I huddle deep into my coat, embracing the warmth with gratitude. The street lights are high above me, guiding me to my path to the train station. My mom would freak if she saw me without my pepper spray and OK, I was no tai-chi expert but who, in their right minds, would want to attack me?
Well, I guess it's the question of who, in their wrong minds, would want to attack me. I shiver as I look around, staring at each car obscenely and checking both sides of the road. There's nobody behind me. Or in front of me.
The only company I have is a dude on the opposite side of the road- some twenty feet away, huddling into some murky brown coat. He's wearing a black beanie and he keeps scuffing the ground with his feet.
I don't feel threatened by him. To me, he was just a scavenger on his usual round of touring the streets for uneaten food. In trash cans, the sidewalk, wherever.
Normally I would cross over and shove a few dollars into his hand, but that is in broad daylight and when there are hundreds of people milling around me, going about their business. Now I was alone and the watch on my wrist fast approaching one AM, I didn't fancy my chances of being mugged.
A slight wind whistles down the street, and I get buffeted by it- the wind carrying me for a couple of strides. Then it dies down and I wrinkle my nose, wishing I hadn't left my cellphone by it's charger.
Mom was going to be so mad. She didn't even know where I was. I was meant to be a responsible, young adult- OK, adolescent about to hit the big 1-8 and here I was giving mom the incentive to ground me for a week. I was royally screwed, basically.
The moon is hidden by the clouds today, which is a shame but I don't let it bother me. There was no point hyping it out just because I couldn't see the moon. The sidewalk looks a bit foreboding and eerie but what did I expect? Rose petals and leprechauns?
Hmph, not bloody likely.
The dude across me, who've I been keeping tabs on, and seemed to be matching my hurried pace with ease suddenly stops. Of course I continue, though for some reason I feel worried. Why would a scavenger be wasting his low-fuelled energy keeping walkabouts with me? Didn't he have some food to find somewhere?
Maybe I'm just being unreasonable. Maybe he just wanted to take in the brisk, cool air that otherwise is polluted with car fumes? And maybe I was his pace-maker or something?
Something feels a bit wrong here. I slow my steps and then melt into the shadows of a house as I watch what the scavenger is doing now.
He is currently checking both ways of the road to see in any cars were coming. As if he planned to cross the road. But why would he do THAT? I mean it was on the other side where they had all the fast food drive throughs. And most of the trash cans. All that was here was some big, old posh houses that were really out of place in the 21st century world.
Florence Nightingale would have rocked these houses out. Or even The Beatles, which would make more sense. My dad was real big into those kind of stuff. British boybands. Whoo! Way to go dad.
The dude crosses the road and I shrink back even further. Now he was glancing around as if he'd lost something and I can almost see the impatience and frustration radiating from him.
As he curses long lines in intangible words I grab the opportunity to study this bad-mouthed scavenger even more closely. The thing is. He didn't look like one. Maybe he wanted to look like one but the costume department got his number mixed up with a burglar costume or something.
The black beanie looked brand new, no ruffles, no creases, no nothing. His murky brown coat wasn't the excrement I first thought it was but dyed that way. Deliberately.
Then I catch sight of his hands. He was wearing black cotton gloves and inside of them, he had a freaking knife! And now I know I wasn't imagining it cos I recognized the make of the knife - it was one of those exclusive brands that only dodgy little corner shops sold illegally or something. Imported from some far and distant country.
And that particular knife? That knife was sold ONLY at Kenky's, a weedy little corner shop only two minutes away from my house. And my brother wanted one of those knives ever so badly but my mom, being a mom, put her foot down. Or her organizer down. And sent him up to his room so fast I'd be surprised if there wasn't a boot mark shape on his buttocks. Immature little brothers, these days.
The thing now that really scared me was that- as far as I was aware- Kenky's was a one-man's business with a sleazy man as it's sole worker and I was HUNDRED PERCENT confident that no other branches existed.
And my home was twenty miles away. And he was HERE. The coincidences piling up striked me more than odd. It struck me as uh-oh. I think I'm being stalked.
Not a nice realization to come to when your all by your self, just having exited some girl's eighteenth rave at a club, trying to escape the crushing masses of heaving bodies but only to counter a knife wielding maniac.
That was my cue to run. As they say, when it comes down to it, it's fight or flight. And since I recall saying somewhere earlier that I was no tai-chi expert, I had no choice BUT to run. I didn't win the eighth grade cross country for nothing you know.
But all that succeeded was informing this crazed paedophile where I was. But I was prepared for that.
I run with reinforced vigour and practically fly down the sidewalk, listening to the thuds of my feet with increased anxiety. It has always been drilled into me. Never look back to see who you're leaving in the dust. I mean if I was tired then sure I would check if he was gaining on me, but I've barely started.
I just need to concentrate. Whoa, haven't I had a run in a long while. It seemed alien to me, but a familiar alien I had begun to forget but now was right there in front of me. In all it's detailed glory.
But I didn't get far.