By Master John
Not all days are created equal. Many days seem to have special purposes they were designed
for. Today is a day designed for hiking!
Now, I walk most every day for a couple of miles. Usually I walk in the evening. It helps me
unwind. It helps me think. It helps my dinner digest. It helps me get ready for sleep.
Today, the day is designed for more than a little walk. It is a day designed for a real hike. I
want to stretch my legs on long forgotten paths. Today beckons me too go off of the beaten
Being a city dweller, I have to drive to reach beyond the build up of civilization. Sometime
back, I found this place just off of the freeway. It is an almost abandoned exit. Down this old
worn road, just past the point of convenience for the rushing freeway travelers, lie the remains of
an old, deserted gas station. Behind the station is a trail. The trail seems to wander for miles and I
have only explored a bit of it, so far. What I have traveled goes through fields and orchards. It
meanders along a small stream. It travels up a hill into a big woods. I have seen no reason for the
trail to be here. The trail is clear but I have no idea of its age. There are no clues to whom, or
how many own the land.
Of course, that is one of the things I love about this area. There are no fences and no signs.
Indeed, I have never seen another living soul nor large animal, not a dog, nor even a deer. If it
weren’t for the pristine condition of the trail, one could imagine one was foraging virgin,
I have just entered the woods. I have never been this far before. I have been saving the
experience for a day like today. After the hike through the field and up the hill, I have begun to
sweat. The coolness amid the trees is a joy and a blessing I savor. I smile as juvenile fantasies of
being an intrepid explorer flit through my mind.
Perhaps I have spoken too soon. I think I see litter on the trail ahead. Something is marring
the pristine pathway.
No, oh my God, it is not litter; it appears to be a toe. It is a severed toe, a big toe. How could
this be? What awful accident could bring this fate about? I probe the pathetic detached member
with my walking stick. It appears fresh and soft. Could someone have been chopping wood and
missed? Could it have been some hunting accident? I had heard no shot. Perhaps there is a
campground near by and someone was gathering firewood. That would explain much.
I hurry down the trail. There is some poor injured soul ahead that needs medical attention. It
occurs to me that I have seen no blood trail, but that doesn’t slow me.
Oh, sweet Jesus. I have reached a fork in the path. In slowing to decide which fork to follow, I
see an ear lying ahead of me on the left fork of the pathway. What terrible accident could cause
one to lose such distant appendages? I curse myself for leaving my cell phone in the car. I know
better. Should I run back to the car and call for help? How long can one live, bleeding, maimed,
without an ear and toe? I must run ahead and see if I can offer any assistance. I can’t abandon a
person who must be suffering so. I can provide possible comfort to a person who must be in
terror, if no more.
I can’t do this. I am sick to my stomach. I retch off the side of the pathway. The trail crosses
another and down the right branch lays a woman’s breast. Pendulous, reminiscent of
voluptuousness even in it’s severed, deflated condition. I now know that only foul play could
disfigure and torture one so gruesomely.
I proceed more cautiously. Sense tells me to turn back, that there is no assistance I can possible
offer. I should protect myself and run my fastest to the car. I would like to think that it is honor
and the desire to help and protect another person in need that propels me slowly forward.
However, there are these flashes of morbid curiosity that impinge on my consciousness every
My morbidity is to be rewarded. I see something ahead on the path. I move more rapidly. I
hear a slight giggle behind me. I turn and see a naked young girl standing in the path. I’m
Oh, horror and pain. I’ve been clubbed and bound. I’m gagged. An early teen boy and girl are
dragging me by the feet down the trail. They are both naked. I see the younger, naked girl I’d
seen just before I tripped, or had been tripped. The girl is skipping and laughing and poking at
me with my own walking stick.
The boy gruffly tells the youngster to go back and pick up the bait pieces off of the trail and
then come home. I catch a glimpse of the girl scampering off to do his bidding.
I see a cottage ahead. Even with the terror and horror of what I have seen and my present
situation, I marvel at its’ picturesque beauty. Like something out of a fairy tale. Like a
They stop dragging me and let my feet drop near the door. The boy turns to the girl and says,
“Gretel, you go tell the old witch to light the oven while I clean dinner.”
“Yes Hansel,” she replies, and vanished through the door into the house.
Hansel puts a hook through the ropes binding my legs together. He hoists me up, hanging head
down. I see him approaching me with a long sharp curved blade knife.
I don’t squirm, or jerk. Through fear and tears, I feel an almost maniacal laughter building. I
want to scream at him, “No! No, this is not the way the fairy tales goes. This is not the way for
any tale to end. Hansel; let me rescue you and Gretel from the wicked witch! Please! Oh,
As I feel the blade touch my throat, I see the gleam in Hansels’ eyes. A touch of a smile on his
face. The moisture of hungry drool escaping from one corner of his lips.