You’re late. I’ve been patiently waiting, trapped in the gold edged pages and the curled up corners. Sandwiched between novellas and poetry collections; with missing dust jackets and rippled pages. You skimmed through the shelves and briefly stopped to linger on the creased spine. The musky scent of an old book seduced you. You flicked through and watched the specks of dust float by. Entranced by the typography, you watched the words dance around you and willingly allowed them to seep through your unconscious. Buried yourself deep into the ink faded words and found yourself standing in the cold, in Halfway Street. A narrow road between reality and fiction. Alone. Far away from home, without a flickering streetlight in sight.
A notice board stands in the middle of the town centre. Coloured pins stick out like daggers; displaying local events, missing person leaflets and adverts for used items. In bold writing, it reads: Welcome. Cautiously, you walk up to the board and look at the different bits of paper. A yellow pin is stabbed through the paw of a double-headed cat. Well-groomed, its orange fur brushed to perfection; it lay on a single bed, perfectly posed. One head tilted towards the camera and the other at the ceiling. Missing. Family Cat. If found please call: 0363.
Beside the leaflet is an advert selling a second hand car, placed right at the bottom. A box shaped, lime green Fiat with three doors. A 2009 model, diesel fuelled, pictured in mid-air. Its two front doors open like wings. The driver smiling, showing a black tooth and a ginger beard up to his knees. Dressed in a motorcycle jacket, with a thumbs up at the camera; no more than 10 feet above the roof of a semi-detached house.
You hear the crackling sound of white noise and turn to spot an open window. On the windowsill is an old wooden radio; a loud blaring voice, erupts through the speakers: It’s the 36th December and the time is 9:35 and 2/4. There have been many callers reporting that the snowmen built over the weekend have adopted a life of their own. Experts have warned the public to not trust their gentle smiles and their friendly façade. The children may be excited to have a new friend, but it is advised to report any strange behaviour to the authorities. In large groups, they are proven to be dangerous. We are interrupting the news for a quick message, from our friend and neighbour, Sanjeev. He has misplaced his two year old son, Amir. He says he may have left him playing in the market by the toy section. If anybody comes across a little boy with brown curly hair and a red jumper, post him through door number 10’s letter box. It would be much appreciated. Don’t forget to tune in to-
A man in a bathroom robe shuts the window. Wearily eyes up the stranger wearing red, flannel pyjamas. I recognise you immediately. Something about your posture. Or maybe it’s because your eyes are dazed with confusion and excitement. I lightly tap you on the shoulder. You don’t jump or ask any questions; you look at the Hello my name is tag on my chest. In a messy joining of letters it says Narrator.
I must warn you. Front doors are bolted before the sun disappears into the horizon. There’s a madness that possesses the vulnerable at night. Knocks you blind and reveals any hidden, uncivilised desires supressed inside. The itch to silence a nagging husband would fester under the skin. Mild irritation towards a friend, turns into the unshakeable desire to bring an axe to their head. Kind, romantic touches between lovers becomes two hands tightly gripped around each other’s necks.
Only the strange come out at this time. But you’ll adjust. The shadowy figures will become concrete outlines. The odour from the rat infested sewers will no longer make your eyes water and the voices will become less menacing. The narrowness of the paths contain the mumbling of the insane and they’ve heard about our new visitor lurking around Halfway Street.
Follow me. Hold on to my hand and I’ll guide you. We are only a short walk to meeting our characters. All the best adventures begin with the turn of a page.