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Crack! The business end of the whip was getting closer, he was running as fast as he could but he was getting nowhere, they were gaining. He knew he would soon feel the lash of the whip biting his flesh. Crack! He put on a spurt then tripped oh God! I can not recover from this he thought as he rolled over to see how close they were, but his eyes would not open, his movements desperately slow and restricted, he was fighting, but fighting with himself. Crack the noise was so loud his eyes eventually flew open and he half sat up.

Now awake from the nightmare, he was sweating and his heart was racing, he flopped back into the bed. Crack; Crack; Crack. He heard it again, but he was awake, how could this be, he thought, his mind was in turmoil. In order to focus on the sound, his ears tuned in but he closed his eyes again.

“Crack” He heard it again it was faint not the ear splitting crack of his nightmare but it was definitely there, now his eyes were open again and he was up on one elbow. His room was always very dark and although he did not look at the clock he thought it was near daybreak as there was a warmish glow from around the edges of the shutters on the windows. Jack was wide awake now and up from his bed. He looked at the clock, forcing his eyes to focus, it was 2:12. The turmoil in his mind tried to re-compute another factor that did not add up. He stood there shaking his head, trying to make some sense out of this nonsense. Although his body was awake his mind was still slow, at this time in the morning there should no light from out side, where he lived in the hills of Gondar Northern Portugal there was no light pollution as there were no street lights, well not out here in the sticks as he called it. He moved towards the window and the shutters. Opening the wooden shutters he cursed his mind again for being so slow. He was struggling to comprehend the vision that his eyes were seeing, his body was working on reflex now, he was putting on some clothes from the chair in the corner of the room before his mind told him what his eyes had already seen, the nearest farm to his was on fire.

Jack raced through his house like a man possessed. This area was not like England the fire fighters could take hours before they reached these backwaters, if they came at all, he knew he had to help. Outside he threw the petrol driven pump and its hoses in the back of the pick up and raced down the track that skirted his vines towards the lane at the far end of his property. He thought the noise would wake Carolina but she was in no danger where she was. The vines although vulnerable to fire were not on his mind at all he was trying to save property and possibly life. These two things belonged to a neighbour, one he had never spoken to, they lived at the end of the lane, the wrong end, and no one ever passed this property as the lane ended here. Even if you were at the property boundary there were still hundreds of meters of dirt track before you would reach the buildings.

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