It was more of an undesired coincidence than a strange phenomenon. That was my first thought when I realised the journalist approaching my door was Kai Diamonde, a light-fingered former acquaintance I had last seen when he had been expelled from my Classics course at Uni four years earlier. As if suddenly much of my optimism had been pilfered I drew myself further back from the front window and instinctively tightened the fitbit around my wrist. Diamonde strode confidently up the path to my door in faded jeans that appeared desperately in need of a belt to address the subsidence at the hips and a grey Che Guevara T-shirt that looked out of kilter with conservative Maidstone.
‘Is that Strange Phenomena UK?’ I enquired through the door in response to two crisp taps upon it. I was stalling for time to see if there was anything I needed to bolt to the floor before opening up.
‘No,’ he replied. ‘It’s its sister mag Everyday Occurence UK, between us we’ve cornered the market. Actually, Tom, old horse, it’s me, your old buddy at the trough, Kai. I work for Strange Phenomena UK.’
‘Oh, just give me a bit of time to put the hamster in his cage before I open the door.’
‘I’ve never heard it called that before!’
I groaned, audibly. My unwelcome visitor hadn’t appeared to have lost any of his cheeky demeanour that had set him apart from myself and my other acquaintances, well that and the twelve inch thick walls of the prison he landed himself behind for a deserved spell of confinement at the pleasure of Her Majesty. Having bought myself some time of the non punitive variety, I set about the task of quickly concealing my strange phenomenon under a loose floorboard in my lounge. I didn’t want to risk Diamonde obtaining this valuable item his employers were after for nothing as he had done with anything of mine he had coveted in the past.
He greeted the door’s opening with a mildly sardonic smile that I blanked. I had no desire to renew our past friendship so didn’t exchange pleasantries. I was only prepared to engage with him now as he was the gateway to the thousand pounds his employers were committed to pay if my strange phenomenon made it into their magazine. I was confident it would as it was a humdinger. I just needed to put to one side my justifiable prejudices against the reporter they’d sent. Maybe it was the sort of coincidental thing Strange Phenomena UK were renowned for?
‘How long have you been with Strange Phenomena UK?’ I asked.
‘Since before I knew you, old horse.’
‘Only, I never seen your name on any of the articles in the copy I read?’
‘Ah,’ Kai answered, flicking at his long blonde fringe at odds with the rest of his close cropped hair. ‘You’re making the mistake of thinking your story will appear in Strange Phenomena UK and you’ll get a grand. When I’m here because it probably won’t and you’ll instead get five thousand quid!’
IN PART TWO: TIME DOESN’T STAND STILL IN MAIDSTONE.