When the Mist Clears

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Tom's drive home on evening took him to the most unexpected destination.

Tom drove along, making the routine, daily drive home from the office. He was mulling over what to have for tea. It would be something sent in, that was for sure. He had earned a takeaway after a rubbish day at work. It was a toss up between a curry with all the sides and garlic naan, or a kebab the size of a roll of carpet. He turned the car-radio volume up and sang along with the rock radio songs.

He decided on a special kebab, chili sauce, no salad, obviously, chips and a full fat cola. He would call Miami Pizza as soon as he got home. Tom kept going, the lights changing just as he sailed through them. He couldn’t let the highway code keep him from his sofa, the television, and a massive kebab.

A few moments later a thick fog descended. Tom flicked his headlights onto full beam and stared hard as he drove on. Thankfully, he was nearly home. He couldn’t wait to get into his scruffs and crash out on the sofa. He’d recorded a documentary about a comedian from the 90s. That would also help take the edge off a bad day. This fog, though, was so thick.

He slowed right down, hardly seeing anything beyond the end of the bonnet. The pale fog was like a veil in front of his windscreen. His car radio gargled with interference. The music was interrupted with bursts of raging static.

He drove on, lowering the volume so that the crackle became a low hiss. As the moments passed, he lost his bearings. His focus was on steering the car through the fog without incident. He just hoped when the fog cleared, he would be on the right track and near his street.

The fog started to lift and the radio burst back to life. As the mist cleared, a song played on the radio. Tom knew the song. He hadn’t heard the track for years. It was a song from the early 1960s. If he hadn’t been feeling a little jittery from the fog, he would have sung along. Walk right back to me this minute, bring your love to me, don’t send it, I’m so lonesome every day.

Tom shivered and peered through the thinning mist. The old song made things seem sinister, eerie, somehow. The fog eased away, leaving Tom driving down streets he thought he recognised. But something wasn’t quite right. The world outside seemed to be grainy and drained of any colour. It was as though he was driving down streets of an old film.

Tom pulled over to the kerb. He got out of the car and stood on the pavement, feeling like he’d just landed from another planet. He was standing on and old-fashioned northern street. The street was familiar somehow, but also other-worldly. It was daylight but the scene around him was so lacking in colour it was like being in a black and white photograph.

Tom walked up the steep incline of the street and followed it around a sharp left turn, then a hard right. As he turned the corner, and the street stretched away in front of him, he knew where he was.

This was Rock Street. This had been where his grandparents had lived. He hadn’t been down this way in twenty years. He knew some of the houses had been demolished to build a glass-fronted fast-food restaurant. Wherever he was now, though, the street was intact, as it had been in his childhood. With the grainy filter hanging over the street that he had so many fond memories of, it was as though he’d stepped into a page from his parents’ old photo albums.

Like a child on their first trip to a theme park, Tom walked along, staring in wonder. Despite the black and white finish, the cobbled street was exactly as he remembered it.

What on earth was happening? Was he dreaming? He felt like Alice down the rabbit hole. He drifted down the eerie yet familiar street.

Then he heard a sound that took him back. The familiar tap-tap-tapping of a walking stick. He turned to see an elderly lady walking towards him, using the stick to assist her. He found himself again doubting that she needed the stick to get around. If she wanted to get somewhere then her iron will alone, would get her there, not a wooden walking stick. The woman smiled when she saw him.

‘Gran?’

‘Now then, Tom. Come in, I’ll stick the kettle on.’

When he’d left the house that morning Tom would never have imagined that he would be stopping for a brew with his grandmother. He had been a young boy when she had passed away. Like everyone does, Tom often reminisced about those departed relatives he held in fond regard. Maybe that’s why this particular hallucination was happening. He decided he had no choice but to go along with whatever was happening, however it was happening. Tom followed his grandmother as she shuffled up the garden path.

The house was exactly as he remembered it, albeit under the back and white sheen. The wallpaper in the hallway had been a bright orange, but now appeared a pale grey. They went through to the living room. His grandfather was sitting in the armchair by the window, watching a boxish television set. On screen a cowboy swaggered down a dusty Western boardwalk.

His grandad looked exactly the same as he had all those years ago. He wore faded jeans and check shirt with the sleeved pushed up to the elbow.

‘Tea, Ged?’ asked his gran.

His grandfather nodded.

‘You not stopping, Tom?’

‘Sorry?’

‘Sit down, then.’

Tom, feeling like he was eleven years old again, took a seat on the sofa. He spent what felt like over an hour drinking tea, chatting and watching the classic Western with his grandparents. The connection was just the same. It was as though he’d last seen them the week before not two decades ago.

Back out on Rock Street, Tom wandered along, quite unsure where he was headed. He reached the end of the steep cobbled street. He turned right and emerged on an odd little paved street. The stretch of pavement had blocks of two-storey flats running along one side. Again, Tom knew exactly where he was. He felt like Ebenezer Scrooge being shown his past by the first spirit.

Rigby Walk was shrouded in the same dreary filter as the rest of this strange place. Tom walked up the familiar path and knocked gently on the door. The door itself had been a sky-blue colour the last time he’d been here. Now it seemed a pale grey. Unsure of what was going on, but knowing who would answer the door, Tom waited patiently.

A few moments later a voice called Hold on, I’m coming in a soft Dublin accent.

His other grandfather opened the door. He looked like he had back when Tom used to visit. Again, the strange filter gave his features an odd, distorted twist, but it was definitely the seventy-five-year-old who used to put the rubbish bins out for ‘the old people’.

‘Howayeh, Thomas?’

Tom said hello and followed his grandad up the stairs that lead to their first floor flat. The living room was exactly the same as it had been. The grey-white three-piece suite would have suited any 1980s chat show and the mantelpiece was filled with ornaments that he would forever associate with his grandparents. He still had no idea why someone would want an ornament of a shire horse.

‘Tom’s here, Ma.’ grandad called.

His grandmother appeared in the kitchen doorway. She wore a cardigan and had a tea-towel over her shoulder.

‘How’s Tom?’ she asked.

‘I honestly couldn’t tell you, Nanna.’

‘You’ll get used to it.’

‘I don’t know what’s happening.’

‘You have passed over, Tom. You are with us now.’

‘You mean I’m dead? That’s not possible. I don’t remember.’

‘Nobody does.’ said his grandad.

As his grandmother went to put the kettle on Tom caught his reflection in the mirror. He gasped. His features were grey and lifeless.


Submitted: January 14, 2021

© Copyright 2021 CTPlatt. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

D Mays

Good story. Very creative and good dialog. Thanks for writing and sharing.

Thu, January 14th, 2021 11:46am

Author
Reply

Thanks a lot for your comments! Appreciated

Thu, January 14th, 2021 3:50am

AdamCarlton

That's a great story, wonderfully told. A 'Sixth Sense' style surprise ending.

Thu, January 14th, 2021 3:22pm

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