Strange Encounter

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A chance encounter in London takes a mysterious turn.

Submitted: March 21, 2008

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Submitted: March 21, 2008



Strange Encounter
I had been spending one of my leisurely days walking in London, wandering through the timeless streets and alleys of the City that never lose their fascination for me. It was mid-afternoon and I was beginning to feel a little tired though totally absorbed by my surroundings. I generally found that these rambles induced in me a semi-dreamlike state and so it was today.
I entered a familiar, wide passageway that curved off to my right, and became dimly aware of a small group of people approaching. At first I paid them little attention beyond observing that the five individuals were all men, two of them walking just in front of the other three, all formally dressed, in suits of dark colours. They drew level and were about to pass me when, glancing at the leading figures, I was astonished to recognise Richard Smith, an old schoolfriend I had not seen for several years. 
It was immediately apparent that he had, that instant, recognised me also as, smiling broadly, he pointed in my direction exclaiming “I know you!”My response was an echo of his words and we stopped to greet each other. “I’d been meaning to get in touch with you” he said, “we really must meet up sometime.”“Excellent idea” I said and I saw his companion, who I recognised as his younger brother, Edward nodding in agreement, “I’d been thinking the same thing”, he said and we proceeded to fix a date there and then.
Diaries were produced and arrangements made to meet exactly two weeks later at 4 pm. on Tuesday 10th October at the Freemasons Arms in Long Acre, Covent Garden, a meeting place we had used before. We then said our goodbyes and went our separate ways; my friends continuing onward down the passage, still followed by their three associates.
The whole meeting had taken place over no more than a couple of minutes and although I had been delighted at this renewal of old acquaintance, there was something about the encounter that left me feeling somewhat perplexed, even uneasy.
Later that evening, I reflected on the episode and tried to recall just what had occurred that could have led to my unease. There had certainly been something odd about the three men accompanying my friends. It was not just that there had been no attempt to introduce them – that in itself was, perhaps, not all that strange – but throughout our brief exchange, the three had remained completely silent and impassive. I could not recall any of them displaying any outward expression in response to what was going on before them. Indeed, it had felt to me that, although they were accompanying my friends, they seemed somewhat distant and, in an odd way, separate from them.
But, apart from this single aspect of the encounter, my retrospections failed to cast further light on the matter.
It was something of a coincidence that three days later, whilst attending a conference, I bumped into Alan Jarvis, another old acquaintance from schooldays. We had an enjoyable lunch together updating each other about our lives and careers before, inevitably, moving to reminiscence about old times.Naturally enough, I described my encounter in the alley in some detail and told Alan of my feelings at the time and afterwards. He listened with keen interest but by the time I had finished he seemed perplexed. “Did you say that Richard’s brother Eddy was with him?” he asked. “Oh yes” I replied, “most definitely – he took part in the brief conversation”. Alan’s expression became even more troubled. “Why?” I asked, “what’s bothering you?” “Well, I happen to know that Eddy died quite suddenly last year”. “You must be mistaken, where did you hear that?” “There’s no mistake, Tom I went to the funeral”.
It’s hard to describe just how I felt at hearing this news. I attempted to rationalise the experience in the alley both to Alan and to myself. “It must have been someone else I mistook for Eddy” I said, “and I was feeling a bit tired at the time”.I don’t know what Alan thought of this explanation but it didn’t sound too convincing to me. Anway, we had no time for further discussion since the afternoon session was getting underway and, as it happened, I didn’t see Alan again that afternoon. I think he must have left the conference early.
In the intervening days I constantly turned things over in my mind and eventually managed to convince myself that it must have been a case of mistaken identity on my part. Whoever it was accompanying Richard, it was someone other than his brother and I had merely assumed it was him though I never really managed to explain how it was that this individual obviously knew me.

Eventually, Tuesday 10th October arrived. I had resolved to be at the Freemasons Arms on time as arranged to meet Richard and whoever had been the other person accompanying him. No doubt all would then become clear and the mystery would be resolved. In fact I arrived about fifteen minutes early and having bought a pint of Abbot Ale, I sat at a table towards the back of the room.The bar was fairly quiet for this time in the afternoon and I had a good view of the door so I’d be sure to see the arrival. I had only been sitting there for about five minutes when my mobile phone rang. I answered it and was a little surprised to hear Alan’s voice. He sounded rather earnest and serious. “I’ve been trying to get in touch with you for several days” he said, “I’ve learned something rather awful and I thought you really ought to know”. “What on earth is that?” I asked. “Well, it seems that Richard Smith was killed in that tube accident a couple of weeks ago”. I felt shocked and numb. “Oh, my god!” I responded rather feebly. “But don’t you see…” began Alan and at that point, I noticed the doors at the far end swing open and some people come in.“…. that was on the very day that you met him and the others during your walk”By now my feeling of shock was such that I was completely unable to speak. I just sat there gazing in front of me and, as I did, I saw that the newcomers were walking slowly towards my table. There were three of them, formally dressed, in suits of dark colours…………. 

© Copyright 2017 Elliott John. All rights reserved.

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