When I was fourteen I went to a camp, and one of my duties was going to pick up the mail to a farm located one mile and a half away. The shortest way to get there was an abandoned train track. The iron rails had disappeared and only the wooden beams, loosened, remained among the stones. So, I used to go every day along that path, alone or accompanied by another camper.
I used to step on the wood and avoid the stones. The path was pleasant, shady and fresh, with lots of trees forming like a green tunnel. The sun filtered through the leaves and the light was golden and beautiful. I could hear the birds singing, and spot squirrels. There were also big animals, like a mule and a cow wandering somewhere in the middle of my way. I was afraid of the mule, because he used to climb to the train tracks, block my way, and bray defiantly, so I had to make a detour to avoid him. The cow was always munching grass and was no problem for me.
One day, in a nearby village, the police tried to capture a suspect of murder, but he escaped wounded and they thought he was hiding in the woods. The police surrounded our camp at night and all the farms and abandoned houses in the area with no success.
Next day I went out as always to pick up the mail all alone into the woods. Only when I was into the green tunnel I realised there was a fugitive on the run around. Suddenly, I began to hear steps behind me. Whenever I stepped forward, I heard a sound behind me. I turned to see if someone was following me but I saw no one. When I stopped, the sound ceased too. I began to get really scared. In my imagination I began to think that the fugitive was behind me and hiding every time I was looking back. But I had no escape, no other option but to go on towards the farm, the nearest safe place. So I began to run. The sounds behind me reappeared, keeping the rhythm of my hurried steps. I stopped again and looked back. No one. But I saw something, and I began to laugh.
A wooden beam I just had stepped in, just had fallen into its place with a thud and a cloud of dust. Those were the mysterious steps I had been hearing all the way. The “echo” of my own steps in the loose transoms.