This story is in response to the picture prompt at ‘Sunday Picture Press’
The Weary Traveller
We were lost, utterly and completely lost. The sun was sinking fast and the country road we were on seemed to be leading us nowhere. Storm clouds were gathering and nightfall was approaching, the last thing I wanted was being stuck out in this wilderness, in the dark and in a raging storm.
Our being lost was not my fault, I was, as I kept repeating, only the driver. The two real culprits were next to me and both were asleep. The Sat Nav had begun the nightmare, her constant babbling getting us miles from where we should have been. One moment it’s inane voice was telling us to take a right turn that wasn’t there and then its screen went blank. It went to sleep on us and refused to wake up.
The second culprit was my traveling companion Jen. It had been her idea in the first place to come exploring in these out-of-the-way places. Then, when the Sat Nav gave up on, us she confidently declared that she would find the way. Armed with her road map she spent the next hour getting us even more lost. My shouting hadn’t helped and in a fit of temper she had thrown the map out of the window, refused to talk to me and had gone to sleep.
So I had very little choice but to continue following this road in the hope that it would eventually lead to some sort of civilization. By now the sun had gone and the dark clouds were covering the night sky. The only light came from the cars headlights shining in front of us disappearing into the endless blackness ahead. Just as I had given up all hope of finding anywhere I saw the twinkling of lights ahead. As I got closer I realized that we had come across a small village and the light was coming from the local pub. My headlights illuminated the pub sign, ‘The Weary Traveller’ and underneath a smaller notice saying ‘Vacancies’. At least we had a good chance of getting a drink and a meal and somewhere to stay the night.
By the time I’d parked the car and woken Jen the heavens had opened and the rain was heavy. We both put our coats over our heads and made a mad dash for the door. As soon as I opened the door I knew there was something wrong. Everything went quiet. Voices stopped and someone turned the music off and all eyes turned to look at us, standing there dripping wet. I held Jen’s hand tightly and whispered, “Let’s get out of here now, as fast as we can.”
To my amazement she totally ignored me, pulled her hand out of mine and walked cheerfully up to the bar, I couldn’t believe it. All eyes, silently followed her, but she seemed oblivious of them. She said something and the next moment a drink appeared in her hand. She looked across at me smiling and said, ”Are you going to stand there all night? Come and get your drink, I’ve ordered you a pint. This kind man behind the bar says that they’ve got a spare room we can have and he’s gone off to see if he can rustle up some sandwiches for us. What on earth is the matter with you? Say something for goodness sake.”
All the eyes in the place now slowly turned on me waiting to see what I would do next. I wanted to run, get out of this place as fast as I could, but I couldn’t leave Jen. Why was she acting so normally? Surely she could see what I could see – all these eyes looking at me – none of them had bodies attached to them.