Peter hated biking home in the winter.
It wasn't so much the cold, as the dark.
He'd decided to push the boat out this year and get the top of the range lights. But still, he could barely see where he was going down these dark country roads. The lights always looked really bright and wonderful in the shop, but out here in the real world, it was like the darkness sucked the light away. All he could see was a greyish spot on the road, ten feet ahead. If he was lucky. The wet road ahead seemed to have even more light sucking powers this evening. Everything else around was just darkness.
So many times he'd come across death-wish dog walkers, dressed ninja style, narrowly missing them with a "what the...". Mostly. They'd made him do cartwheels a couple of times when they'd stretched out the leash right across the road, between walker and dog. Did the darkness bring out the crazies or what !?
As Peter neared the crest of Flitt hill, puffing out in a steady rhythm, he saw two glowing coals in the dark. 'A cat,' he thought. As he got closer, his lights finally lit up the body the eyes belonged to. It was a dog. Some kind of lab. Peter relaxed slightly when he realised it didn't have a leash to trip him up. Until it rapidly dawned on him that it was also free to chase him. He really hoped it wouldn't even bark. The wet and darkness was enough already.
Dog attacks on cyclists were rare… but not unheard of. Hopefully his lights had sufficiently blinded and disoriented it so that he could get past before it knew what was happening. The main thing was to keep calm and accelerate smoothly away, over the top of the hill. Good thing this wasn't at the bottom of the hill.
Peter kept pedalling, and then he was over the top of the hill and coasting on his home run to Astcotevale. That's when he heard the rustling to his left.
'****,' he thought to himself.
Had the dog been quietly following him all this time.
He pedalled faster. Damn his crappy gears… he should have fixed them weeks ago. If he tried to shift up, it might throw the chain. And then he'd be really screwed. The rustling kept pace with him.
'****,' he muttered to himself. How fast could dogs run ..?? He must be doing twenty now. Good thing the run down from Flitt Hill to Ascotevale was virtually straight. Maybe it was something else.
'**** **** ****'.
Peter was pedalling as fast as he could now, down the Flitt hill, over-running his gears. It was all he could do to keep his feet from flying off the pedals. And still the rustling to his left was keeping pace.
Suddenly a thought occurred to Peter. 'Why was it running in the bushes.. wouldn't it go faster on the road ?'
Something was funny here. Peter dared to turn his head. As he saw the crinkly fluorescent yellow material of his waterproof jacket, he started to realise what had been going on.
He moved his shoulders about, and sure enough, the rustling changed. It must have been the extra wind as he was coming down the hill, flapping his jacket slightly.
Peter almost laughed out aloud and couldn't help grinning to himself with relief.
Yes, nightmares are born and thrive in Darkness. We can easily get fixated by what we can't see.
But perhaps Peter should have been paying better attention to what he could see. If he had looked to his right...