Part 3

I’d been to this part of the bay in daylight before, but now, it was dark. So I was incredibly relieved when I reached the sea-path. Have you been here before? If you look down at your feet, you’ll see the most beautiful patterns in the stonework. Seaweed, sand-ripples, shells. I walked along the sea-path feeling the different textures below my feet. The sea-dragon in my shopping bag bumped on my back. I felt quite happy now, even though the dragon was so heavy. I breathed in the smell of the bay.

What can you smell today? What’s the weather like? Is it windy? Is it warm and sunny? Is it rainy?

Why don’t you have a go at feeling the path with your eyes closed? Can you tell what’s under your feet just by touching it?

The little dragon stuck its head out of the bag and looked at the sea-path too. It seemed to be humming to itself in a small squeaky voice.

“We’ll be there soon,” I told it, following the sea-path.

I was staring so intently at my feet that suddenly – BAM! I bumped straight into something. Or someone. I leapt back with a yelp and the sea-dragon squealed. But – there was nothing there.

What happened next was that mist had closed over us very suddenly. Now I couldn’t tell my hands from my feet. I couldn’t see anything at all.

And more importantly there was definitely something else there.

Or someone.

I kept walking forwards feeling the sea path below my feet, but as I did, I realised I no longer knew up from down or left from right, that’s how thick the mist was. How were we going to get to the barrage now?

Then – BAM! I walked straight into the someone again.

“I’m sorry!” I said. “I can’t see where I’m going. Could you help me, please?”

I reached out a hand towards where the being had been but there was nothing there, once again, nothing except mist and air.

I began to feel very scared. The sea-dragon in my bag was also clearly very scared too, because it had hidden its head once more and was shaking very hard.

“Don’t be ssssscared,” said a thin whispery little voice right in my ear. “I’ll lead you to sssssafety. Take my hand.”

“Who are you?” I asked.

“Doessssn’t matter,” the voice whispered. “Jusssst take my hand.”

And there in front of us through the mist, I could see a very small, very pale greenish looking hand glowing. It had long bony fingers and was beckoning me invitingly.

Even though the voice was so insistent, something in me was telling me to tread carefully.

“I’m going towards the barrage,” I said. “I need to release this little dragon back to the sea so it can go home. Can you just tell me which way to go?”

“I can’t tell you,” the voice hissed. “But I can sssshow you.”

The small green hand waved at me again. I thought, it can’t be too dangerous if it’s so very small, can it? Perhaps it really does know the way through the mist. Perhaps it’ll show me the safest way to the barrage from here.

I reached forwards towards the green hand.

“That’ssss it,” said the voice. “A little bit closssser. Now sssstep off the sssssea path.”

And suddenly my hand was gripped by the little green hand and my feet were no longer on the sea path. I couldn’t feel the ridges of the stone sand or the seaweed or the shells beneath my feet any longer, all I could feel was stone. And the green hand was tugging me very insistently, pulling me with a strength that I hadn’t thought such a small spindly creature could possess; in fact, the grip of the green hand was so strong that I felt my hand go numb – was it my imagination or was the grip getting stronger and stronger?

Where was the thing taking us? It was so thickly foggy that I could see absolutely nothing…

Suddenly, the sound of the splashing waves in the bay was a lot louder and I realised with horror that the green-handed thing was pulling us not towards the barrage but towards the water…and suddenly I knew exactly who this thing was. This was the sea-imp. Mam told me stories of the sea-imp, how it surrounded unwary travellers with a thick fog and then encouraged them to take its hand, and then it would lead them towards the water and push them in and down to their doom…it loved to trick travellers. I’d always sworn I’d never been careless enough to be tricked by the sea-imp and, now, here I was!

I tried to stop moving by digging my feet into the stone, but I just went skittering along, the sea-imp still tugging me, and the dragon on my back shuddering with terror. And now the sea-imp was laughing in its whispery voice: “Jussssst a few more ssssstepssss.”

“No!” I howled. And that’s when the dragon popped its head out of my bag. It bared its tiny teeth and shot a jet of something in the direction of the sea-imp. I don’t know if it was fire or steam or something in between but it worked. There was a high-pitched scream, and I felt the thing let me go, and I scuttled back in the direction that I thought we’d come in. But now the mist was even thicker than before and I could see nothing, not the water nor the barrage nor the bay. We were completely lost.

“Give up,” the sea-imp whispered in my ear. The sea-dragon spat at the mist.

Then I felt it. Below my feet – a ridge of sand made from stone. We were back on the sea-path! If I followed it, I knew it would take us towards the barrage. I just had to keep going and maybe we’d get out of the mist.

What things can you see or feel under your feet? These were the things that kept me going, step by step, the sea-dragon on my back peering over the edge of the bag, baring its teeth at the fog around us.

And eventually, the mist cleared, and the shrieks of the sea-imp were far behind us…

Bute park trail: part 3