The first thing that struck Yasmin was the sense of dread that came from being around something bad in a graveyard in the early morning; the other thing was a lot more literal. The physical blow was strong enough to blur her vision, but not enough to knock her out; it was the sort of punch she’d expect from her mum, not a thug. Her reaction was to swivel around and back off, bringing her face-to face with a middle-aged man in an oversized flannel shirt and sunglasses. Part of her wanted to scream at being attacked by a strange man. Part of her wanted to laugh at the sheer ridiculousness. What she did instead was run in the straightest line she could manage back to her home. She knew he was probably going to follow her, but something about how he grimaced when she looked at him made her doubt it.
Her doubts proved right, and the man hadn’t chased her, letting her relax enough to think as she entered the small terrace house she called home. The man looked like he’d just been spat out of the 90s, complete with that frankly starved look, and he’d seemed sluggish in his movement. Was he a druggie? Maybe, but there was something....predatory about how he looked and acted; hitting a random girl by a graveyard wasn’t something druggies were known for. He was strange, stranger than most of the oddities she’d grown to seeing in the town, and it creeped her out.
But now was not the time for fretting over random men attacking her in graveyards, she had to catch some sleep and get ready for her night shift tomorrow. She did the normal going to bed ritual, and drifted off to sleep with hopes for a peaceful rest. Instead her dreams were surreal, full of nasty-looking people leering at her and grabbing her, pulling her this way and that. It wasn’t until she woke up some six hours later sweating that something about the dream-people hit her; they were the Midnight Lot, or at least the dream-faces were their’s. Tonight was going to be hard, four hour shift be damned.
Said shift was boring. Yasmin spent the first hour tending to the bar whilst her manager, a short fat man in his late thirties called Geoff, sorted out the delivery. Tonight it was only the alcoholics present, and it was past the time most of the Midnight Lot arrived. After serving ale to everyone in the pub, she started to think back to the night before, specifically to that man. Now she was stood in the awkward comfort of the Drowned Maid, Yasmin realised exactly what made him so creepy; he was so pale he was also translucent, even in the early morning’s light, when everything had that pinkish glow. Worse, it was the same sort of pallor the pub lights gave the Midnight Lot, but it felt more real, if that made sense. She automatically looked at the faces dotted around the pub, only to come to a more unsettling revelation; nobody looked like that under those same lights. Their faces looked flushed or pale in the normal sense, not that mystical kind of pale she’d seen the night before in both the Midnight Lot or the graveyard guy. So what caused that look for them? Were some of them ill or tired, or something? It just made no sense to her.
Things that night were only to get stranger, though, because who walked into the Drowned Maid that very moment but the graveyard guy. He looked better now, with his cheeks looking a little fuller and his clothes almost seemed to fit him better. He also looked less angry or strange, but that strange pallor was still there, but had grown fainter and more like a glow. Graveyard guy made a double take at seeing Yasmin stood expectantly at the bar, as if he didn’t know she was here; he hadn’t followed her from the pub last night, at least. What followed next was the strangest thing of all. He walked up to the bar, took of his sunglasses, and just said “I’m so sorry”.
“I, uh, sorry?” Yasmin spluttered. This was a shock, to have a man who’d hit her on her way home at half six in the morning suddenly apologising for just that.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated, “for what happened yesterday, uh, today. I wasn’t myself.”
“Um, okay, I guess,” this was unbelievable, “it’s okay?”
Graveyard guy relaxed at that, letting his shoulders sag so that he looked like a mopey teenager rather than a grown man. Now he was stood in front of him, Yasmin realised he probably wasn’t much older than her; there was a shadow of facial hair, and he had a spot between his eyebrows that his sunglasses just managed to cover. He looked normal under that luminescent glow, and it made hating him hard.
“What’s your name?” She asked, hoping to break the ice now.
“Nice name. Suits you.
“Thanks.” Seemingly satisfied with this much conversation, he asked for a pint of cloudy cider and sat down at a nearby table, immediately whipping out a phone from his flannel shirt’s pocket, no doubt to text someone or go on his social media. After the strangeness of last night, Yasmin was glad to see such normalcy at this pub. She could probably get used to these moments, she thought idly.