Round and Round #FridayFictioneers

Mary glanced down at the map then out the car window.

‘Which exit?’ her husband, Tom, asked as they entered the roundabout.

‘The second…? No, the third….?’ Mary tried to answer.

She consulted at the map but struggled.

Tom carried on going around, trying to hold his tongue. He wasn’t in the mood for another argument about directions.

‘I think it’s the second.’ Mary finally answered.

Tom drove once more around the circle of trees and took the second exit, ‘for Christmas I’d like a Sat Nav,’ he muttered.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/11/27/29-november-2019/ with thanks).

Wind Back Time

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Hanging upside down and trying to control her breathing as panic floored her, Lisa tried to think about something else. Shutting her eyes which was easy enough to do because she suddenly felt sleepy, she began listing off everything she had had been heading to the shops to buy.

Tea bags, milk, sugar, bread, cheese, fruit and veg….chocolate biscuits, Lisa thought.

A fire engine siren whipped through the air, causing Lisa to open her eyes and stop the list. From her upside view she couldn’t see the red truck but she knew it was there now. Blending on with the other emergency vehicle at the scene.

Her hair felt wet and she hoped it was only sweat. Wiggling, she tried to see if she could get out, but her hand didn’t want to reach down and undo the seat belt. Dragging in a deep breath, she watched the blur of people standing outside her car. Lisa tried to count them, but the figures seemed to become one.

‘Help,’ she cried weakly. Not sure what else to do.

‘It’s okay, Miss,’ a too young looking ambulance man said.

Lisa turned her head to look at him.

‘Please don’t move,’ he added.

‘Ok,’ she mumbled.

Lisa shut her eyes again. The ambulance man was saying something else but she didn’t hear him.

How had this happened? she wondered.

One moment she had been driving along the motorway the next another car had ploughed into her side and she had spun and flipped. At least that’s how it had seemed to her. Perhaps, that was just her mind thinking of it like a movie.

She wished she could rewind this back like a movie. At least then she might try to do something differently. Maybe more lanes or slow down, just something that might have made a difference.

‘We are going to cut you out now. Please stay still,’ the ambulance man said.

Lisa took a few deep breaths and focused her mind winding back time. However, nothing she could do would change what had happened.

Dear Diary #33

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Dear Diary,

Well, today’s the day! I’m going to get my first car! I’m so excited, I can’t wait. I feel like I could burst or fly or just something! It’s so hard to capture this feeling. There are so many thoughts going through my head and some of them are so fleeting that I don’t really know them.

All I can think about it just how much better life is going to be. I can just get in the car and drive, instead of having to wait for a bus and having to put up with other people and having to be late because the bus driver had to have a break. I won’t have to wait in the rain either, or feet for a seat.

I can blast music so loud and I can eat without being stared at. It’s going to be far fat better. Okay, so there are going to be something that will be downers. But I can deal with that like everyone else!

No one is taking this dream about to be reality away from me!

It’s time now. I’m going to go and bring my new car home!

Mind Lost

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The bell on the bus rang and with a few glances in his mirrors, the bus driver pulled up smoothly at the next stop.

I looked down the aisle and saw an elderly gentleman wearing a large brown hat and in a long, light brown coat getting to his feet with the aid of a wooden walking stick. He tottered to the hissing opening doors and looked out.

‘Wrong stop,’ he announced and hobbled back to his seat.

The bus driver with a loud sigh, closed the doors, indicted and pulled off.

The old man sit down again and looked out of the window, watching the rows of houses and small patches of green grass go by.

I returned to my open book, cursing my broken headphones as I felt the first pings of my anxiety starting up. Public transport always triggered it, even if I had taken the same journey hundreds of times. There was no stopping that strange wiggly worms sensation in my stomach and the loss of concentration on my book.

The bell rang again. The bus driver slowed and pulled over, easing the bus to a stop and opening the doors.

The same old man got up and walked over. He looked out then said loudly, ‘this isn’t my stop! This isn’t where I’m going!’

‘It’s all right. Just sit down again then,’ the driver said calmly.

Over the top of my book, I watched the elderly gentleman shuffling back to his seat again. He sat down heavily and started muttering to himself.

The engine rumbled, the indicted clicked and we were off again.

Sneakily checking out the other passengers, I saw that none of them were bothered by the elderly man’s mistakes. They all seemed to be in worlds of their own. There was a business man typing away on a small laptop, another man was reading the free newspaper and a third older man was on his phone. Of the four woman, not counting myself, one was reading a library book which I couldn’t see the cover of, two were sat at the back, heads together talking softly and the fourth woman was dozing off with a sleeping baby in her arms.

I turned my eyes back to my book and tried to get into the romantic story of an angel falling in love with a human he was banished from being with. Your typical young adult supernatural mush but I loved it. However, my mind couldn’t focus and I began to picture what would happen if the bus was suddenly to crash.

It was a reoccurring image brought on by the anxiety. I was caught up in it for a few moments, wondering what everyone would do if we became trip in the turned over bus. There’d be smoke, screaming, blood. People would die – the driver, maybe the old man and baby. Maybe even me…

I shook the thoughts away and placed down my book. My fingers still inside the closing pages. Oh, how I wished for my music! The loud beating and fast lyrics of heavy metal noise that I could fade into and forget about everything.

The bell ring and this time the man with the laptop got up. He hardly waited for the bus to stop and the doors to open, before he leaped to the pavement and hurried away.

The elderly man seemed not to have noticed the bus stopping. He was looking out of the window. He was still muttering, but I could not make out what he was saying.

The bus driver lingered for a few minutes, perhaps waiting for the old man to get off or maybe for a big enough gap in the traffic.

I looked through the open doors, feeling the cold winter breeze on my face and trying to relax. We were next to the old Jewish cemetery. The curling gates at the top of the driveway were locked but the smaller side one was half open. I could just make out the tops of the headstones. New apartments flanked both sides of the cemetery, looking out of place and making me recall an argument about the developers wanting to move the headstones and bodies to another location.

The bus doors hissed shut and with the engine sounding grumpy, the driver cut through the traffic and drove us on.

I saw the old man reach for the bell button and touch it. He got up and went to the doors as the bus pulled up only a little bit down the road. The doors opened and I really hoped, though it was so mean of me, that he was getting off this time.

‘Is this Courtly Way? No, it’s not,’ the old man began rambling, ‘I don’t know those trees there. Driver? Where are we going? You’ve taken the wrong route again! I want to go home!’

‘It’s okay,’ the driver said calmly, ‘I’ll take you home. Just go and sit down.’

The old man huffed and began hobbling back to his seat.

The bus moved off again. A car horn blaring from beside us as a car sped passed and jumped the changing traffic lights.

How could the bus driver be so calm? I wondered, surely he’s getting annoyed with all of this now?

‘Hello, Annie!’ the old man cried.

I looked and saw he was staring at me.

‘Why didn’t you tell me you were getting this bus?’ he asked.

‘I’m not Annie,’ I replied, ‘I don’t think we know each other.’

‘Of course, you’re Annie! I’d know you anywhere!’

‘No. You’ve made a mistake. My name is Eleanor.’

‘What are you taking about? We’ve been married fifty odd years, Annie!’ the old man shouted.

I shook my head, sinking back into the hard seat as my anxiety rose. My book began to tremble in my hands and my breaths started catching in my throat. Those stomach worms wiggled more, causing a dull pain to start up. Terrible thoughts came to me. The bus crashing, people dying, blood, fire, the scent of smoke, the smell of death, the whiff of leaking fumes, my book laying upwards with it’s open pages crushed against the roof as the bus land upside down.

‘Annie! Annie! What’s wrong!’ the old man was shouting, ‘Driver stop! My wife has been taken ill!’

For the first time, the bus driver slammed his brakes on at a stop. Passengers were thrown about and my head knocked into the wall of the driver’s cabin. I felt fuzzy and my ears were ringing. I shut my eyes and counted backwards as around me complaining voices rose and the baby started crying.

‘Are you alright, love? Do you want to get off?’ a new voice was asking me.

I opened my eyes and saw the bus driver looking at me.

‘He thinks I’m his wife,’ I muttered.

‘What?’ the driver asked, glancing at the old man who was hanging onto the newspaper tray.

‘He says I’m his wife,’ I repeated louder.

‘Oh. He says that to all the young pretty girls. He’s harmless,’ the bus driver added.

‘My wife?’ the old man suddenly said, ‘where is my wife?’

‘Come on now, Bert,’ the bus driver said politely, ‘sit here and be quiet now. We’re almost home.’

‘Home? Ah yes, that’s where we are going. My wife should be there. She’ll have tea on the table and wondering what’s taking so long. Get on with it, driver,’ the old man snapped and rudely waved the driver away.

The urge to question what was going on here grew but as the driver passed me I couldn’t say anything.

The bus started again and a few stops later, we slowed down and pulled up. The doors opened and the driver got out of his cabin. He walked past me and to the old man.

‘Bert, you’re home now, time to get off,’ the driver said softly.

‘Ah yes. Thank you,’ Bert replied.

The driver helped him up then off the bus. I looked out the window and saw the sign for an old people’s home in the front garden of a large building. At the bus stop, a woman dressed in dark blue trousers and a uniform looking top greeted the bus driver and Bert. I watched her link arms with Bert and take him towards the house. They were talking but I couldn’t hear the words.

The driver got back on and headed for his seat.

‘Is he okay?’ I asked.

The driver looked at me and nodded, ‘he has dementia. Some days he’s okay, other days he believes we’re in a past year and the worse days are when he forgets who he is. It’s a horrible thing and I should know! My dad had it and I had to watch him slowly forget me, everyone else and himself.’

I just nodded, not sure what to say to that.

‘Are you all right? He really didn’t mean you any harm,’ the bus driver added.

‘I’m fine…I suffer from anxiety attacks. It had nothing to do with him,’ I explained.

‘I see. You okay, now though?’ he said

I nodded, thanked him and he climbed into the driver’s cabin.

The bus started again, the seat vibrating underneath me and the voices of the disgruntled passengers muttering. My mind was far away though, reflecting on the bus driver’s words.

 

Dear Diary #29

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2017. 2017. Even just writing that feels weird. I’ve gotten so use to putting 2016 at the end of dates, events and things. It’s going to take awhile to switch that one number around. But it’ll be the same for everyone I guess.

Well, my first day of 2017 was pretty tedious. Who wants to sit in an empty office whilst everyone else sleeps off last night’s party? Nobody is the correct answer! But me being the Geek I am agreed! And why not? It’s not like I have a life anyway.

It’s 2017 and what have a I got to show for it?

An office job with long, strange hours that pays so little. A tiny apartment with an outrageous rent and a stray cat I can’t get rid of. A driver’s licence, but no car, the fading memory of a degree in a useless subject and a handful of friends who live too far away.Oh and now I can add three ex-boyfriends who are in new relationships.

What has my life become? Where has that carefree girl who spent all her free time reading books and watching movies gone? The girl who didn’t care if she was not in a relationship whilst everyone else was? The girl who dreamed of being a Princess in a tower waiting to be rescued by that drop gorgeous Hollywood guy?

I guess, Diary, she grew up and she saw what life really was; a repeating pattern of work, eat and sleep.

I shouldn’t be so bitter about everything though. My family are all well and I did get to see all my friends at the reunion day. My health is good, but I’m going to drop that diet for a bit. I know the weight might creep back on and I was so good over Christmas, but I just need some cheering up. I’ll still be going to the gym and swimming class though.

I’ve decided to give up on the romance for bit though. Lord knows I need a break from that! And maybe it’s time I looked at getting a new job and moving house. I like my apartment, but maybe something cheaper out of the city would allow me to get a car? Oh, to be driving again and have such a freedom! I could see my friends more often, maybe make new friends and go on new adventures.

Could I really do that though?

Is it worth it? Would I be happier?

I guess anything would be better then this, Diary.

Dear Diary #24

Dear Diary,

It seems the year is almost over and what have I got to show for it? I still haven’t been able to face driving again, though my enjoyment of it feels so strong still. It has gotten easier, I’m not panicking every time I see a car and taking the bus is fine. I know driving again will help, but I’m just not sure.

Maybe I need to take a few lessons again? Perhaps that’d help.

Everyone says it’s all in my mind though and it’ll soon go, but I don’t really believe them. They didn’t hit a child.

Going through the whole it wasn’t my fault because the child lock wasn’t on the door and his father hadn’t strapped his two year old son in, still isn’t helping. I was the one driving the car behind, shuffling my iPod from my ex’s favorite song that had suddenly come on. My eyes had been down for a few seconds then back up to see the car door swinging up, something blue and pink tumbling towards me and the flash of red brake lights.

They say it was luckily I was only doing twenty odd and not on a motorway or a country road. I get that. But a boy still died. His injures from hitting the road where the resulted, I just made it worse.

I don’t know why I’m writing about this again. I have pages and pages of the event now. All of them read the same, though sometimes I put in the title of the song, or the afterwards with all the flashing lights and the people and the hospital. It’s all here. In the first every diary of my life.

At least the dreams have gotten better and I’m no longer seeing things. It doesn’t mean normal has arrived. I think that’s still far away. Some days I feel like a robot, empty of thoughts and feelings, just getting on with my tasks. Once in awhile, I’ll have a break down though. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve cried on the bus. As of yet, no one has asked me what’s wrong.

Perhaps, if they did I might feel better.

Being Followed (Part 3)

Ghost, Gespenstig, Shadow, Silhouettes, Mystical

It was late Monday night when Briony returned home. She had spent Friday and the weekend at her parents before making up her hours at work. Pulling along the side the house, she turned off the car’s engine and looked over. The lights she had left on were still on and to anyone passing by the place looked occupied.

Briony gathered her things and the Chinese takeaway she had brought. Getting out, she was sure to lock the car before making her way boldly up to the front door. Dismissing all thoughts, she unlocked and opened the door.

There were letters and a small parcel waiting for her. She stepped over them, closed the door and went into the living room. Beside from looking slightly rummaged in, the room was clean. Briony placed her stuff on the coffee table and went back to pick up the mail. She checked the front door was locked then went into the kitchen, shuffling through the letters as she went.

Turning on the light, she had to place everything down to grab a plate, cutlery and a coke from the fridge. She checked the back door and looked out. The garden lay in darkness and she couldn’t see anything. Pushing her thoughts away again, she picked everything up and went back into the living room. There, she turned on the TV and ate her food.

After, curled up on the sofa, she opened the letters and the parcel. There as a bill, a bank statement, a reminder about her car insurance and claim for a prize draw she had never entered. Scrunching that up, she tossed it in the takeaway bag and grabbed the parcel. A thin book slide out and she looked at the title; How To Get Anywhere With Your Life; A Self Help Book For Those Stuck In A Rut.

Flipping it over, she read the back then flicked through the pages. A blur of words flashed by and a small breezy fluttered her face. Briony yawned and closed the book. Turning off the TV, she sorted stuff out then went upstairs with her bags, the book and letters. Slowly, opening her bedroom door, she poked her head in before entering.

The light showed the normality of the unmade made bed, wardrobe, desk, chest of drawers and bedside tables. She closed the door with her foot and dumped everything on the floor next to the desk. Moving the curtains, she looked down at her car and street. Everything was quiet and still. She opened the window a little and got ready for bed.

Getting under the duvet and blankets, she turned off the main light then turned it back on again. Glancing around, she wondered if she could sleep with it on. Laughing at herself, she turned it off again and put the lamp on instead. Settling down, she felt herself drifting off as soon as her head hit the pillow.

Something disturbed Briony’s pleasant dream.

Coming too, she lay still and kept her eyes shut. Her ears prickled at a rasping sound like a blanket being rubbed across another. She felt the bed dip slightly as if someone was sitting on the other edge. Her breath caught, panic wheeled in her mind and desperately she squeezed her eyes shut.

It’s nothing, nothing. You’re just dreaming and if not it’s the bed bouncing back after you rolled over or something. There’s nothing there…Briony’s inner voice rambled.

Moving her head ever so slightly, she opened her eyes and glanced over. There was nothing, but the top comforter on the other side of the bed.

Easing herself up and blinking away the soft lamp light, she reached out a hand and touched the edge of the purple silk. A drift of coldness brushed her fingers. She tugged the comforter slowly, sliding it back towards her. The thing fell off all the time, it was nothing to worry about.

Settling back, she let go of a deep breath and looked up at the ceiling. She listened, but heard nothing unusual. Shutting her eyes, she tried to recall the dream, but it was long gone. Sleep crept over, but just as she was on the cusp, a scratching sound broke the silence.

Briony shot up, clutching the duvet to her chest. Footsteps in the hall had her eyes shooting to the door. What seemed like long nails clawed along the wall and the soft squeaking of picture frames being moved trailed after it.

Frozen in bed, Briony could only stare as her bedroom door cracked open. The wood screamed as it was pushed all the way and something seemed to be manifesting from the dark hallway.

Briony tasted blood. She sucked her lip, eyes never leaving the shadow figure that was forming in the doorway. She could make him out more clearly now. He was tall with long legs and arms, his body was stick thin, so were his shoulders and he had a large round head. Red eyes stared at her and there was an oval shaped mouth underneath them.

Briony swallowed, somehow unfroze herself and reached up for the main light switch. Clicking it on, she prepared to be blinded, but it didn’t come on. She flicked the switch up and down a few times, but nothing happened.

Letting her hand drop, she reached for her phone, refusing to take her eyes off the solidifying figure. Her fingers tapped the top of the bedside table and came back empty. Her phone was in her handbag, beside the desk. Too far away.

Doing a few glancing between the shadow figure and her handbag, Briony decided she could make it. Throwing back the bedding, she darted out and flung herself across the floor. She seized her handbag, but before she could put her hand in she felt icy fingers grabbing her.

Briony looked. Long black fingers were wrapped around the top of her hand and curling underneath, whilst a wide black hand lay across her wrist. She followed the arm upwards and towards the pitch black face and huge red glowing eyes.

Screams ripped out of her throat.

 

To Be Continued…

Post It Note Shorts #11

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The Long Road (Part 2)

At the car, I unlocked the doors and watched him studying my small pale blue Toyota. I opened the passenger door and popped the glove compartment. A collection of random things spilled out and I dug through papers, thin books, tissues, CDs and a torch before finding a small book of matches. They had come from a hotel or a pub once upon a time. I handed them to him.

‘I’m Ted, I said.

‘Creek,’ he replied.

I paused, ‘that a nickname or…?’

‘Suppose,’ he answered, lighting up and beginning to suck on the cig.

‘You want to put your bag in the boot?’

I left the passenger door slightly open and walked around the car. Unlocking the boot, I lifted it up and stared down into a mess of items. Quickly, I began moving things off to the side and creating some space. I heard him come beside me, the acid stink of tobacco and sweaty clothes.

‘You got a lot of shit in there. What you do?’ he enquired.

‘I’m a builder…well, a handyman now really,’ I responded happily, ‘there. It should fit now.’

He slipped the rucksack off and swung it into the hole I had created. Tools jostled around it as if eager to inspect the foreign body settling beside them. I slammed closed the boot and walked to the driver’s side. Opening the door, I looked over at him. He was taking long drags on the cig like a thirsty man and looking up at the sky.

The night and Mistress Moon had finally blessed me. This was going to be good, I could feel it in my gut. I got into the car and closed the door. I did my cockpit checks, seat in place, seatbelt on, keys in the ignition, mirrors and everything coming up fine on the dash.

Creek got in, flicking the cig butt away and blowing out the last lungful of it. He closed the door and relaxed into the seat. His long legs sprawled out in the footwell, he hugged himself and wrapped his arms around his stomach. His head and that mop of brown hair pressed against the headrest and he looked for a few moments like a tried teenager.

A splatter of rain hit the window and the drops began to run into one. Another handful pattered down then it began to rain fully. I turned my eyes away and they dropped between his legs. I licked my lips, tasting the bitter coffee stain and dry skin.

‘We going or what?’ he muttered.

‘Yes. Please put your seatbelt on,’ I stated, putting my hands to the wheel.

Creek snorted, ‘really?’

I nodded and with a growl, he put the belt on. I smiled broadly at him and started the engine. He gave me a hard disbelieving look before turning his head away. I teased the car out and followed the signs back to the motorway. Judas Priest came on singing Living After Midnight. I hummed along and speed up on the slip road.

‘I’m glad you decided to come with me,’ I said softly.

‘Huh?’

I glanced at him, he had his eyes half shut and seemed completely uninterested. I pulled onto the almost deserted motorway and hit the speed limit.

‘For company, I mean. I could really do with some. This trip has been pretty lonely,’ I explained.

‘Maybe you should get a dog?’ he suggested.

‘I’m not too keen on them,’ I shot back.

He shrugged his shoulders and put his head on his shoulder as if to sleep. I stole a few more glances at him, then kept my eyes ahead and in my mirrors. Driving became automatic, so my mind turned to other things. Where would the best place be? How to do it? When? I hummed along to the next song and carried on thinking.

A lorry over took me and then a coach. I came off at the next exit and went around a large roundabout twice reading the direction signs carefully.

‘Are you lost?’ Creek’s voice called out.

I jumped slightly and glanced at him, ‘no, no, I missed the turn that was all. Here’s the one we want. South Wales. That okay with you?’

‘Yeah, sure, whatever. I got to piss,’ Creek announced.

‘Right. I don’t see any services. I’ll pull up. I could go myself.’

I checked my mirrors and indicated, before pulling off to the side. I stopped under a streetlight and Creek opened the door. A cold, wet wind splashed against me. I put my hazards on and turned off the engine. The passenger door banged shut and Creek walked quickly around the front of the car, his legs lit up by the headlights. I watched him disappear in a patch of struggling scrub land. I glanced at the clock, the numbers flashed two fifty-six AM. A good time to die.

I got out, leaving the driver’s door open and went to the boot. Popping it open, I looked inside. I selected a long shovel and a hacksaw.

To Be Continued…

The Long Road (Part 1)

It was very late, I could see it in the dashboard clock as the numbers twisted into 1:01 am. The radio news and traffic announcement cut into my Judas Priest CD. A male disembodied voice muttered, almost incoherently, the already known news reports. I didn’t listen, but instead enjoyed the darkness licking around me.

Road signs flashed by in my headlights and one of them declared the next services were five miles away. The wanting to stop tugged at me. I checked my mirrors, indicted to the car coming up behind me and pulled into the left lane.

Lampposts lit the way off the motorway as if they marked a heavenly path. I directed the car towards them, getting into lane and beginning to drop my speed. The car that had been behind me sped off, a lone traveller in a star speckled void. I slowed down for the large bend and entered a football field sized carpark.

I parked as close to the double glass front doors as possible, three rows away in-between a green Land Rover and red Ford Escort. I cut the engine and let silence fill the car like a deadly gas. Ahead of me I could see two people smoking beside the doors in the picnic table area. There was a large motorbike before them, but I couldn’t see the make.

Taking the keys from the ignition, I opened my door and got out. Stretching, I closed the door and locked the car. Orange lights flashed against me then I walked away. I took the shortest route to the doors, stealing a few glances at the two people, but they seemed disinterested in everything going on around them.

Warm recycled air hit me as I opened the door. I wiped my soft souled shoes on the welcome mat and headed straight for the gents. I passed three shuttered shops on my left and a large open canteen like area on my right. The toilets were placed at the back, inconvenient for the desperate travellers, but secretly planned out by the architect.

I opened the door and stepped inside. A dripping tap tocked like a clock and stale urine inflamed the lemon scented space. I paused and checked I was alone, before going up to the last urinal. I unzipped my black trousers and eased my manhood out. With a quick glance at the door, I wanted this to be a private moment, I relieved myself. After, I washed my hands twice and used some paper towels.

Walking out, I went over to the canteen area. Behind the counter at the end was a sleepy teenage girl, leaning against a cream wall and looking more like a mirror reflection. Before her were rows of empty blue and white plastic table and chairs. Four of the tables had a single occupants sat at them and the men seemed so far separated they were in parallel universes.

I picked up a brown school like tray from the stack and walked down the line. There was a select of four sandwiches in one section and a bowl of fruit next door. I choose mild cheese on white bread and a browning banana. Sliding the tray along the metal track, I came to a stop before her.

‘Can I have a coffee please? Milk and sugar,’ I asked.

The girl stared at me with distant eyes as if I was a figure in a dream.

I tapped the tray and fixed a smile on my face.

‘A coffee?’ she repeated and turned to the machine behind her as if she had never seen it before.

Nodding, I put my hand in my pocket and pulled at my wallet. Acting as if I was searching for money, I watched the girl make me a coffee. She reminded me of an automaton, just doing as she had been programmed and not caring at all. She plonked a white mug down on the tray and tapped away on the till.

‘Four-eighty, please,’ she stated and held out her hand.

I give her a five pound note and waited until she had dropped twenty pence in my hand. Turning away, I walked to the table closest to the doors and facing them, sat down. I peeled the wrap off the sandwich and selected a half. Raising the food to my mouth, a heard the door open and looked up. A young man with a brown leather jacket, dark jeans, black boots and floppy dark hair walked though and pushed the door back into place. He had a large rucksack strapped to his back and seemed to be more of a walker than a motorist. With a swift glance and grin at me, he walked towards the toilets.

I took a bite my sandwich and chewed on blandness and crustiness. Looking out of the window, but not watching anything, I let my mind churn over. So far, the night had not offered me what I was seeking. Maybe I would find it before dawn or maybe Mistress Moon would be unkind to me.

Sipping the coffee helped to wash some of the dry taste away, but left a bitterness on my gums. I finished the half and went for the other. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the young man repeating my trial at the canteen. It seemed he did no better than me with the automaton girl.

I watched him still as he carefully walked around the tables and choice to sit at one close to me. I ate my sandwich and sipped my coffee with my eyes wondering over to him every now and again. Scenarios began creating themselves in my mind. Somehow, I could get his attention and maybe offer him something. It didn’t matter if he didn’t swing that way, everyone still awake after midnight is lonely. These night-time searchers always hungry for something alive, something just out of reach.

He sped through his meal and was on his feet, before I had fixed a plan. I couldn’t help but watch with longing as he took his tray to a bin and abandoned it. He slipped through a gap in the metal barrier that separated the area and opened the door. He let himself out and a blast of air in, before disappearing.

A missed opportunity.

I finished up, the banana going down easier than the sandwich and the coffee grains cooling in my mouth. Abandoning my table, I left and stepped outside. Cold, damp air stroked me as if I was a lover returning to bed. I took a deep breath and let it refresh me. I noticed that the two men and motorbike were now gone and in their place was the young man. And he was waving me over.

‘You got a light?’ he called, a cig dangled between his lips.

‘No,’ I half-shouted back, ‘I might have some matches in my car though.’

‘It doesn’t matter,’ he responded and turned away.

I wondered closer as if I had meant to walk that way anyway, ‘where are you heading?’ I asked casually.

‘Nowhere. Wherever I can get a lift too,’ he added.

‘I could give you one. A lift to the next town, if you wanted,’ I suggested.

He eyed me and I knew he was weighing up my crumbled suit and open gestures.

To Be Continued…