Responding to the Ronovan 13 ‘Spooky’ Writing Challenge, here’s my piece of 313 words:
Entering a pub is a challenge at the best of times. In these days of disease, striking down both the weak and the strong, Dymond was uneasy at the thought of it. Masks were the worst of it, the way the barman looked at him from behind his. Were his lips pursed, in that sure sign of disapproval? He couldn’t tell. Were the lights slowly dimming as he faltered over his pint? Whose eyes were those, flashing from the gloom in the deep corners of the bar?
“Never seen you here before”, the barman growled as he attempted to order another beer, “You sure you haven’t got it?”
Dymond thought he knew what he meant. These days meant a stranger wasn’t welcome here. Probably not anywhere. He’d never felt more alone, more exposed.
“Well I don’t think so. I hardly know. So many are asymptomatic.” He knew immediately this was a mistake.
“You trying to be clever? Bub, we got a wise guy here!”
Bub, who had been lounging at the far end of the bar was puzzled.
“I think you’ve been watching too many Yank films”, he said, “just like this Halloween crap, all commercialised with it’s trick or treat bollocks.”
Dymond wanted to hug him for taking down the barman like that. But as he began to feel better, Bub continued from behind his mask,
“So it’s All Hallows Eve, right? When the spirits are abroad, folk dressing up to ward off the ghosts. ‘Course this year we’re free, with everyone locked down, free to roam wherever. You like that mate?”
Dymond was unsure how to respond but felt his skin starting to itch as the uneasy feeling returned. He realised now that he’d never even seen this pub before, never been in it. He knew no one. Could he get out before closing time? Or was it already too late?