Walking in the Dark

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Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is never a good idea, she conceded.

Walking in the Dark

She could barely see him in the dark; due to the season, the sun set much earlier now. It was only six, and it was already twilight. At first she had thought he knew her, after all, there weren’t many people who went out after dark in the neighbourhood. That’s why she hadn’t run. When it became apparent that he was a stranger–an uncomfortably peculiar one–she wished she hadn’t said hello.

I have no idea what he’s thinking now, she realized. Would anything happen?

Or did he mean well?

After a few minutes of painful silence, broken only by the sound of his peculiar foot falls–pat pat pat, like he was walking barefoot–he said again: “Where are you going?”

She made an effort not to look at him. It was so hard to tell what anything looked like in this light. The few street lamps didn’t help either. Finally, she said: “It’s a partial secret. Sorry.”

“Partial?” he said. He had a deep, mellifluous voice. She almost wanted to trust him because of it. What she was seeing with her eyes did not match up with what she heard with her ears though. The stranger was tall and, judging by the way their clothing looked, was wearing all black. She couldn’t say anything about the colour choice seeing as her coat was a dark blue. But those foot falls. Pat pat pat.

It almost appeared as if he was skipping beside her. And yet . . . It didn’t. It was more like he was bobbing up and down. Is he crouching? How tall is this bastard?

“Yes,” she told him. “Because it’s obvious. IF I invite you to come along, that is.” That sounded weak to her, but at this point she was pulling things out of the air to survive.

The stranger didn’t miss a beat. “I suppose you won’t give me that, will you?”

“Not tonight. So sorry!” She kept her eyes on the road ahead of her.

“Perhaps another time, then,” he said softly. It grew brighter when they passed a street lamp. Despite how difficult it was for her, she fought the urge to look directly at him; she said nothing to him, even going as far as pretending that he no longer existed. It wasn’t till she had rounded the corner to a new street that she realized she was alone. He was watching her, though. There was an uncomfortable feeling racing up her back–a tickling itch that left her in a cold sweat. The urge to look for him returned, stronger this time.

Dammit! she scolded herself. You’re going to the grocery store! He isn’t real, you saw nothing.

To be honest, she had no idea. What she did have was the sense to call a cab.

That was the last time she would ever go out in the dark.

He would be there.

And he wouldn’t let her go a second time.

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