John, Rupert, and Blake were taking their usual route through the park on their way home after class when they saw the old man again, sitting on a bench underneath the shade of a tall beech tree. It had been four days since they started seeing him sitting in silence and staring in the distance, looking as if he was waiting for something or someone. He had been wearing the same set of clothes consisting of a woolen jacket over a shirt which were both of different shades of green, loose blue trousers and an old flat hat that was so faded you could hardly tell if it used to be maroon or purple. As soon as they came into his line of sight, the old man shifted his stare at them. He did this every day locking his eyes on the three boys, unblinking and with such intensity that the feeling of uneasiness smothers them lasting only until they were out of the park.
“I don’t know about you guys but he really creeps me out,” Blake whispered to the two, his voice shaking, giving away his nervousness.
“What’s his problem!?” Rupert said annoyed, shooting an angry look back at the old man.
John had been wondering about why he was there. It has been eating at him for the past few days and he couldn’t quite put a finger on it but something has been pushing him to go over and talk to the old man.
“Cut him some slack,” John told them, irritated as well, but not at the old man but with Ru-pert’s rudeness. “For all we know he could be lost and can’t remember his way home or worse, some-one might have left him here on purpose.”
“Well, I’d leave him here too if I have to keep up with him staring at me like that every day at home,” Rupert said scornfully, the look of hatred that he casts on the old man unwavering.
“I said stop it!” John raised his voice, giving Rupert a sharp look. He then looks back at the old man, before motioning his friends to follow him. “Come on, let’s go talk to him.”
“There’s no way in hell I’m going near that obviously unbathed, dirty old man,” Rupert said with a tone of disgust. “Who knows what disease we could get from him?”
John looked at Rupert, his eyes wide in disbelief at his friend’s attitude. He then turned to Blake but upon seeing the unsettling look that he gave the old man, John already knew his answer be-fore he even said it.
“Sorry mate, he really creeps me out,” Blake replied with an apologizing look.
“Fine! You jerks go on ahead, I’ll see you tomorrow,” John said dismissively and without giving them a second look, started walking towards the old man. Blake and Rupert in turn headed towards the park’s exit.
As he got closer, John noticed that the old man was smiling at him. His lips may be lost in the forest of his long beard and his old wrinkled face was almost covered by the dangling locks of his long white hair but his eyes betrayed him. John was positive that the old man was beaming in triumph and despite it making him feel uncomfortable, he pressed on.
“Hello sir, do you need some help?” John nervously asked as he reached him.
“Ah! No lad, I don’t need anything, well not anymore now that you’re here, away from your friends,” the old man replied happily, catching John off guard with his words.
“What do you mean?” John asked anxiously and as he backs away, the old man grabbed his left wrist tightly, surprising John with his strength. He tried to tell the old man to let go but he inter-rupted him.
“Be quiet! Listen! It’s here!” the old man said giving off a level of excitement that can rival that of a boy who was about to open his present. “I’ve been waiting for this for several days now!”
“Waiting for what!?” John asked, his heart pounding so hard in his chest.
“My ticket home.”
And then John looked in the direction of the park’s exit hearing tires screeching, followed by a loud bang that sounded like something getting hit by a car which later on speeds away, its revving en-gine getting drowned under the screams and people shouting outside. When he turned back to face the old man, John was utterly shocked to see that he had vanished.
“What the hell is going on!?” he said, feeling the hair all over his body rise. He then ran as fast as he can towards the exit and saw a crowd had formed outside. He pushed his way past them and when he got through, the view that met him made his heart sank.
Blake and Rupert were lying lifeless on the road. Their bodies, which were lying on a pool of blood, were horribly contorted showing how badly broken their bones are. Their bruised faces had a wide-eyed expression of shock, probably at how sudden their life was taken.
“A hit and run!” a man from the crowd yelled.
“Those poor boys.” A middle-aged woman sobbed behind John.
“Call an ambulance quick!”
“Did you see who did this!?”
“Call the police!”
All around John, people were shouting but he didn’t pay any attention. He couldn’t move or talk. His brain was fuzzy, trying to process what had just happened.
“No, this can’t be!?” he muttered to himself.
And then three figures on the opposite pavement caught his eye, making him freeze on the spot. The two in front were Blake and Rupert, their faces looking sad and terrified. Behind them was the old man, grinning widely as if he had won the lottery. He raised his hat at John to bid him farewell before placing his hands on the shoulders of the two boys and the three of them faded away slowly, leaving a horrified John who could only let out a silent scream.Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in