"Look I've already told you once, get back inline!" Growled the keeper of lines, for the tenth time that year.
"Okay. Okay. I heard you!" The Count looked around at the others who all lined up so patiently. None of them understood, it was clearly written all over their faces. Faces that he hardly recognised, as they seemed to move up in the queue so quickly with their big smiles.
These days he didn't even bother speaking to them to try and form a friendship, as they were gone so quickly. Some even looked liked they'd been in the queue a few times now.
It was so long since the Count had been right at the front of the queue, so he often had to remind himself as to, what he was actually queuing for. At first it had been for a better life, but now he was finding it hard to even remember his old one. For it was a lie, that time stands still. In his experience, it had actually stopped dead!
Very occasionally the Count would bump into one of his old friends. They would dream together of a new life. Deep down they knew though, that as every day passed, the likelihood of that ever happening was getting slimmer and slimmer.
They often discussed just leaving the queue all together, but they knew that was just queue madness and that their time would come in the end, for it just had to! Not only that, they didn't know where else they could go, as they'd only ever queued before.
It was on one of these occasions that they saw a very tired man. He was very out of breath, just sprinting up the length of the queue. Intrigued as to how he could do this, they pulled him aside.
"Excuse me, have you got a minute?" The Count asked on behalf of his friends.
"Well no, not really. I'm already a few days late." He panted breathlessly and he was gone, just as quickly as they had spotted him. They both couldn't believe how completely exhausted he looked and actually felt very sorry for him. Shocked that even in his exhaustion, he still smiled.
Before they knew what had happened the Keeper of Lines was standing next to them. "You must not stop the natural progression of the queue. If you do this again, I will report you!" He was very dominating and his presence made them shake slightly in fear.
As he said this, another runner was running up the length of the queue. His heavy breathing was deafening to all he passed on his way to the front.
After the Keeper of Lines had taken back up his regular standing place, the Count turned to Frank, as he preferred to be called these days. "Report us? Who to?" he frowned.
Scratching his head, Frank mumbled, "I've never even seen anyone else apart from people in the queue and the Keeper of Lines. Beats me as to whom he'd complain to!"
A smile curled around the Count's lips. "Are you thinking, what I'm thinking?" and he laughed.
"Hey, let's do it. If nothing else it would alleviate our boredom."
The duo stood in wait for an innocent victim. Luck was on their side, as before long a man started to jog up the length of the queue towards them. "I'll do it!" Offered the Count licking his lips in anticipation.
"Hi I need to speak to you urgently." The Count stood over him, making it impossible for the victim to pass him as he blocked his view. It felt good to be up to tricks again, it had been so very long.
At first there was a look of recognizable fear in the jogger's eyes. Almost as if a fear had been long born into all of his memories. To afraid to speak, after a long gulp he nodded, but the fear was still very visible for them to see.
The moment that he spotted Frank out of the corner of his eye was quite comical really. At first he looked petrified, then a look of confusion seemed to cross his face as he took a double look to make sure he was seeing correctly.
If the count hadn't been in such a hurry, he would have asked the jogger what he was so scared of. He knew he wasn't good looking, but the Count also knew that he was most certainly not plain ugly.
Even though memories were short on the ground these days, he could distinctively remember quite a few women fall at his feet, after just one kiss from him. Frank had always said that something similar had happened to him. People just looked at him and fell to the ground.
"How come the Keeper of Lines let's you jog up the queue, when everyone else has to stand around waiting?"
"Who?" the jogger asked, confused as to who they were speaking of.
"Him!" The count pointed in the Keeper of Lines direction, even more confused now.
The jogger shocked both the Count and Frank as he started to laugh. "Oh you mean him. Sorry I didn't know his name, whenever he sees me he just says the same thing."
"He does?" Now the Count was even more confused.
Again the jogger started to laugh. Like he had been reminded of an old joke. You know the kind, the kind that however old it is, just doesn't matter. Every time you hear it, you still have to laugh?
"Yeah, he says 'Oh no! Not you again?' and I just wave as I jog past him again."
Now the Count and Frank were angry. They couldn't understand as to why this man was treated so differently to them. Surely what was good for the gander was also good for the goose? Not that they had ever liked goose of course.
"Anyway it's been great talking, but I really have to rush now or I'll be really late. Which, previous experience has always told me isn't a very good idea. There is nothing worse than complications at the other end." And just as quickly as the jogger had appeared, he was off jogging down the queue again.
Frank and the Count watched on and just as he had said it would happen, the Line Keeper waved his arms in the air, "Oh no! Not you again John Smith?"
As they were trying to make sense of what they had heard and witnessed, the jogger, John Smith idly changed directions and walked past them in the opposite direction towards the end of the queue.
"What happened? How come you're walking back again?" asked Frank as by now the Count was speechless.
Looking very forlorn and depressed John Smith just muttered as he walked past. "I was too late."
As they watched John Smith disappear from view, they hadn't noticed the Keeper of Lines approach them until he spoke, making them both jump.
"You two again. I should have guessed who was responsible. Do you both realise that you have upset a lot of people today? There is just no excuse for this and believe me, you wont get away with it either. I told you earlier what would happen if you broke the natural progression of the queue. Come with me now!" He bellowed.
As they passed everyone in the queue they stared at the trio in confusion, as they walked away from the queue. The Keeper of Lines very obviously angry, but the two men behind them had great big smiles on their faces. They grinned from ear to ear chuckling to themselves.
They were far away from the queue, when they approached a big door. It creaked magically open on its own as they approached it. The brightness hurt their eyes as Frank and the Count tried to focus on a large man standing at the far side of the room.
A large voice boomed across the room making the floor vibrate. "Come over here you two, now!"
Taking deep gulps and feeling ashamed of themselves for the first time, slowly they inched closer to the large man.
Still the light was so bright that they couldn't focus properly on the man, but they could see that he was robed in bright white, edged in sparkling gold. His head was almost completely concealed by his long white hair and beard.
There was a large scroll in his hands. "I am a very busy man. Just what is the meaning of all this?"
Feeling guilty now, the Count took a very deep gulp for courage before speaking. "I'm sorry Sir for having disrupted the natural progression of your queue. But we have been in the queue for so long now."
"And just what one of my queues have you been queuing in pray tell?"
Confused again, the Count had to ask, "What you mean there is more than one?" this was news to him.
Just then the Keeper of Lines walked forward. "Sir, they were in the Line of Life."
The Count and Frank felt tears sting their eyes. Frank finding his voice tried to explain further. We have been queuing for ever so long Sir and we are bored stiff just standing around doing nothing all the time for years and years.
"I see, "The scroll was unwound before them. "What are your full names?"
"Oh I see your problem now." The large man in white explained. "You only get to the front of the queue, if someone has a baby and uses your name for their baby. We don't have much call for your names I'm afraid.
He pulled on his long white beard for a moment before speaking. "I shouldn't really do this, but you could join a new queue; one more suitable for your names. But I must warn you; this is totally against all the laws. Usually you are offered one queue but under the circumstances I am willing to make an exception.
"There is a snag though."
Feeling excited at the prospect of joining the new queue, both Frankenstein's Monster and Count Dracula spoke at the same time. "Anything, we don't even care!"
"Oh well on your heads be it. Take them away!"
The Keeper of Lines escorted them from the bright white room.
He handed them a pair of trainers each.
"What are these for?" they both asked.
The Keeper of Lines laughed. "Trust me, you are going to need these."
Tying their laces was a strange experience and one that they hadn't ever remembered doing before and they still couldn't help but be curious as to why they needed them.
Wearing their new trainers, the Keeper of Lines escorted them to their new queue with a huge smile upon his face. "Welcome to the queue of 'Horror Stories and Nightmares' now, start running as fast as you can to the front of the queue because you are already late!"
As they approached the queue they were dragged mercilessly to the front. Others ran by their sides, screaming "No! Please don't make me go again!" others just screamed and screamed.
This queue had extra Keepers of the Line, as they dragged the people queuing at the end by the scruff of the ear back to the front.
Count Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster looked at each other and screamed…
Both having learnt that it doesn't pay to be impatient and that just because one queue moves faster than the next, doesn't actually mean there is anything better there waiting for you at The End.
© Janette Oakman