Porter Haskins sauntered down the lonely street. It was approaching midnight, the moon was high in the dark sky and the stars were bright, lighting up the whole sky. Porter’s thoughts easily wondered, already dreaming of the amazing night sleep he was about to get. His feet carried him in the right direction, already knowing the route to his destination by heart. He loved it when it was quiet like this with only one or two other people walking about. When he didn’t have work, this is what he would be doing for hours, just walking in the dark by his lonesome. He found it relaxing, it was a nice way to get rid of stress and get some exercise.
Porter stopped at the lights and pressed the button to cross. Normally he wouldn’t wait for the light to turn red, there were barely any cars out at this time anyway, but this time he felt the need to. He pretended to look both ways down the street, peeking behind himself out of his peripheral vision instead. A man was following behind him, far enough away that Porter couldn’t hear his footsteps. He looked suspicious, he wore a black hoodie with the hood pulled over his face so Porter couldn’t see any of his facial features.
The light signalled for him to cross. He walked with the same speed, careful not to show any sign of having seen the strange man behind him. If he ran, the guy would certainly chase him. If he continued walking back to his house, he would know where Porter lives. He didn’t like either of those options, instead he turned left where he was meant to turn right. He headed towards the shops where he would be safer, he didn’t have any food at home anyway, this would save him from going shopping tomorrow.
Once he was walking around in the isles of the shopping centre, the blindingly bright lights seemed heavenly. Who knows what could have happened if he had stayed out there, he had heard the stories of all the resent incidents that happened on the streets late at night, none of which had good endings. His roommate had told him countless times not to walk around at night, he had even offered to pick Porter up from work, the threat just never felt real to him until now.
Porter grabbed a basket and started loading it with a few days’ worth of groceries while carefully watching the guy loitering on the other side of the street. The man made eye contact, his brown eyes piercing through Porter’s. There was something lonely about that shade of brown, as if he had lost something. He couldn’t help wondering what that could be, maybe he was homeless.
Porter broke eye contact to take something of the shelf. He turned his gaze towards the man again, only to find that he was gone. He breathed out, glad that the threat was gone and paid for his food.
With haste, Porter made his way back to his house. The five minute trip felt ten times longer in his mind, he slyly looked back every few seconds to make sure he wasn’t being followed.
He was starting to get annoyed; the stalker had interrupted his peaceful walk.
His front door was in sight. He placed a foot on the first step, relieved to finally be home. Before he could take his next step, he felt a tap on his leg. He looked at the ground. Siting there, looking all cute and fluffy, was the stray dog that hung around his neighbourhood. He had made the mistake of feeding him the first time he saw him and now the dog loved him.
He had nicknamed him carrot because of his orange fur. He wasn’t quite sure what his breed was, but he reminded him of a dingo. Porter pulled the roast chicken he had just bought out of the shopping bag and gave the dog a leg. He barked as if to say thank you then ran off with it. Porter climbed the steps, opened the door and went inside, thinking about how weird that dog was. He chucked the groceries into the fridge, bag and all, took off his jacket and swiftly fell onto the couch, instantly asleep.
“Porter, you lazy seal.” Porter’s roommate, Joel, kicked him on the leg. He decided not to comment on his comparison to a seal and opened his eyes.
“What?!” he hit him back.
“You got work in 5 minutes.” Joel laughed. He was an idiot.
“Dude! Why didn’t you tell me?” he shot up and grabbed his jacket. He didn’t bother changing since he was still in his work clothes. He sprayed a crap load of deodorant under his arms, grabbed his bag and ran out of the door.
He hated when Joel did this, this was the third time this week. He knew from experience that if he bolted, he could make it with minutes to spare.
He narrowly avoided people as he ran. Old hotel buildings and fast food restaurants flashed past him in a blur. By the time he got there, he was drenched in sweat.
“Just in time, Haskins.” His boss smirked manically as he turned the open sign on. He was so close to firing Porter, it wasn’t funny.
He quickly dropped his bag in the break room and ran to the front counter. He was alone today, apart from his boss who just sat in his office watching YouTube all day. Saturday’s were the busiest day of the week, so it was going to be a hard one.
While serving a customer, he saw a dark figure out of the corner of his eye. He looked to the other side of the road to see the strange man from last night, he was sure of it. But within seconds of seeing him, he was gone. What was his fascination with Porter?