I stand looking at the gate. It’s like hundreds of thousands of others around the British countryside. I wonder what is at the other side, no need to wonder. I can see a metal five bar gate and then a field. Beyond the field a steep hill leading down to the valley floor hundreds of feet below.
Why have I got this thought in my head? Is it a gate or a point of fusion? A temporal rift where two opposite worlds collide. Or is it simply a gate?
The thought came in my head, out of the blue. I was out walking through the grounds and parkland of the old abbey. Lawns, woodland and pretty gardens. Suddenly I thought that’s not really a gate, I was drawn to it but why? I suppose there was only one way to find.
I ventured towards the gate and placed a foot on one of the metal bars. I took a firm hold of the top rail ready to haul myself over. I would soon be in the next field and have my answer as to whether this was just a gate or in fact a temporal rift.
“Oi! what you up to. Get off that gate its private property,” shouted a man from somewhere behind me.
I stop in my tracks and step back to see the old man walking towards me. He’s maybe eighty years of age, tall, with an untidy mop of grey hair. It wouldn’t be too unkind to say that he looked like a tramp. Brown boots, blue jeans, a black tee-shirt and a worn tweed jacket.
He might have just been returning home from a rain-sodden rock festival if it hadn’t been for his age. Oh yes and the fact that he was carrying a shotgun. He also had the largest Rottweiler with him that I have ever seen.
“You can’t go in there lad. It’s private, now clear off before I set the dog on you,” he said.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I just got this strange compulsion to climb the gate and see what was in the field”.
“I’m not messing about lad, if you don’t get moving I’ll let the dog loose. There’s nothing in that field for you,” the old man said.
The dog was straining at the lead, snarling and barking. I decided maybe it would be best if I backed away. He never moved, he just stood guarding that old metal five bar gate watching me. I walked down the path back towards the abbey. I reached a gate that would finally take me out of view. He was by now hundreds of yards away. I turned, he had stopped looking.
I watched as the old man released his dog from its lead. He began to climb over the gate. The dog cleared it in one go and seemed to disappear into the field beyond. The old man took a little longer clambering over with his gun in hand. He too was soon over and in the field. At least I assumed that’s where he was, I couldn’t see from the angle I was standing at.
I had to check. I needed to know what it was the old man didn’t want me to see. I headed back up the field along the wall, towards the gate.
I swear, the strangest thing ever in my life, without a doubt. The gate wasn’t there, it most definitely had been but was now gone. It had been right there. Now there was just the old wall. It seemed as if it was unchanged for the hundreds of years since the monks inhabited the abbey. Nothing, no sign of it anywhere. I went up and down that wall for the rest of the afternoon. Climbed it, went in the field, climbed. Nothing just a wall and a field and the grounds of an old abbey.
I’ve been back often to try and find the gate or see the old man and his dog. I never have, I climb gates now every time I see one. Nothing happens, they’re just gates. I wish I had climbed the gate before he stopped me. I guess now I’ll never the answer to my question.