Heavy Plant

Walk past a "Heavy Plant" warning and wonder vaguely if the trees thought it was for them; if whoever put it up had enough imag...


Surprise! 1

Starting as a peculiar sort of unease it came, a strange suspicion of being followed from a distance, a persistent presence that could be felt round corners, dogging carefully quietened footsteps. I made it to the gym without seeing anyone or anything behind me but feeling very slightly anxious. Whatever it was didn't follow me inside. I checked through the glass doors.

Heading outside after a swim and a shower I put on my headphones to drown out the traffic with music. I was thinking through the day ahead until the same dogged presence was on me again. Removing one earbud I looked back behind me and saw nothing. Perhaps a hint of colour, one of the gym-bunnies in their fluorescent lycra heading inside for a spin class. Nonetheless the sensation continued. Having got into the habit of missing breakfast maybe the source of the problem was missing calories and caffeine.

After a pit stop at a cafe my nerves were more settled. I dismissed the thought almost entirely. I am simply not interesting enough to be followed. There was a long straight stretch of pavement with nice clear lines of sight, completely empty in both directions and I set off calmly, this new thought in my head. Once again, more slowly this time the feeling crept in; I was being followed by something. I picked up the pace looking in front and then spinning sharply round to see only an empty pavement behind. As I turned back there was a blur of motion and TOOOOOT!!!!  A clown had jumped out and blown a child's party tooter in my face. One of the ones with a paper and wire extension that rolls out like a tongue in a cartoon.

Before I could open my eyes from the surprise both clown and tooter were gone again. I couldn't have imagined it! I saw it right in front of me, felt the displacement of the air as the clown leant forward, the sharp tug and slight pop as the earbuds were pulled from my ears by their cord. I had heard the rustle of baggy trousers, the rasp of the reed in the tooter but there was no one in front of me and nothing behind. Rattled, my heart thumping in my chest, I fair ran to work, feeling much safer behind a card-entry door.

How to explain my alarm? "You look like you've seen a ghost" No, actually it was a clown. A disappearing clown with a party tooter who stalked me for over an hour just to make me jump. I must have sat silently staring at a blank screen for 10 minutes before the air conditioning chilled the sweat on my back enough to bring me to my senses. I don't think I really recovered from the shock of the morning, though I dismissed it quickly enough as a rather odd prank. I had a restless awkward day through which I crept, going outside only unwillingly, constantly on alert for the sight of brightly coloured clothing in my peripheral vision or the distant sound of a size 30 footfall.