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Charlie Chester II

The council estate we grew up on in Bradford was quite rough but the good thing about it was that it was on the edge of a large woodland and beautiful countryside.

As a child I spent most of my time outdoors and I loved camping out in the back garden. When I got older, my favourite thing was to go camping with my girlfriend in North Yorkshire in the Dales.

I didn't realise how much I would miss the countryside until I left it and lived in London for twenty one years, and I really did miss it, I yearned for it. I did love living in such an amazing city but after a while I longed to be back among the hills trees and fields.

As Children we were allowed to spend the days on our own, even from being very young. Our mum would make us a picnic and send us off, it was probably her way of having a break from us, I imagine she wasn't all that pleased when we returned.

I remember one time my sister and I went for a picnic to the woods, there may well have been some other kids with us but my memory doesn't serve me well and if there were others with us I cannot picture who they were.

We were about five or six at the time and I remember how exciting it would be setting off on an adventure on a warm summers day, chasing our dark shadows along the way.

A walk down the scruffy streets of our estate would lead to a country lane and past an old pub, then pathways would lead into the woods. Right on the edge of the woods was a dog kennels which we would always try and creep past but the dogs would know we were there and would all start barking loudly and we'd scream and run as fast as we could to get away.

We would then run up a steep bank and walk along an old disused railway track.

On this particular day, once we spotted the river we walked down to it and found a clearing where we decided it would be a good spot to have our picnic.

we unrolled a blanket and got out the food from both our little bags. There were little sandwiches, some with egg mayonnaise and some with salmon paste. There were also some home made chocolate chip biscuits and a flask of dilute orange juice with two plastic cups.

I can't remember us talking much but we had a kind of psychic connection as young siblings often do and we both became aware that we felt a presence, someone was watching us.

A soft rustle then revealed a man was hiding in the shrubs close to us, we both stood bolt upright like started deer as he jumped out of the bushes and started to dance towards us cackling and saying in a comedy horror voice 'I'm going to get youuuu!'

We both started screaming and fled in different directions as he was giggling like a maniac.

somehow we managed to find each other as we were ducked down scrambling through the trees. We were huddled together shaking and trying to keep quiet so he wouldn't find us. We kept sneaking a peek to see if we could spot him but he was nowhere to be seen.

We heard a laugh behind us and both jumped and screamed and ran again, I heard him say 'I'm going to get you!' again and I turned as I fled and saw him with outstretched arms and in my memory they were unfeasibly long and he was gargling and laughing and roaring.

We were both hiding badly behind a tree peeking out at him holding back our tears.

I can't remember what changed in us but we suddenly got the courage to fight back at him. We ran out from the tree and he was jumping from left to right in the shallow part of the river. We were in the river too and began to pick up pebbles and hurl them at him, shouting 'Get lost, leave us alone!'

He was still laughing and dodging the stones and kept running back and forth, then a good sized pebble hit him right on his forehead and he looked shocked and angry. Then all of a sudden he looked really scared and ran off into the woods.

We quickly got our things together and then ran off in the opposite direction towards the path which we knew would lead us home, we were both laughing as we ran, probably so that we wouldn't cry.

Neither of us told out mum when we returned as we knew she wouldn't let us go to the woods again.

It's strange that something as weird and scary as that could happen to us but it wouldn't deter us going out on our own again.

We never saw that scary man again, other scary men, just not that one, it was the early eighties after all.

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