May 2024

The Old Viaduct in the Woods

Asa Williams

Play Audio
read by Allan Brown

art by Cara Search

I went to the old viaduct this morning, the one in the woods between Durham and Belmont. Dawn was stretching her lazy rose-tinted fingers over the horizon as we slipped past the private property signs, rolled under the frosted barbed wire and slunk through the farmland. Then, having slipped through the unlocked door onto the ancient viaduct, 100 feet in the air, the Big Sky opened itself to us and loomed above the universe. Boulders were pebbles and the flumes of the river’s rapids were reduced to distant spray. We stood there until six in the morning, with a rising sun yawning above us, when we climbed down to the riverbank, under the great arches, hurtling from one rocky crag to another. Along the little deer paths and down the steep hills, soil slipping from under our soles and into the void below. We marched, through the thick woods and next to the ethereal breath of Father Tyne. James leapt from tree to tree, crossing fairy bridges with the forest as his slackline. Mist rose from the river and my great shaggy beard froze in the morning air. The sun had broken the horizon and spilt across the sky. It caught the silhouette of the mountains in the distance, lighting the day for whatever dwelt up there. Since the stories of the Lambton Wyrm, as long ago as that may have been, we kept clear of them. Despite ancestral memories we all secretly ached to be the one to suggest to the others that we should go and watch the sunrise from one of the worn and broken pinnacles, dragon in the hills or not.

 Down here though, life still illuminated the sparkling river. Old Krak the heron flew between us and the sun, his great wings devouring the light as he landed on his treebed castle. James and I did what men will do and hurled rocks across the river and batted sticks at one another. As the sun rose we got deeper and deeper and closer and closer to where the wild things dwell. Udros the otter played in the rapids, hurtling back and forth, flipping and twisting and tumbling in the water. A hyacinth flash told us the kingfishers were back and the house martins swept through the cold air. Some oystercatchers, surprisingly far inland, gazed up at us through the clean freezing morning. Staring out of the woods was an old mine, still surrounded by winches and the smell of hard work. The pit ponies’ harnesses had been abandoned, whoever had left had gone in a hurry. We stared into the yawning earth and accepted the invitation of the pit. We could not fit any further than a few yards into the dark space, although we could already feel the presence and see the glimmer of the will o’wisps. The Kobolds would want an offering before we interrupted their privacy and so we went back into the rising sun. We left with the respect and sanctimony all cryptids enjoy being treated to, leaving the biscuits we had brought with us, offered on an altar-like rock. The woods got darker and as strange looming trees pushed through rocks and carved the land into their image, a deep shadowy hollow whispered to us. We returned to the river, the sand and sunlight and made it home for breakfast.

About the Author

Asa Williams is a Franco-British poet and PhD student, currently focusing on an album with his rock-poetry group The Leadfoots, focusing primarily on folklore and nature. His work has been published in a number of magazines and papers and was shortlisted for the 2021 Merky New Writers’ Prize. He is also looking for a potential publisher of a poetry compilation.

About the Reader

Allan Brown, a seasoned actor with 40+ years of experience, discovered his passion for voice-over during school plays. Trained in Scotland, he’s amassed 30+ years teaching and performing acting and voice in both USA and the United Kingdom. Allan now brings text to life, embodying characters and accents with skill. Reach out at or visit to collaborate. Let Allan Brown elevate your project with his voice!

About the Artist

Cara Search (she/her) is a freelance illustrator based in Brooklyn. Cara brings a tactile sensibility to digital illustration, infusing her work with painterly textures, uneven lines, and an inviting sense of movement. Whether hand-lettering a series of scalding hot New York Times Cooking comments (“Gorgeous! I made this the night my wife and I got divorced”, etc.) or illustrating historic buildings, Cara renders artwork with narrative, humor, and character. Follow her on Instagram or visit