Paranoia

By , winnipeg, Canada
The bright lights brought comfort mixed with warmth in the school hallway. I pulled my thin jacket closer to me bracing for the autumn night. The school door closed behind me with a soft pat. It was barely seven P.M but it was already black outside. It was stupid how the track meet ended so late, but it was a long drive back and I felt bad for the driver, being stuck with immature kids for hours isn`t pleasant. Florescent lights shone down on the almost empty parking lot casting it with a ghostly glow. My steps made soft hushed sounds as I made my way across the space. I had exited from the side doors to cover more ground. I looked over my shoulder, and hurried my pace. The ecstasy of being in danger and the excitement made my body slightly quiver. It isn’t a long walk to my house but right now it felt like forever. I turn a sharp right when I get to the parking lot entrance.
It was cold tonight. I turned my head and watched the school’s backyard move with me. Everything was a foggy blanket in the gated field so I couldn`t identify anything but dark shapes. When I got close to the end of the chain-link fence I heard a sound. Footsteps, so small it could’ve been thought of as nothing, they weren’t mine.
I picked up my speed and started jogging. Fright had made itself heard in my mind digging itself down to terror. Houses passed in a blur even though I was moving slow. They started to decrease and soon they weren’t even there except apartment blocks, convenience stores and abandoned buildings. A loud clang came out of nowhere and my arms jerked into a defensive shield but nothing jumped out at me. I turned and saw two trashcans tumbling in the murky distance with no one around them so that they could’ve been pushed over. I started getting more paranoid.
Where am I? I should have phoned my parents to pick me up, why was I so stupid? I heard a noise but I still kept moving. I shuffled faster and turned another street; the noise was louder, like water slapping concrete. What should I do? Don’t freak out I instructed myself mentally, that’s only going to make it easier for them.
I needed a weapon, fast or else I’ll be at the mercy of whomever and whatever was behind me. My hand sunk down deeply into my purse investigating its contents, looking for a sturdy object. My hand gripped the spine of my weathered science book. Strong and heavy but small enough for me to rip it out the bag, but fast enough to use in a sudden attack. I kept walking with one hand in my purse. Fear trickles it’s deadly feather down my body. The sound was gone, I couldn’t hear anything anymore. I slowly and unsteadily turned. Nothing, was I making it up? Had my imagination run that far? I tried not to think about it and focused on getting out of here. I turned forward trying to find my quick steps that had eluded me when I turned around, but as it turned out I wasn’t fast enough. Arms that closely resembled steel wrapped around my waist like cords. When I had shrieked with surprise, an ice cold hand suddenly appeared and groped my mouth. I tried to kick the intruder but my attempts were pointless, any chances of using my text book had gone out the window. I was still struggling when my attacker laughed, a high cheery noise. “Aria stop, it’s just me!” My friend said with genuine happiness.
“Becca! What the heck, what did you do that for? Both of us could have gotten seriously hurt!"I fume, why couldn`t she understand anything I thought glaring at her. "Calm down, you know Aria you take life way too seriously, I was just trying to have a little fun before we`re both stuck at home, waiting for the next morning alarm to wake us into a new day. And it`s your fault for being so scared, you could have waited for me when we got off the bus instead of stomping away." She said with a whimsical note in her voice then shrugged and started walking straight. I was extremely angry and paranoid, she had freaked me out so much and she didn`t even notice how I was feeling. Ugh! She`s so irritating! Becca was always like that, a happy prankster that loved sneaking up on people (me) and scaring them (still me) senseless. She’s also my best friend.
I sighed and walked beside her. Now that she was here on the street with me it didn`t seem that spooky anymore but I still felt like we were being watched. We walked in silence for a while. She was right about one thing though, I was too serious and maybe boring and also if I waited for her when we got back from the track meet we wouldn`t be this mess. If you just looked at me the first word you would think of was average, with my average mousy brown hair, plain brown eyes, and small and simple features. I was common and basic and invisible to everyone around me. Except for my name though, it wasn`t a name you came across often, which I was secretly happy about apart from my fake complaints of it being to elaborate and not me. Becca on the other hand was the opposite. Spunky and eccentric, way to cool to be hanging around me but some reason she stayed by my side since grade two, when she apologized for sticking gum in my hair. She started being extra nice to me after that episode only to get her hands on two cupcakes that were supplied by my mother on my birthday or holidays. Though to both our surprise we grew on each other and became best friends. I know it still shocks me sometimes to think about it. I watched as Becca tossed a strand of dyed red hair over her shoulder. I sighed. "You shouldn't have dyed your hair that colour, it's like a neon sign shouting for strangers on the street to come and attack us"
Becca took a minute to digest what I said and then said "Are you still paranoid? Nothing’s going to happen to us, and anyways you said you loved my hair when I showed it to you."
“I had to say that," through grounded teeth, "It's in my job description." Becca laughed. "So is it in my job description to say that your hair is too mousy and you're way too smart for me because if it is, I'm now thinking about quitting."
I was about to snap back when I froze. A man dressed all in black was coming quickly towards us. Becca stopped and looked at me questioningly. She then looked at the man storming closer to us. She bent her head close to mine and put her lips at my ear and whispered "Aria, its okay just keep moving. He probably has to get home really fast, and speaking of home we're almost there." My body was shaking and I knew if I used my voice it would quiver into getting me more mocked by the red headed princess over here, so I only let myself nod. I also knew that home wasn`t this guys first intention but I kept that to myself. He was almost upon us when I quickened my pace and pulled Becca along with me. Maybe I was a coward and wimp for not believing Becca but I wouldn`t forgive myself if I was right. Turns out I was wrong when the man passed us without even a second glance but when I had stared at his face when he passed us I had a small shock of familiarity. I sighed a breath of relief and felt more comfortable now that he was gone, nothing was going to happen, Becca was right, I worried too much. "Come on we're almost home." I said before Becca could say anything.
We were on our street and were passing one last dark alley when Becca went limp. I grabbed her before she went down and she started moaning. "Becca we’re just a few houses down, when we're at my house you could sleep all you want." I said laughing. "Aria, run!" She said in a raspy and tired voice. “What?” I said with my voice still wavering on laughter. As my hand went to steady her side I felt a hot sticky hole. What? I thought. I pulled my hand back but I still kept Becca upright, I looked down with curiosity. My hand was scarlet with blood.
"Stabbed?" I said stupidly but I couldn`t stop myself, my brain was numb. Scream you idiot, a inner voice, a inner voice screeched at me. I was going to follow the voices orders but then I felt my body being tossed back like a rag doll into the alley. I tried to scream again but a masculine hand caught the noise before it could be set free. I kicked and scratched my intruder but I was no match for him. With one hand he gripped my hair and pulled it backwards to crack my head against the brick wall. I crumbled to the ground, a mess of scattered and sore limbs. Blood tickled down the side of my head and it throbbed with a migraine but I was still able to look at the entrance to the alley where Becca’s limp body was being pulled into the black pathway beside me by a man. I recognized him immediately. The man that passed us, the one dressed all in black who wouldn’t give us the time a day but that wasn`t just it. My flashback happed quickly like it was happening right now and this reality was a dream.
I sat on the couch sipping hot chocolate trying to watch the news while Becca threw marshmallows at me from the other coach laughing about how I didn`t drink coffee" Oh come on Arie, losers and babies only drink hot chocolate. Anyways coffee is so much better." Becca said as she worshipingly breathed in the aroma of her cup of coffee in my favourite purple mug that she stole. "First coffee is a drug and it`s addictive and I don't want it in my system, not like you anyways. And secondly, it stunts growth and I want to grow a few inches so I don`t have to look at everybody`s chins for the rest of my life." I said orderly. She let out a laugh then said "Why are you watching the news, isn't that for old people?” "No," I sighed "It's for everyone." I rolled my head in her direction and gave her a look. That only cracked her up more. I turned back to the T.V and took a sip from my mug. "So dress warm for a couple of days, it's going to be a cold one. Back to you Marge." The young weatherman chirped on the television and then he disappeared with a new woman in his place on the screen. "Thanks Andrew.” She said with a forced smile and started rattling off about politics. "Wow, you know Aria you were right, this really changed my way of looking at things. It's like a new door has opened in front of me that leads to a world of possibilities." She said sarcastically but with a smile on her face. "I'll give the remote to you in five minutes if you just shut up and then you can watch whatever you like, ok?" I grumbled. Then I turned back to the screen just as they flashed a picture of a middle-aged man. It was hand drawn but it looked like it was taken by a black and white camera. It was that good. The artist was able to capture every wrinkle and he even put a small smirk on the face giving it an evil look. The man looked normal, it was a face of a man you`ll pass by and not even think twice about. "-detected of three murders last night so far and police are trying everything to get him back. The suspect`s motivation for the homicides are unclear but police believe they were out of rage after being thrown out at the bar at 1:30 a.m. this morning and the suspect is derange. If you see a middle aged man dressed all in black that looks closely like the man on the screen, stay as far away from him and phone the police. He's extremely dangerous and-."I missed the rest of the announcement because I turned my head from the T.V at the same time Becca did. "Can I have the remote now? This is so boring and this definitely won’t help us on our math test in the morning. I think Mr. Hubert scheduled that test right at the beginning of school because he knew we both had track all day. I was so hoping to catch a break this time." I laughed. "Becca we all know you only joined to skip school." "Yeah, well-"
Becca was going to say something else when my memory burst, sending me rattling back to reality. I lay there unmoving, my emotions were put on pause, and I couldn’t hear or feel anything as I gaped at Becca’s blank eyes staring blindly into mine laying beside me on the cold pavement. I saw that she was stabbed harshly in the side when we passed the alley, making her collapse, and then stabbed repeatedly in the heart, killing her. The man in black must have been waiting there all along after taking a quick shortcut after passing us. His whole plan came to me step by step as I waited in the black blood of my companion. He probably was the one following me at the beginning, and during the time Becca snuck up on me. He could have decided to look unsuspicious by not attacking from behind but by passing us without any attention drawn towards two girls walking in a deserted street by themselves, and then finding a way to the back alley so he could sneak up on us. It was a sketchy and sloppy story (why would he kill us so close to the street? Why kill us at all?), but in my dazed head it seemed to fit, and when he fastened his cold black eyes onto my body I knew those were the eyes of my stalker. He pulled out his knife, stained with blood and placed it at my bare throat. I yearned to grab Becca’s sickly hand and keep it close to my heart as the last strike came through, but I didn’t dare move. Instead I lay in the dark abyss of crimson bleeding heavily from various unidentified wounds as the crooked line cascaded permanently across my soon to be distorted throat, ending my paranoid being.
I was right





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