I bring the Box out every day. Cobwebs are never allowed to form on it. I bring it out here to sit with me on the old bench, under the shade of a beech tree. It is always sunny now.

I sit with the Box, listening to the birds chirp in the trees, the ducks quack on the canal and the horses stamp their feet and swish their tails in a nearby field. Apart from that, there is silence.

There is nothing to fear from Mahatma Gandhistraat. Occasionally vagrants and nomads come over the fields, and so I keep all of my possessions hidden with the radio beneath the small trapdoor in the twelfth century mill. My home. My bed is down that dark hole covered over by wooden floorboards, obscured by a low table. At the risk of respiratory problems, I keep the mill dusty and full of insects, dead and alive.

Every day, I take the Box with me as a witness as I check my early warning systems. I cross the bridge and look to the bushes to the right on the other bank. The metal glinted back at me, and across the grass a silver flicking line was visible to the eye that was looking for it. I had thought of putting up a sign at the other side of the bridge. The volunteers’ hut was full of useful equipment, but I knew the appearance of a sign would draw attention to the old mill and the nature reserve. The mill and the wooden hut would be raided, torn apart, and I would be found. The Box would be found.

What would I write on a sign that would keep out marauders, instilling fear instead of curiosity? I longed to hang up a sign on my bridge with the two words, “Trip trap”, but I knew that the meaning of those words would probably be lost on anyone and would induce curiosity rather than fear or caution.

I only knew of the three goats who trip trapped over a troll’s bridge because Jean-Pierre read the story on 12th April two years ago. At least he said it was 12th April.

In the first few days, there was so much chaos. I kept a diary, but that ran out, and I lost heart. For a long time, I remained under the trap door. It was one of those dark evenings, messing around with the radio, that I first heard Jean-Pierre’s voice.

‘Zaterdag 21 Oktober. Goedenavond’

Even though all the mini mansions on Mahatma Gandhistraat had been ransacked and left bare by the time I emerged from the shelter, I had found some items left. A handful of drinking straws and the wind-up radio had been the two most valuable. I really didn’t know why the radio had been left. Surely anyone else would try to tune in to any human voice giving instructions or reaching out to any other humans?

That day, I had run out into one of the nearby fields and laid down in the long grass so that any passing marauder would not see me. I cranked the handle of the radio, moving the dial up and down the wavelengths. I did this over and over for several days with the Box at my side as a witness.

It was during the second week, I heard an English woman’s voice on MW 168. The reception was crackly, and my English wasn’t so good with my education cut short. The woman said, ‘Not safe’ or was it ‘not saved’? Which was it? I never heard this woman’s voice again, no matter how hard I tried.

Mahatma Gandhistraat is a small road by a nature reserve just by my current location. The twelfth century mill and its surroundings just set my imagination running wild. This is the beginning of a 2000 word short story.


About catherinehume

Catherine Hume: Writer, social care worker and a liver of a life less ordinary.
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