A most peculiar thing – First Chapter
I cannot precisely recall every place and time period I have been to, but my journey began at a time when electricity was still considered something extraordinary, or as the people on earth may call it, the late 19th-century. It was the midst of August, but the weather was surprisingly cold. If I recall correctly, my story begins with me rushing up the stairs to my apartment, with a face as white as snow and a heart as heavy as stone.
“Good evening, my dear Wilson.” said Harley to me as I entered our apartment. It was already quite late, and the sun has long gone to sleep. I nodded at him, still shocked by the fascinating event I encountered just mere minutes before. “I have been waiting for you,” Harley continued, still unaware of my fragile state. “I have been waiting the entire day to try some of that cake Jane baked, but I figured I’ll wait for you first. She is your girlfriend after all!” he said with a short laugh. Only then did he realized that something is wrong with me. “Wilson? Is everything alright? You are white as a sheet!” He voiced his concern loudly. Harley was always a loud fellow, although good-hearted. Usually I was slightly amused by his behavior and manners, but now his voice pierced my skull as if it was a bolt of lightning.
“Please, Harley,” I mumbled, “Would you lower your voice? It isn’t helping me at the moment.” “Of course,” He said, speaking now at a voice just slightly louder than a whisper, “But I still want an explanation! What happened to you? Were you mugged?” “No, of course not. You know muggers aren’t a concern of mine,” I spat out. I was trained in multiple forms of martial arts and Harley knew that, as well as some poor muggers. “They know better than to disturb me… Look,” I said, trying to find a way to describe the phenomenon I witnessed. “You are sure to take me as a mad man if I’ll tell you what I saw… it was the most peculiar thing.” Harley looked concerned. We have known each other for a long time, and he knew that whenever I behaved like this, there was a dark reason behind it. We stood in silence in the hallway, and after a while I assumed that he expected me to start talking. “So, I was walking back here from Brighton’s, that hardware shop just a couple of minutes north from St. Sally Street.” I started to tell the tale. “I took a cut through that alley next to the Theater, as I usually do… and suddenly I saw two men, one wearing a cloak as dark as night and holding some sort of a knife. He was chasing the other man. Obviously I ran after them, almost losing them in the process. And then…” I hesitated. This was utter madness. Could this actually have happened? I knew that it couldn’t, or at the least that it shouldn’t. What on earth occurred? “Patrick? Are you still there?” Harley snapped me out of my thoughts. He addressed me by my first name, something that hasn’t happened in a long time. He was one of the only people to even know my first name. “Yes, yes… I’m sorry” I said, and continued the story. “Well, what happened next is something that I am still not sure of. My eyes must have played tricks on me… maybe I was hallucinating. But after running for a while, we all reached a dead end. And then… I can swear the man being chased vanished.”
“Vanished?! You have got to be kidding me!” cried Harley. “I truly believed you had something great to tell me. I am disappointed, Wilson.” “Wait! I am not finished!” I said in an upset tone, “I swear it’s true. There was a sound, like cloth being torn apart brutally, and the man simply disappeared! I quickly hid behind one of the dumpsters littering the alley, as I didn’t want the cloaked man to spot me. But then, this horrid sound was heard once again, and when I peaked behind the dumpster the cloaked man was gone as well!” “Please, you probably didn’t have enough to drink!” said Harley with a giggle. “Good God Wilson, you almost had me there. Come on now, I believe there are still two pints worth of beer in that keg from yesterday. Speaking of yesterday, we can also have Jane’s cake I talked about! It will make you feel better.” “You can eat it yourself.” I mumbled angrily. “I am probably just feeling a bit under the weather, I’ll go to sleep now.” “Don’t get angry at me!” said Harley with a slightly offended tone, “You have to admit that it sounds pretty ridiculous. “ I didn’t respond as I closed my bedroom door behind me. I wanted to believe it wasn’t real as well. It wasn’t supposed to be possible, such an absurd situation. There was no way to scientifically explain such a thing. But while hiding behind that dumpster, the cloaked man said something that I simply couldn’t bring myself to tell to Harley. It has shaken me to the very core, something that didn’t let me believe that what I have witnessed was just an illusion: