The Bad Street

The coffee shop lay at the end of the street. But there was only one problem — the street was just pure evil. The last time I walked through it a broken branch had nearly killed me.

But today my desire to live was in direct conflict with the sudden irrational craving for the well-crafted hazelnut cappuccino I’d get at the cafe.

The street stretched out in front. Calm, eerily so. After all it was 9 AM on a weekday. The quiet wasn’t normal at all. Shouldn’t it be filled with at least a few human beings?

Not a soul on sight. I gulped. The lifeless houses on either side of the street stared at me — monstrous hulks whose souls had long departed.

A mild wind picked up, sweeping the fall leaves into a little whirl wind. Somewhere, a window began to rattle lightly. Was that a distant cry for help that I heard?.

“Oh, God,” I moaned.

A part of my brain still tried to fight the good battle. This was 2017: the age of brain implants and colonising Mars. Surely, this wasn’t the time to think about things like ghosts and evil forces. Yet, can unexplained evil ever become an anachronism?

A lonely cat strolled across the street in front of me. It was black, of course.

Surely, this is some kind of cosmic joke? Someone up there was rolling around with laughter right now. What next? Dark storm clouds?

I looked up fearfully. Thankfully, the sun continued to shine bright.

I gingerly stepped into the street, my feet crunching noisily on a large dry leaf making me wince.

“Damn!”

What was I afraid of? Waking the beast? A nervous chortle rose inside me, threatening to erupt into a full-blown mad guffaw. Nope, that wouldn’t do. Calling attention to myself wouldn’t be the wisest thing to do right now.

I walked about 10 of the gazillion steps needed to get the cafe. Things seemed to be in a holding pattern. The wind was still whispering menacingly, the window continued to rattle and the quiet houses continued staring at me ominously. The cat that had crossed the road, stood by its side and purred threateningly.

Evil was balanced on a fine point and I didn’t want to see how it tipped.

My strides became faster and I was now a fourth of the way in. Perhaps, I could still scramble back if something nasty turned up in my path. Nothing did and I continued on.

About a third of the way in, a disquieting feeling of something coming up behind me began to build. I increased my pace.

Somewhere, a door or a window creaked open and I started. I could not imagine what baleful, jaundiced eyes were looking down on me from these houses.

Was that a flap of wings I heard? I looked up, expecting to see a nightmarish version of a pterodactyl or a pustulate dragon.

No wings. But, wait. Was that a dark cloud on speed sliding across the sky?

I began to run. The clouds had covered the sun plunging the world into a gloomy set where characters from The Mist could slime out. The warm, welcoming light of the cafe was still several hundred yards away.

I could now clearly feel something behind. Deep, thudding footsteps indicated something big.

Shit!

I ran headlong, unmindful of the forceful stormy winds or the doors that had begun to slam. 100 meters to the cafe.

I could hear a deep-throated wheezing groan — like something from the depth of my deepest nightmares. The door was less than a 50 meters away.

The first cold drops of rain had begun to fall. I could hear a scream behind me. Was it calling out my name?

I reached the door and swung it open violently, causing an ugly jangle of bells that hung on it. I ran inside to the shocked audience of the barista and the two other customers sitting inside, reading. Breathless I stood there, hoping that the entire cafe wasn’t going to turn into a scene of carnage.

Then the door opened and I saw a large man in formal clothes. His face was beetroot red and he gasped violently. It seemed like he was on the verge of a heart attack. Another panicked citizen!

“Did you get chased too?” I asked him, eager to find comfort in company. Perhaps we could start a petition against this evil street.

Outside, a hailstorm seemed to have begun. A distant thunder rumbled threateningly. This was the moment when the humans fought back.

The man was still too breathless when he walked up to me with a look that I could not quite discern. Something bordering incredulity and loathing. Then he shoved something into my hands.

“Here’s your damn wallet. You dropped it, you idiot!”

Then, without a word, he opened the door and headed out of the cafe. He stood in the porch still trying to regain his breath, his large shoulders hunched. The wheezing seemed to be subsiding by now. Then, he pulled out his umbrella and walked away into the rain.