On a late Sunday afternoon, five friends gathered at the Professor’s house for their customary meeting. They held their Sunday confab like clockwork since their youthful days.
At their get-together, the friends entertained each other with motley stories from their lives. They would settle comfortably in their chairs sipping hot black tea. As the conversation proceeded, bouts of laughter would fill the room, to be replaced every so often by grave solemnity or the silence of contemplation.
The western sky was ablaze with the setting sun when the Appraiser announced that he had an uncanny experience last week and proceeded to narrate the story.
“As you all know, I had been to the distant village of Rus on assignment to value the property of a recently deceased landlord. As usual, I drove to the destination in my old faithful car. It was a long journey, passing through numerous farms and woodlands.
“For many miles, I had not spied anyone, and the road was completely deserted. It was already dark when I glimpsed a man beside the road waving his hand. I was delighted to finally find a soul on that forlorn highway.
“I stopped the car. He said he was on the way to meet his wife who was put up just before the village of Rus. I invited him for a ride, and he gladly accepted. He was elegantly dressed in rather expensive clothing but had a curiously bedraggled look. As we drove along the empty road, we fell into a pleasant conversation.
“He told me ever since his wife lost her legs he had to walk the secluded road every evening to meet her. Some unfortunate calamity had deprived the poor lady of her ability to walk.
“She does not like her lodgings. She keeps telling me ‘We have to get out of here.’” The man told me in a hushed voice, as though he was afraid somebody would overhear and spoil her plans.
“Soon we passed by a massive old and decrepit gate where he requested to get down. He thanked me for the ride and disappeared inside.
“As I started driving, I realised that the passenger had dropped something in his seat. It was a visiting card with a name on it, Hiram Redwood, B.Sc., Architect, Village of Rus.
“Next morning I was at the property and was shocked to learn that it belonged to Hiram Redwood. My initial shock gave way to disbelief and consternation when I was told that the man and his wife had recently passed away in an accident. The wife’s body was found partially mutilated with her legs cut off, but the body of the architect himself was never found. He was declared dead and missing, and his relatives had put up his substantial property for sale.”
A dreary silence filled the room, and the friends parted that night each engrossed in their thoughts of the mysteries of the grave and the supernatural world that surrounds us.
An occasional writer but a regular thinker, Beryl sometimes fiddles in speculative fiction. He sees both humour and tragedy in everyday events and is extremely concerned with the fate of other creatures trapped in the monstrous march of 21st-century human civilization.