She had no idea who it was that followed her, that was after her, and she had no idea why. They could blend into a crowd and find her one day and she would never know… It sent a shiver down her spine to think about, which made her want to continue harder, to just get to the safety of her home. Her legs felt weak and her body begged her to take a rest.
She came to a stop near a park fence, leaning against it and taking a few deep breaths in an attempt to slow herself down. Her hope was that being off of the main street, whoever was following her wouldn’t find her. She didn’t know why they disappeared: perhaps they were afraid someone would come to her aid with the scream. But things here were silent. A few empty business buildings and the park, barely a sound from the main street just a block away. Despite knowing it was isolated, she still felt safer here.
She squatted down some and stared at the off-white cement. It looked scarred with divets and small pebbles poking out where something chipped it away at the crack. She ran her fingers over it, trying to give her mind a new sensation to focus on in hopes of easing her anxiety. A few pieces of loose gravel rubbed beneath her fingers. She pushed the tiny pieces from one end of the crevice to the other before straightening to her feet.
She twisted her body, pulling an arm across her chest to stretch before twisting the other way and stretching the other arm. Her body still ached from the exertion and the panic before, but she knew home wasn’t too far now and things were quiet. It didn’t sound like anyone was nearby, and it helped her to relax more.
She lifted a leg to stretch and then the other one. She was thankful that the only thing she lost was an earbud. But she pictured the person picking it up and keeping it like some sick token to remember her by. She shuddered, hoping it wasn’t a stalker and something she would have to continue to deal with. With one last inhale, she went to take a step and start her jog again. Something wrapped around her throat, firm and solid. It pulled her back. She felt something cold and solid slide up the back of her shirt. Her breath hitched.
“You always were an overconfident bitch,” a distorted voice said into her ear. She recognized it as a voice changer; there were some game streamers that used them as pranks on games or during community game nights.
“Who are you?” Dawn blurted before she could stop herself. Her hands wrapped around the arm that was around her neck and she tried to pull it away. Her nails dug in. She tried twisting and turning, the panic setting in again and speeding her heartrate up. She felt a pinch in her back. It dragged down, tearing into her skin. And then a warm liquid bubbled up. Her eyes widened and her breath caught.
Whoever it was, they didn’t have good intentions.
She realized the feeling came from a knife digging into her skin. The more she struggled to free herself from the stranger’s grasp, the more she felt the blade of the weapon dig in. She screamed; a high pitched yell for help erupting from her mouth. It echoed through the street, reverberating off of the nearby business buildings. The arm around her throat shifted so the person could cover her mouth with their hand.
She seized the moment, managing to push the arm away and run for it. The knife tore through the back of her shirt and the person grabbed for her. “Bitch!” they shouted through the voice distorter but she didn’t look back. She propelled herself forward, faster than she had previously. Her feet pounded against the pavement. The sound of her pursuer’s steps mixed with the pounding in her ears. Her back burned from the cuts, but it all just pushed her on further.
Against the dark of the night sky, she could see the top of her apartment building. A few lights from apartments illuminated, creating glowing spots along the building. Part of her brain wanted to relax, knowing the safety of home was just ahead, but the other part kept pushing her on. She knew if she didn’t get there fast enough, she would be in even more trouble.