Caught by the River

Dishcloth Hills

Joe Devlin | 17th February 2019

A short story by Joe Devlin. With illustrations by David Mackintosh.

Underfoot, the path a consistency of thick pulped paper, each stride marked by a flattened wet slop and a slipped, distorted print. Gone the firm crunch that accompanied yesterday’s steps.  The surrounding environment made up of sludgy shades, blended and muddied.

The hills to the east resembled a slumped pile of disregarded, wet, grimy dishcloths, an ashen, grubby slush replacing the pristine white carpet.  A rubbed out landscape, smudged, drained of most colours, composed predominantly of pale greys, edged with muted browns and fuscous greens, the tips of hard rushes perforate.

An unilluminated, gloomy covering, provided by the heavy achromic sky, compounds the deadened feel to the morning, with not a soul in sight, susurration from the light wind  and drizzle combine, these the prevailing faint sounds, each playing the land.

At the thawing lake, we hear its ice contracting, producing frequencies both high and low, like electronic beats. You skim pebbles, found around our feet, over the frozen surface, pings and pews reverberate, surround sound, as these laser noises bounce off the banking around us.

By the sides of the rise slumped forms collapse to the ground with a dull thud as we pass. Melting reveals the earth underneath and on the verges small patches of moor grass begin to re-emerge.

A wind hits as we approach the descent, the journey’s end now in sight. We turn to view the fells crossed swiftly disappearing, in the grip of a cold brume. The gathering fog erasing this faded day.


Content to Gather is the first collaborative project between Joe Devlin and David Mackintosh. It takes the form of a book published by Aye-Aye Books with writing from Devlin, drawings by Mackintosh and an afterword by Martin Holman. Limited to 500 copies. Design by Daren Newman. Priced at £10. Buy a copy here.