The sun was rising steadily on an already bustling city as a solitary adventurer made his way out into the morning. He had read about a temple of local significance; one which should definitely be visited if the opportunity ever arose. And here it was, waking up under the lingering haze of the sunrise and with a lumbering energy that would soon become fully charged once its belly was filled. Opportunity pushed the adventurer into the street from the alleyway Inn that provided his bed and his day began.
Growing crowds bustled around him as the warm morning sunshine fought back the remnants of the previous night. Trams and cars pushed slowly through the city as young and elderly vendors alike peddled their sweet and savoury foodstuffs with shouts to everyone who passed within earshot. The scent of their wares wafted crisply on the breeze, filling the nostrils of all who wandered nearby while artificial light was steadily replaced by natural light. The adventurer stopped and turned towards the aroma; his stomach growled and the food beckoned his immediate attention.
He fumbled in his pocket and after clumsily pointing out his desired meal, exchanged paper and semi-precious metals for sustenance. His feet began moving almost unconsciously again as his breakfast and the steadily growing hustle of the city transformed his lethargic determination into excited anticipation. Soon enough he found himself on a bus and heading towards the temple that was his destination for the morning.
Arriving at the hallowed site, the adventurer cast his gaze over the temple and its surroundings. Unfortunately, that which had been touted as a “must see” by guides was either in a different location entirely or had just plain lost its appeal. Still, never one to judge on first appearances, he wandered the grounds and hoped for the best. Earlier than he had anticipated – and somewhat nonplussed by the experience, the adventurer turned back towards the exit and soon found himself hoping for another adventure.
As luck would have it, one was already awaiting him. He had noticed a large memorial dome on one of the surrounding hills on his way to the temple and determined that this site instead would provide him with the cultural and semi-spiritual experience he sought. The snap decision to further explore the suburban region on the way, however, turned the tide yet again for this young man. After numerous twists and turns through crooked streets populated by houses which were all unnervingly similar in structure, the adventurer found himself atop a hill which overlooked the entirety of Hiroshima.
Sadly, it also exposed the fact that he was, yet again, in the wrong place. As he cast his eye across the expansive landscape before him, his glance came to rest on the memorial dome he had been meaning to visit. On a completely different hill.
Unperturbed and ever adaptable, the adventurer nodded his head sharply and his itinerary shuffled again. Approvingly surveying the city below him once more, he turned and headed back down the hill. He would return tonight with his camera, to document on digital film this inspiring sight.
Evening climbed over the city at the appropriate time (which was approximately 5:38pm) and the intrepid adventurer began his trek yet again upwards through the untamed hills of Hiroshima. Being the manly (or, most applicably, unprepared) adventurer that he was he carried with him only the bare essentials – bottled water, his camera and the clothes on his back. Notice the fact that there is no torch listed here. It is an important fact that contributes necessarily to the fear factor to which I am building.
Pushing through the underbrush was quite an easy task for him as the brush cover was sparce on this particular hill. The stars shone through the canopy and while the moon wasn’t full, there was sufficient light from the night sky and the seemingly eerie glow of the city below to ensure that the adventurer’s feet rarely missed a strong step. Nevertheless, the night had plans for this particular fellow…
As he neared the final stage of his trek up the hill, a sound in the trees ahead made the adventurer pause. The sound instantly conjured images in his head. Being a peaceful soul, his instincts were hardly visceral and he hoped that the images in his head were incredibly inaccurate. Judging only by the sound he heard, the adventurer was reasonably sure that he had interrupted the nighttime antics of a bush pig. And a significantly large one at that.
Turning slowly, the adventurer quickly pondered an alternate route. After waiting a few minutes, he took a hesitant step. And another. At the third though, the sound returned. It was not alone. The adventurer stopped again, hearing not one, but two large, rustling bodies moving through the forest. Routing, snuffling, hopefully truffling and heedless of the strange man who just wanted to take a photo. Fear awoke in his chest and, fed by the night and the disembodied sounds around him, it rose into his throat and forced his heartbeat into a jittering dance.
Fighting to quell the fear, the adventurers eyes strained in the dark to put figures against the sounds. It was no use and then the stakes were raised yet again. A third creature began thrashing the underbrush behind him. He was penned in. Standing helplessly in the dark, indefensible and surrounded by creatures who were on familiar territory. There seemed to be a synchronisation of movement through the scrub, as though the beasts were telepathically communicating, planning a delicate and beautiful ballet of death, to which the adventurer would play the penultimate price.
With no further recourse, and gripped by terrified illogic, the adventurer broke the silence. Without knowing whether the aggressors were human or beast, he could not think. He simply reacted. Words trickled from his lips, oddly they were not drenched in fear. “I mean you no harm. I’m just here to take a photo of the city, I’ll be gone before you know it.”
Maybe it was the words. Maybe they understood and were satisfied. Maybe they sensed that he was afraid and they were compassionate. Maybe they just weren’t interested in this strange man on their mountain. After about a minute, the sounds moved further into the darkness. After two more minutes, the adventurer regained the use of his limbs and climbed cautiously to the crest of the hill. He took his photos carefully but quickly and returned silently to the safety of the bright city lights.
Somewhere, under the cover of darkness and in the safety of their forested home, three squirrels were probably laughing themselves silly after their great prank.