PseudoPod 300: The Step


The Step

by E.F. Benson


“Nice night, let’s walk,” said John. “Nothing like a walk when there’s liquid on board. Clears the brain for you and I must have a final powwow tonight, if you’re off to-morrow. There are some bits of things still to go through.”

Bill acquiesced. The cafes were all dosed, there was nothing very promising.

“Night life here ain’t a patch on Cairo,” he observed. “Everyone seems to go to bed here just about when we begin to get going. Not but what I haven’t enjoyed my stay with you. Capital good fellows at your dub and brandy to match.”

He stopped and ruefully scanned the quiet and emptiness of the street .

“Not a soul anywhere,” he said. “Shutters up, all gone to bed. Nothing for it but a powwow, I guess.”

They walked on in silence for a while. Then behind them, firm and distinct to John’s ears, there sprang up the sound of the footsteps, for which now he knew that he waited and listened. He wheeled round.

“What’s up?” asked Bill.

“Curious thing,” said John. “Night after night now, though not every night, when I walk home, 1 hear a step following me. 1 heard it then.”

Bill gave a vinous giggle.

“No such luck for me,” he said. “I like to hear a step following me about one of a morning. Something agreeable may come of it. Wish I could hear it. ”

They walked on, and again, clearer than before, John heard what was inaudible to the other. He told himself, as he often did now, that it was an echo. But it was odd that the echo only repeated the footfalls of one of them. As he recognized this, he felt for the first time, when he was fully awake, some sudden chill of fear. It was as if a cold hand closed for a moment on his heart, just pressing it softly, almost tenderly. But they were now close to his own gate, and presently it clanged behind them.

About the Author

E.F. Benson

Edward Frederic “E. F.” Benson (24 July 1867 – 29 February 1940) was an English novelist, biographer, memoirist, archaeologist and short story writer. (more…)

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About the Narrator

Frank Key

Frank Key is a British writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his self-published short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. Key co-founded the Malice Aforethought Press with Max Décharné and published the fiction of Ellis Sharp.

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