On the other side of the approaching stop light was the ritzy neighborhood. A wall kept it from looking too open. The entrance was barred by a gate and a man that sat in a booth, with someone always there. A lot of her friends from college wanted to move into that neighborhood. The houses were always large and well kept, with immaculate lawns. She couldn’t even imagine what the HOA fees were for the area. Then again, the houses were more than she could dream to afford, and they rarely ever seemed to be up for sale.
Someone in her family used to live there, but it was an aunt that she only had contact with when she was a child, and only with her parents hoping to get something from them. She never fit in with that side of her family, she felt. They always seemed to be putting on a facade to stay in everyone’s good graces. Once the party came to an end and they were all cleaning up, the gossiping would start. Someone would leak something about an affair, lost money, a druggie family member, or any number of things. Even a simple rumor, if seemingly true enough, could ruin a person in that part of society.
And Dawn wanted nothing to do with it. A stained reputation was hard enough to deal with in the lower parts of society, she couldn’t imagine losing everything because of one. But she never argued with her friends; she just let them learn. Maybe that was part of her vice.
She pressed the button to cross the crosswalk at the light and glanced around the intersection. A couple of cars sat in the turn lane as another lone car pulled up to the light. Her gaze shifted to it and she felt a chill down her spine.
A black sports car.
The man leaned over slightly, a dark hood obscuring the side of his face. A green eye peered out at her. She felt a sudden jolt of familiarity, but before she could even consider why, she turned and headed back down the way she came. She didn’t want to wait and see who it was, or why she felt like she knew them. She just wanted to get home.
But they had followed her the entire way…
Another shudder ran down her spine and she sped up her pace; there were several smaller streets she could use to get home. The current path she jogged hadn’t been her original path, but as the crime grew in the city, she decided taking the main road would be safer. There were more people, it was harder for her to go unnoticed, and if she screamed for help, someone was more likely to hear. But now she was questioning that decision.
Tires squealed behind her. A car horn blared, breaking up the consistent hum of traffic in the city. She turned, slowing down to glance over the scene. The black car drifted through the last part of the intersection in what Dawn could only assume to be a u-turn. It sped down the opposite side of the street, the driver keeping his attention on her as he did so.
Her heart skipped a beat. No matter what she tried to tell her mind, it insisted she was being followed. That person had their sight on her, for whatever reason. Maybe they were trying to find out where she lived. The only redeeming thought to that was that her apartment was gated. Once she got home and got in, he wouldn’t be able to follow her. She could call the cops from the safety of the gate and have them pick him up before he found some way in.
She took a deep breath, trying to steady herself, before picking up her pace again. She pushed her jog into a slow run and continued down the street. Ahead, the black car pulled another u-turn, heading back in her direction. She turned down a side street, turning her jog into a near run. If she could lose him in the back streets, through a small neighborhood, she would have a chance.
She silently cursed herself for leaving her usual items at home; even her water bottle. The most she could do was call for help and hope for the best.
She went to pull her phone out of her pocket. The sound of a revving engine sped passed her, followed by a gust of air. Tires squealed on pavement. The car spun into a near 180 before coming to a stop in front of her. The soles of her shoes skidded along the uneven pavement and she fell backward, one of her earphones falling out of her ear and bouncing on the blacktop. Pain shot up her arms from the palms of her hand as she caught herself and she cringed. Her mind went blank.
The car remained still, the engine humming in an idle.
She stared up at it, her breath catching despite the pounding in her chest, waiting for something to happen. But nothing did. She slowly got to her feet, not bothering to look for her earbud. She could replace it later. Right now, she was trying to process the situation to see if she needed to run or if she was safe. Her hand went to her pocket. She felt the edges of the phone pushing against the tight fabric of her pants.
The car door opened. The driver stepped out, wearing faded black jeans and a baggy black hoodie. They looked over the hood of their car at her. Instead of meeting their green eyes, she saw a black mask with LEDs that drew X’s for eyes and what looked like a stitched mouth. Your_Lying_Vows.
Her heart stopped. Her jaw dropped. She felt the breath catch in her throat as her mind jumped to the conclusion.
Figuring out their real identity became the last thing on her mind. Instead, it screamed danger.
Her feet pushed off from the ground and she turned, running at a full sprint toward the main street again. He ran around the hood of the car and followed after her. She let out a scream as she approached the main street. Her mind focused on her escape, plotting out her route and preparing to scream again. As she turned onto the main street, she passed a glance over her shoulder and came to a halt. Her mind went blank. The car remained just down the street but the man seemed to have disappeared.
Her mind urged her to go, flashing scenarios of him coming out of the shadows or appearing behind her. She ran. She headed straight for home and only turned when the light in front of her was red instead of green. The last thing she wanted was to stop; even if she wasn’t directly heading home, she feared the person in the black car would find her. As long as she kept moving, she would be safe.
She crossed the street when she didn’t see any cars coming and got to the other side, slipping down a side street again and heading back toward her apartment. The longer she went, with a series of glances over her shoulder to ensure no one followed her, the more her mind relaxed. She felt her muscles beginning to ache and her lungs beginning to burn from the lack of adrenaline. It didn’t feel like she had run any further distances or any harder than she normally did, but she was sure she pushed herself harder than normal when the man cut of her off. Or woman. She couldn’t really say for certain and that unnerved her more.