Today's picture prompt (below) is a Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash
“Mummy?” Eliot said, tugging at Audrey’s hand.
“Yes, dear?” Audrey, pushing the trolley (which for once was travelling in a straight line) with one hand, holding onto her son with the other, did not look up from the recept she was checking (resting it on the handle of the trolley).
“Is that man sleeping or dead?”
“Hmmmm?” Audrey said, not really hearing the question.
“That man, over there. Is he dead? Or just asleep? It’s a funny place to sleep!” Audrey looked up and followed her son’s pointing finger. She wasn’t sure what she expected to see - her son, like most children, had an imagination that left her speechless, quite often, and what came out of his mouth often featured on the pages of her social media accounts (much to the irritation, she suspected, of her childless friends) - but it certainly wasn’t the body of a man lying on the edge of the wall of the multi-story carpark. Her son was right: he looked either dead, or asleep.
The dilemma of a caring empathetic young mother. Should she show her son that one should always try to help people who need it? Should she approach the man to see if he was alright? But what if he wasn’t? If he was dead, Audrey certainly wouldn’t want her son to be that close to a dead body? And if he was just asleep? Perhaps he would be angry at being woken, and use threatening language… or worse. If he was asleep, at this time in the afternoon, it would be a fairly safe assumption that he was drunk or had taken some kind of drug or another.
She should probably find someone. Call the police, perhaps. Or an ambulance? Audrey rummaged (one handed of course) in her bag, that was balanced on top of the trolley, looking for her phone.
“I think he moved, Mummy!” Eliot tugged again at her hand. “Come on! Let’s go and see if he is okay.”
“I think we should probably call someone, darling.”
“Daddy says, you should never ask someone else to do something you are not prepared to do yourself,” Eliot sung the sentence, as if he had learned it word for word. It certainly sounded like the kind of think Dan would say.
“Yes, well your father… never mind. Okay, we’ll get a bit closer and then we’ll call out to him to see if he needs our help. Not too close! Some people don’t like being woken up. You wouldn’t wake up a grumpy old bear from a sleep, would you?”
Eliot seemed to ponder this for a moment. “I think it depends on the situation,” he said. That sounded like Dan too.
Audrey wheeled the trolley, holding on tightly to her son’s hand up the ramp, closer to where the man was lying on the wall. It was a pretty dangerous place to sleep - if he was asleep - if he rolled over the wrong way he would fall several stories down. If he was lucky enough to avoid killing himself he’d end up with a broken back at the very least.
“Hello?” Audrey called, when she was with hailing distance. The body didn’t move. Eliot tugged at her hand. Audrey moved a little closer. “Excuse me. Are you alright?”
This time there was a definite twitch. The man was alive. That was something.
“I don’t want to bother you, but I-” tug. “- we, just wanted to check you were alright. It doesn’t look like the safest place to sleep.”
The man stretched and sat up. He smiled at Audrey and then at Eliot.
“Hello again,” he said.
“Errr, I don’t think we’ve met,” Audrey said. Eliot was grinning like an idiot at the man. That was odd. He was usually shy with strangers.
“No, we haven’t,” the man said, leaping down from the wall and bouncing over towards them. Audrey gripped hold of Eliot’s hand, pulling him closer to her. She swung the trolley round slightly, to form a small barrier between the man and them. The man reached over the trolley with one hand outstretched, ready for a hand shake. It was to Eliot he offered the hand.
To Audrey’s amazment (and concern) Eliot pulled his hand from hers and took the man’s hand.
“Hello, again!” Eliot said, his voice bright and cheerful. “I didn’t know it was you! I didn’t expect to see you here!”
The man shook Eliot’s hand warmly and then turned to Audrey.
“You must be Eliot’s mother,” he said. “Audrey, isn’t it?”
Audrey nodded, and automatically shook the man’s hand. It was warm and dry, a firm confident shake.
“My name is Gillien,” the man said. “We’ve not met, but I’ve worked with your son, on a number of occations.”
“Worked?” Audrey said, confused. “Oh, do you work at his school?”
“No, no!” the man smiled. It was a pleasent smile, and Audrey couldn’t help but return it. “No, not at all. This is the first time I’ve been in this Realm. I know nothing of these schools. I have had the pleasure of traveling with your son in another world.”
Okay. This was getting weird, now. Audrey’s hand took her son’s again, whilst the other grabbed her phone. Just in case.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said. “And I don’t know how you know my son, or my name. But if you don’t go away I’m going to phone the police.”
It was the man’s turn to look confused.
“The police? Who, or what, is the police?”
“He is perfectly safe, mummy,” Eliot said. “He lives in my dreams. He helps me fight the Bad Folk. He protects me.”
“I- what?” Was this some kind of sick joke? Had Dan some how put Eliot and this man up to playing a joke on her? Try to freak her out? To make her look bad? Was she being filmed? Some kind of YouTube sick prank? She looked around, frantically, but couldn’t see anyone else. But of course, cameras could be hidden anywhere these days.
“Look,” the man said, his face, suddenly very serious. “I know this might be a little bit weird for you. But I’ve come to warn you. The Bad Folk have crossed over. They are coming for your son. I am here to protect you.”
“Look,” Audrey said, backing up. Eliot was looking the man, his eyes wide with fear. “I don’t know who put you up to this - Dan, was it? - but it isn’t very funny. You’re freaking my son out. I’m going to leave now. And I’m calling the police now,” she pressed the three numbers quickly. “So I suggest you leave, before they arrive.”
The man shook his head.
“I can’t do that, I’m afraid,” he said.
To be continued...
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1. leave a comment (I love comments, and they cost nothing other than a tiny amount of your time!)
2. A resteem is welcome (no matter how many or few followers you have) it’s nice to know you like it enough to have it on your wall!
3. An upvote is wonderful (but comments are better!), but upvote only if you can afford it!