This is the fourth part of a fiction serial, in 647 words.
When I got home and sat down, I could feel my eyes were heavy. But I wouldn’t let myself sleep that early, or I would regret that later. I opened my laptop. Not my work one, the older one I rarely used now. Then I started a word document and began to make notes about all the 3:17 coincidences. I had a feeling there were going to be more, but I had no idea what any of it meant.
That done, I blitzed the Chinese, and necked it while watching the first of the two films I had bought, washed down with a couple of the cans of lager. It was one of the Fast and Furious films. I loved films about cars, especially films you could watch without having to think too much about what was happening on screen.
My mate Joel rang my mobile when I was on my third can, wanting to know if I fancied meeting him down the pub. I fobbed him off, telling him quickly about the fire at Dockside View, and lied about having a busy day because of that. He was impressed, as he had seen it on the news. “Wow, you were in that? Tell me more”. I said I would tell him next time we met up, and got back to the film, opening a fourth can.
Lack of sleep, and the lager, meant that I didn’t see the end of the film.
I must have just curled up on the sofa and conked out, until the noise woke me up. The telly was a blue screen, and the lamp was still on beside me. The sound was coming from outside the door, on the stairwell leading up to my flat. It was immediately apparent what it was. A ball bouncing down the stairs.
I didn’t even need to check the time on my phone to guess it would say 3:17. But I did anyway.
And it was.
Surprised that none of my neighbours were up complaining about someone bouncing a ball down two flights of concrete stairs, I went to my front door and opened it. The motion-sensor light lit up the landing, and there was nobody to be seen. The door of the flat opposite was closed, but Philippa was a stewardess, so might well have been off flying somewhere. Or sleeping soundly and not heard the ball. Not wanting to call out, I walked down the first flight to the centre landing. There was nobody to be seen.
Then the light went out.
As I turned to walk back up to my flat, the noise of the ball bouncing down the stairs in my direction was so close to me, I swerved to the side, expecting the heavy-sounding ball to hit me. But there was no ball, just the sound. I went back in my flat and locked the door behind me with the deadbolt. I had no idea why I was so scared, but I was, and feeling cold too.
After getting undressed and brushing my teeth, I went to bed. I set my phone alarm to wake me in time to get ready for work, but when I lay down in the dark, I no longer felt sleepy. For the next hour or more, I went over everything in my life that might relate to the number 317. I even broke it down to the 3, the 1, and the 7. No birthday matched. No address I could think of matched, and nothing that I knew about had ever happened at that exact time.
Just when I was drifting off to sleep again, I suddenly added the numbers together in my head, and got 11. So I went through it all again, but could come up with nothing where a number 11 was significant.
When the alarm went off, I had probably only been asleep for an hour.