The Terror Reed

Tank Green/ June 29, 2024/ Writing Walking

A black and white photo with a bulrush reed head in the foreground, and the silhouettes of treetops and a church spire in the distance. The sky is silvery and has a weak sun in the top right corner.

A black and white photo with a bulrush reed head in the foreground, and the silhouettes of treetops and a church spire in the distance. The sky is silvery and has a weak sun in the top right corner.

When I was a kid, I had a board game called ‘I vant to bite your finger’. I thought it was ace because it had a pop up plastic figure of Count Dracula and when you lost, you had to put your finger in his mouth, depress a lever at the back of his head, and he bit you. You were left with two red felt tip marks of pain and blood on your finger. Sometimes I would just go in the playroom by myself and make Count Dracula give me bite marks on all of my fingers without bothering to play the game at all. I think the Count also made a blood curdling ‘mwahahaha’ laugh as he bit you, but that might have been me. I don’t fully recall.

Why am I telling you this? Because it proves to you that I am in league with the Dark Lord, that’s why. I don’t normally reveal stuff like that as it generally prejudices people against me; but in this instance, I need to reveal it so that you know I am an accurate source when it comes to this particular story of the Terror Reed.

The Terror Reed is located on the River Great Ouse between Huntingdon and St. Neots. Like many markers of the Dark Lord, it exists in proximity to a church. I’m not sure what that means, I’m just saying I was christened is all. Anyway, the Terror Reed is probably one of the most dangerous pieces of vegetation in the entire of the UK, possibly the world. Maybe even the multiverse. You get my, and its, tri-stepped point.

The Terror Reed strikes anyone, it wouldn’t be a Terror Reed otherwise would it? If it only got the bad, sanctimonious, perfect, self-righteous, or terrible of us, then it could easily be accused of working on the side of The Good. It can’t have that, so it has a disorienting array of victims across all temperaments and life histories. Its message is that literally no one is safe and what you do with that information is up to you.

You might go, ‘oh, fuck it, I’ll be in league with the Dark Lord too then’ and effect all manner of chaos and carnage. Others might go, ‘oh my golly gosh darn goodness, I better be as good as possible so that I can be protected from the Terror Reed’, to which I would say: MORE FOOL YOU, IDIOT, I SAID IT STRIKES ANYONE. The point is, it doesn’t really matter what you do or say in your life, whether you are a good person or a bad one, if the Terror Reed wants you, it’s going to get you. 

I’ve been resisting saying what the Terror Reed does once it has you, mainly because it’s personal. I try to keep my nature reportage more professional, but since I started with a true story, I may as well end with one. So here goes it. If you are particularly sensitive, or prefer living your life in denial or ignorance, stop reading now. Knowing what the Terror Reed does is akin to knowing the time and date of your demise.

In fact, one strike from the Terror Reed is indeed the way you die. I’ve been dead a long time now which may help you to understand how I have come to know so much about nature and the universe. If you think about it, how else could I know about the Great Swarming or the Birth of Agriculture if I wasn’t free to roam all of time and existence at my leisure.

Anyway, death. The Terror Reed. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t quick and it really hurt and I was absolutely nowhere near the River Great Ouse when it happened, so don’t think you can just avoid the river and keep safe. The Terror Reed is able to fly about anywhere it wishes and when it’s settled on a victim, it will find you. When it does, you’ll rue the day you were born.

The Terror Reed starts by inserting the first step of its tip just the once into your body. You might feel it, you might not, but soon after you’ve been stung, you will start to feel everything to an insanely heightened degree. You will feel every atom you breathe in jostling and scratching against your windpipe and alveoli. You will feel the full weight of the universe’s atmospheric pressure on your skull. The fibre of your clothes, the teeth in your mouth, the rings on your finger, fully everything about you will sensate and you will go absolutely stark raving bonkers from over-stimulation.

Once the Terror Reed is certain of your agony, it will then strike again, to the depth of the second step of its tip, a full eight hundred and eighty eight times into various parts of your anatomy. I say ‘inserts’ but actually it would be more accurate to say that it ‘inserts and drags down’, ‘inserts and drags up’, etc., etc.; the length of the marks are relative to the size of your body. 

Once your body is scored by eight hundred and eighty eight bloody lines, the Terror Reed then strikes for the third and final time by opening up its central chamber and pouring radioactive grime into all of the wounds. It will then sit back and watch with simple enjoyment as you thrash about, rolling, smooshing, and squashing the pain further inside of you. The Terror Reed will laugh for fully six hundred and sixty six years. You will not laugh, not even for a day. Of this, I promise you that.

If you are anything like me, you will scream like a bitch for a long, long time. Long after your death, in fact. Once you’ve exhausted your lungs, you will be numb and disoriented for quite some further time. After that, you might forget you were dead or give up caring, it’s all the same to you, existence goes on even after death you find. It is at precisely that point that the Terror Reed’s hold over you will be terminated.

You will arise! You you will be a fully liberated being and you will occupy a new liminal space in between death and life. You will come to the knowingest of things, you will see the truingness of life, and you will know that there’s always a silver lining, even if it’s hard to find. And rather much like finally having normal poops after two decades of IBS, every day thereafter will be a fully qualified marvel until a second kind of end.


Listen to me read The Terror Reed: