Late in the night at the end of an abandoned pier, a man faces down his fears as a storm builds around him. He shares the evening with his companion, or does he?
The red-headed man vanished, just for a moment. With the wind howling around the deserted pier, the two of them had run between the empty arcades, through shuttered stalls and forlorn games machines. The cold moon was high in the sky, with darkened shadows cast by the creeping clouds. Bright enough to see each other, but difficult to make out the disappearing shore. The trams had long since stopped running, the busy boardwalk quietened this late into the night, with just the bad weather for company.
How had they ended up here? Not so long ago on this cold eve, he’d been in the cosy embrace of a warm pub, the scent of new and stale ale like ambrosia to those familiar faces around him. At some point, there had been food - unfulfilling bites to keep them going between pints. Dancing? It seemed so. But where were they all now? The other man ran on ahead, grabbing onto the railings as a storm rapidly approached, shouting to him over the loudness of the waves and imminent gale. At least, he thought he was shouting. Was there actually any voice in the air? There seemed to be, but the man’s words were impossible to hear. On they ran, towards the end of the pier, and the dark depths enveloping the horizon. He seemed familiar, like a friend, but had they met?
Surely he had been there among our group in the diner that morning, laughing with us about the previous night’s events over a greasy breakfast of toast, eggs and bacon, and repeated mugs of bitter tea. Was he called Mark? Or Adam? There didn’t seem to be a name to this face. Perhaps he had been on the tram then, squeezing onto seats on the top deck as the other passengers looked on scornfully. Maybe he had. But maybe not.
Close to the end now, where only tarnished old railings held back the waves. It was pretty, in its way. Isolation and desolation with no-one else to share it with. Except him, with the wild hair and wide grin, but where had he gone? Had he even ever been there? I’m sitting now, legs tucked over the rails, sea spray exploding below my feet. Here be dragons, they used to write on those old maps. Imagine that. Could you…? There’s no-one else there. It’s just me, at the end of this dark, empty pier, all alone.