BY FRANCIS CROT
Late that same afternoon they crossed an abandoned farmstead filled with strangely serene animals, and made a tense raid of the farmhouse, for viaticum. A night came of very mild moonlight and the creature came so suddenly on Chris he near shat both their pants.
God spoke to Brenda often. Was it Mark E. Smith who first pointed out that every culture has some concept of a large invisible man in the sky with moons and stars on his hat who says “I WILL DESTROY YOU” in a vast, booming voice? It was not thus. It was not that person riding around on her, it was not any vulgar transposition of public sensation onto private sensation; but nor was it abject internal monologue. It was unmistakeable; it did not come from her and was not of her.
It was linguistic but not what she would call language. It was in the world. As she learned to listen for it, it changed the way she knew language.
Mostly He comforted her, and showed her how she might comfort Joe and for a time the others. He spoke to her through Joe as well. He told her He had a plan for them.
Once in the reserve, the path led initially through woodland and then through more open boggy land along the bank of an unmarked river. The otters, though characteristically reticent, could be seen splashing dazedly towards them. The miracle had jumped the species barrier.
After 200m they saw a brick pillbox, topped by another little gathering of otters eating what looked like a screaming teenage boy. Seeing it was getting too late for him, they crossed by a little bridge. After about 100m they were on the the plateau proper and the views opened up.
After about half a mile they spotted him again, approaching a pair of – survivors begs the question, a girl it seemed lugged a boy, who waved to them half-heartedly – and from the ridge they saw the blue sacks of their stomachs gleam, plop plop, in the lightly wooded fancy barrows visible to the left. Otter minions shuffled from the woods add their rabid hands to the frenzy. A worthwhile detour led right for 150m (marked with a Countryside Commission sign), through a kissing gate and then curved through open park lands designed by Capability Brown.