Living in a large city, Lana rarely recognised the strangers around her. That was why she was so surprised to encounter the two gentleman, at such different times.
The first time was on a bus, late one night. The streets were dark and she wasn’t sure if she should get off the bus at Town Hall or go on further.
A tall silver-haired man pressed the button for Town Hall. Lana stood up, but a man with thoughtful dark eyes blocked her way. By the time she reached the door, the bus was moving again. On the footpath outside, the silver-haired man turned his head, apparently disappointed.
The next time she had encountered the men, she had been at the railway station, trying to buy a ticket. The silver-haired man had gallantly allowed her in front of him, but then the dark-eyed man had stepped forward, asking endless questions of the attendant. By the time Lana bought her ticket she had missed the train.
She’d been angry until she saw the news later that night. Her train had been derailed by a faulty signal. No one had been seriously hurt, but the seat where she would have been sitting had been completely crushed.
Almost a year later, she was walking through the city late one night, gazing up at the office towers, when she sensed someone beside her. Surprised, she saw it was the silver-haired man.
“I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said in a charming and polite accent, “It is lonely at this time of night. I was going to take the shortcut through the tunnel and was so glad to see I wasn’t the only person here.”
Lana glanced at the tunnel. There was a sign warning pedestrians to go the other way.
“Isn’t it under construction?”
“It’s all finished now. There is no danger.”
It was the quickest way home, and if the pleasant old man said it was finished, she guessed there was no danger. They began walking down the steps. Suddenly a figure stepped forward.
“Stop!” the dark-eyed man raised his hand.
The silver haired man lowered his head angrily, “Why do you stop me?”
“You know the tunnel roof is near collapse!”
“It is not her time!”
“It is always their time if I can reach them. You stay so close to her because you know it!”
“I tell you to be gone!”
“All of them are mine if I wish it! Will you fight for this one?”
The dark-eyed man unfurled his fingers. Raising his arm, he tossed something toward them. Lana and the silver haired man reeled backwards.
She was conscious of falling, but then the dark-eyed man had caught her.
“Death and life walk side by side,” she remembered him saying, “Near to you everyday. But it is not your time Lana, not yet.”
Then she was by herself, under the safe glare of the streetlights. Somewhere in the shadows, two sets of footsteps walked fast into the distance.
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