It was dark and the rain had been waiting all day for it to arrive to complete a blanket of misery over the town.
Barbara stood alone, also waiting, and waiting.
There was a sudden bustle, people leaving across the road, voices, car doors and an engine which faded as the building’s exit security light switched itself back off. Barbara was beyond the lights sensor and she’d also gone unnoticed from across the road. But she wasn’t unnoticed on her side of the road, bathed as she had been, however briefly and dimly, by the unexpected light.
Heads turned, dark eyes were fixed in her direction and legs now made steps towards her. In moments they were on her, one grabbed her tail, one ran to her side looking for vulnerability, Barbara could do nothing, she had no arms to fight back, no legs to run, she did the only thing she could and tried to squeeze back into her shell.
Her one stroke of luck was a lone stranger, a stranger whose poor time keeping put him in this exact spot at that moment. He couldn’t believe it at first, he bent down, peered through the darkness and straightened up in shock. He ran. No Barbara thought, no…
He opened the car door and at the flick of a switch the scene was made stark with Ford’s finest halogens. The light strobed as the stranger ran back to Barbara through the twin white beams. The attackers seemed unfazed, a mass of legs and armour, Barbara shut her eyes waiting for the end but then felt the strong grip on her shell as the stranger lifted her clear, shaking her gently and blowing through pursed lips until there were no legs grasping at her shell or pressing into her sides.
She couldn’t bear to look, and even when the stranger placed her down far away and safe she hid her eyes until the twin lights pulled away and with a throaty roar disappeared forever.
The stranger drove, music playing unnoticed as the rain was pushed from side to side on the curved glass in front of him.
“Where the hell did Holly get the name of Barbara for a snail?”
“Now every snail we see is Barbabra, two snails are Barbara and her baby sister…”
He smiled at that, the girl had an explanation for everything, any new element was straight into whatever story she was playing. A curve-ball and a daydreamer right enough.
“Still…” He sucked at his bottom lip, realising there was a beard under there needing trimming “…beasties attacking a snail? Do they do that?” he’d google it when he got home.
Google was no bloody help at all.