“Fog”: a short story

This is a short story based on two five minute freewrites I did (the first two parts). The rest is written in a freewrite style with little editing. The original can be found on the Hive Blockchain: https://peakd.com/hive-161155/@felt.buzz/weekend-freewrite

She sat on the doorstep wondering what to do next.

The street was deserted, and the street lighting flickered making her think of a horror film she had watched with Zed a few weeks ago.

The stone step was cold and before long she stood up and brushed herself down. She banged on the door once more, opened the letter box and peered through, hoping to see signs of movement.

“Zed?” she called.

Her voice was swallowed up by the dark hallway. She stood up.

He obviously wasn’t in.

Or was he hiding from her? Sulking after their argument.

She looked in her bag for her notebook and pen, but she must have left it in the cafe. She found an old envelope and a pencil stub and scrawled “call me, you big idiot” on it and shoved it through the letter box. She peered through and watched it flutter to the floor.

She stood up and began to walk down the street her footsteps echoing in the eerie silence.

The Red Sunset Bar and Grill was a grotty ugly place.

It was the kind of place I would walk past without looking in the window. It was the kind of place I hated.

A plastic menu was stuck to the door with sticky tape, pictures of food instead of a description of the food.

I’m a snob. I know I’m a snob.

I took a deep breath and pushed the door and walked in. The smell of fried food hit my nostrils at the same time as the warm air blowing in from a fan by the door. I flinched.

“Are you alright, sir?” A woman asked. A waitress, I guessed, from the tired look in her eye and the badly fitting outfit.

“I guess so,” I said.

“Have you reserved?” she asked.

I suppressed a laugh – it wasn’t the kind of place that anyone would reserve, let alone me.

“No!” I spat. “I’m meeting someone.” I saw Bob sitting in the corner by the toilets. “Him,” I pointed.

The waitress gave me a suspicious look, as though she didn’t believe me, but she waved me in.

She walked with her phone in one hand and keys in the other. From time to time she tried Zed’s number, but it went straight through to voicemail. A ridiculous message they had recorded together, drunk one evening. She kept badgering him to change it, but Zed always shrugged and said he liked it.

“You don’t have to listen to it,” she complained. She hated hearing her voice.

A white mist began to form, swirling around her feet as she walked. It was getting late. She shivered. She would have to find shelter before long. 

Whenever the fog came, *they* weren’t far behind.

The phone screen went black as she tried Zed’s number one more time. For some reason, the fog always drained batteries quickly.

At the end of the road she paused, silently debating whether to turn left for home, or right to find a bar, or a cafe, and company. She checked her watch – an old-fashioned wind-up model she had picked up at an antique store. 

Not enough time to get home. She turned right.

“Zed!” Bob said, standing up as I approached, his hand stretched out across the table. I shook it, wincing slightly as his rough fingers crushed mine.

“Why have you dragged me to this shithole,” I asked, ignoring the indignant huff of the waitress, as I fell into the chair opposite Bob.

“Can I get you anything,*sir*?”

I shook my head and waved the waitress away. Bob smiled apologetically at her and said.

“Sorry about my friend,” he said. “He’ll have a coffee. And a slice of your wonderful apple pie.”

He waited until the waitress had left and then sat back in his chair.

“Why do you have to be so obnoxious?” he said. “It costs nothing to be nice to people.”

“It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile,” I said. I patted my belly. “And I need the exercise. What’s this all about?”

“I need to talk to you,” Bob said. “It’s about Julie.”

As the fog thickened around her, Julie quickened her pace. In the gloom, a neon light flickered on the other side. She dashed across the road and pushed at the door.

The place was deserted. A bored-looking young man looked up briefly from the magazine he was flicking through.

“Closed,” he said.

“The door was open,” Julie said, taking off her coat and throwing it over a stall. “I’ll have a beer.”

The man closed his magazine, stood up and looked at Julie.

“Do I know you?” he asked.

“I don’t think so,” Julie said. “I’m not from here. At least not quite.”

The man grabbed a glass and poured her a beer.

“What are you doing out at this time of night,” he said. “Fog’s forecast.”

“It’s already here,” she said.

His eyes widened and he lept over the bar, headed to the door and opened it a crack before closing it and bolting it.

“It looks like a bad one,” he said. “You’ll be here a while.”

“I’ve got money,” Julie said, taking out her purse. “And you have beer. We’ll be fine.”

I scowled.

“What about her?” 

I hadn’t seen Julie for weeks. She wasn’t answering her phone, hadn’t been seen at work, no answer when he knocked at the door of her flat. The neighbours hadn’t seen her. The police added her to the growing list of missing persons. The constable who took her details was sympathetic but not hopeful they could find her.

“She was taken by the Fog,” Bob said.

I opened my mouth to reply, but closed it again as the waitress slapped a plate down in front of me, and a cup of – what I assumed was supposed to be – coffee. She smiled at Bob, scowled at me and left.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, pushing the plate away.

“I’ve been looking into it,” Bob said, reaching over and pulling the pie towards him. “All these missing people. Have you not noticed the disappearances happen the nights the Fog comes?”

“How long you been here?” the barman – Tim, he said his name was – asked as he sat back behind the bar.

“No idea,” Julie said, sipping her beer. “Time seems to go at a difference pace here.” Tim nodded. “I was out with my boyfriend – maybe a few nights ago. We had a row, I stormed off. Suddenly, the fog came. I wandered around, lost for maybe an hour. When the fog cleared I was here. It still looks like home. But it’s not.”

“I’ve been here three years,” Tim said. “The fog stole me from my friends and family.”

“I tried to get back,” Julie said. “But…”

“The fog here doesn’t take you anywhere,” Tim said. “Unless it’s to the grave.”

“What are those creatures?” Julie asked.

Tim shook his head. “I don’t know. I don”t care to know.”

I walked back to my flat, trying to walk off the anger at a wasted evening. Bob and his bizarre conspiracy theories and horror stories. He’d obviously been spending too much time reading crap on the internet! The very idea that fog could take people to another place, another time or dimension, or whatever!

Julie had left me. Why? Who knew? But it surely wasn’t because of the weather!

As if Bob’s mind had contaminated the evening, mist began to form around me. I laughed as the air began to thicken. 

“Fog!” I chuckled. “As if fog can make people disappear!”

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