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A Chance Encounter

Old Man Mist

By Ash TaylorPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 3 min read
A Chance Encounter
Photo by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash

Waves crashed carelessly against stark rocky cliffs, blanketed in a thick layer of sea mist. Visibility was almost as low as the temperature, the wind raking it's freezing fingers through my hair and digging into my bones despite the thick woollen blanket I had wrapped around my shoulders. Cold as I was, I still managed to clutch my pen, scrawling half formed thoughts onto a notebook that the wind was determined to steal from me.

There had been standing stones here once, long ago. Now they lay like fallen soldiers, swallowed by the earth. Here and there part of them remained visible, their carvings worn away by the years. I sat on one near the center, ass numb, but whether it was from the weather or how long I had been sitting there, I couldn't say.

“What are you doing here?” A man’s voice cut through the thick fog like a hot knife through butter.

I glanced over at the shadowy figure that slowly emerged from the swirling mist. “Sitting,” I replied in amusement. “And writing.”

“Mind if I join you?”

“Go ahead.” I motioned for him to sit. In the half light of early morning it was difficult to make out his appearance, but his sharp eyes twinkled with wisdom and good humour, sitting above a long beaked nose. A tam o’ shanter perched jauntily upon his wispy white hair. There was something strange about him, the way he sat and the way he stared at me, head cocked like an inquisitive bird of prey.

“Would you like some soup?” I offered him my thermos, testing a theory.

“Thank you, but no. Then I’d owe you something in return.”

"Suit yourself," I replied, sipping my soup thoughtfully. "More for me."

We sat in silence for a moment, listening to the waves crash against the cliffs. The wind moaned as it dragged through heather and gorse, and circling gulls cried out far above us.

“You’re a long way from home,” my companion remarked.

I shrugged, tracing the ancient spirals carved into the fallen stone with one finger. “More than you know. I like it out here though. It’s quiet, untouched. I can think. And it reminds me of where I grew up.”

His smile, though kind, was too wide for his face and filled with far too many teeth. “What's your name?” He asked, something hungry lingering at the edge of his voice, holding back.

“What's yours?”

This earned a laugh, rich and unwelcome as the vibrations echoed through the sea-mist that surrounded us. “You know," he began, leaning in so close I could smell the sea on him, "there are tales of the island being haunted, especially the glens. Folks tell stories of wayward travellers venturing off the beaten path, never to be seen again. You’re not afraid of faeries, are you?”

I shrugged. “Do I have a reason to be?” I watched him from the corner of my eye, observing his too-long fingers and the way the mist settled about his shoulders like a cloak. “I’ve always found that respect is met with respect. Treat others how you want to be treated and all that.”

My words were met with a wicked grin. “You never gave me your name,” he remarked, almost disappointed.

“No,” I laughed. “I didn’t.”

He stood, bones cracking painfully beneath inhumanly long limbs. “Ah well,” he murmured, “it was worth a shot.”

“Better luck next time, Grandfather.”

The mist parted briefly, called back to its master as he tipped his well-worn cap in farewell. He vanished as silently as he had appeared, swallowed once more by the mist.

Short Story

About the Creator

Ash Taylor

Lover of fantasy and all things whimsical. Currently studying Writing and Publishing at UNE in Armidale, Australia. Living on Anaiwan land.


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