I had it all, I had the world at my feet. From a bullied, tormented, skinny kid who fell to agoraphobia, nervous breakdown and panic disorder, I had turned it all around to become a Black Belt, a Fighter who was quickly establishing a solid reputation. My first book was published, I was receiving fan mail from all around the world and my full time gym was producing winners and attracting students from near and afar.

More importantly than that I was married to a beautiful girl. Indeed, it was fair to say that Simon Morrell, the boy who no girl would look at twice as a kid, was married to the girl he had yearned after for so long and she had given him three of the sweetest kids in the world.

The car I drove? A brand new shiny 4 x 4 with two loyal German Shepherds in the back that made it look the part and who stood watch over my family at night.

I was coming off the back of not only gaining my third Black Belt, but beating down a gang of drug dealers who were tormenting the area’s peaceful community. Taking me on and losing, they lost all face and reputation. They had left town for good after a full scale confrontation with me, one that they lost. The respect I had gained from people after that fateful afternoon was nice, but what was nicer was the self-respect I had found.

And then it all disappeared. Everything I had worked for, sweated over and created was gone. Looking back, I should have seen it coming, but at the time I would tell you it happened overnight. I later realised that nothing of the size of catastrophe that lay waiting for me happens overnight…believe me.

It didn’t sneak up on me in the night but when the years of adversity I had endured announced its result and displayed itself so vividly, it did so with a venom that could end a man.

At first I thought it was funny. Well who wouldn’t? It isn’t every day that a TV company makes a film in your neighbor’s garden. The subject matter though confused me, as I lay on my bed watching from the window. It would appear to involve lots of men and women dressed as chimneys, marching up and down the rooftops, stopping occasionally to salute one another as the director shouted his instructions.

Well, I say shouted, I couldn’t actually hear him but somehow, I instinctively knew what it was he was saying. It was like the words were in my head but not said out aloud. Still, I just had to show Julie, she would love it! I shouted downstairs to where she was working in her office.

“Ju, you have to come and see this!” I called, excitedly. What I didn’t realise was that this was about the fifth time I had called her to see the exact same thing...and that really there was nothing to see.

I heard her make her way up the stairs as I turned back to the window. To my delight, there was now a fairground carousel with children riding on it, some of them playing the banjo. My favorite instrument! How did they know?

As Julie came into our bedroom I excitedly pointed the whole scene out to her, as I saw it.

“Simon. What are you talking about, there is nothing there?” she said, exasperated.

“Look, I will prove it to you. Let’s go downstairs and see all the trucks parked up outside the house. There’s bound to be loads, what with all that equipment.”

Julie shook her head, half sad and half angry.

“I’ll go with you but then that’s it. You need rest. When we come back in I want you to get some sleep.”

“Yeah, yeah, I will. Come on, let’s go!” I made my way down the stairs and out of the door, convinced I would be able to get involved with all the festivities.

What greeted me however, what stopped me in my tracks was the sight of a completely empty road, and no one or thing at all in the garden that I had seen from our bedroom. No trucks, no wagons carrying fairground equipment, no people playing musical instruments. In fact all I saw was a completely empty street. The scene was made all the more eerie by the fact that there was a very cold wind blowing and dust from the nearby roadworks floating around. At least I think that is what it was.

I stood, barefooted, confused and a little scared as I realised on some kind of level that I was in trouble, deep trouble.

By An Everyday Warrior, a true story here

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