The Wrong Turn: Unexpected Danger in Yorks Woods. A Lockdown Story
It was fall 2020 lockdown in Leeds, Northern England I can’t really remember the exact month, I just knew it was cold enough I could see my breath when outside.
I was working "Deliveroo" on my bike, an app based self-employed food delivery service in the UK which also operates in other countries. With this job I could travel and log in and work anywhere in the Uk, deliver food and get paid when I wanted.
I decided to go deliver in one of the most touristy and posh neighboring historical cities called York, about a 30-minute train ride away from Leeds. York was pretty flat without many hills which was great for cycling and a few people let me in on the fact that it was very lucrative for deliveries (we got paid by delivery and not by the hour) due to the large amount of university students.
I went and caught a train, unaware off the unfortunate events about to unfold.
I just remember everywhere was covered in fog, which added an eerie ambiance to the night, a danger for riding on the road and a feeling that some tentacled creature would grab me from out of the mist and eat me alive.
The first monster was the ticket man on the train who told me I had got on the wrong train to York (I was supposed to get on a Northern train not a Liner) and got charged 16 pounds for a new ticket.
I was quite excited when I arrived in York as it was busy, people were friendly, and I was chatting in Spanish to a bunch of Cuban Deliveroo drivers. After leaving a restaurant riding down an alley, I got high beamed flashlights shined in my face as almost foreshadowing what was to come later that evening.
I called out "Who's that!" even though I knew it was the police.
"The police!!" came an irritated response from the officer.
They told me my bike light wasn't bright enough and I challenged them which threw them off guard for a second. They gave me a warning and let me go.
After quite a few deliveries far from city center google maps took me through a trail in the woods that seemed to be the quickest. It was almost pitch black. I heard a group of people around the bend arguing but thought, "York is safe and this isn’t Leeds." thinking I was some sort of badass I came around the bend on the left of the little wooded trail to an open field. About 15 people were hanging out there more or less and parted so I could pass by.
Except one dickhead.
This guy kept flashing a high beam flashlight in my eyes even when his friends told him to stop. My response was fight not flight. I got angry and yelled at him "to turn it off" underneath my anger was fear. I was in the middle of nowhere in the woods in the dark surrounded by a group of strangers where my screams would most not likely be heard.
I think Mr. dickhead knew this and kept flashing the light in my eyes as I tried to walk away. In any normal situation I would have prepared myself for a fight, whether it was one or multiple attackers.
The only problem was I was blinded by the light. I couldn't see anything.
"Aahh you can’t see anything can ya, ya pu*** hahaha!!!" He screamed at me in a menacing way, obviously feeling like some sort of big man.
He continued yelling threats of how he was going to kick my head in, I just remember not exactly being scared at that moment (lots of adrenalin) but thinking "This is not a good situation." I was waiting for the blows to strike me, so I least knew which where he was, at this point his two friends decided to join in, as one coward seemed not to be enough.
At that point I thought if I went down in the middle of nowhere and they started stomping on me I could end up paralyzed or even killed by accident. The taunts and threats kept coming, the three of them like some evil creature, it was hard to believe that they were even human.
I decided to scream as loud as I could back at them, not too long after one of his friends said "Let him go" calmly.
I left with the first guy yelling chasing after "Run ya pu***!!!!!!hahahaha!!" his evil laughter echoing inside my head.
I felt humiliated.
Soon enough down the path came a girl on a bike as I sat there contemplating revenge. She was an angel and insisted that I follow her into the city, I warned her not to go the way I went. She kept insisting even though I said I’d stay here. I saw the guys had turned their backs on me and I thought of how I could ambush them with a stick.
I rode into the city with the loveliest girl and then went to the train station where some homeless guy who got in argument with the train security gave me a bad look. He then came back later and started walking toward me as if he was going to hit me. I was thinking "What the f*** now."
He opened his hands to hand me some candy that looked like skittles and said, "sorry for talking bad about you earlier."
"I didn't hear you say anything. " I remarked confused.
He chatted with me for a bit and went his way. I caught my train back with the conductor giving me grief about my bike and I arrived back to the safety of my room within an hour.
And for me this was just another lockdown story, just like there are many lockdown stories.
Despite this I try not to live in fear even though these memories often come back to haunt me. I just am more cautious. Even small choices can have lasting consequences.
Take the fast route through the woods at night when you hear people arguing?
No thank you.