's 2014 Horror Write-off:

" A Meeting in the Fog "

Submitted by Charred Newt

I may have had one drink too many that night. I have no problem saying it.

Being all by myself at the pub was never my idea of a fun Saturday evening, after all. But all my pals had seemingly ditched me and home felt too cold and distant; so I gladly danced some more rounds with the old amber-filled glasses.

It was a lively night for such a small place. After about an hour or so, all the chitter-chatter and the smoke in the air had given me one mean headache. I decided to get outside and breathe some fresh air, maybe take a little walk to get rid of the buzz between my ears. Probably start thinking about getting home too. Closing the door behind me felt like stepping into another world. It was a very foggy night, just like the last one and the one before that. The washed-out light of the street lamps painted the air in vague sepia shades. Even making out the buildings on the other side of the road was hard.

Every breath was a sharp jab in the lungs; I could barely see the white vapors before the fog snatched them away. Still, it got the job done: my mind felt a lot clearer, as I observed the fuzzy shapes outside the little sidewalk strip. There were mostly parked cars, slightly frosted bins, stuff like that.

I was not alone though. I could see a tall silhouette standing a few meters down the road, its features shrouded in the thick mist except for a large wide-brimmed hat. Kind of a strange choice for the season, but I’ve never been one to judge. Could have come over from a sunnier place or something.

The figure stood there, unmoving, as if contemplating something. After a couple minutes it shook slightly. I wasn’t really sure about it, but felt like he (or she?) had noticed me. It was the time to say hi or let the moment be awkward, I thought.

- Hi there!- I waved, smiling as wide as I could without looking too drunk. – Rotten weather we got tonight, eh?-

It came out way louder than I meant. My words echoed along the empty street; for a moment, there seemed to be no other noise in the entire planet.

Then there was a reply.

- Rotten? No, I wouldn’t say that.- the figure spoke in a deep, gruff voice. It sounded a bit like he was just recovering from a bad cold, one of those with tons of snot and a bitter taste in the back of your throat. He paused for just a moment. – In fact, I would say it is starting to ripen nicely.- Not exactly what I expected. But I guessed it was an alright start. – Well, I heard it’ll get better soon anyway. Give it a couple days, they said.-

Was that a nod? Did he shrug or move his arm? Couldn’t tell with that fog. His tone didn’t seem to change.

- Yes, it most certainly will. This will be a big season indeed. Though I would not trust the statement about the two days.-

I was starting to have second thoughts about the conversation. That person was probably not well. Besides his mental state, I mean: his figure was tall, but now it looked hunched over. I felt a bit bad about not noticing it sooner and just leaving the guy be.

- Happy to hear that, pal. Say, it’s getting a bit late, why-

- No, we are not late. There is still a perfect amount of time ahead of us. –

Okay, now I was even more worried. – I mean, we clearly have somewhere we oughta be right now. Thanks for the chat, I’ll be going now.-

- Ah yes, I do look forward to that. I would never risk to miss the occasion. I trust we will meet again. –

With that, he split in half lengthwise. His back cleanly separated from his front; the two parts danced freely in the cold air, still joined at the base. I could see small drabs of fog filter between them. I couldn’t make out much else, even as I stared in disbelief. Something moved in the leg region, a slow, deliberate uncoiling. The front half was dragged into the fog, disappearing completely. The second part was left alone, dangling slightly. One last twitch made it fall on the concrete. The thick, meaty sound it made lasted only a second, but crept all along the road, reverberating on the silent buildings. I could not tear my eyes from it, as it slithered into the stained void. Its upper end was the last to fade away.

Good God, I had really thought it was a hat.