The Walk-In Dead

I had missed the last train home from Canary Wharf and found myself stranded on the wrong side of the Thames, Faced with a daunting journey back to Forest Hill, I opted to convert the mishap into a mini getaway and booked a room at the Marriott Hotel in West India Quay. The strategy was to rest well, enjoy a morning meal and shop for work attire the next day.

Luck seemed to be on my side as I was upgraded to an executive suite. After requesting a 7 am wake-up call, I relished a relaxing shower, slipped into bed, and drifted into sleep.

The sunlight woke me naturally, I had kept the curtains open to enjoy the river view in the morning, it was summertime and the room was bright, my eyes were still adjusting as I sat up in bed, to my surprise I see two nondescript men dressed in black suits stood at the foot of the bed, one of them spoke “This is your early morning wake up call” immediately I assumed them to be hotel staff.

Shocked, and realising I was naked under the bed sheets I was feeling vulnerable, I respond “What the F-” Before I could complete my sentence, which would have been “What the fuck are you doing in my room!?”  one of the men waved his hand out in front of him and upon hitting the word “Fu-” – My eyes rolled back and I passed out in the bed.

When I gain consciousness, the clock read 10:30 am. Panic surged through me. I was late for work! I leapt out of bed and quickly got dressed, maintaining my original plan of shopping on the way to work. Surprisingly, I hadn’t received any calls from work about my tardiness.

As I descended to the hotel reception in the elevator, I wrestled with the reality of the morning’s events. Could it really have happened? Or had it been a vivid dream? Deciding to avoid sounding unhinged, I handed over my key without a word about the incident.

I rushed to the nearby shopping precinct at Canary Wharf and picked up a fresh shirt from Charles Tyrwhitt and new underwear from Next. Despite being late to the office at the Citigroup building, nobody seemed to notice my tardiness. The day passed pleasantly without reprimand.

I pushed the strange encounter to the back of my mind, accepting it as a product of my imagination. There were no negative repercussions. Only my temper had been neutralised. It all seemed too surreal to be true.

The Hob Pub, Forest Hill, London Date: 14/02/2013:

One evening, while walking past a local pub known as “The Hob,” I felt an inexplicable urge to step inside. The thought wrestled with my logic, as my life was already spiralling. However, a silent intuition whispered that someone was waiting to meet me inside.

Scepticism clouded my thoughts, I went into the pub and ordered a pint. If nobody showed up by the time I had finished my drink, I was going to seek professional help.  As I stood at the bar with a pint, preparing to debunk the weird notion an elderly man soon engaged me in conversation. He was upset about being temporarily barred from his regular pub, “The Bricklayers Arms,” until he resolved an issue that had been troubling him, this strikes up a conversation.

He continues to explain why he was unhappy, “I’ve been temporarily barred from my local pub, I’ve been drinking in The Bricklayers Arms for years, but the bar lady has refused to serve me until I resolve my issue” I’m intrigued, is this the person I was expecting?

He continues to explain, “I had an incident at work, something happened and I can’t get over it, when I drink, this keeps circling in my mind and I talk about it, the problem is, the bar staff have heard it too many times and so the bar staff has refused me service until I resolve it, they are tired of me dwelling on it as they are unable to help”

I ask him to explain the incident to me, but he is embarrassed, so initially he refuses, he didn’t want to get barred again, I understood his concern, and sensing his embarrassment, I decide to explain my reasons for being at the bar, by sharing a little of my embarrassment I was able to relieve him of his own, “I’m only here because I had the strongest notion someone wanted to speak to me today in this pub, it has to be you?”

We agreed to step away from the bar so he could share his story with me in private, he continues to explain that he was a mortician by profession, and he had been working an evening shift when a body of a young man had been delivered to the mortuary, however, he hadn’t the chance to register or clean the body when two nondescript men in black suits arrived, the problem was, they did not ask him for anything, and he didn’t contest them when they approached the body and began removing it from the mortuary, he said, “I just stood there frozen, I said nothing and let them take it, I did nothing to stop them”  

When he disclosed this information I realised why I had to be at the bar. We both needed to verify and reconcile our experiences, I asked “Has the body been reported as missing?” “Has anyone contacted you or the police about a missing person?” he responded “No, Nothing, Nobody has missed it”

I then share the experience I had at the hotel, advising him that based on my own experience, I too was powerless to do anything about it. I asked him, “Can you be certain if this incident actually occurred because I couldn’t?”

With no paperwork, missing person or incident report, there was nothing either he or I could do to prove the incident had occurred, both incidents may have been an infringement of our imaginations. I advise him “Stop beating yourself up about the impossibility of proving or justifying your experience, but I do believe you, and I feel I’m here to tell you and to validate for myself, there is more to life than you, I and people, in general, are prepared to accept, it’s too hard for them to believe, even for us”  He accepts this, helping him to find closure.

6 months later, I’m walking home from the local library when I see three men approaching me on the opposite side of the street, I didn’t know any of them, but based on their matching colours and mannerisms, I assumed them to be gang-affiliated, as I glimpse over I catch the attention from the guy walking in the centre of the group, locking eyes with me he freezes like he saw ghost, his associates are clueless as to why, and so am I, with his arm extended outwards and pointing in my direction he begins to scream at the top of his lungs, “No, No No, I killed him, I killed him, I shot him in the back of the head, I killed him!!” By this point he had lost all the strength in his legs, and clinging to each of his friends he continues to scream and yell, his friends looked on, shocked and helpless, as the man descended into hysteria.

The bizarre incident stirred unsettling memories of the hate crimes and victimisation I had endured at the hands of local gangs while living with my ex-wife in Forest Hill. Eventually, they lay him down on the floor, but he couldn’t be reconciled, appearing to have lost his sanity, he continues screaming and shouting on the floor.

I couldn’t help him, I didn’t know him, and his friends appeared helpless too, it was for the best I continued on with my journey, allowing them to try and calm him down, having seen me, the damage was done.

The most plausible reason could have been mistaken identity, I may never know for certain, but he was convinced this was true.

These unusual encounters marked the beginning of a quest to unravel the truth behind these unexplained events. Over time my journey led me to delve into the realms of forgotten civilisations, unravel my lineage, and discover unspoken truths about my life, it seemed I was pulled into a whirlwind of inexplicable happenings that have since shaped my reality in ways I never imagined possible.

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