The Walk Of Attrition

The preparation was laborious, but necessary: without it he would surely die. Taking precautions might not have been in his nature, but only a fool would step out into that maelstrom without due care and attention. The layers were present: keep him warm. The hooded top pulled over his head, adjusted for comfort and its hood raised: the second line of defence. The main, waterproof shielding covering the rest of his upper body: it would, in theory, stop the worst of it.

With one last check and a tightening tug, he was ready.

His first step surprised him. Nothing. No blast in the fact, no instant meteorological fury raining down on him. But he knew better than to trust the calm – he knew this was a world that wouldn’t simply let him be.

But that concern – that fear – did nothing to stop his tentative pacing towards the wider world. And that’s when the truth of the situation began to rear its head. Whipped to the side, his stagger only stopped by reflexes honed over decades, this was weather that wasn’t simply going to let him be. It would be a challenge. It would be a battle.

But he was ready for it.

Progress was steady; even so he began to feel the strain. It wasn’t fast enough. It wasn’t aggressive enough. This was a conflict slipping out of his control and into enemy hands. Steeling himself and finding renewed vigour, he began to stride with confidence – with the self-assurance that can only come from knowing you have the quality to succeed.

The warning was there and it went unheeded. A branch. Blown. Snapped. Tossed to the ground. Landing not thirty centimetres in front of him, but for the effect it had it might as well have struck him down there and then. Shaken, he tried to continue. Pulling himself forward was all he could muster to push himself on, but it was hard.

Harder than he expected.

Lashing him from side to side, bombarding him with debris, washing out his vision and leaving the entire reason for this expedition a confused mess. Why was he here? What had he even stepped outside for? Could it have all been a mistake? Was this to be how it ended?

But then, at that moment, the line broke. Ferocity became but a memory. The weather knew it could not stop him. It knew it could not hold him back. It had thrown everything it had at him, and even though it had pushed him to the limits, he carried on. He did not stop.

It let him be. Let him walk on. Perfunctory gusts continued to ruffle the part of his fringe exposed throughout the ordeal, but the threat was no more.

This battle, as galling as it was for both sides, was over. One man won; weather lost.

But it did take ages for my jacket to dry out properly.


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