It was dark.
Dark and wet.
Although, by now the rain had stopped. It was chilly too, now that summer was turning slowly into winter.
‘Yes,’ Signaur agreed.
‘Yes.’ Signaur hissed. ‘I’m supposed to be being quiet.’
‘It’s-‘ Signaur turned. ‘Who are you?’ He turned a bit more. ‘Where are you?’
‘Ah. What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘It means,’ said the voice from somewhere in the shadows of the alleyway, ‘that it is not quite that simple.’
‘What do you mean?’ Signaur peered into the darkness and saw more darkness. ‘Who are you?’
‘That’s a bit awkward?’
‘Where are you?’
‘I’m here… sort of… more or less… depending on what you mean by here, of course.’
Signaur drew his sword. When people started philosophising at you, he’d found the best response was usually something metal and pointed. The more sharply-pointed the better. ‘What are you talking about? Why can’t I see you?’
‘What? You can’t see me?’
‘But you can see the other end of the alley? The light from the Inn?’
‘You are Signaur?’
‘This is the thirteenth day of… hang on…’ there was a rustle, ‘Witch’s Tit?’
‘Yes.’ Signaur sighed. ‘No, wait. That’s tomorrow.’
There was another rustle. ‘Tomorrow?’
Signaur counted, first in his head, then on the fingers of the hand not holding the sword. ‘Yes, tomorrow. Definitely.’
‘Ah. So you can see the end of the alleyway?’
‘It isn’t blocked by a company of the Duke’s men?’
Signaur glanced behind him, his grip tightening on his sword. ‘No. There is no-one there.’
A cat meowed.
‘No-one apart from the cat… and us – wherever you are.’ Signaur raised his sword. ‘Come out and show yourself.’
‘That’s a bit difficult.’
‘Because you are not supposed to see me until tomorrow evening.’
Signaur advanced on the shadow where he thought the voice was coming from. There was nothing there. ‘What do you mean?’
‘I mean I was supposed to be here for you tomorrow, not today.’
‘So? You’re here early. I can’t see anything wrong with that. I can’t abide lateness in a person. Why don’t you show yourself?’
‘Well, it does get a bit philosophical… sort of.’
Signaur tightened his grip on his sword – just in case. ‘Go on, I‘m listening.’
‘No. I’ll come back tomorrow.’
‘Tell me now. Let me see you.’
‘If you see me, then you die.’
Signaur adopted a defensive stance, his sword on guard. ‘Is that a threat?’
‘No. I don’t do threats.’
‘Come out and face me, or are you too much of a coward?’
‘I’m no coward. And believe me; I know how good you are with that sword, Signaur.’
‘You know my name?’
‘Of course. I know a great deal about you. I’ve had a great deal of experience of what you can do with that sword over the years, especially in alleyways like this.’
Signaur looked around. ‘What on earth are you talking about?’
A shape emerged from the shadows, vaguely human, but looking nothing like any human Signaur had ever seen. ‘I am death, Signaur. Your death.’
Signaur stared at the apparition feeling the pain growing in his chest until the agony felt so bad he thought he would explode.
His sword clattered on the ground and rolled into a puddle as the lifeless body fell down next to it.