The Travellers Torment

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man walks into a bar, this is not a joke, and gambles his life away

Submitted: February 19, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 19, 2012



The Travellers Torment.


A squeaking sign swinging in the wind above the pub’s entrance breaks the silence. The dim lights from within are all that breaks through the void of darkness.  Looking upwards, the man reads the weathered sign above his head. ‘The Travellers Torment’ is an unusual name for a place to drink he thinks.  Thirst and tiredness overwhelm his body, an unexplainable fatigue combined with the desire to be drunk.  He ventures in.  The damp-smelling interior seems less illuminated from the inside.  As the stranger approaches the bar, its other occupants take a quick glance at this intruder to their comfort and turn their backs to him.  Deciding to be just as ignorant, he walks around to a quiet corner and attempts to get the landlords attention.  He was faced with a man who appeared to be making himself  too busy to notice.  Giving up he turned to leave when a rough sounding voice spoke from the dark alcove beside him.

“What you drinking?”

“Excuse me,” replied the stranger, almost shocked that somebody had spoken to him.

“Don’t think they serve that behind the bar.  Go ahead and pick something else, it’s my treat.”

“I don’t think I’m welcome here, but thanks anyway.”

“I’m welcoming you. Besides, I think it’s about to rain,” replied the voice as thunder began to rumble and hard rain started to pelt the windows. ”Come and have a seat. I can assure you your thirst will be quenched when the landlord knows I’m ordering.”

Intrigued the stranger sat opposite the voice from the darkness.

“So I take it you’re a regular, then?” he asked

“So regular I’m like part of the structure.  When I leave, the place literally crumbles behind me.”

“Funny,” replied the man sarcastically.

“I try.  What can I get you?”

“Just a whisky, please, no ice.”

Almost immediately the barman was stood beside them, a glass in each of his hands.  The first, which he passed into the shadows, was so clean it almost sparkled in the near non-existent light.  The second glass was dropped on the table with enough force that half of its contents spilled out.  As the stranger looked, new cracks formed on its surface, separating both glass and dirt.

The shaded figure sighed and placed his drained glass on the table,

“Don’t take it personally.  Old Luc doesn’t like anyone,” he said

Cautiously the stranger sipped from his own, trying not to cut his lips on the already chipped rim.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what brings you to The Travellers? It’s not as if we have a reputation for being lively and friendly.”

“To tell you the truth, I don’t know.  I think I’m actually a little lost.”

“As are most who end up here, but you must remember what brought you here.”

“I honestly don’t remember.”

“Well, think back.  Most journeys end at their destination through a series of choices which determine the route.  All you have to do is to try to recall what you were doing before you set about this path.”


The stranger struggled within his mind for a few moments, until finally he remembered a recent memory.

“I know I was out drinking with some friends, it was one of their birthdays.  We must have got separated.”

“What caused the separation?” asked the voice from the shadow

“I got a phone call, I think. Something had happened.”

“Can you recall what was said?”

“It was from my girlfriend. She said she thought she was going into labour. She’s only 8 months’ gone so she told me to come out with the lads before we’re too busy with our child.”

“Congratulations on becoming a father.  What did you do next?”

The man took a few seconds to respond, using the pause to allow himself time to take a swig of his drink.

“Something stupid,” he eventually replied. “I had driven to my friend’s house. I was supposed to be staying the night and I decided since we were in his local and I had only had a few pints to make my own way to the hospital.”

“Didn’t your friends try to stop you?” asked the voice from the shadows, his seemingly skinnier hand reaching out from the shade and lifting the miraculously refilled glass back into the darkness.

“No.  All they said was to tell my girlfriend to push hard so they could wet the baby’s head.”

Silence filled the room.  The stranger looked around him and was surprised to find the other occupants deep in conversation, though he could hear not a whisper of what was being said.  A new sound began.  It sounded like hail hitting the windows, but when he listened closely, he realised the noise had a rhythm.  Four beats in quick succession, rolling over and over.

“Don’t tell me you drove straight to another pub instead of the hospital?” asked the shaded figure, his voice grabbing the stranger’s attention once more.

“No, of course not,” replied the stranger, his tone sounding almost offended.

“Then why are you here?”

“I don’t know and I can’t stay, I have to get to the hospital.”

“I’m afraid you’re a little too late for that.”

The hand from the darkness emerged without skin our muscle.  It placed the empty glass on the table and began tapping its four bony fingers on its side, the rhythmic sound growing increasingly more eerie with every wave.

“You never made it to the end of your journey.  The choices you made changed your final destination from witnessing birth to experiencing, for lack of a better word, me.”

As the stranger jumped backwards in realisation of the unfolding truth, he knocked the table, sending both glasses spiralling to the ground, his own breaking on impact.  But his companions landed perfectly upright, its contents renewed.

The shaded figure stepped into the light with his scythe in its eternal place.  His face was as fleshless as his hand.  His half hooded features still a true terror to behold.

“All you have left now is to begin the next stage of your journey.”

“Please,” pleaded the stranger, “I have to get back.  I’ll do anything.”

“Are you a gambling man?” asked the reaper of souls

“Not really,” replied the stranger.

“Yet you have already gambled with you life with the choices you have made.”

The man knew he was right, so, quietly, he whispered, “What do I need to do,”

“First of all, you must follow me outside. It is very rare that I give what is rightfully mine the opportunity for redemption.  I wouldn’t like the other regulars to know there is a third option.”

The stranger followed Death out of the pub, his scythe clipping the doorway slightly and causing the building to crumble out of existence when they were only a few feet away.

“I can send you back, but there are two conditions,” stated the voice which was once again obscured by darkness.

“Name them.”

“First you will remember nothing of our meeting and the gamble you have taken.  You will return to the beginning of the path which ultimately led to your demise and you will be faced with the choices again, never knowing the consequences.”

“What is the second condition?”

“You will die an old man.  That is unless you choose the wrong path again.  If you do, I guarantee I will collect your soul, along with those of your passengers.  Do you accept?”

The man thought hard about his choice.  He knew he would never be stupid enough to make the same mistake twice.

“I do.”

Slightly swaying, the stranger stood with his car key already in the door of his vehicle.  Wondering why he had stalled when he knew where he was rushing to, he turned the lock, but as he did, an alcoholic expulsion of gas erupted from his mouth. ‘I think I’ve had too much to drink,’ he thought to himself.  With that he withdrew his key and took his phone from his jacket pocket, ready to ring the local taxi firm.  Before the call had connected, a black cab pulled up, its fare already stumbling as they climbed out and made their way to the door.  The stranger climbed inside, offered the driver a huge tip for a speedy journey and made his way, safely, to the birth of his child.

57 years, 245 days, 17 hours, 23 minutes and 11 seconds later, the drinking partners met once more.  Death shook the man’s hand

“Congratulations,” said the soul reaper, “you won the bet”

“What bet?”





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