It was dark; as it always is, when these kinds of things happen. Kathir, our manager, was not in his best mood; his ex-wife had called him an hour earlier. We knew better than to prod into that story.

“I’m taking off early”, he said and was out the door before we could even react.

The last batch of coffee for the day had gone stale. Something about the gloomy weather we assumed.

It was also raining. Meghna giggled at me from across the counter. I happened to be the sore face that had to tell them that we were out of coffee.

“The weather I suppose” he said, and walked away. The rare good willed customer. He stepped into the rain and disappeared in the blink of an eye.

“How long till the rain stops?” she asked me.

“How does it matter? You get picked up in a car” I was the one who had to drive a bike, drenched to my bone.

“Lose the attitude. You’re not helping anybody” she said, with the classic cold shoulder. Doesn’t matter, she’s of no consequence to me.

It was not just the weather that was gloomy. There was something about the inner workings of this place. I was better off not knowing and am going to act the part even after I finish narrating this. It’s out there and I don’t want one part of it.

Ranjith, the owner, the liberal thinker, the modern art lover, brushed it off as rival rumours.

“It’s always the people that make or take the gloom” he said, and he brought in Meghna and she was a bundle of light in this place; she had an air to her that did not seem to affect her; bright as day she roamed, being the best of everybody.

It’s the plight of the bachelor to be the caretaker after dark; unsaid rule around this place. Meghna left, just after sundown. I was closing shop; on the outside, we were known for being open until midnight. Naturally, closing, is a pain.

A lingering glance around the expanse of the floor confirmed that the floor was indeed empty and being the lock obsessor that I am, pulled the shutters down, tugged at the locks twice for good measure before turning around.

My partner, PD, did not stay to close today; he was picking somebody up; he left as soon as the lights were turned off. I soaked my way to the parking lot after the shutters were down. Five seconds later, I realized that my keys were inside.

Normally, I wouldn’t mind opening to get back but the rain made it so much more difficult.

The locks were off and I froze as I lifted the shutters.

There was a girl, a smaller, younger version of Meghna, sitting in there, sipping a cup of coffee. She looked a little pale and the coffee did her no good. There was a cold tingling up my spine as she shot a glance at me and at that moment, I realized that I was lingering on far too much and I did not get paid enough for this paranormal shit.

Took to my heels and ran away without a destination in mind. I finally sat down by the beach and looked around; the rain was driving everybody indoors.

There was a jingle to the left and I saw my keys, on the sand, next to me.

There was a familiar tingle as I heard the words,

“The coffee has gone stale hasn’t it?”

Happy Friday the 13th Y’all