Tag Archives: #shortfiction

So, what would you do?

latte-stock-photo

So, if you came face to face with your favourite actor/rock star/sports star in a normal situation, what would you do? If they were “off duty”, would you approach them? Would you ask for that obligatory “selfie” or an autograph on the only scrap of paper you have in your purse, most likely a receipt for something mundane?

It’s a conundrum I’ve thought about occasionally over the years and never really drawn any finite answer to. I’ve frequently thought that, as I live in a reasonably small town and am used to seeing familiar faces about town, I’d most likely nod and say “hello” thinking it was someone from school or work or an old neighbour…..then several hours later go “Damn, that was So And So!” (ha ha…..it’s happened!- Mike Oldfield in Debenhams in Glasgow a long time ago!)

A few years ago, I wrote this while pondering such a situation.  Enjoy!

 

The Tale Of A Skinny Decaff Latte

With a quick glance at the clock on the dashboard, I figured I had just enough time to spare to treat myself to a well-earned and much needed caffeine fix before my next appointment. Signalling to my fellow drivers, I slowed down and turned off the main road down the narrow twisting slip road into Gourock’s water front car park- the Swimming Pool car park to us locals. As usual, the car stereo almost drowned out the warning bleeps from the reversing sensors; as usual, I heard them just in the nick of time. One of these days I knew I wasn’t going to and would be rewarded with a resounding expensive “crunch”! Grabbing my bag, I scrambled out of the car, checking twice on my way across the car park that I had locked it. A narrow alley led me from the car park back up onto the main thoroughfare and right to the doorway of my caffeine source- Gourock Coffe Co.

Pushing open the heavy door, I inhaled the heavenly aroma of coffee as I looked to see if my favourite table was free. It was. In my hurry to get to my caffeine fix, I had barely noticed the hire car that had parked haphazardly outside or the driver inside, who was talking animatedly on his phone. With a sigh, I slipped off my jacket and sank down into the squishy, soft, velvet-covered chair. The coffee shop was surprisingly quiet for a Monday afternoon. Only one other table was occupied. Spotting my arrival, the owner, Robert, called over from behind the counter, “Usual, Coral?”

“Please, Robert,” I replied then added, “And a fruit scone and jam too.”

Reaching into my bag, I brought out my phone debating with myself “Candy Crush or Facebook?” Facebook won and I watched the screen as it connected to the shop’s WiFi. While the newsfeed was loading, I heard the door open, felt the draft of cold, autumn air rush in as a tall, slender man entered, his puffy, bomber jacket zipped up and a black beanie hat covering his head. It struck me as odd that he was wearing sunglasses on a dull October day in Gourock. There was something vaguely familiar about him but I barely gave him a second thought as he sat at the window table across from mine.

“There you go. Medium Americano, no milk,” said Robert, setting down the hot mug in front of me. “And my last fruit scone. Enjoy.”

“Thanks.”

As I sliced the scone in half, scattering crumbs across the table, the owner went to take the man’s order. Robert was blocking my view but I could see that the new customer had removed his hat and glasses. They were just visible on the table from where I was sitting. His soft American voice caught my attention. I knew that voice! I’d know that voice anywhere. Not surprisingly, I listened as he ordered a large, skinny, decaf latte. On the table in front of me my Facebook newsfeed had opened. The first post on there was that day’s photo from the fan page of the very man who was now sitting ten feet away from me.

My hands trembled as I fumbled the foil top on the portion of strawberry jam. Flustered, heart racing, I attempted to spread the jam onto the scone and only succeeded in dropping the knife on the table, with a resounding clatter. The noise echoed round, causing the new arrival to glance over in my direction. He smiled at me. My heart skipped a beat as I flushed scarlet with embarrassment.

On the table beside him, his phone buzzed and vibrated. Instead of answering it, he ignored it, turning instead to gaze out of the picture window at the panoramic view of the Argyll Hills, Ben Lomond looming in the distance. A few seconds later, his phone buzzed again and, again, he killed the call and then again, a third time, as a young waitress brought him his latte.

Trying to act normally, I pretended to be reading the screen contents of my phone while actually watching him sneak a spoonful of sugar into the mug then sip the hot, milky coffee. His long, slender hand was shaking as he lifted the mug to his lips. Something about him looked sad, haunted almost.

How I managed to eat my scone and drink my own coffee, I will never know. (Maybe that caffeine habit is worse than I feared.) All the while, I kept my own counsel but discretely observed him sip half-heartedly at his latte. There was an aura about him that seemed to scream “I need my own space for a while.” Repeatedly his phone buzzed and every time he declined the call. I drank in everything about him. His fine features; his long hair, with a hint of grey appearing. After a few mouthfuls of his coffee, he stood up and removed his jacket. I recognised the fine black and grey striped hoodie he was wearing underneath from the interview I had watched on YouTube over breakfast a few hours before. I risked a glance beneath the table as he sat back down and noted his trademark worn leather boots. What size were his feet? Ten? Eleven?

Inside my head, a battle was raging- one half of me saying go and speak to him; the other half saying leave him to enjoy his coffee in peace and quiet.

A message flashed up on my Facebook page asking if I was excited about heading to the Hydro later for the gig. It was Susan- who else? She had been outside the venue for hours already. With surprising calm, I typed back, “Having a coffee and enjoying the view. Will be up as soon as my friend finishes work. Should be there around 6. X” She would never believe me if I said exactly what view I was enjoying. He was meant to be thirty miles away where she was! Why was he here?

I finished my coffee and scone before he was halfway down the large mug. Not entirely trusting myself to remain calm for much longer, I got to my feet and prepared to leave. He was still staring out at the view of the ferry crossing the river as I put on my jacket and gathered up my belongings. At the counter, I handed over a twenty pound note with shaking hands and said to Robert, “That’s for mine and the guy over at the window’s. Send him over another latte and a slice of carrot cake. My treat.”

Stuffing the change into my pocket, I left without a backwards glance and headed back down the alley way to the car park. Had I imagined that? Had it really been him?  Yes, it had been. Why had he been there? I would never know. Did I regret not speaking to him? Yes and no. As I reached the car, I looked back up at the cafe window. He was watching me. Raising his coffee mug, he nodded then smiled that beautiful smile of his.

 

Those of you who know me may have guessed the inspiration for this   😉

(image sourced via Google -credits to the owner)

(If you ever see me drinking decaff, I’ve been kidnapped and it’s a plea for help!)

 

 

Silently Watching On Midsummer’s Night

dark angel

An act of indiscretion had confined the dark angel to her lonely mausoleum for almost six months. Several impulsive acts of indiscretion; several acts of abomination that had stunned the close knit village community into deep, dark mourning.

After her missed opportunity on All Hallows Eve, desperation and hunger had got the better of her judgement less than a week later. As the family community had gathered round a huge bonfire for the annual fireworks display to commemorate Guy Fawkes, she had swooped down, snatched a young woman from the edge of the crowd and disappeared soundlessly into the night with her. One bite was all it had taken to silence her victim. In the sanctuary of her mausoleum, she had drunk deeply from young woman’s blood, realising too late that her victim had been pregnant.  With the bangs from the fireworks echoing through the night sky, the dark angel had let out a howl of anguish. Even for her, this had been one kill too far. A breeding female should never be drunk from. One of the golden rules of her lonely existence.

From a distance, she had watched the village mourn the death of the young mother-to-be; had stood silently in the shadows observing the girl’s funeral, noting that her grief stricken husband held two small boys, twins, by the hand as the coffin was lowered into the earth.

Her carelessness had angered her. Her frustration had driven her to seek more human blood to rid herself of the taste of the young woman’s hormone filled nectar.

On Christmas morning, she had feasted on an old man in the graveyard who had come to pay his festive respects to his late wife. His blood had been watery and tainted with the prescribed medication that had kept him alive.

Less than a month later, she had swooped down on a lone mountain biker, who had been roaming the trails above the village. There had been an exotic taste to his thick fresh blood, hinting at origins from warmer climes than this God-forsaken Scottish village. Yet again, she had feasted on one of the small community. How was she to have known that he was the son of a popular businessman, destined for sporting greatness? What did it matter to her? His young, virile blood had tasted divine and finally quenched her thirst for a while. The taste of the forbidden young mother-to-be finally banished by the taste of his exotic elixir.

 

Summer was always a lean time for the angel. There just weren’t enough hours of darkness to allow her to hunt. Her three kills in four months had drawn too much attention to the local area, meaning she would have to hunt further afield but it was too light to travel unseen. The local media were spreading tales that the village was cursed.

Patiently, she had bided her time in the cool darkness of the abandoned mausoleum until hunger pangs had gripped her. The evil in her soul was craving more and more human blood to sustain her. Writhing in agony on the floor of the tomb, she had resisted for as long as she could before having no choice but to risk an early evening foray for sustenance.

Under the cover of a cloudy midsummer dusk, she had spread her magnificent, black wings and soared over the village, heading towards the hills behind. Relishing being outside once more, she soared high over the narrow road for almost an hour before spotting three adult deer on the edge of the forest.

Lightning fast, she swooped to the ground and had her fangs deep in the neck of one of the deer before her slender, leather clad feet had touched down in the bed of pine needles on the ground. As she drank deeply, savouring the gamey taste of the doe’s blood, her nostrils picked up another familiar scent, a heady, ferrous musk mixed with sweat. Listening closely, she heard it – the gentle rhythmic thud, thud, thud of a runner approaching.

 

Ever since his encounter with the dark winged apparition at Halloween, he’d avoided running through the village, preferring instead to pound the forestry trails in the hills behind the house. The spate of sudden, unexplained deaths in the community over the winter months had unnerved him, as it had many of his friends and neighbours. He’d avoided venturing out in the dark but, now that summer was here, he was loving the long, light, warm nights.

Feeling a little guilty at upping the pace, he’d dropped his running buddy half a mile back, enjoying the freedom to run at his own naturally quicker pace. Since he’d sped up, the midgies didn’t seem to be biting so much.  He could feel them in his spiky hair and his eyebrows. As he ran, he pondered how fast a midgie could fly.

He rounded a bend in the trail and stopped in his tracks. The hairs on the back of his neck were on end; the birds had stopped singing in the surrounding trees. Everything was silent. A dead deer lay in the middle of the path, it’s throat recently ripped open.

Behind him, he could hear his friend approaching; hear his heavy breathing as he gave it his all to catch up. He glanced back to see if he was in sight yet but the path was deserted.

Turning back towards the deer, he let out a gasp.

A dark winged female, with waist length raven black hair, stood between him and the carcass. Her piercing green eyes were boring into his very soul.

He stood frozen to the spot as she stepped towards him.

The purple tipped feathers of her wings rustled softly as she moved gracefully to stand at his shoulder. Unable to take his eyes off her striking, alabaster features, the runner noted the fresh blood at the corner of her mouth.

She reached out a long, slim hand with long, pointed, purple nails and traced her finger tip around the outline of the tattoo on his upper arm.

His heart was pounding out of his chest.

Closing his eyes, he felt her breath on his neck.

 

Thud. Thud. Thud.

 

“There you are!” gasped his running buddy. “You trying to kill me with that pace, mate?”

He opened his eyes. The dark angel was gone. The deer carcass had vanished. Turning to face his friend, he muttered, “Sorry. Just needed to stretch my legs for a bit.”

“Hey! You’re bleeding!” exclaimed his breathless friend. “You ok?”

“Bleeding?”

“Yeah. It’s running down your neck.”

Reaching up with a trembling hand, he felt the sweaty skin at the side of his neck. Sure enough, his fingertips came away covered in fresh blood.

“Shit. Must have caught a branch back there.”

“Must have been a thorny one. That looks like a puncture wound,” stated his friend. “Come on. Let’s get you home and get that cleaned up. It looks nasty.”

Together they set off at a leisurely pace along the trail towards the housing estate.

 

High up in the trees, the angel looked down on the scene. Thwarted again but at least this time she’d been able to savour a taste of a meal yet to be enjoyed. Running her tongue over her fangs, she sighed as she lingered over the final drop of his divine blood.

 

 (image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)