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Scared out of my mind was how I felt last Easter. In fact I don’t think that ‘scared out of my mind’ goes far enough to describe my fear that cold, damp and misty night.
The ‘mad, drunk man incident’ occurred when I was out on a camping trip with five friends of mine. Stupidity is something that comes very naturally to people our age and I am no different from normal. On the night in question I think we had been given an extra dose; on this occasion we took stupidity to its limits.
In Carinish, the village in which we were camping, there is a tidal sea loch. The loch lies between the local pub and a hill. Our tents were behind this hill. At high tide the water provides a good barrier between the hill, behind which our campsite was set up, and the pub; at low tide the sand becomes dry and you could walk across.
After attempting, and failing abysmally, to blow up a fence post with a banger, and still feeling in the mood for insanity, we got out a laser pen and headed over to a hill opposite the pub. We had a brilliant plan. The brilliant plan was to sit on the hill and shine the pen at the drunks as they emerged from the pub. This plan, we thought had the added brilliance of the sea barrier that would keep us safe from anybody who wanted to chase us…we thought.
2a.m: closing time. Drunken people began to move out into the open, into our trap, the laser pen went on and the first drunkard was doused in red light. He spun around, pointed towards us and ran behind a bus. We laughed and moved on to our next victims, a group of three young men. They didn’t seem to care. After a few minutes one of them moved off. Originally we didn’t think anything of it. Fifty seconds later we thought a lot of it. We stupidly hadn’t realised that the tide was out. The young man had and was running full pelt across the dry sand. This man was no longer just pissed; he was pissed off.
Fear hit me like one of Mike Tyson’s fists. I turned and sprinted up the hill with my friends. I slipped and fell. I heard his breathing (in between a seemingly endless repertoire of cursing) and could smell the alcohol on his breath. I scrambled to my feet, shot up the hill and disappeared into the darkness. Danger had not passed. When we reached the camp site we looked back to see the silhouette of the man standing menacingly on the top of the hill, with the orange-yellow glow of the pub lights behind him. He was like some kind of mass murderer hunting for his next victims, us. I was petrified. I closed my eyes and prayed for him to disappear. Luckily for me he did. When I opened my eyes he had gone. Back over to the pub I presumed. After a few minutes we went back over to the shore to make sure that he had gone.
When we got there I became even more frightened; there were footprints coming across the shore towards us but there were none going back. What if he was at the camp? Waiting for us. Was he there planning an ambush? We returned to our tents slowly and cautiously making as little noise as possible. We stuck together for protection and checked around the tents for him. Was he there? Thankfully no. Maybe he decided it would be unwise to attack a group of five teenage boys single handed; maybe he had already gone; maybe he was still there hiding, who knows? I certainly never saw him again.
To say that we were lucky would be the understatement of the millennium. We were way more than lucky. You never know what an annoyed drunk man might do. If we were unlucky I might not have been here to write this story down. Some forensic scientists and the Western Isles police might have had something exciting (if you can call murder inquiries exciting) to do.
Since then I have learnt to be more careful when I am out and not to get on the wrong side of the wrong people. I have also begun to channel my stupidity and insanity into other things. I am now less likely to shine laser pens at drunks and more likely to cycle at top speed off the top of a sand dune. What I am not sure of is whether it was this experience that set off the change or whether it was the natural end to a phase. Maybe I subconsciously knew that I would never outdo that night and therefore there was no point trying any more. Whatever the reason was, I know that the experience one that I’ll remember for a very long time. That night is still as vivid in my mind as 9/11 is.