Written by Rupert Thomson
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The Five Gates of Hell, 1991
After two days the roads drew him inland, over high mountains, and soon he was heading due west. The mountains lay down, sprawled on the land like tired dogs. Then there were no mountains at all. Sometimes he saw a row of trees on the horizon. In the heat-haze they were saints walking on water, they didn’t seem to touch the ground at all. Towards nightfall the sun balanced on the end of the road and then not even his special lenses helped. He’d be half-blind by the time he stopped for sleep, his vision clunking with green and purple balls. In the mornings, standing in some motel parking lot, the air scorched his lungs, it was like breathing the air above a fire. He drove with the windows shut. It was cooler.
He could look away from the sofa now, back into the room. The blood was sprinting through his veins, it was like a relay race, he saw a runner kick off a curve, hand the baton to another runner, who kicked again, a relay race all round the tight circuit of his blood.
© 1991 Rupert Thomson; London: Bloomsbury