Notes I know that some of these bits are going to contradict each other. I’m world building, and laying down the basis of the plot. I’ve also got an idea now of the format for the final version and this publishing order isn’t it. I’m writing stuff as I think of it and publisjhing it as fast as I can.
I’m going to need a bike trailer, if only to transport my stuff back from the storage. Luckily, Robinson knows where I can get one made.
I asked him about it as we set off from his house to go hunting. We make our way to the nearest section of old railway line. Lots of these old cuttings have been converted into paths. This one hasn’t been surfaced yet, but it’s been levelled and drainage sorted out.
“There’s a workshop in Fallowfield, in the market in the old supermarket. They’ll do everything from a simple fix to a full frame and rebuild. I’m sure they’d be able to build a trailer. Up here.”
We cut up the embankment and go through a hole in a tall chainlink fence, and then we’re in a ghost town. There are a number of cookie cutter estate houses in pinkish brick. From our right they devolve from finished buildings lacking windows and doors through walls without roofs to laid concrete foundations and collapsed trenches. The streets around the houses have been tarmacced as far as the trenches and point optimistically into a stand of trees. There is collapsed scaffolding and an abandoned, rusted and burnt out digger. “It’s the Marie Celeste of building sites.” I have to say.
“The company collapsed with the housing market. They couldn’t even sell the land and equipment to pay off their creditors. People sometimes squat in the more finished buildings, but they move on when they realise they can do better. There’s a big rabbit warren somewhere in the trees and when they get too frisky they come into the allotments. So I come out here and trim their numbers from time to time.”
We set up in one of the skeleton houses, its walls tumbled down in the direction of the woodland. Robinson takes the rifle out and checks it. He pops out the magazine and hands it to me to load. When he’s got the sight mounted he hands the gun to me, “Care to have a go? Get the sight set in.”
I stand against the wall, getting comfortable with the gun. The last time I fired a weapon still invades my dreams, but it’s easy to tell myself this is different. There’s a rabbit in the grass before the nearest tree. I point it out to Robinson and sight on it. He has binoculars that look like ruggedised opera glasses that he can watch the rabbit with.
Breathe in, bring up the pressure on the trigger and pull it as I breathe out. The rifle cracks and kicks very slightly. The rabbit hardly even leaves the sights. Its ears twitch at the noise, but it doesn’t move. “High and a little to the left.” Robinson tells me.
After a little adjustment I take aim again, chambering another round. This time the rabbit jumps and then falls over. There are another two near it. They seem startled by the sudden movement, but stay still long enough for me to get one. Even the one that gets away doesn’t go far, and I get it easily when Robinson points it out.
Within five minutes I’ve got six rabbits. I pop out the empty magazine and hand the rifle back to Robinson as I reload it. “Let’s go and collect them and see if we can get any squirrels.” he suggests. He’s been picking up the shell casings as I’ve fired and pocketing them for future reuse.
In amongst the trees we rest against a trunk and Robinson stands with the rifle at the ready as we listen for rustling in the branches. He flicks the gun up and fires. A small grey furred body drops out of the branches. Gun still raised, he scans the branches and fires another two times. Two more squirrels plummet from the foliage. There’s a lot of movement in the branches, squirrels moving so fast that Robinson can’t get a bead on them. He lets the rifle rest again. “Good enough for a morning’s work.” he announces.
Back at his house Robinson guts and skins the rabbits and squirrels with ease. He wraps one of each in waxed paper and bags them for me. “You’re a good shot. Get yourself a gun and you’ll not lack meat.”
“I might do that.” I don’t have a great history with guns, but there’s no point in going into that with him.
“You’ll impress your new landlady, anyway.” He has that special kind of grin and I wonder if there’s some gossip network he’s connected into.
On the way back to the house I hook a right onto another old railway cutting and head for Fallowfield. At the other end of the track is the old Sainsburys. It’s been taken over by a cooperative of local traders and craftspeople. The old car park is home to temporary stalls, a flea market of sorts, whilst the building itself houses more permanent structures. There’s a lot of recycled and repurposed stuff- it’s incredible what you can make from old car parts.
The bike shop is out in a corner, where the deli counter used to be. The preparation and storage room has been converted to a workshop and the shop itself is given over mostly to showing off the wares. There are a lot of the sit up and beg frames I’ve been seeing so many of, but also a couple of more ornate rides. The guy fettling the brakes on a recumbent looks familiar, even with all the metal in his face. He doesn’t know me, but he recognises my bike. “That looks like one of mine.” he says as I prop it against the counter.
“You built it for me about six years ago.”
“Go on! I’s looking good for six years old.”
“Yeah, well, it has been in storage for most of them.”
“Fair enough. What does it need doing to it?”
“I’m looking for a trailer for it.”
“Now that could be a challenge.” He comes around the counter to check out the bike. After a minute or so of checking the seat post and rear axle he smiles. “I think I have just the thing.” He pops back through the door and I can hear the clanking of frame against frame as he goes through his stash. When he returns he’s holding up the remains of a child’s pedal car. “I’ll put some cycle wheels on the back, cut off the steering wheel and the seat and the arms for the front wheels. Then a hitch on the back of the bike to attach it to and I’m sure I’ve got a plastic tub to bolt to it for carrying stuff.”
“We’ll see how much work there is. And it depends on what you’re paying with.”
“I seem to have a little bit of everything.”
“So long as you don’t want to barter dead things.” he points at the bag hooked over the handle bars. The waxed paper has leaked some blood and its pooling at the bottom. “I’m a vegetarian. I do take fruit and veg though. Or other barter.”
“I mostly have hard currency at the moment. And the other question is when can you make it for?”
“Next week. If you can leave a deposit.”
After a bit of haggling and the exchange of paper I have the promise of a bike trailer.