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Onwards From Midnight

Midnight passed with a breath of cooler wind over the baking grassland. The sky should have been black, flecked with stars for this night, but instead it was a sullen orange, bloody, brooding, broken clouds reflecting the lights below. The air resonated to the sound of the drummers, squatting blank eyed around the campfires, beating away the night, calling in the dawn, feeling the sound echo off the distant, ancient stones, drumming onward to the climax of their year.

Over in a shelter of roughly stitched coarse woven cloth, away from the campfire light, two people sweated away the hours until that dawn.

"I'm afraid," she whispered. ....Oh my pretty one, my sweet Walks-with-wind...how can you fear, when you know we must do this. Is not the Eye of the World upon us? Are we not bound inextricably in this, being what we are, and must be, and must do, lest the knowing of us fade from the world?....but Roots-Of-Oak left the words unsaid; words were not enough. So he stroked her flaxen hair, braided with leaves and flowers, as she knelt with her head resting on his lap. Together. Being. Feeling.

She shivered, and whispered again, "I'm afraid."

Gently he pulled her to him. "No," he murmured, "not afraid: unknowing. In knowledge there is power, but in pain there is magic."

He felt her skin, bare and hot. The sound of his hand blended with the drums. "Pain is magic; pain is strength; pain is renewal; pain is growth. You know these things, my love, and this is why we will walk, run in joy, together tomorrow."

She moved, swayed, with his hand, breathed with his hand, cried out in her ecstasy of understanding and the Oak caught the Wind in his fingers, and bound her to him. .
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As the first flush of the sun suffused the lip of the distant hills the tribe gathered. The drummers beat in a frenzy and as one they moved, dulled with herbs and thick with sleep, chanting, "Yah! Yah!": wordless expression, stumbling, running, faster, faster, on to the henge, on to the dawn, and at their head Walks-with-wind and Roots-of-Oak ran hand in hand, faster, freer on to dawn and destiny. .
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Down by the stones, Bert Scroggins, security guard, Grade 3, with the Department of the Environment groaned as he saw the raggedy band come shambling across the fields. "Every bloody year we go through this...ruddy hippies"

"Dunno why we don't just let them come in and prance around," muttered his colleague, next in line as they linked arms around the fence. "Not as if it'll make much difference to them!" He indicated the massive sarsen stones with a contemptuous nod of his head.

And on the A303 the first lorries of the day thundered through the morning mist towards the distant lights of Salisbury......

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