The weather is always pleasant in this city for a walk at any time of the day. The pathways are well kept though the roads go up and down in the undulating terrain. Despite the salubrious climate, there were always very few who walked except an occasional old lady with her dog or a stray young couple jogging along. I always took the pathway that ran along the main road. In the middle of my usual route, there was one place where the pathway forked with one of them taking the walkers through a heavy thicket almost forest like on both sides. Semi circular the route, it eventually joined the main road. Once you are in that narrow path you never knew what lay on either side of the bushes and how far the forest extended. My grandson used to scare me that coyotes are generally seen though a big bear had appeared once from the forest on the main road. I therefore avoided going through that usually deserted way though the young boy would plead with me to take that route and even succeeded once in taking me along with him in this trail. Except that it was longer and had more ups and downs, it was actually cool and quiet except for the chirping of birds, the rustle of leaves and the noise of water flowing possibly though some creek inside the greenery.
It was one fateful weekday when I do not remember what overtook me to cast aside the usual caution and venture into that route. Everything went fine till I had gone deep into that narrow pathway that was slightly dark as the sunlight was hidden. Suddenly out of the blue there appeared a little yonder two rattle snakes intertwined in the middle of the path. I knew they were no water snakes but the venomous type from the rattle sound that emanated from their tails. I stopped abruptly wanting to turn back and rush to the open space. Though the vipers did not slither towards me, they were watching my movement. I stood still almost petrified afraid to instigate them to attack me. A few minutes passed by and they showed no inclination to disappear into the shrub but remained where they were watching me through their sharp glistening eyes.
It was then I heard shuffling of feet behind me. Wondering whether it could be some joggers, I turned to see to my great horror a large bear with stocky legs, dark and shaggy hair and a dirty wet snout, its paws were big with long claws and I could see the short tail as it ambled towards me from afar. With danger from both sides and virtually no exit on the sideways, I was paralyzed with fear. My throat went dry,limbs got numb and clothes got drenched with perspiration. As ill luck would have it, I had left my cell phone on the dining table. The bear was closing in and its angry snorts made no secret of its violent intentions.
Afraid to scream I froze in fear when what seemed a hand from the shrubbery pulled me inside away from the road. Strangely there was no one around making me confused. It was scary but the thought that I had escaped from the snakes and bear momentarily was comforting. I had a glimpse of the stream with gurgling water for a moment before I noticed to my shock two crocodiles slowly crawling towards me. I moved backwards with my body coming into contact with the thick foliage when I felt a hand press my shoulders. Slightly relieved I turned to see again to my great horror a pair of bony hands on both shoulders clasping around the neck. There was an eerie laughter that sent chill in my spine and the last I remember before I fainted was that I let out a shrill scream that would have been heard even in the distant road.
I heard indistinct voices and several hands gently shaking me when I opened my eyes in the large lounge of the North Shore mall. There were anxious eyes on me and I was blinking in embarrassment. It was then my grandson and daughter came running from the huge Apple stores that was just opposite and asked me with great worry “What happened, Appa? Are you ok? You declined to come with us preferring the lounge to watch the jungle picture on the TV.. Why did you scream?”
When I kept quiet, someone who was sitting by my side said “He was uttering something about snakes, crocodiles and bears. Maybe he dozed away while seeing jungle picture”
There were loud guffaws and peals of laughter to the chagrin of my grandson and embarrassment of daughter. On our way back home in the car, my grandson said emphatically to my daughter “Mom,I will no more accompany grandpa to mall”