A short story written for the Writer's Cramp Prompt, 11/9/19. White vans? So many about.
| Just Another One Of Thousands
"There's been a strange van parked across the street for a week now," Carla, my flatmate, has been away for a week and I really think she needs to know about this.
“Where?” She moves beside me to stand at the window.
I pull her back, for where she's standing she'll have put herself in full view. "Be careful! They might see you looking!"
"Who?" Carla looks hard through the glass. "There's no one in there. Honestly, the front of the van is completely empty."
"Maybe you're right. But you can't tell what might be hidden in the back, can you?"
She gives me a strange look. "I think you've been watching too much TV. It's making you paranoid. I mean look at it. It is just a plain white van with no distinguishing signs. You can't even read the number-plate from here."
This makes me frown. Is Carla suggesting that I'm imagining how strange this van and its sudden appearance is? "I don't think you understand. Whenever I'm here and I look out of the window, there it is. It was never there before, and now it sits there every single day!"
"Alright, alright, Sandra. Calm down, would you? I'm not saying that there isn't something strange about it. There might be. But come here and watch just for five minutes. There are one hell of a lot of white vans out there."
And she was right. As I stood beside her and watched the traffic, there were at least twenty white vans driving either up or down the street. Maybe she was right and I was letting myself get a bit carried away.
"Okay, you're right, Carla. I'm just going stir-crazy."
"Go on out for a while. Get some fresh air in your lungs; do some shopping and let things settle in to a more saner perspective."
So that's what I did. I grabbed my purse, my bag, my jacket and my phone, and headed out on to the street. I kept a good eye on it as I walked by; Carla had been right, there was no one sitting in either of the front seats of that van.
The thing is, with shopping, there's always plenty of noise. Music, chatter, it's easy not to hear your phone when it rings. It wasn't until I got home and found that the white van had gone, that I realized I'd missed a call. Inserting the key in the lock, I pressed the button to bring up my messages and my blood ran cold.
It was Carla's voice. "Sandra, you were right...Help me!"
The call ended abruptly. I looked all through the flat; she wasn't there. I went round to the neighbors, called her friends. No one had seen or heard anything, either untoward or otherwise. She, just like that white van, had vanished.
Now I am left with the job of phoning the police. Like Carla, they will dismiss me as paranoid. They will point out to the number of white vans; they will say that Carla is an adult and can come and go as she pleases.
Only when she doesn't come back, and the van doesn't reappear; only when it is too late, will they understand that I had been right to be scared.