This is the ninth part of a fiction serial, in 778 words.
Joel was obviously getting bored. He said he had to leave, as he was up early for a big kitchen job in a barn conversion out near Battlesbridge. Once he had left, Mark got two more pints in, and came back with a pile of napkins. He wanted to know lots of dates and numbers. My birthday, my mum’s birthday, the address of my parents’ house and their landline phone number, and any number I could recall that might ever have pertained to me that I could remember without going home to look it up.
I rattled them off, his head nodding as he jotted each one down, shuffled the numbers around on the paper, and then asked another question. Then he suddenly stopped and looked up. “Show me your bank card, I’ve just had a thought”. I reached into my inside pocket for my wallet and got my bank card out. Mark grabbed it and gave it a quick scan. Then he punched the air, and shouted “YES!” so loudly, the barmaid looked over to see what the fuss was about.
“Look at the expiry date, Darren. 03/17. March next year. But it’s 317! And the three-digit security number on the back? Go on, look”. I looked, it was 713. That gave me a chill, I must admit. I hadn’t thought of checking my bank card, and could never remember the expiry date or security number anyway.
But try as he might, he couldn’t make anything from all the other numbers I had given him, even though he resorted to using the calculator on his state-of-the-art new phone. “I’m sure this is all good though, Darren. An omen yes, but a good omen. Leave it with me, and I will text you tomorrow if I come up with anything”.
When we finished the fourth pint, Mark offered me a lift home to save me walking, or jumping a cab. He ran around in an almost new Audi A5 that rarely left the driveway outside his dad’s place. It was the best one they sold, and cost a mint. I wondered why he bothered, as he only seemed to use it when he met me. He could have used a limousine service, and still saved pots of money. He also seemed oblivious to the drink-drive laws, as four pints would surely mean he would blow over the limit, and get a ban. But he had never had so much as a speeding ticket.
As I got out of the car ouside my block, he grabbed my arm. “Don’t forget to buy that lottery ticket, whatever you do”.
Inside, my mind was buzzing. The thing with my bank card was really spooky, and unlike so much of the other stuff, it wasn’t so easily explained as a coincidence. Still, tomorrow was Friday, and I would be sure to buy a ticket for Saturday’s rollover lottery draw.
The impact on my legs came before I heard the sound. Something hit my thigh, as I slept soundly. Hard enough to wake me up, and see the red numbers on the clock reading 3:17. Then I heard the sound, closer this time, actually in my bedroom. It was a ball, bouncing off the wardrobe, and then hitting my hip as I moved. Instinctively, I switched on the lamp, already suspecting I would see nothing. As I turned to look at the wardrobe again, the ball hit me in the centre of my chest.
That really made me jump, and I got out of bed and went into the living room. From there, I could hear the ball bouncing against the bedroom wall, rhythmically, as if someone was kicking it at the same spot, over and over again. I almost ran out of my flat, but had no idea where I would go if I did that. So I lay down on the sofa, waiting for the noise to stop.
That was where I woke up the next morning, feeling very chilly in my Calvin Kleins. The shower warmed me up, and I got to work just on time, as usual.
Penny was plastering on some more make-up, until her Groucho Marx eyebrows started to resemble garden slugs. Kelly was brushing her hair, and there was no sign of Junior, or John. I asked where John was, and Penny replied, still applying crap to her eyes. “John had a heart attack last night. He’s in hospital having tests. Head Office has sent over a temporary manager until we know what’s happening”.
With that, I heard the sound of a toilet flush, and the door to the staff area at the back opened.
And in walked Neil.