The Perils of Possum Point is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between persons, organisations or events described here and actual persons, organisations or events is purely unintentional.

Running with the Pack

Ned had been taking his exercise by walking along the path which led through the trees down by the beach at Possum Point. As he had been tending to grow more rotund day by day on a diet of ice cream bars and beer, he decided to convert the walk into a run, therefore expending more calories than were taken in. For this noble mission, he established an absolute habit, and every day at around five pm he submitted himself to this torture.

The run grew to extend through the forest, up the track, through the bush, nearby the farm country, in and out of vegetation, next to the trees, beside the horse track and around the twist. It was a good seven kilometers or more, all of an uneven nature, and his prowess at running did begin to grow.

So greatly determined was Ned, in fact, that he invested a full $20 in running shoes at the Warehouse store. And the agony began to recede, so that he no longer gasped as much, or had those pains in the chest, or saw the great white light with a voice calling him hither.

This being the same track upon which he had walked previously, retreating, yeah, into his Private Space, he did still suffer from the disagreeable elements--horses, motorbikes, and etcetera. These he could avoid by choosing his time. But a new danger emerged. People had begun to bring their untethered mongrels to walk and run along the very same path. And so, there were great slavering Alsatians and Rottweilers at loose, the owners not in sight. And these dogs consider runners their lawful prey.

It became Ned's custom to turn toward another track whenever he saw such brutish menace about. He learned almost to catch the scent of their approach, and exit before they could bare fangs, growl and make their lunge. He also learned that the ultrasonic dog repeller purchased at the computer store had no actual effect, being more likely to incite the dogs either to extreme irritability or to canny laughter. Another store had informed him with horror that pepper spray was illegal.

So, running one day, and visiting his Special Place, he neglected to note the oncoming rush of two such mongrels, and had to turn rather abruptly to get out of the way. "Ouch!" he informed himself, as he felt a twinge in his ankle. He took no further note until he ended the run and returned home.

When a mass of, say, 150 kilos or so turns abruptly whilst suspended by toothpicks, inertia tends to twist those toothpicks into previously unforseen shapes. If the toothpicks are not greatly resilient, as where they are actually the dangling legs of our hero, the damage can be quite interesting. As indeed it was.

The twinge shortly became irritating, then developed into a stabbing pain. "This is not really good," said Ned to himself. He talked first to Mavis Gromlin, who suggested an ice pack and herbal tea. Of course, Trevor Magill suggested meditation. Jason said, "Bloody hell, take it to a physio." Which he did.

The physio was a nice lady in Rangiora who examined his leg, clucked a bit, then mentioned a variety of faults such as "microfractures," "shin splints," "muscles pulled violently away from the joint," and other things. She pointed out some of these things on an anatomical diagram that might just as well have portrayed a side of beef. Ned did get the idea, however, that all of this was "not very good."

This process went on, and involved some treatments of ultrasound, and electrical something, and massage, and some salves. There was talk of electrical inductance being applied so that the ions would flow freely, thereby leading to improved healing at the cellular level. Ned imagined the friendly little ions, going about their business, and he approved. Important to get those ions on your side.

A podiatrist was also introduced, and Ned now had to buy special shoes and put things into them. The shoes cost $200 dollars, and looked just like the ones he had bought at the Warehouse. He also had to use some ice packs, and he limped all around, and the whole thing went on for months.

Now, a long time earlier, Ned had developed a form of sleep apnia, in which he did not breathe for long minutes, unless he fell asleep sitting up. Other people listening as he slept tended to say things like "we thought you were dead," and once he woke up whilst visiting relatives with the sheet pulled over his face. The irritation of the foot injury seemed to make the apnia worse, as it became more difficult to sleep. If he lay down and fell asleep, a medley of sounds would erupt, something like:

Huck, sneeeeeeeee. OAAAaaaawrow. Shnottttt.
<pause one minute>
shlurble.
<pause>
Ow! Ow! Ow! Hrrumpf!
<pause>
Schnorkel, schnorkel, OAAAaaaawrow.
Schnottttt.

"I see now that all exercise is bad," said Ned to himself. "It should not be done, and only leads to injury and pain. I should, rather, just sit in front of my computer instead." He snarfled down an ice cream bar, washing it down with a Steinlager.

"...sleeping in bed is also bad. Tch, tch. What to do, what to do?"

"Ah, now I have it," he chortled a low chortle, and slightly drooled. "I should never actually move from this chair!"

Coming to this conclusion, Ned felt once more content and secure, and all was right in his world.

He dreamed of chasing mongrel dogs back up the path, slavering great gobs of his own slaver, grinding his own great yellow teeth...snarling and nipping the at the rotund buttocks of their owners.

 Copyright 2000 Brian J. Dooley