Passing Through

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
The man who suddenly arrives in the village is just an innocent stranger passing through, isn't he?

Submitted: May 22, 2016

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Submitted: May 22, 2016



Passing Through.

He carried it with him everywhere. He never let the bag leave his sight. If he wasn't carrying it, if he had to put it down, it was always within easy arms reach.

The bag looked a bit like the man himself; large, scruffy, well past its prime. It looked like it was made from some sort of animal hide but it was so well worn that it was hard to tell. He wore it on one shoulder secured by one remaining strap and a piece of rope standing in for the second missing one.

The village didn't see many strangers so the man was a focus of interest. Where he was staying nobody knew but there was speculation that he slept out in the woods, under the cover of some bushes. Nobody actually entered the woods to check, not while he was around anyway.

He was a very quiet man. When he had need to go to the local shop he did not say very much but always remained polite, soft-spoken. Everything he was seen to do was at that same steady, unrushed speed of someone who has no particular place to go.

When little Adrian Jenkins ran out into the road in front of an on-coming car and his mother was too far away to help, it was this stranger that reached out and pulled him safely back. He had not stopped to be thanked but had just carried on walking along at that same steady pace.

The bag caused as much speculation as the man himself. Sometimes it seemed to be bulging, full to capacity. People would puzzle over the shape of it, trying to find one single clue as to what it was he carried in there that seemed to be so precious to him.

Mavis Evans was heard to say that she was sure she had seen some strands of hair poking out of it when she was waiting behind him in the store. Nobody took much notice of Mavis, though. She was prone to flights of fantasy, making up stories and trying to cause trouble. Nearly everybody in the village had been a victim of her tongue, either directly or through family ties at one time or another.

There were other times when the bag looked shrunken in on itself, floppy, as though all its stuffing had been removed. Even when it so clearly had next to nothing inside it the man still kept it close.

It was the general consensus  that it would not be a good idea to try to snatch the bag to get a quick glimpse inside it. The villagers agreed amongst themselves that he would more than likely attack anyone that tried to do so, but they couldn't be sure because nobody tried.

None of the villagers were as tall as this stranger. They weren't particularly small people but the stranger must have been 6'6”, and although not fat, looked as solidly built as a tree. There was no one in the village that was willing to take him on if an argument ensued. Better to remain curious but ignorant.

After a week the villagers got used to seeing him around. They no longer followed his every move, sometimes not even pausing in their conversation as he ambled past them. He seemed to have become a part of the scenery and was accorded the same amount of interest.

Then the woman went missing. A young mother just seemed to vanish from her own garden, leaving her two year old son asleep in his cot. Her husband was devastated and outraged by the rumours that she had run away with a secret admirer.

The police were called. There was no evidence that a crime had been committed, no sign of a struggle, of any violence having taken place. It was odd that the woman had taken nothing away with her: her purse and all her personal documents were exactly where the husband expected them to be. She was added to the list of missing persons that did seem to have been getting longer in the region lately. For now there was no more that the police could do.

And then as suddenly as he had appeared, the man vanished. He was no longer seen walking through the village. He was no longer noticed queuing inside the store. Mavis Evans was heard to say that she had seen him leaving just as dawn was breaking, carrying a very heavy bag on his shoulder but nobody knew whether to believe her.

After a few days a couple of the local men, including the missing woman's husband, ventured in to the woods. They were looking for clues as to where the stranger might have spent his nights. In spite of an extensive search they found no signs that he had been camping there at all. It was as though the man had never existed at all.

Nobody ever heard from the woman at all. Where she went or what happened to her remains a mystery. The number of missing people in the area continues to rise, but slowly. Nobody is suspicious about it.

And as for the stranger? He was just a man passing through, wasn't he?

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