There is something very weird about this spinney, but I have a toothache, so I am oblivious to the weirdness. I have come to the spinney at the suggestion of my dentist. She is a so-called “new dentist”, one of a growing band of revolutionary tooth interventionists who have torn up the rule book.
“Go home,” she said, ushering me out of her waiting room none too gently, “Boil up a paste of sorghum, goat’s milk and raspberry jam, sprinkle with hundreds and thousands, mould it into a brazil nut sized blob, and tuck it into a tiny muslin bag tied at the top with butcher’s string. Go to the weird spinney and put the bag on the ground near one of the beech or sycamore trees, then go and conceal yourself behind shrubbery. In due time a squirrel will come to get the bag to add to its winter store. Oh, I forgot to tell you to have your camera with you. Grab a snapshot of the squirrel as it frisks away with your bag of paste. When you have developed the photo, make it the centrepiece of a shrine in your living room. You may add to the shrine whatever festoonments take your fancy. Four times a day, prostrate yourself before the squirrel-shrine and plead to have your toothache taken away. I have written down on this card the recommended form of words for your pleading. Now off you go.”
With that, she propelled me out into the street. Now here I am in the weird spinney, and a squirrel has taken away the bag of paste I prepared exactly as my “new dentist” prescribed. I have taken the photograph, but rather than sprinting home, I am somehow compelled to stay here, squatting in the shrubs. Perhaps that is why it is called ‘the weird spinney’, because of this overpowering sense that I am rooted to the spot, unable to leave, that somehow great peril is in store should I try to stride away across the heath to home.
I take my portable metal tapping machine from my jacket pocket and try to make contact with my dentist, but all I am able to receive are eerie howling noises, like a mighty wind announcing the apocalypse. I am about to try again when I notice that I am surrounded by squirrels, hundreds upon hundreds of them, savage squirrels with sharpened claws, ghost squirrels from an unimaginable past, phantoms in a phantom spinney, and the aching in my tooth redoubles, and the sun is blotted out and the sky is black.
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