In the immediate

 

Robert Miles was a trainee teacher living somewhere in Wales. He taught music and played the guitar, had been to Europe many times and loved to eavesdrop.

Robert met his untimely demise shortly after popping into a café for his customary early morning bacon sandwich and black coffee. Sitting there, alone, reading his newspaper, he watched as two women entered and took a place at the table next to him. One was dark-haired, and she wore a denim jacket, white sleeveless shirt and leather miniskirt. She was the more attractive of the two. The other was blonde. She has on an expensive suit. She also had long red nails, and shoes that almost matched.

Eagerly, he listened as they began to converse in their own language. This will be very good, he thought, for improving my linguistic skills. As they talked, he snuck the odd look at them, recognising the blonde one as the boss. The brunette was possibly an employee of hers, though rather too casually dressed for this sort of meeting.

‘Alors... quand?’, said the blonde.

‘Dans l'immédiate. Nous devions agir dans l'immédiate. Monsieur Banker a peut-être déjà informé la fille au sujet de notre espèce.’

Robert spoke a little French, but these women spoke fast – particularly the brunette, who seemed flustered. He picked up only a few words.

‘Alors, quelle différence fait-il si Kerry Grail est au courant des Apparitions? Même s’il en est ansai...,’ said the blonde, tossing her hair, ‘posera-t-elle une menace immédiate?’

Had Robert Miles known that, in the French language, ‘apparitions’ was a word used informally to describe Wraiths, he would have been out of the door of the café as fast as his legs would carry him – which would not have been very fast, but may still have given him a chance to escape.

 ‘Je ne suis pas sur, Madame,’ said the brunette, looking at the table. ‘Il me semble que Banker s'intéresse à la fille, et il doit y avoir un raison.’

‘Bien alors, nous tuons et Banker ET Grail.’

‘D’accord.’

Robert didn’t catch any of the keywords in this exchange which could have saved his life – ‘kill’ was in there, as was ‘immediate threat’, ‘Wraiths’ and ‘not sure’. But before he was finished eavesdropping on their conversation, the brunette turned her pretty face to his.

‘I’m sorry, are you listening to us?’

Robert was startled. He abruptly dropped his teaspoon into his cup of coffee and said quickly, ‘Er, non, pas du tout.’

This was a bad mistake. Had Robert Miles been thinking straight, he would have answered in English. Apart from anything else, answering in French to someone who had just addressed him in English made him look like an idiot. But because he had answered in French, the brunette’s eyes narrowed suspiciously, and she knew he had been listening to, and perhaps understanding, every word they’d said. The blonde also turned her head to face him, glowering at the man.

Robert Miles looked from one to the other, and realised, too late, that it was time to go. He nodded at the women and picked up his newspaper, leaving his bacon sandwich behind.

He continued on his way to work passing quickly down a wide-ish alleyway, smudged with pointless daubing and inelegant messages and smelling of pee.

Robert clapped a hand to his head when he realised he’d left his bag back in the café, and turned on his heel to go back.

Unsurprisingly – at least for us, if not for Robert Miles, who knew little French and did not know what a Wraith was – the two women were stalking their way down the alley towards him. The blonde was in front, her heels clicking as she walked, the brunette behind, stomping less daintily in black flat pumps.

‘Excuse me, I left my bag–’ Robert began to say.

Whatever post-life existence Robert himself believe he was destined to – be it an afterlife, reincarnation or a century or so haunting an old castle – when he reached it, he would regret choosing such terrible last words.

The brunette woman ran forward and slapped Robert across the face. He was dead before he hit the ground. She then calmly turned to the blonde, who assuredly explained, in her mother tongue, that the notorious Ranajay Banker and his new-found friend would be next.

The End

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