Unnamed story

First pass, unedited start of a piece of fiction.  Unsure if this is going to become a short story or something more.  I’m posting it as a commitment to get more active about sharing my writing and learning from comments.  I’m not convinced that Matthew is thr right name – this may change!

Unnamed story – part one

It wasn’t as if Alice didn’t know where she was.  She knew exactly where she was standing.  The walls were in the same place and the door was where she expected it to be.  It was just that the walls were not the same colour anymore and strangely hazy, fuzzy, unclear.  The edges of the room were blurry.  If she had been wearing glasses she would have taken them off and given them a wipe.  But Alice didn’t wear glasses, she didn’t even have contact lenses.  She shook her head and blinked hard once, twice, three times.  No change.  She turned around on the spot until her back was to the door.  If it was possible, the back wall was even more blurry than the others.  She blinked again, closing her eyes slowly and opening again even more slowly, then quickly again.  The same.

What the hell?  She thought.  Her palms were growing sweaty and she licked her lips, a primeval response to mounting fear.  What caused such swift degradation of sight?  Was a tumour pressing on her brain?  An aneurysm?  Was she standing at death’s door and in a moment would experience crushing pain before blacking out?  She almost cried out, but a moment of hesitation held back the fears for long enough for her conscious mind to come up with explanations of a less life-threatening nature.  Her blood pressure was clearly having a wobble, it happened to women of any age especially in times of high stress, which was her life right now – nothing that a visit to her G.P wouldn’t fix with a blood test and a few pills.  Stress, an anxiety-induced response.  She breathed deeply and stepped forward towards the desk.

*

Matthew was leaning on the bar in what he hoped was a casual pose.  He wasn’t exactly a pro at the dating game and Saturday lunchtime drinks weren’t really what he had hoped for in a first date, but there it was.  And so was he.  Propping up the bar at the Iron & Oak with a pint in hand, waiting for Irena to return from the ladies room.  She wasn’t his natural type with her mane of oily almost black straight hair – red-heads were his thing – but she wasn’t bad-looking if you sort of squinted out of one eye, and she laughed at his jokes.  He knew he wasn’t exactly a catch himself with his job prospects looking bleak and a scar over his nose where he’d broken it playing rugby at school.  But he had standards to uphold.  He’d never yet lost a girl on a first date, and certainly wasn’t planning to fail to get past first base with this one even if it was only one o’clock in the afternoon.

He swiveled his head to the entrance to the ladies, she wasn’t going to escape without him spotting her, and frowned.  His eyes were playing tricks on him.  The wall was hazy.  No, that was ludicrous.  He must have drunk the first half-pint too quickly.  He’d better ask for a glass of water, he thought, looking down at the pint.  He looked back up at the doorway.  Still blurry – the edges all fuzzy.  Frustration rose – he didn’t have the money to pay for an eye test, not now, there were things he needed to spend cash on and that was not one of them.  He needed to work out a plan of how to spend the money on Irena’s second date with him.  There was no doubt there would be one.  There always was.  That’s when he would make his move.  Not on the first date.  Girls expected that of men.  He was different.  Let them relax then nail them, so to speak, on date number two.  He hadn’t had complaints.  They didn’t feel cheap for sleeping with a bloke on the first date and he got what he wanted quickly.  Then he had control.  Matthew liked control.

He stood up and gave his neck a quick stretch from side to side.  What was going on?  The walls seemed to be moving.  Maybe he wasn’t well.  Damn it!  He’d worked hard to set up this date, now he was going to have to cry off.  No, a record was a record and he’d bloody well stick it out and try and ignore it.  He turned until his back was against the bar, facing the entrance to the pub.  And there it was again.  What the actual f-?

Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement at the entrance to the ladies.  He settled himself into his casual leaning pose, ready for Irena, but some other girl came out with lank brown hair and ripped jeans looking like she’d been on some funny pills for a few too many months.  She stopped suddenly and looked around her jerkily, then swiftly brought her gaze to rest on him.  Resting was too gentle for the look that pierced through his eyes and burned into his skull, he flinched.  Matthew scrunched up his eyes and called out, “Can I help you, love?”

The girl cocked her head onto one side, looking him up and down like a predator assessing its prey, jerking her head upright again.  She scowled, “No.  Is this the Nest?”

“What?” Matthew frowned, “What’s the Nest?  Think you’ve got the wrong place love.”  Or had one too many.  He almost offered to help her check her route on the maps app, but he was more worried about what Irena would think.  Irena was bed-able.  This chick was not.  He turned back to his pint.

Out the corner of his eye he saw another flash of movement, and when he looked up she was gone.  And his vision was fine.  The blurry walls were solid once more.

Weird, he thought.  Glad that’s all over with.  He turned his attention again to the bathroom door, waiting for his chance with Irena.

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