The Final Mission
The traffic lights situated at the junction of the High Street and Osborne Road changed to red as he approached and Gordon brought the car to a stop and applied the brake.
Then there was a blinding flash and the interior of his vehicle was filled with a brilliant white light. Panic gripped him as he stared around. Beyond the car through the windows he could see nothing, yet there was no darkness, nor even light, just a great blankness that obscured the streets outside. Gordon looked down at the dash board but the light inside his car was so intense, he could see nothing and he reached for the door handle to make his escape but he could not find it.
`Relax old man, relax! Why are you so uptight?' The voice was clearly Old Etonian and came from the direction of the front passenger seat.
He stared to his left but yet again, the intensity of the light hid everything from his view. `What the blazes is going on?' he exploded.
`A very apt expression, if I may so,' laughed the voice.
The fear was mounting as once more Gordon failed to find the door handle. `Just tell me what's going on,' he said through clenched teeth.
`It's very simple old boy. In just twenty four hours time you are going to leave this planet and I am here to give you enough notice to do any last thing you feel it necessary to do.'
`What do you mean, I am going to leave the planet? Am I going to die or something?'
The public school voice was still there. `It's quite simple dear chappy and just like I said. In twenty four hours time you leave mother earth.'
`I don't believe you.'
`Listen you silly man! In 1,440 minutes time you go and you have just used up one of those minutes, that means there are only 1,439 remaining.'
The light in the car faded away; there was nobody in the passenger seat. Daylight came through the windows and as he looked up, he saw the traffic signals change back to green. He moved across the junction slowly, trying to comprehend the events of those few minutes before. He looked at his watch, it was 8.35 a.m.
All thoughts of his original journey had gone from his mind and, finding it impossible to concentrate on his driving, he pulled into the supermarket car park and switched off the engine. He sat there thinking. It was a hallucination of course but what had brought it on? Had he had a stroke or maybe it had been an epileptic fit? Probably neither seeing that otherwise he felt so well.
He turned the ignition key and reached for the handbrake.
`1,428 minutes left, Gordon.' There was no light this time, just the voice.
He felt the hair on his neck stand up and shivered despite the warmth of the day. `I'm going mad,' he thought.
`You're wasting time, old boy.'
`It can't be true,' Gordon said aloud. `It's just not possible.'
`You'd better believe it and by the way, time still passes, my friend.'
Gathering together his shattered nerves, Gordon put the car into gear and drove cautiously out of the car park then made his way home again. Fortunately Jenny was away visiting her mother in Heathfield for a few days so he would not have to explain anything about his experience to her.
Ten minutes later he had a mug of strong black coffee in his hand as he walked through the kitchen door into the hall. Heading for the lounge, he noticed his golf clubs by the coat rack. He stopped and stared at the clubs and the memory of the voice came back. `You have just twentyfour hours to do any last thing you feel it necessary to do.'
`Well, why not,' he said to his reflection in the hall mirror. `It might just be true but even if it isn't, Jenny is away, so you can do what you want over the next few hours.' He looked back at the clubs. `I've never hit a hole in one and if I am going to leave this world, I would rather like to do that just once.'
`Then get on with it,' said the voice.
`Just get off my back.'
A deep throated chuckle was the only reply.
Twenty minutes later he was at the Municipal Golf Course and, after paying for a day session made his way to the 7th tee. He knew that there were only two holes on the course where he had any chance of making a hole in one, the 7th and 15th. So if he was going to achieve his ambition he must concentrate on just those two holes. It was early enough for him to be the first player at the 7th and so he selected his club and placed the ball on the tee.
`Twenty three hours to go,' said the voice. `Good luck, old boy.'
Gordon was so unsettled by this he drove his first shot into the lake and had to take another ball. It was impossible to relax and he bogeyed the hole with a four. He walked from the 7th green across the public footpath to the 15th tee and tried again. Once more he shot a four at a par three hole.
Hour after hour he tried, occasionally having to endure a frustrating wait while other players played the holes. The best he did during the morning was on three occasions when he took a two at the 15th. Around 1 p.m. he made his way back to the clubhouse for some lunch. His back and shoulders were aching so much he was glad to have the opportunity to sit down for a while.
With food and some wine inside him, he started to relax. `This is quite ridiculous,' he said to himself as he sat contemplating his empty glass. `Nothing is going to happen and you are trying to kill yourself just to make a hole in one. I am going to call the whole thing off.'
`Only eighteen and a half hours left,' said the voice suddenly.
Gordon looked around to see if any of the other diners had heard the voice but they were behaving normally. 'It's all in my imagination,' he thought. `I'm not going to play the fool any more.'
`The hands of the clock will not stop moving, however much you try to convince yourself this isn't happening.'
`All right, all right, I'm going.'
This time the other diners did hear and looked at Gordon as they wondered who he was talking to.
Back on the course throughout the afternoon, Gordon had even less success than before lunch and managed to lose another four balls. Then feeling totally exhausted, he sat on a bench beside the lake and fell fast asleep.
When he awoke it was after 9 p.m. and he found himself alone on the golf course. There was a full moon and in its eerie light, he watched an old dog fox limp out of the trees and down to the lake to drink.
`My my, you wasted a lot of time there didn't you old boy.'
`Shut up voice, you don't exist, you are just in my imagination.'
`If that be so, what are you doing in the middle of the golf course at this time of the night? Oh, and by the way, there are only 677 minutes remaining.'
`Go away, I am not listening.'
`Well it's your funeral old boy,' came the laughing reply.
Gordon wasn't sure why but instead of going back home, he picked up his golf bag and headed back to the 15th tee. Hour after hour he kept trying but the best he could do was a two. In the moments before dawn he paused to listen to the steadily increasing volume of birdsong until the chorus was at its peak. `What a magical time of day it is,' he thought. `I am so lucky to be alive.'
The morning advanced rapidly and when he glanced at his watch it had just turned 8.30 and still there had been no hole in one. His frustration level was at boiling point as he strode back onto the 15th tee.
`Time to go Gordon.'
`Not until I've played this shot, I won't go anywhere,' he said through gritted teeth.
`All right, old boy, just this one shot then.'
Fear, frustration and anger combined in the swing as he drove the ball as hard as he could. The club head struck the ball and projected on its final journey. A split second later there was a blinding flash.
Shortly after 9 o'clock the green keeper walked onto the 15th tee. He shook his head in amusement on seeing the golf bag full of clubs that someone must have left there the previous day and he stared in annoyance at the large area of scorched grass on the tee. Somebody must have started a fire during the night. A few minutes later he reached down into the 15th hole to retrieve a ball, which he put in his pocket.
That week's edition of the Echo carried the headline, Drama in the High Street. The story that followed told how a car had exploded at the traffic lights and been destroyed, but strangely there had been no driver in the vehicle.
If you enjoyed reading this story, you may be interested to know that Jack Windsor has published an anthology of 40 of his stories. It is called 'Secret of the Lake'. Published by Braiswick you can order it from your local bookstore or buy online from Amazon.com
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