The Meeting

© Copyright Chris Downer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

© Copyright Chris Downer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

 

In the dead of the night she was thrown forward as the bus screeched to a halt. As she recovered from the shock she looked around herself and realized that she was the last passenger on the bus. She could have sworn that five minutes ago she had noticed three girls sitting behind her. Maybe, they got off when she had dozed off. The braking of the bus had startled her. She noted with satisfaction that she had not missed her stop yet.

She had not taken her usual route today.  She joined this office yesterday and didn’t  want to start off on the wrong foot with her boss so she had not mentioned that this meeting was in a part of the town she had never seen before. She had not wanted to sound like a lightweight. The meeting had been in a dilapidated building and the woman she met had looked unhappy and grim. Like she had nothing to laugh about.

She noted that even the ticket collector had got down from the bus. The driver, an old man, was driving the bus at a normal pace but kept glancing at her nervously. Something about his look made her edgy. Suddenly, she heard a bloodcurdling and hair-raising scream, the bus stopped. Thinking that she had imagined the sound she looked at the bus driver.

“Ma’am, you will have to get down here, I am afraid. I can’t drive further”, the driver said nervously.

“But… but… I don’t live here. How will I get home?” she stammered.

“Can’t help you, sorry”, he looked harassed but determined. Knowing when she was beaten, she reluctantly got down and looked around herself. It was dark and the street was empty, it was lit by one flickering streetlamp. She inched further nervously and calculated that she was fifteen minutes away from home.

There was a chill in the air and the air was oppressively gloomy. Suddenly, she heard a rattling sound behind her. She turned and saw a car moving towards her, a car without lights on such a dark night. It was a broken car and the windows were smashed roughly, it stopped when it reached her. She was amazed to see the person behind the wheel. The woman was wearing the same black dress and looked grimmer than she had done before, during the meeting.

“Do you want a ride”, the woman declared, as if she wasn’t asking but telling.

Nodding she moved towards the passenger door. Something told her not to get in the car but the alternative prospect of a long walk on this eerie night did not seem attractive either. As if on cue, the door opened without her even touching it.

She gave directions to the woman in black.

“Was your car in an accident recently”, she gathered enough courage to ask.

Her answer was a nod. She decided to abandon her attempts at conversation and looked outside.

Ten minutes later the car stopped. She didn’t remember giving the woman her house number but maybe, she had.

She formally thanked the woman for her help.

The woman gave her a blank look and left.

As soon as she entered her room her phone was ringing.

“Where have you been all evening. I have been calling you since forever”, her boss thundered.

“I am sorry. My phone had no battery”, she explained stiltedly because the bizarre events of the evening were still on her mind.

“Mrs. Postwalla, the woman who you had to see today met with an accident this afternoon and died”, he continued, “So where were you”?

The pounding in her ears made it impossible to form a coherent reply.