They're coming up fast and they scuttle like rats
or cockroaches, spiders or skeletal fingers.
You can't place the noise and it stops when you pause:
there's nobody there but you quicken your pace

past graffiti, old newspapers, cracks in the path,
past mounds that could be old bundles of rags,
or tramps kipping down in the poorly-lit street,
or things out to get you...

The wind blows litter like curious creatures
that swirl round your ankles: though they look harmless
you're not wholly convinced that they don't have sharp teeth,
or claws, or scales, or poisonous stings.

The street is the same as you travelled last night,
but now it looks different. Was it this long?
Were the houses that shape before? Have they grown greyer?
Is it the same street at all? At which turning

or fork did you stray from the route that you knew?
You wonder how long you would lie if you fell
before anyone found you. Supposing they thought
you were just one more drunk who was sleeping it off?

What do they do with (to) strangers round these parts?
If they invited you in should you go?
What sort of strange things go on behind those
windows like unblinking eyes...

There's a roar (of an engine or monster), a scream
(of tyres or a woman). A figure approaches,
dressed all in black with a scarf round its face.
Is it human? If so, will it mug you? Is it werewolf

or vampire or alien, ghost? Or, perhaps,
it's someone as nervous as you are, and thinking
similar thoughts, as your civilised mind
forces your feet to keep straight on the path,

not break into flight. As you pass you are thinking:
NOW is the point where it will attack
if it's going to. The moment arrives, is over:
the figure walks past...

Here's a familiar door. Here's a key. This is it
turning. This is the door swinging open.
Here's a dark room. You walk in;
fumble to turn on the light, and find...



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