He got off the plane in Dublin, full of hope and excitement. The sun was shining and so was he. The village was a mere 3 hour bus ride from here. The village he’d heard so much about. Heard it all from his friends in the big city. The ones who came from the village, grew up there. And now he was looking forward to visiting them in their homeland, where they had returned to settle down. He boarded the bus and found his seat. He looked out the window as he thought of all the things they would do once he reached the village. See the sights. The beautiful countryside. The friendly people. Get to know the locals. Become one of them. He didn’t notice the time go by so quick until he reached the ballygawley line and realised he was only twenty moments away. He noticed up ahead the grey clouds looming. The day seemed to get darker all of a sudden and within moments he noticed they were driving into the middle of a rainstorm. He noticed a distinct waft running into his nostrils and through the heavy rain-soaked windows he caught a glimpse of the meat factory. He was close. The bus pulled up in what felt like the centre of the rainstorm. He had arrived. But there was nobody there to greet him. For the past twenty minutes he had been trying to call his friends to notify them of his approach, but there was zero phone signal on the bus. And the centre of the village wasn’t any better. His phone was out of action. He entered a rusty phone box that smelt like a toilet and called his friends from there. He was excited to see what they had in store. A wholesome hike? A nice meal? They told him to cross the bridge and come to the pub. They had been in there all day awaiting his arrival. At least it will be dry, he thought, and headed for the pub in question. When he entered, drenched from the rain, he seen his friends, but barely noticed them. They looked older. Haggard. Dead in the eyes. But they were happy to welcome him. A table of pints were in front of him when he sat down and they were quickly skulled by those around him. They looked to him to get the next round in. He attempted small talk with a local but got met with a silent and violent stare. He realised it best to keep his mouth shut from here on in. When returning to the table he realised just how drunk and deranged everyone was. He would have to play catch up to get on their wavelength as they were already miles ahead. Someone decided to elevate the scenario. After the pints of beer came the shots of mezcal. Debauchery quickly ensued. He had went from zero to a hundred in what felt like moments. The rest of the day went by in a drunken haze. Details and events were lost in a sea of alcohol, Only fragments of memory remained. Snapshots. Moments of mayhem. Broken glass. Blood. Anger. He awoke in the same pub. The next morning. Alone. In a Santa hat. There was nobody else around. Even the barman wasn’t there. He looked from the window. It was still dark outside. Dark and rainy. He had no idea what time it was, but there wasn’t a light on in the village. It could have been 3am. His head was splitting as he tried to recall the previous days events. But he was coming up blank. And filling in those blanks with a paranoid mind. He searched for headache tablets to ease the pain. It wasn’t looking good. He tried sleeping again but that wasn’t working either. He was still drunk enough to realise that the only thing left to do might be to drink more alcohol. He poured himself a beer and within half a pint his headache had lifted and the sweating stopped. He sat there alone, drinking, for a few more pints, until the light of dawn entered the room. He heard the hustle and bustle of morning as people went to work. He left the pub to greet the day, but taking one look outside he quickly realised he would not blend well in his current state. He went back inside to his haven and decided to wait for signs of life in the pub. His phone was still out of signal and he couldn’t find one in the bar. He lay on the pool table and for a few bliss lmoments drifted into a very deep and comfortable sleep. Then suddenly the doors burst open and his friends came rushing in, picking him up and pouring whisky down his throat. It all happened in a flash. The next thing he remembers is being in the back of a moving vehicle, driving through the mountains, a madman at the wheel. The other people in the car seemed vaguely familiar, but they weren’t his friends. Nobody seemed sane. The car swerved around what seemed like a field, until it got stuck in the mud. The rain still hadn’t stopped and it seemed to be night time again. Everyone got out of the car and ran in separate directions. He was alone again, and had no idea where he was. He curled up in the car and fell into a semi sleep for several hours until he woke in fright, shivering. It was morning again. A dank, bleak, dreary morning. Grey skies and rain awaited him as he exited the car, into the muddy field. He stumbled through the bog until he came to a road, upon which he walked for what felt like days, thumb extended in the hope of hitching a ride. Finally he seen some signs of humanity, when a tractor pulled up beside him. The farmer didn’t seem to speak the same language as him, but he signalled for him to get on board. He jumped on the tractor and they headed toward the village, driving at a snails pace without a word spoken between them, the only sound was the loud engine which penetrated his brain like a drill. When he reached the village the only place he knew was the pub and the bus depot. He wasn’t going back into that pub so instead opted for the bus depot. He bought the first ticket out of town and headed for the airport. When he got beyond the ballygawley line, the clouds lifted and the rain cleared. The sun was shining again and all felt slightly more ok. He rested his head against the window and slowly drifted off. He was bruised. But he had escaped. He would never return to that village for as long as he lived.