Susan shuddered as a blast of icy wind hit her. She quickly tightened her coat around as much of her body as she could and covered her head with the fur lined hood. Winter shouldn't be this depressing, she thought to herself. Then she remembered her old grandmother's advice: When It's cold, exercise, move around more, get the circulation going. Only lazy beggars stay cold in winter. She smiled and broke into a jog past the leafless trees and deserted houses.

      The road went down hill and out of the village. Somehow, the road was familiar and yet somehow, it wasn't. Where was she? She thought she knew but then she wasn't so sure. The total lack of living things disturbed her. Where were ail the people? No cars, no animals in the fields. No birds in the sky or perched in rows on power lines. No sheep, no cows, no nothing, where was everything? Now out of breath, and panting hard, she stopped and noticed the sky was strange too. The clouds were high and scudding rapidly. The sun was casting bright, penetrating rays through them producing shafts of yellow light. Any second, she thought to herself, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse will burst out from the sun and ride along them.

      Regaining her breath, she decided to jog further along the road which went up a high hill. Hopefully, the answers to her many questions would be on the other side. The other side, she thought, what other side? The other side of what? If there was anybody there on this other side at least she could ask them. She jogged on, looking forward anxiously to what might be on the other side but still unable to remember clearly where she had come from or what she had been doing there.

      Her only memory was being with Carl, the love of her life, in the basement games room of his house. They had made love on the snooker table; it had been amazing. She was utterly, totally, madly in love with Carl and had fallen asleep, aglow in his arms. She had been wakened abruptly by a long distant deep booming sound from outside. Carl had gone to pick his kids up from school, she recalled, so she would have to get out of the house before his wife came home from work. Some of it was coming back to her now. When she'd stepped outside, a feeling of desolation had swamped her.

      As she jogged up the hill, various theories about what might have happened to her went through her head. Perhaps 'they', whoever 'they' might be, had dropped the Bomb. Not a nasty nuclear device but a neutron bomb designed to eradicate all life and leave everything else intact. Beings from another planet would want to do that, she reasoned, because dealing with all the billions of humans would be messy in the extreme.

      If it hadn't been a bomb, then maybe it had been a time-slip when she was in the throes of passion with Carl. She chuckled to herself; talk about the Earth moving! But if it had been a time-slip, then which.way? Forwards or backwards? Everything looked twenty-first century apart from the absence of animal life so surely it couldn't be much further into the future. But then again, she reasoned, that maybe at a push, it could be mid twentieth century country. But where? Where on the planet had it been like this? She stopped for a rest. This hill was steeper than she had at first thought. While resting, she had another thought; maybe she was dreaming all this and would wake up with Carl again. She pinched herself and was disappointed to find that she didn't wake up.

      Gathering her senses and strength together, she looked and saw that the top of the hill was still a long way away. The place where she had come from appeared quite close. Hopefully, she thought to herself, there would be a place soon where she could get something to eat and drink. She felt in her pocket and took out some coins. The writing on them was in a language she had never seen. It was made up of symbols she couldn't decipher. That fact made her shudder more than the icy blast of the wind. She couldn't have, they wouldn't have would they? Why her? Another explanation boomed out at her; had she been abducted by aliens? Had they, with their advanced technology, planted her mind here while they performed medical experiments on the rest of her? She quickly felt all her vital parts and everything seemed as it should be. But then she reasoned, it would be wouldn't it. Otherwise the temporary, she hoped, mind transplant the aliens had done wouldn't have succeeded. She began questioning her own sanity.

      As she jogged on, the question of how anybody could legitimately call themselves sane arose in her mind. How did they know? Could they prove it? At least a patient discharged from a mental hospital had a certificate to say they were considered sane. No, definitely no, she was not insane, she said to herself. She had all her senses and even some recent memory but where the hell was she? The top of the hill seemed to be only inching closer and where she had come from stayed about the same. Despair was not normally in her make-up but it did this time start to cross her mind. Me, give up? I'm much too tough for that, she said to herself. Nothing and nobody puts me down. But really this time, she knew she might be kidding herself a little. She braced herself against the wind and fixed a determined look on her face. If 'they', whoever 'they' might be, wanted a fight she would give them one.

      Now appearing much closer to the top of the hill, she began to feel quite weary and stopped to rest again. Another theory of what might have happened occurred to her. Perhaps Carl's wife had arrived home from work just as she had been leaving the house and in a jealous rage, had run her over with her car. She was now in a coma in hospital and that was why nothing made sense any more. Trouble is, she thought to herself,

how can you possibly know if you are in a coma or not? You can't, it's not possible is it? To actually be in a coma means you are deeply unconscious, so you couldn't feel or know anything anyway. This theory was going round in ever decreasing circles. The aliens, she reasoned, were much more plausible. Aliens more plausible, what am I saying? she said to herself. There really will have to be little green men in flying saucers at the other side of this hill.

      A little further on, she came upon a roadside Inn that was set back from the road in a lay-by. She could see the outline of people inside. She entered hoping to get a drink and was staggered by what she found. The place was full of men in lederhosen and garden gnomes that were life size and had the face of Carl's wife. The men all had the face of Carl. None of the figures moved and they were all posed like shop window dummies. She gulped deeply and fled from the place.

      The top of the hill was now only a few yards away. She stopped as the road ended abruptly. There was only fog in front and sky above. It was as if the hill had been cut in half by some giant blade, like a loaf of bread cut in half with a knife. She lay down where the road ended and reached down into the fog, but she could feel nothing. She put her head over into the fog, half expecting to see St. Peter, but she saw nothing, only fog.

There is no way back now, she said to herself, I must go over this ledge and hope salvation is there.As she plunged into oblivion she saw Carl happy and smiling with his wife and children. When he had --ended their affair, she'd had no alternative but to climb on to the high bridge parapet and jump off. All that Susan had just experienced, had happened before she hit the water below.