Stephen’s Castle


by Luke Hall

I remember coming here, aged no older than eleven and chasing the heath land creatures with sticks. I remember there being much sand interspersed with thick cacti jungle and shrubs to catch your mitten on (or foreskin if you were into dogging). The woodland had a gravel track piercing through it, running all the way through to moors valley and ending in the dainty town of Alderholt. It was a popular dirt track to ride a bike through in the times before people ruined the good name of cycling, and choosing instead to feng shui themselves into luminous condom outfits, and be a nuisance on the A33 just outside of Berkshire.


Upon my return to the sand-bush utopia, it was evident there was little sand and much more bush. If you were at a house party, the prospect of more bush sounds like a rapturous and exhilarating adventure. But the sort of bush I’m referring to is one that has sharp thorns attached to it, as opposed to a magic bean and self-lubricating system that the pope disapproves of you playing with.


In my twelve-year absence, the flora and bark had flourished. Going back up the once sand covered dunes was now ground force anarchy, and in the avalanche of ferns and razor sharp leaves hung in the air an atmosphere of deceit. No matter where you go these days, or what channel you’re flicking through, from Dave to BBC two, you are forever being told that the world is going to end. The constant out-put of CO2 from human beings is on course to put Mother Nature out of business. The sky is falling, greenhouse gasses and air pollution is ridding the world of bees. Leonardo Dicaprio is flying to every corner of the earth in his private jet, telling the common man/woman to put their empty crisp packets in the correct bin, and strap a solar panel to their faces for fear of killing all the potted plants at B&Q. Here on Stephen’s Castle however, it’s clear that nature is an unstoppable force. As it had appeared to have sprouted and swallowed the land whole, I concluded that one of two things happened. Either I had stumbled across the only living source of inexhaustible wildlife that can materialise out of nothing with Shamanesque mysticism, or the claims of doom so prevalent in our society are somewhat exaggerated.

As I rustled through the bushes to take a striking lighter shot on the top of the highest dune, I was transported back to my youth like a flashback from Poirot. I was Lukebo, jungle hunter extraordinaire. I could dart through the bushes, cloak and dagger thanks to my special forces training. I lunged. I struck. They never saw it coming. Lukebo-First Thud, chosen weapons, a dagger shaped twig, chosen target, an erroneous bush with thorns to shatter indiscriminately.

I remember wearing Super Mario style dungarees as I undertook my skirmish. I must’ve looked cool.

Editor: Joel Emmons


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