“Time, Ladies and Gentlemen please.”
Mick Carter was very much looking forward to closing up the pub for the night. As much as he had enjoyed the company of the locals, he had called for last orders twice because no one had taken any notice of him the first time round. There would not be a third, even in their drunken state, the customers knew not to push Mick too far. The family man had gathered quite a reputation amongst the locals of Albert Square as “firm but fair.” Running Queen Victoria Public House for almost four years had given Mick a keen eye for detail when dealing with regular customers. It was first rate customer service that the friendly publican prided himself on.
As the last customer staggered out the door, Mick scratched his scruffy beard, closed the door, then bolted it. He swaggered to the bar, cleared up, and contemplated whether to have a nightcap or go straight upstairs to fall asleep watching his favourite DVD “Danny Dyer’s Hardest Men.” Rubbing his eyes, he decided against the drink and made for the stairs.
Someone was rapping the front doors. Strange? He thought. He was not expecting anyone at this late hour. Perhaps if he ignored them, they would go away.
Mick reached down behind the bar and lifted a small wooden baseball bat that was still shining from its newness. The last time the doors had been chapped at this time was when a group of robbers had bullied their way in and threatened his family. There was no way he was taking any chances this time.
Whoever was at the door was obviously in a frantic state. Steeling himself, he raced across and removed the bolt, barely drawing breath as he pulled the door open and took three steps back – Standing in front of him was a woman; early forties with long golden blonde hair and deep sea blue eyes. She was pretty but this did not faze Mick. What troubled him was that this lady should not have been standing there at all.
“Ronnie?” he gasped.
She did not reply, but her bottom lip quivered ever so slightly. Then she began sobbing silently.
“I… I… can’t feel my body, Mick.” she shivered as she spoke. “Help me.”
Mick dropped the bat and felt the hairs on his neck stand on end. This was not possible. Ronnie Mitchell and her sister Roxy had been killed on New Years Eve in a tragic drowning accident. The fact she was standing here had to be an extension of his tiredness. He rubbed his eyes again, half expecting her to have disappeared – she did not.
“Help me.” she screamed again in a high pitched voice.
Suddenly, she lurched forward gasping for air. Mick caught her before she could fall but she began convulsing and coughing as water spurted out her mouth. Then she breathed normally again Mick eased her down to the ground, trying not to look into her eyes that were wide with terror. He ran through to the back and dialled for an ambulance. As he explained the situation he left out the fact that the woman lying on his bar floor had died 7 months previously. Slamming the phone down, he raced back through to the stricken Mitchell.
“I’ve called an ambulance babe,” he shouted. “They’ll be…”
He stopped dead in his tracks. Ronnie Mitchell was gone. He walked in a daze across to the door and noticed it was bolted from the inside and still locked. On the floor were small puddles of water that glistened in the light…..
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