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Rated: E · Short Story · Mystery · #2189929
Brrr....I have the feeling I have been here before...


Our car broke down suddenly.


As bad luck would allow it, fate had planted us both a 100 miles from civilization.

At 3.00 am in the morning on a deserted highway with the rain lashing out at us like an angry hydra beast, there was no respite. And not a soul around!

We both got out of our red Corolla Classic, Suzie and me, shaking our heads and trying to shout above the windstorm, but not making much progress.

“Damn, I told you, we should have left the party earlier…right after dinner!”

“Suzie, that was an important business dinner, you know I had to meet the General Manager of Bezos …the project goes live in July and if I don’t have the contract signed by then, we won’t have any land for our drone project to begin!”


“Right, Jack you are so right there… try getting one of your precious drones to save us from this mess now!” retorted Suzie, her sarcasm dripping on the ground with the rest of the rain.




There was a sudden “Beep, Beep!” at a distance.

Suzie and me strained our eyes ahead to finally see a car emerge out of the dense watery darkness, its lights beaming out and blinding us in its hold.

As it drew closer, its headlights shut down and what we saw before us was a vintage classic on wheels, a blue Plymouth Fury that came to a stop right before us.

“You folks need a lift?” A portly old cheerful gentleman with a baldpate and an aristocratic beard stuck his head out the window.

“As a matter of fact, we do”, I replied rubbing my hands in relief, “Our car broke down and it would be great if we could find the closest place to make a call. Even our mobiles can't catch any reception!”

“Sure, hop right in!”





**************************************************



Through the rest of the journey, Mr. Bald Aristocrat who introduced himself to us as Jep, regaled us with stories of the countryside, his adventures in the wars, the misty weather, the vineyards and his ambitious plans for the future.

I looked at my watch impatiently. And then looked again. The hands were not moving. I knocked against the glass trying to get it to work. It seemed to show 3.00 am, the same time as when our car broke down, I remembered distinctly, jogging my memory.

Frowning, I caught hold of Suzie’s wrist.

No, it couldn’t be…the time showed 3.00 am too.
No way, that’s too much coincidence for this one rather wild night and to believe that…

Our reverie was suddenly jolted with a huge lightning bolt that reached out in all ferocity, striking a street pole with a loud bang, followed by a clap of thunder.

“What was thattt???” Suzie gasped, her hands on her chest, visibly shaken.


“Oh, that’s just another one of those freaky bolts, nothing to worry, pretty used to them on my journeys around here. Besides, we are all pretty well insulated ma’m”, replied Jep trying to enliven the mood.

“I know a place not far from here, think you folks will be safe there till the storm clears off.
The owner is…”

Jep trailed off suddenly as he screeched to a halt, pulling to the left side of the lane and turning off his headlights.

The three of them stared right ahead.

Through the pelting rain, we could barely make out two forms in front of a car that had broken down.

One of them, a woman, seemed to be waving wildly in our direction.

Turning his headlights back on again, Jep stepped out. He poked his head back again through the window saying, “You folks better sit tight. Will go on right ahead and see what the problem is. Sure looks like two breakdowns in one night!”


****************************************************








We could see Jep walking ahead, a few metres away from the car and the woman. We then saw the man, presumably her husband, step out from the raised hood of the car, walking forward, his right arm extended in front for a handshake as if to welcome Jep.

Jep slowed down his steps and stood like a statue. Suddenly, letting out a loud scream he started running back, as fast as his tired old limbs could carry him… back in our direction.

Then all hell broke loose.

The woman behind him started screaming, while the man started running behind giving Jep chase.

“In, in, start the engine, for heaven’s sake, START THE ENGINE!,”… yelled Jep.

Reaching forward frantically, I turned the key starting the car, while Suzie buckled her seatbelt back on.

Finally an out-of-breath Jep, jumped in, slamming the doors shut, pushing gears forward.

The man in front was now pretty close and I heard Suzie who was sitting in front, screaming… “Jack…that looks like… YOU!”

The car leapt forward with a sudden burst and I turned back to catch a fleeting glimpse of the stranded couple, while shouting: “Mr. Jep…why didn’t you wait….they need help, we need to go back, they need...”

I stopped short.

Through the rear window I could clearly see the Red Contessa and the woman… who looked like Suzie!

“What on earth!”, I blurted as the car sped on leaving behind the couple and the darkness.

“It’s one of those things …one of those things that appear here on and off, “ Jep panted, continuing “…happens on stormy nights like these, legends have it that they are somewhat like a desert mirage come to life…or maybe just coincidence…nothing to worry sir…we are almost there now.”



****************************************************************


Coincidence.

That was a word that had crossed my mind too many times this night as I exchanged glances with Suzie who was now white as a sheet.

And for the remaining part of the journey, Jep lapsed into silence with the look of a man who had somehow seen this all.

Time moved on.

******************************


We finally arrived in front of a gigantic mansion, every bit like a white, snow-covered castle from Disney. A big blue neon board in front spelt out the destination with a rather fancy name: “Groundhog House”.

The rain continued its merciless thrashing above us all.

“In you go”, said Mr Bald, pointing his arm in the direction of the big red wooden door.

“The host will welcome you…just tell him Mr Jep dropped you off. He is an awfully nice man, and now a retired army colonel…”

“Aren’t you coming in, Mr Jep?” I said, acknowledging his name for the first time, “We owe you a lot and we wouldn’t have made it this far without you, I…”

“Oh, think nothing of it”, interrupted Jep the Bald One, sweeping his arm in the air and giving us that cheerful grin and a stare which seemed to be at odds with his sadness.

Maybe, because he thinks his journey ends here, I thought, or he’s got a busy schedule ahead of us.

“See you folks soon, if you happen to pass this way again! Bye for now!”

And with that he drove off, with the look of a man in a tearing hurry, wanting to catch up with the ghosts of his past.




***********************************





Suzie and me exchanged glances for what seemed like an eternity and then stared back at the house. The lights were on, and we could hear the faint strains of a violin being played.

Above the door, a large antique clock filled with dust and grime stood. I could barely see through it, and would have sworn my eyes were tricking me as the hands seemed to show 3.30 a.m. again!

I pressed the doorknob and the sound of the loud bell echoed across the house. We could hear the music suddenly stop and the faint rhythm of footsteps approaching the door.

A moment later, the door opened and before us stood a man, grinning from ear to ear.

Suzie collapsed like a heap of potatoes right there on the doorstep, and I could almost feel my jaw dropping in numb surprise against the wet rain.

“ Hello, I am Mr Jep, how can I help you?” said the Bald One extending his war torn hand.
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