Open and Closed. Open and Closed. The sign on the shop door flickered without pausing.
“What’s going on?” I asked Gerry.
“I have no idea,” she said, unbuckling her seatbelt, ready to step out of the car.
“No! Don’t get out,” I said putting a hand on her arm.
“Look,” I pointed, “they’re all doing it…”
Gerry, hand still on the door, paused and looked around. “You’re right. What the heck is going on?”
“And look,” I said sweeping my arm left and right, “all the shop doors are doing it too.”
All the shop doors were open onto the street, swinging on their hinges, open and closed, open and closed.
“What’s going on?” Gerry asked again, “I mean, seriously? There’s no wind, there’s no breeze, there’s no … hang on a minute … Daisy there’s no people!”
And sure enough there was no one to be seen left or right, in front or behind.
“That’s weird … at 12 o’clock on a Friday afternoon? You’d think there’d be someone, something …” my voice cracked.
Trying to make our way back to Heathrow Airport just outside London, we’d pulled off the A24 in search of a snack, fed up with the usual motorway services bumpf and were delighted to have found the little village of Tipply On The Pond only a few miles beyond.
“What’s that? Over there Gerry?”
“Looks like a child’s toy, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, one of those with lids and doors … but …”
Neither of us could bring ourselves to say it out loud: the lids and doors of the plastic toy were intermittently opening and closing, opening and closing.
“Shoot, I suppose my black-out idea has just gone up in smoke,” said Gerry without the slightest quiver in her voice.
“Yeah, mine too – I think we should get out of here.” My voice was definitely shaking along with my hands and my gut.
“No, no Daisy, we must find out what’s going on.”
“Stop it Gerry. You’re on holiday! This is no time for your journalistic foolishness.” I begged.
“Oh don’t be such a winge, Daisy, I’m getting out.”
But that’s as far as she got, for the moment she pulled the door handle, her door joined in the strange silent dance: open and closed, open and closed.
Terrified, I turned the key in the ignition.