A crowd of thousands appeared from nowhere and I was trapped in the middle of a milling, shrieking mob. Buffeted this way and that under louring, rain soaked skies and choking on mud and worse, I began to feel oddly disconnected, as though this was happening to someone else.
Or at least I did, right up until the moment the roaring, filthy throng surged unexpectedly forward, carrying me along for the ride. I prayed to the god unlucky enough to rule over such rabble that it wasn’t a one-way ticket.
As though in answer, the forward momentum came to an abrupt halt and a deep throated baying began. There was no mistaking that sound: something or someone was going to die.
Even had I been deaf the source of such collective joy was blindingly obvious as it loomed above the heads of the crowd a mere hundred yards in front of me. But it still took me a moment to recognise it for what it was: gibbet and hangman’s noose perched jauntily on top of a raised, wooden platform.
Some lucky soul was heading for the short drop with the sudden stop.
The stark, clean lines of the gibbet made gothic poetry against a darkened sky.
Until it occurred to me that it might be meant for me…