Caught In A Storm

Excellence In Writing Award in the 'Read Write Repeat 2015' competition

The sky was a slimy grey, storm clouds in the distance. I was walking along the path, conscious, as usual, of the vast surroundings of the bustling CBD. The pace of feet seemed a beat quicker than usual, probably because of the imminence of the cool, slithering rain. I quickly glanced at my watch, 8:37 just ahead of schedule; I could slow my pace a bit. My briefcase swung next to me, in the typical repetitive arc that brings comfort to me. When things are regular, you know nothing is wrong. The wind whistled, as if trying to avoid a bludgeoning predicament. The arc of the briefcase started to change direction ever so slightly. As I turned my attention to this, I felt someone bang into me from behind. I turned around quickly, irate at the carelessness of this person. The man wore a bowler hat, with his face not completely revealed. He muttered something and trudged on.

“Excuse me?” I said pressingly.

He turned around, giving me my first good look at his face, “What?” he said indignantly.

Shocked at the man’s complete incomprehension of this error, I lost my train of thought.

The man picked up my indecision and suddenly his deep voice turned aggressive, “What’s your problem?” His words were slightly slurred and saliva occasionally trickled from the side of his mouth.

The idea of letting the man get away with such insolence troubled me but warning bells were starting to ring in my over-worked mind. “You ran into me from behind and made me lose control of my briefcase,” I said finally, with a false confidence in my voice.

While I realised this concept may have puzzled some people, the man responded straight away, “And?” It was clear the man had a problem; his truncated responses showed a fragmented mind.

At this point I decided that the conversation should continue no further and I walked away briskly. When I turned around, the man was standing in the exact same spot as before, watching with the slightest hint of a grin on his face. I kept walking as quickly as I could. I turned a corner and thought I lost him. I glanced at my watch again: 8:54. Time had crept up on me and I started jogging to my office. People on the street looked at me with disdain, obviously wondering why such a well-dressed person could be behaving in such a way. My office building came into sight, framed by a quickly advancing storm cloud and relief flooded my body. As I was across the road from my office, at the lights, I glanced over to the left of the building.

I froze. “No, it couldn’t be?” I thought to myself. But there he was, the strange man who I had run into earlier. He had that same grin on his face. He could not know I worked here. I hurried towards the bus stop, not looking back at the man.

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