Fate, Midnight and Mysterious Men // Basma Nasir
It was nearing midnight, the full moon was slightly visible in between the clouds. The foggy street was uncharacteristically empty, not a soul except for a tall man wearing black.
“Ashes and ashes we all fall down” the man muttered barely audible as he walked with a haughty demeanour through the dark street. Entering a dimly lit pub, he looked sinister and out of place. His flawless skin and hollow cheeks seemed even more prominent in the low lighting.
His steely grey eyes observed the place his eyebrows arching at the barely filled pub. He walked slowly towards the bar and sat down in the farthest seat of the bar.
The pub was lit by a single dusty bulb, which covered the patrons of the pub in a yellowish glow. On one side of the pub there was a huge bar with tall wooden stools. A short, pudgy barman stood behind the bar, cleaning glasses with a dirty cloth.
“A Beer” demanded the man in a rude tone, as the barman slid a bottle across the bar.
He sat there sipping his drink as he drummed his fingers on the bar. Peering the clock he noticed it was only eight. He wasn’t even supposed to be here tonight, his twin was the one who had to come.
“Another one?”, the barman asked noticing the almost empty bottle of beer.
He nodded, putting the empty bottle beside him “Quite night, Amos?’He asked.
The barman looked around, “Till now, don’t worry though. I’m sure some girlie will show up soon enough and distract you.”
The man ignored him.
“Where is your twin tonight?” Amos asked with a pointed look at the vacant stool next to him.
“Busy,” grunted the man.
“Too bad,” said the barman,” I like him, he has manners.”
The man grunted again as Amos poured him another drink.
A gust of wind blew as the door opened and a woman stumbled in. Her ringlets were illuminated by the moonlight. She was not dressed up like the girls who came to the bar usually. She wore jeans, sneakers, and a sweater with knits so wide that the man could see the dark shirt she wore underneath it. She ran her hand through her hair pushing it back, looked around at the pub and went to sit next to the mysterious man.
Ever the dutiful barman, Amos asked, “What can I get you darlin’?”
“A glass of whiskey, please,” she says as her eyes flickering towards the man next to her. He was watching her with a hawk-like expression.
“Coming right up,” Amos says banging a glass on the bar, as he mutters to the man, “Manners”
The man shook his head and took another gulp from his glass.
“Here you go,” Will said as he poured the last of the whiskey in the woman’s glass, she slid the money across the bar and he left to deposit it in the till.
The man looked at the woman from the corner of his eye, she was completely unfamiliar. Although her accent seemed like it was from here, he had not seen this woman here before. He was suddenly annoyed that he was alone and that he probably looked like a depressed alcoholic sitting alone drinking.
The woman must have noticed him staring at her as she asked, “Is something amiss?”
“Er…that’s my drink you’re drinking.”, he grumbled, idiot, he thought, where has my confidence scuttled off to.
“Your drink?”she asked looking confused as she stared at the empty bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey, “I assumed you must be dead or at least quite old, but you are remarkably young sir.”
He was surprised as she held out a hand, “I’m Emma, pleasure to meet Mr Daniels, your whiskey is one of a kind.”
It seemed like this girl liked idiots like him, he was completely stunned as he took her hand.
“I meant I was drinking from that bottle, and you took the last glass it had. I was quite attached to my drink.”, he started shaking her hand, “I am Pollux Miller.”
“In that case, I am extremely sorry”, Emma said soberly as she met his eye.
He chortled. “Apology accepted,” he said solemnly as he tried to copy her tone and failed. She laughed, a proper laugh not the simpering giggles that he was used to hearing when it came to girls.
“I don’t know you? Do I?”, Pollux asks as he lights up a cigarette.
She scrunched up her face, “Um… I don’t think so. I haven’t been around this part of town that much”
“Well you should”, taking a long drag from the cigarette he grins, “we are quite entertaining.”
“We?”, she asks raising her eyebrows as she looked besides him.
“Yeah me and my twin Castor”, he said, “We come here often, the food is good and Amos”, pointing towards the barman,”is absolutely precious.”
“Twins?”she questioned, “Castor and Pollux like in the myths, that is interesting. So which one of you is immortal?”
Pollux laughed, she is quick. “Don’t let him hear you say that.”
“Oh so you’re the one who gave up…oh you poor thing.” She said controlling her laughter.
Pollux just stared at her, thinking how did she know exactly what to say to make him laugh. Every other woman he met was either pretending to be coy or a simpering fool but not this woman. She was like a miracle sent here to cheer him up.
She chortled, “You- you’re not offended are you” trying to control her laughter as she thought his expression was more of an offense than contemplation, “I’m joking” She lets out before she starts laughing again.
All of the sudden he couldn’t help it, and he started laughing really loudly, a bit hysterically. It felt like a kind of relief like his mood had been lifted, he was feeling cheerful.
The whole pub was staring at them, as Amos said, “I hope that’s only tobacco that you are smokin’ in m’pub”. Everyone chuckled as Emma snorted.
After she had calmed down, “So what made you come here?”asked Pollux nervously. Why am I nervous, this is ridiculous.
“Well, you see, the tyres of my car are flat, and I can’t seem to find any mechanic.” she explains crestfallen, “I guess I’m stuck here tonight.”
“You got any place to stay?” Pollux asked looking concerned.
“Well I was going to ask him if there was any room free here.”Emma said nodding towards Amos, who was talking to another patron.
“AMOS!AMOS COME HERE WOULD YOU”shouted Pollux waving the barman over.
“Why the ruddy hell are you shoutin’ in my pub, you rude lad”shouts Amos as he walks towards the two menacingly.
“Uh oh,” whispered Emma edging away, “Looks like you made him mad.”
“Amos?”, asks Pollux looking at the barman as he came towards them, “Nah he is an old sweetheart.”
Emma raised her eyebrows as Pollux got up and met the barman halfway. They kept whispering for a while as their eyes kept flickering towards her. Being the curious person she was l, Emma advanced slowly towards the pair.
“Can’t you check one more time if you have a room available?” asked Pollux.
“I have only four rooms boy, and they are already filled.” replied the barman.
“Any other place” he asked exasperatedly.
“I’ll check”, Amos says as he walks over to the bar nodding at Emma, “Never seen him so concerned about a girl.”
She stared at him wondering why he would be so kind, as he walked past her and took a seat.
“Why are you standing there?” He asked looking at her.
“No reason” she shakes her head as she comes to sit down.
They waited in silence as they sipped their drinks glancing at the barman every so often as he made phone calls.
“Well I’ve checked everywhere and sorry darlin’ but there ain’t no room free,” said Amos to the pair as he finished the phone call.
“Thank you so much for checking,” said Emma with a small smile.
“Er… well I live a few blocks away with my twin. If you want to… you know stay there for the night.“ stuttered Pollux rubbing the back of his neck nervously, why am I nervous?
She was taken aback at how this stranger could be so nice, “That would be so kind of you.” He is a stranger nonetheless, she thought, but somehow he feels like an old friend. Trust him idiot, he is being really nice you shouldn’t doubt him.
“You alright?”he asked looking at her, “Shall we go then?”
Shaking her head to get rid of her thoughts, “Sure.”she said as she got up.
“Have a good night you two.” Will called out as they left the pub.
“So we have to walk to my place,” said Pollux, “I didn’t bring my car.”
“You really came to get sloshed, did you?”she grinned.
“Yes I did.” He said grimly meeting his eye, trying to keep his face blank but failing.
Emma laughed loudly.
“So shall we be on our way my lady” said Pollux in a pompous voice as he holds out his hand.
“We shall, good sir,” she says with a stuffy accent.
The moment their eyes meet, they both lose control and start chortling. They laugh and joke all the way to Pollux’s place, both were so immersed in joking with each other that they didn’t notice a shadow following them.
“So where do you live?”asked Emma as they came to a block lined with apartments.
“Up there” points Pollux towards the roof.
“The roof.”states Emma lips pursed.
“Yup” he says a muscle in his jaw twitching, don’t laugh he keeps repeating in his head, “Come on”
Emma shrugs her shoulders and follows him inside the building. They reached a door on the top floor, as Pollux put a hand on the knob Emma called out, “You weren’t kidding?! Were you?”
“Yes I wasn’t kidding, I do live on the roof” he says sarcastically as he opens the door and walks in. She follows him through the door and stops at the threshold gasping. It wasn’t a roof it was a penthouse, and the night sky was breathtakingly visible through the glass walls. Pollux had gone through a door which she assumed was the kitchen, the living room itself was decorated to perfection. The leather sofas seemed untouched, sitting in front of a large television. In one corner of the room there were tall shelves filled with books, two chairs and a small table in the middle next to the shelves. The fire was burning and crackling in the fireplace, as it cast a warm glow on the cushions in front of it. The whole room was peculiar, as if it was more of a showroom rather than someone’s home.
“Emma, Emma”,called Pollux waving his hand in front of her.
Shaking her head, “ye-yes”, she replied focusing on him.
He had a smile on his face at her reaction, “Do you want tea or coffee?”he asked walking back towards the kitchen he laughed, “the kitchen is even more spectacular”
Curious she hurriedly followed him to the kitchen, and Pollux was right. The kitchen was like another part of the showroom, it looked like no one had ever used it for cooking. Emma gingerly sat on one of the stools next to the island, as she watched Pollux boiled water in a teapot. All of a sudden Emma let out a snort, “What is that?” she asked laughing.
“This”, smirked Pollux picking up the teapot, it was an antique flowery pot that should’ve belonged to an old lady, “is a teapot.”
“Oh, I can see that,” she said nodding her head as she started smirking. He shook his head chortling as he poured tea into mugs, and handed one to Emma.
“What no matching teacups?”she asked eyebrows raised, as she met Pollux’s eyes and they both started laughing.
There was the sound of the door slamming as a man identical to Pollux walked in. His face was blank, with no emotions and where Pollux had this warm glow that man seemed cold.
“I didn’t know we had a guest”, he looked questioningly at Pollux and then towards Emma, “I apologise for not introducing myself. I am Castor Miller, Pollux’s t-“
“Twin, yeah yeah she knows Cas.”, Pollux cut in, “We are identical after all, she can tell that.”
“Hi, nice to meet you,” squeaked Emma.
“Can I talk to you Lux?”he asked in a low voice looking pointedly at Emma, “Alone?”
“Of course,” Pollux says uncertainty as he turns to Emma smiling, “I’ll be back.”
He follows Castor to his room, which like the whole place is perfectly pristine.
“Why did you bring her here?”hissed Castor turning to face his twin.
“Because she wasn’t supposed to be my victim.”, Pollux whispered furiously.
“Oh yeah? Then why’d you agree to go?“ asked Castor.
“Are you seriously going to blame it on me?”, huffs Pollux.
Staring at him, Castor realized that he needed to take his responsibilities and kill the girl because Pollux was not going to do it.
“Fine”, Castor said calmly walking towards the door, “I’ll do it.”
“What?”, says Pollux eyes wide realizing what Castor was going to do, “Oh shit no! She is my victim I’ll do it.”
Grabbing Castor turning him around, dragging him back. He pushed Pollux away, as he tried to go to Emma. The scuffle went on for a couple of minutes, as both brothers tried to overcome the other.
“Castor, STOP THAT.”, shouts Pollux pinning his twin down.
“WHAT?”, he shouts back.
“I’ll do it tomorrow morning.”, Pollux said frowning.
“Going to enjoy the night with her?”asked Castor a smirking forming on his face, “I’ll leave you guys alone then.”
Emma could hear the two arguing, and a couple of bangs like someone hit something. Ignoring the noise, she sipped her tea looking out of the window. All the sudden one of the bedroom doors opened as Castor stalked out, barely glancing at Emma he walked out of the penthouse slamming the door. Pollux came out from the room grumbling, his hair tousled and expression disgruntled. Seeing Emma he suddenly gave a small smile.
“Everything alright?”she asked concerned.
“Nothing, Castor was just”, he gave a pause, “overreacting.”
“Are you sure?”she asked getting up.
Pollux silently walked toward the sofas, and gestured Emma to join him, “I have to tell you something.”
Emma sat down in front of Pollux, “What is it?”she asked worriedly.
“Promise me you won’t freak out.”he asked taking her hands.
“I promise.”she said uncertainly staring at Pollux.
“Well you see I already know who you are.”he started.
“Of course, you do.”Emma said looking at him weirdly.
“No, I mean I knew you before I even met you and I knew you were going to be at that bar tonight. I was there to kill you.“ he said looking down.
“How? why? Who are you?“ she whispered.
“You have heard the greek myths?, death is not one person,” he said.
Edging away from Pollux, “You’re scaring me”
“Castor and I are death.”he says slowly.
“Death, like angels of death?”, asks Emma.
“Death like the embodiment of death.”, clarifies Pollux.
“You kill people?”she gasps standing up.
“It’s a way of life.”he says calmly.
“So what now? You’re gonna kill me too?”, Emma whispers moving away from him.
“What? No!“ he said suddenly.
“Do it.”she says not listening to him, “Wait what?”
“I said I won’t.”he says coming towards her.
“But why?”, she falters staring him.
“I have been waiting for a lifetime for you.”he says looking in her eyes.
“Waiting?”she asks, “Now I’m even more confused.”
“I’ve never felt so alive in my life than I did tonight.”, Pollux said with a wild look in his eyes,”I am immortal, but when I’m with you I feel alive.”
“Am I supposed to believe you?”, Emma says disbelief evident in her eyes, she laughs to cover up her fear.
Pollux abruptly gets up and takes her arm as he drags towards a door at the end.
“What the hell?”, she screams pulling her arm from his grip.
“Well you’re the one who doesn’t believe me.”he hisses.
He opens the door, and ushers her in. It looked like a normal office but it was a mess compared to the rest of the penthouse.
“What are you doing Pollux?”, says Emma moving away from him.
“You’ll see sweetheart,” he grins like a maniac, slowly advancing like a predator.
“Wait, you’re not Pollux,” she whispers realization hitting her, ” B-but how? I saw you walking out”
“Oh that wasn’t me, that was just a mirage.”he smiles sitting on the desk as she cowers on the seat.
“Pollux ?Where is he?”, Emma asks dread seeping through her body, she starts screaming, “POLLUX! POLLUX WHERE ARE YOU?”
“Don’t worry”, Castor says in a bored voice, “You’ll see him soon”
Castor grabs Emma as he drags her the bedroom, at first she saw nothing unusual but then she sees it. The puddle of something black shining in the moonlight, it was blood and in the middle lay Pollux.
“No”, whimpers Emma tears streaming down as her knees got weak, “Why are you doing this?”
Castor tilted his head as he studied her, smiling slightly, “There is no why.”
“Have you never felt any regret?”she said looking him in the eyes as she wiped her tears.
“Regret?”he asked looking confused as he looked down.
She walked towards him, a glass shard behind her back. “Then why’d you do this?”she asks nearing him as she plunges the shard in his chest.
He lets out a snort, “Did you really think you could kill me ? I’m immortal darling” as he pushes her and takes the shard out, “This is how it is, He tried to defy it and looked what happened.” Nodding towards Pollux’s body.
“Well she might not be able to kill you,” said a voice behind him, “But I can.”
Emma lets out a scream as she backs away into a corner.
“Pollux?”, Castor gasps clutching his stomach as his shirt starts turning black .
“You’re heartless.”, Pollux says looking sadly at his brother.
Castor staggers, “Im the one who’s heartless?”, he coughs leaning against the bed, “You are the one who ahh stabbed me”
“You left no choice-“, he starts, “no wait I am not going to apologise to you tried to kill me first.”
“I thought you were,” coughing Castor said, “dead. How did you-“
Leaning against the wall Pollux cuts in, “Survive? Not die?”, kneeling down he looks his brother in the eyes, “because I am better than you, I always was. I’m sorry my brother.”
Pollux stays there next to Castor, staring at his brother with a blank face.
“You never truly loved me Pollux.”Castor coughs as he takes his last breaths.
Silence follows Castor’s final breaths, Pollux looks at sadly at Castor blood seeping through the wound.
“I did,” he whispers after a few minutes, he shook his head and wiped away a few stray tears. Pollux got up and moved towards Emma, who was huddled in the corner with a tear stained face. Seeing him approach her, “Please don’t,” she whimpered.
“I’m not going to hurt you Emma.”he says in a low voice as he slowly approaches her. Pollux takes her face in his hands, and tilts it towards him, “Hey listen to me you are safe now.”
“I-I just want to go ho-home”, she mumbles looking away.
“Yes of course, I’ll take you home.”, he said dejectedly, getting up he holds out his hand to help her.
walked out of the building silently as he led her towards his car. Emma quietly got into the car, and averted her eyes. The drive to her place was a quiet one, Pollux didn’t ask for directions and she avoided asking him how he knew where she lived. Emma kept repeating what happened the whole car ride and she was so distracted she didn’t even notice that they had reached her apartment.
“Emma”, said Pollux in a measured voice, “We’re here.”
“Oh,” she said as she quickly got out of the car, slamming the door she hurriedly walked into the building, I hope he doesn’t follow, she prayed. Taking no chances Emma ran into her apartment, locking the door just in case. Taking a deep she tried calming herself, but the tears wouldn’t stop.
Pollux sat frowning in the car watching her walk hurriedly like a demon was on her heel. Pollux chuckled darkly at the irony of his thoughts, he was worse than a demon. Frustrated he banged his head on the steering wheel as the horn honked.
He sighed, and got out of the car. I can’t let her go like that after all that happened, he thought as he walked into the building. Reaching her door, he heard her sobbing, he tried opening it but it was locked. Running his hands through his hair, Pollux paced lib front of her door. On an impulse he started banging his fist against the door, “OPEN THE DOOR OR I’LL BREAK IT DOWN.”, he shouted, “IM COUNTING TILL THREE. ONE, TW-“
All of a sudden the door opened, and a teary, disheveled Emma stood there sniffling. “Why don’t why don’t just let me be?”she sobs.
“I can’t I just can’t see you hurt.”he says.
She chuckles cynically, “of course you do”
“DAMN”, he shouts slamming his hand on the wall.
Emma flinches and backs away peering at him with vacant eyes.
“I’m sorry”, he starts, “Please give me a chance. “
“No, I can’t do that-“she replies as he cut in.
“Do what? Forgive me?“ he asks leaning towards her.
“Trust you”she whispers backing away from him.