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Bad Day.

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A brief insight into my upcoming book.

Mystery / Horror
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

"Your total is six pounds and forty-nine pence, please, sir."

The checkout girl stated. She was tucking one side of her hair behind her ear whilst presenting me with a vacant look.

A cold shiver ran through my entire body like I had been struck by a train. This beautiful person holding the attention I had been working on for a few months was utterly alien. Like something possessed her to the core leaving just the shell of this fantastic figure. A woman of about 5′4" had olive skin, piercing green eyes, and a neat bun of dark brown hair. I even checked her name badge to ensure she doesn't have a much less chatty twin. Nope, there on the badge placed next to the poorly illustrated cup of coffee said the name Sandy. She looked at me with ice in her eyes, but she was not paying attention. Did she even know I was there; I mean, I was standing right in front of her, but her eyes were like lasers, piercing through my very existence. I briefly looked over my left shoulder to check she wasn't looking and talking to someone else. Sure, enough, I was the last man in the queue. After what felt like ten minutes but could have only been a few seconds, I began to shuffle deep into my pockets for some change to pay for my coffee and bagel. The jingle of the loose coins in my pocket seemed to fill the entire room, despite the loud chatter produced by everyone in the café slurping their beverages like gasping dogs.

I count out the change and hand it over. Sandy's eyes drop to her hands to review the amount.

"Perfect," she states, a sullen expression swept across her face, implying the complete opposite. She robotically divides the change into the correct segments of the till and gently closes the draw; without missing a beat, she regains hold of our gaze.

"That will be 5 minutes". The dull tone continues.

My mind is at a loss, the simple yet unfamiliar events that are taking place. I do not know this woman, other than her name is Sandy, yet every day for the last six months, I have spoken to her every morning with the same order, and this morning it is like she has never seen me before. The unimpressed looking burned through my soul like I had taken a shit right in the middle of the shop floor.

"Thanks," I reply, hardly hiding my confusion. Hoping she will realise the moment is somewhat awkward.

I wreck my brain trying to think of previous encounters. Had I said something stupid, maybe I cracked a stupid, inappropriate joke without thinking. My sense of humour is a touch dark and tends to get away from me from time to time. I back away from the countertop and place both hands in my pocket, rolling the remaining change through my fingers. A thud breaks me away from my hypnotic trance, a thud followed by the dragged-out wale of a small child, sounding like an engine working its way up to full throttle. A little girl barely three years old sprawled over the black tiled floor. I always did find the black tiles peculiar; it must have given the cleaner nightmares. Her mother, with her nose buried deep into the depths of her phone, realises the carnage and forces herself to grab her screaming creation and manoeuvre her way back to their seats. Rather than a hug to comfort the girl, the mother decides a croissant would be much more effective. She scoops up the half-eaten pastry from her plate and hands it over. Just like that, the crying stops. If only they were all that easy.

"Carlton." A voice barks across the room, drawing my attention from the pastry being demolished. I did not recognise the voice, yet I subconsciously expected to see Sandy standing there holding a large Cappuccino and a cream cheese bagel. To my surprise, are young gentleman stands before me. Around 6 ft 3in, well built with a relatively thin hairline and overall scruffy looking. Unfortunate, at any age, he could barely be in his twenties yet displays the hairline of a 50-year-old man who looks like he has had some experience with the most unkind years. I briefly look past him, hoping to spot Sandy, but she is nowhere to be seen. I retrieve my food and beverage from the man and head towards the door. Before opening it, I couldn't help glancing over my shoulder to see if I could spot sandy one last time. I was growing concerned for her. Her usual chatty self-had vanished, only to be replaced by what I can only assume is a robotic clone. But still nothing.

The moment I exit the shop and begin to inhale the traffic fumes corrupting my nasal passage, I start to think of one logical reason why sandy was acting so peculiar.

Maybe she wasn't feeling well?

Money trouble?

Relationship troubles?

Or maybe she was having a bad day.

Who knows? I tell myself tomorrow is a new day, and maybe if I bring her a bunch of flowers along with my usual order, she might finally get the hint that I like her. My mind is running away from me now. I am getting carried away. I must get to work and take my mind off this whole saga.

I hail the first taxi I spot, its wheels screech to a halt dead in front of me, and I hop in the back, slinging my bag onto the seat beside me. I give the driver my destination, and away we go. I let out a sharp sigh before drawing in my coffee's aroma. The feeling of taking that first sip of coffee of the day never gets old. I feel my stomach warming, and I felt content for the first time that morning. Just as I am getting comfortable, we arrive. Only a fifteen-minute journey, but it was peaceful. No unnecessary chit-chat from the driver, just white noise produced by tires and tarmac. Bliss.

I hop out of the car clutching my food, satchel clinging onto one shoulder. Ruffle through my pockets, pull out a hand full of change and pay the man. Suddenly a warm breeze hits my face. I turn to look at the tall, pale grey building. Perplexed, I check the time and then the temperature on my watch. The time, my pulse rate, and the temperature of -2 degrees Celsius flash on the screen. Where did that little heat wave come from, anyway? I look around and notice that nobody seems to have caught the short weather shift. I know England is known for its bizarre weather patterns, but that takes the mick. Before I allow my mind to start racing, I assume the worst will happen.

I begin to walk towards the large revolving doors. Trying to get the timing right, I make my way into the glass obstacle. I notice the security desk is empty, as the security team is usually here before anyone. Although barely 2 minutes could have passed, I take another tight-eyed glance at my watch at 8:07 am; security has always arrived at 7 am on the dot. The morning series of unsettling events cause a shiver to worm from the top of my head through my entire body. I try to tell myself that I'm just tired and overthinking things. It wouldn't be the first time, after all. I keep walking toward my workplace. As I hurry to my office, I notice that the hall seems noticeably prolonged than usual. Again. I'm fine, I think to myself. I've had enough for the day, even at this early hour.

Reaching my office, I fling open the door and slam it behind me. I am still bothered by nagging anxiety. It is gratifying to stare out my office window, five stories above the city. This time, however, the veil doesn't welcome me with the familiar warmth and solace. There is nobody on the streets. There was no one around. There are cars parked in the middle of the road, shopping bags abandoned on the pavement, and a deafening hush can be heard from the street. With my eyes tightly closed, I reach behind me to grab the back of my desk chair and set down my coffee.

I begin to hunt through my top drawer to fish out my Paracetamol. The feeling of a long headache is creeping in, and I want to stop it before it gets worse. I pop two red and white capsules into my palm and then onto my tongue, a swig of coffee and gulp. I place my coffee onto the coaster and let out a deep and heavy sigh. That's when I noticed some writing on the left side of the cup poking around to the front. I swivel the cup and instantly feel my stomach flip. A message was on my cup next to my name and the rough coffee house logo. A statement that made my whole-body tremor with fear "Don't let them know you can see them". I push my desk, wheeling my chair back into the window. A combination of coffee and bagel fire up from my stomach into my mouth. I violently throw up all my anxieties and fears by diving for the bin.

A few moments pass, and I try my best to compose myself. I stand up from my chair and move to open the window for some air. A cool breeze gently brushes my face when through the stone-cold silence, I can hear a muffled rumbling sound like a storm cloud in the distance, waking up and heading right for me. A red, smoky glow emerges from the side of a small antique shop. Huddled within the mist are people. But not people like I would usually see. They are marching in perfect timing with one another. Five stories up, but I could tell as clear as the day they were in a trance-like state, heading directly towards my office block. I quickly turn to reach for my phone buried deep in the bottom of my bag. Before I even get close, the heavy sound of marching fills the corridor outside of my office. Every second counts as the rumbles draw nearer, and I want to run, but my muscles are frozen, and my mind continues to race. What would I hide in? I am on the fifth floor of an office block.

My thoughts finally stop whirling around in my head. Outside my door, the marching has come to an abrupt halt.

At that point, I hear two heavy knocks.

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