The cream on my coffee gathered at the top began fading as I was too immersed in reading. The noisy conversations in Hindi, the bright headlights of the cars in contrast with the silent night sky, all paled in comparison to the mysteries hidden in the black and white pages of the book in my hand. As I turned another page waiting in anticipation I heard a clank of crocery followed by a disgusting slurp, I looked up irritate at the interruption. A silver-haired man was sitting in the wrought-iron chair opposite mine, drinking from my cup and looking grim like Gordon Ramsay.
“That was mine”, I said with a hint of defiance.
“You weren’t drinking it”, he said arguing like a five year old child. He took another gurgling slurp and the entire cafe turned at us in resentment. I dig back into my book to avoid their angry gazes, picked up my bag and got up.
“Where are you going?”, the man asked with surprise, “You have to pay for it!”
I looked t him first in astonishment, then amusement and then pure hatred.
“You drank it, you should pay for it!”, I tried to keep my voice low.
“Ah but you see”, he put a hand in his pocket and pulled out air, “I don’t have any money”.
I raised an eyebrow and stepped forward, the stranger got up and immediately pulled my wrist. I turned around shocked at his behaviour (a man in his late 50s grabbing my wrist!) and threw a punch at his face. It hit him a little below his left eye and he wailed in pain. I began taking faster steps towards the exit hoping to outsmart this drunkard but a waiter stopped me.
“Ma’m you haven’t paid the bill”, he reminded me with a curious expression.
“Oh you see I ordered the coffee but I didn’t drink it. That man over there”, I pointed to the idiot still nursing his face, “He drank it. So ask him to pay the bill”.
I innocently smiled at the waiter and he turned thrice to look at my table.
“Ma’m”, he asked in a hushed voice, “What man?”
I turned slowly to look at the stranger, he was now walking towards me with a grin. I looked at him first in surprise and then in terror. I looked back at the waiter but he still was looking at my face with a puzzled expression and looking back and forth at the table.
“He can’t see me”, the stranger explained calmly. He pulled open his black coat and picked out a metal instrument that looked like a fat futuristic pen. He pressed something on it and a green light emanated from a circular bulb at its top.
“TARDIS Transparency”, he beamed with pride and kept it inside.
I shook my head aggressively like I was having a bad dream, pushed a hundred rupees in the waiters hand and almost flew out of the cafe. The stranger ran behind me into the street-lights lit night and easily kept up with my running with his long legs. I looked at him with shock and then looked away and looked at him again. For some mystical reason, something inexplicable radiated out of him. Knowledge, wisdom, a promise of adventure? What was it? I couldn’t understand but I couldn’t look away either.
“What’s your name?”, he asked smiling.
I shook my head, he might seem friendly and look harmless but he had somehow manage to be invisible.
“If they couldn’t see you”, I asked keeping my speed and distance but unable to contain my curiosity, “Why did everyone look at you when you slurped loudly?”
His laughter was the song I had longed to hear my entire life. He laughed like a child who knew nothing and was curious but also like a grandfather who was up to mischief.
“They weren’t looking at me”, he said pulling my hand making me turn into a lane, “They were looking at you talking to yourself”.
I looked at him in embarrassment and then utter confusion, he softly smiled at me and there was a quiet understanding in his face. He looked calm but he was just as terrified as I was and that terrified me even more.
“It’s my turn to ask a question now”, he said looking straight into my eyes, “What is your name?”
He looked at me with fierce determination and an anticipation, as if the fate of the universe hung in balance of my answer. I gulped and replied truthfully. He let out a strange cry of relief and was almost about to hug me when he stopped.
“I’ve been looking for you everywhere!”, he said vivaciously.
“W-why?” I asked hoping I wasn’t a serial killer’s next target.
He put his hand firmly into mine, his palm was so much bigger than mine and much lighter in complexion. He also had many wrinkles on his hand and face but someone still, supernaturally, he looked incredibly handsome. He might have silver-hair and an arrogantly pointed nose but he had a firm jawline and kind sky-blue eyes.
“Only you can stop this, do you understand?”, he asked loudly.
I suddenly realized that he was saying something important while I was busy admiring his looks. I looked at him in despair with questions written all over my face. He signed.
“I’ll explain on the way”, he said and quickly turned me into a small by-lane, “We have to go NOW!”
“Go where?”, I asked holding his hand tighter in the blinding darkness.
I couldn’t see him but his hand in mine became tighter, his fingers gripped my tiny ones firmer. He waited for a while, as if giving me some time to become mentally prepared- for danger, for disaster, maybe death. The noise of the traffic horns had completely faded and the only thing I could hear was his silent whisper in my ear that reverberated in the brick walls of the by-lane.
A second after I breathed the word in the by-lane glowed in golden light. I shielded my eyes from the sudden brightness and between my trembling fingers I saw a small police box in bright blue glowing in the tiny, deserted, dark by-lane. I took my hand off my face and pulled the other out of the stranger’s lingering palm.
“Who are you?” I asked.
I stared at the box as if looking at the rising sun and turned around to look at the stranger smiling arrogantly.
“I’m the Doctor!”
Writing Inspiration from The Daily Post