The hosts at the White Lion Inn welcomed him warmly. Greetings to the countryside, welcome to the green and verdant land that sits just outside your concrete and brick town, they cheerfully chattered. Overnight he felt warm and secure. The room decorated in pastel shades of blue and green radiated an ambience of calm and cosy peace. An isolated quiet neighbourhood, a pleasant place with familiar faces and friends caring for one another. He slept well. It was a wonderful rest from the city.

In the morning he decided to stroll in the warm July air and explore the village. One of two it seemed. He was in the smaller, the larger half a mile along the gently winding lane. It was an agreeable way between the two. The gardens were full of fresh orderly flowers in full summer bloom. The silence of a swaying white fluffy waterfall, the sound of bees buzzing, pervaded the senses as he walked along the well-kept path. He passed through the greater of the two communities and into the open countryside. Where did it lead, this tidy path, smooth and showing no signs of use? It seemed to disappear ahead after a slight rise in the ground. A path to nowhere? He walked on, aware that every footstep left a mark on the pristine route. Was he the only one to have ever used it?

Questions. Questions kept welling up in his mind. There was a sense of unease in this perfect place. What truth lurked beneath the surface of this society? The top half was obvious – a rural idyll.

He could now see over the rise in the hillside. The light changed, a grey cloud hid the sunshine, and a chill breeze washed over his face. Ahead lay a world of debris. Hidden behind the pleasant land the wasteland survived. A world created by jackdaws. They gathered and stored all those objects thrown out by past and present residents. Ahead he viewed a surplus of green plastic bins, smelling rotting food, buried glass bottles, rubbish secreted away so none would ever know. He stared into the murky dark depths before him. Broken stones, children playing on old black rubber tyres in tangled woods, shaded twisting sunken tracks. This was the distortion of the idyll.

A red lion loped across the path and disappeared.

He turned. He would keep the secret. Tell no one of what he had seen.

Page last updated: 13th Jan 2011