Fear Of Foxes

For many years I thought that owls were terrifying unearthly monsters that could attack you at any moment. I lived in constant dread of them, although I was too frightened to ever tell anyone about this. I imagined that they would swoop down silently from the sky and then eat the very brains from out of your head. You’d never know about it until it was far too late. That’s how terrified I was of owls. I didn’t even know what owls actually looked like, or anything like that. My frightened imagination filled in the details by all by itself. And then one day I found out that owls weren’t like that at all – I found out that this was just an idea that had somehow gotten lodged in my head. Isn’t it strange how, as children, ideas like this can frighten us so very much, ideas that have no basis in reality at all? Isn’t it strange how we can invent such terrors for ourselves out of nowhere, and then live in dread of them for years and years? My childhood was marred by owls (or by the fear of them, at any rate) and that’s just the way it was. That day is gone though: these days an owl could come right up to me and I wouldn’t be frightened at all! I was but a child then you see but now I am a man. Eccentric in my ways perhaps, but a man none the less for all that. Well, I have the body of a man at any rate – immensely heavy limbs and a vast corpulent stomach which spills out over my trousers. A curiously flat and inexpressive face, a face like a slab of meat, just like you might see at the butchers. A red face, a ruddy face – a face like a beetroot. Huge hands, hands like great shovels. A head like a misshapen potato supported by a neck which is as broad as most men are wide. No I’m not afraid of owls any more – I would batter them out of the sky with my immense fists. Fists the size of hams. No – the sky holds no terrors for me anymore. No matter what creatures there are that might call the sky their home they would be no match for me – I’d batter anything that came came at me, I’d batter it and batter it until there was nothing left of it but feathers fluttering in the air. I’d pulverize it. The creatures of the sky know this and they keep out of my way. They very wisely keep out of my way. I would show them no mercy. I would be like a windmill of fists – battering, battering, battering. Battering all that comes. Reducing all my airborne opponents to bloody pulp before you could say ‘Jack Robinson’. They know this and they stay out of my way. They know it instinctively. The creatures of the field and forest know this too – they too are careful to stay well out of the reach of my tremendous fists, which are the size of anvils and just as heavy when they land on you. One blow from me would stun an ox where it stood and this is no mere hyperbole. ‘Watch out you creatures of the field and forest!’ I say. Don’t wander too close to me for if you do you shall wander no more. Your days are wandering will be numbered. Your days of wandering will be forever cut short, so they will. They surely will. When I was younger I also had a fear of foxes. I didn’t even know what foxes were but I feared them all the same. I feared them more than I feared anything else in the whole wide world (with the exception of owls). I hadn’t a clue what they would look like or how big they would be. I did know anything about them other than the name, but the name alone was sufficient to frighten the life out of me. The name itself would do – the very mention of the word alone would be more than enough to reduce me instantly to quivering jelly. The other children used torment me because of my fear. ‘The fox is coming for you!’ they would tell me, and I would run shrieking down the road, overcome by nameless terrors, overcome by the fear of something that existed only in my own mind. It existed only in my own distorted understanding of the world and yet – at the same time – I couldn’t for the life of me have told you what a fox was or what it looked like. I could only tell you that it was bad – worse than anything you could ever possibly imagine. Anything apart from owls, that is. The mind is a funny thing isn’t it? How does it manufacture nightmares like this, and why? That was then though and this is now. I’m not subject to such terrors any more. I’m not subject to any terrors – I would batter anything that comes my way. I would batter it senseless…









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