shoulder and waved.
‘Hey, Dr A.!’, she cried. ‘Bet you thought you’d seen the last of me! But I’m back! And this time I’m here to stay!’
At that, Asafetida rounded the corner and disappeared from sight.
* My reader, of course, does not need telling that today’s text is Heart of Darkness.