There were dozens of them, all walking in the same direction, all looking the same. They wore black and purple with flashes of gold and red and green. They swooshed as they went, swathes of material flapping in rhythm with their strides along the pavement.
They walked five and six deep, refusing to part for people coming the opposite way. Some managed to flatten themselves against walls or step off the pavement in time. Others were knocked to the ground and stepped over by many feet, some kicking out by accident or to be difficult.
We thought perhaps it was a fancy dress party at first, one where all the guests were sullen and debating gang violence. Then reports came from other cities that similar groups had been seen on the streets. These cloaked masses were appearing everywhere, all dressed the same. All walking in the same direction but miles apart.
Then someone suggested it might be a cult. But wouldn’t a cult try to gather in new members instead of bowling them over? There were no reports of the groups trying to gain more members of even hurt anyone, beyond those knocked over.
Nobody had a clue about where they went, so the police began following them. In every city it was the same. They went nowhere. They just stormed along pavements and walkways, as many abreast as they could manage. They never said anything either, not to each other or to anyone outside the groups. And they never seemed to need to eat or drink.
When it became obvious they were doing no damage, meant no harm and committed no crimes, the authorities lost interest. There was nothing they could do so they returned their resources to more usual things. Funny though, the streets did seem to be safer with these people walking them. It was as if they provided a deterrent by their simple presence.
They were like a charm in a strange way and we grew to not only like them but to depend on them being there. We felt safer knowing any minute a group of cloaked people might come round the corner. If we felt it so did those who might do harm to an ordinary people. Social media rallied round them and online groups and followings were massive.
Someone called them the Black Angel Appreciation Society and the name stuck. It was much better than any of the alternatives.