Daniel sat in the pub with his back to the door. He was nursing a pint. Someone sat down next to him. He drained his glass and caught the barman’s eye.
‘Same again.’ he said, raising his voice to be heard over the television.
The barman took his glass and as he began pouring another, he continued ‘And whatever the lady wants as well.’
Daniel turned to look at Annabelle for the first time. She was perched uncertainly on the edge of the barstool. Her eyes scanned the various bottles stood against the back wall. She pointed at an intimidating looking green liqueur. Daniel caught the barman’s eye again and said ‘Orange juice it is.’
‘So you’re out.’ Daniel said.
Annabelle nodded. They both sipped their drinks.
‘What are you going to do now?’ he asked.
Annabelle shrugged. They both sipped their drinks again.
‘Well, I’m glad we could have this little chat, thank you.’
He set his pint down on the bar and his attention drifted to the television.
Annabelle looked at her brother. She put her arm around him and said ‘You’re welcome.’
She regretted it almost immediately. He smelt bad. Annabelle didn’t want to make him feel bad so she stayed where she was. She looked down at his clothes. She could see the remnants of spillage from an earlier meal.
‘Something’s coming.’ she whispered.
‘I know, look.’ said Daniel gesturing at the screen and without taking his eyes off it.
Annabelle looked at the television and only then became aware of what the voices were trying to say.
‘…Astronomers assure us that it will not hit the Earth. It is believed that this meteorite could be almost twice the size of that which caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. A sobering thought for stargazers.’
‘That’s not what I meant.’ said Annabelle.
Annabelle sat with Daniel in the bar for a couple of hours. They talked and drank sparingly, before she got up to leave. Daniel tried to convince her to stay, but she was adamant. They said their goodbyes and Daniel told her that they ‘should do this again sometime’, but he was vague on detail when she pressed him. She lingered in the doorway and then walked out into the night.
As the barman called Last Orders, six people filed in. The new clientele were dressed all in black and appeared very conspicuous. One of them was very muddy. The small pub suddenly seemed very busy to Daniel. The muddy one limped over to the bar and ordered several drinks as the others stowed various cases and equipment under the tables. The barman worked quickly to pour the drinks and the muddy one paid him.
‘Come and help me carry these, corporal.’
The barman reminded them that the pub would be closing soon and the platoon’s sergeant wheeled around as best as a man with a limp can and said with as much authority as someone covered in mud can summon, ‘We’ll see about that, won’t we?’
Daniel and the other locals decided it was time to leave.
Thank you again for reading.