The Man

“Alice, chill out, no one is following you,” Kaitlyn’s voice said reassuringly on the other line. “Just breathe.”

“But, he’s been driving behind me for the past five minutes. This is really creepy,” I countered, so sure that the hooded figure in the red minivan was following me.

“You watched another horror movie last night, didn’t you? Look, I’m coming over before you call the cops on a guy just trying to get home. I’ll meet you there.”

“Okay, I’ll be there in like two minutes.” I was glad she was on her way over. I didn’t want to be alone after some guy had been following me. I glanced in my rearview mirror, and did not see the minivan. I did a double take and still didn’t see him. He had just been there. This is so weird. I drove up my narrow street, looking at the ordinary houses, and at my friend’s perfectly manicured lawn. Kaitlyn’s parents spent hours outside perfecting the house, while she hid next door at mine. I pulled into the drive way and turned off the car.

“Knock, knock, gorgeous!”

“Oh my gosh, Kaitlyn! You scared the he** out of me!”

“Well, are you just going to sit there, or are we going to go inside?”

I climbed out of the car, the wind assaulting my hair. The winter air was cold on my skin as I rushed to the door.

“So after I got off of the phone with you, I realized the man wasn’t behind me anymore,” I proclaimed as we walked inside.

“See, I told you! You watch way too many movies Alice.”

“Ha, I guess so. It’s just he was behind me for a long time, and I couldn’t see his face, but I could see that he was wearing a tan trench coat, and a black hat. I swear I’ve seen someone dressed like him a lot lately. It’s creepy.”

“Hey you couldn’t see his face, so chances are the guy isn’t the guy you’ve been seeing. Trust me, I think you’re fine.”

I knew she was trying to calm me down, but I couldn’t shake the feeling. I could swear I’ve seen that person before at the movies, work even outside of school. I never saw the man’s face, but he’s always dressed the same. Kaitlyn’s right, it couldn’t be him. It’s just a coincidence.

Walking into my room, Kaitlyn exclaimed, “By the way, I’m spending the night.”

“Fine, but I’m going to sleep right now. I have work tomorrow.”

“Lame. Night!”

I lay in bed, slowly drifting to sleep. Tree branches rustled outside in the wind, and I could hear cars driving by. Then, I heard something that awoke me from my sleep. Something I didn’t want to face alone.

“Kaitlyn! KAITLYN! Wake up! Did you hear that?” I shouted in a whisper.

“Hear what? I was sleeping. Go back to sleep,” she replied with a yawn.

“There was a tap at the window!”

“Look, there’s nothing.” She sauntered to the window and yanked open the blinds. Nothing was there. “See you’re fine. Just go to sleep. You freak out too easily.”

Yeah. It was nothing. I had just imagined it. But I still was sure I had heard a tapping sound. I slowly fell asleep, pondering what it could have been.

“Wake up sleepy head! You’re going to be late.” Kaitlyn jabbed me with her finger, after what feels like five minutes of sleep.

“Cr**, what time is it?’ I slurred.

“One in the afternoon.”

“Dang! Why didn’t you wake me up?” I asked accusingly.

She replied wryly, “That is not my job.”

With an hour until I had to be at work, I took the fastest shower I could, and dressed equally as fast. By the time I was done, it was a quarter until two. Dang it, I didn’t think I slept that long. I ran outside to my car and sped to work.

“Right on time,” my boss said as I walk in to Andrews Steak House. The air smells like warm steak and rolls, and the room is dimly lit.

“Yep, I try,” I half smiled back.

“Someone’s requested you as their waitress. He must have had you before. It’s that man over there,” He said, pointing to a booth.

“I’ve never seen that man here before. He does look familiar though.”

“Well he asked for you. Go help him.”

As I walked slowly to the man, I kept thinking there was something about him. I just didn’t know what. He wore a tan trench coat and a black hat, tilted low, covering most of his face. The rest of the restaurant seemed to be at a standstill. I’ve seen this man before, I swear. But when?

“Hello, I’m Alice! I’ll be your waitress. What would you like to drink?”

“Oh, hello, Alice. What a lovely name. I’ll have water. I would also like to order my food now.”

“Oh, okay, go ahead.”

“I’ll have a steak, well done, with vegetables. Oh, and Alice? That shirt looks very good on you. Much better than the one you wore yesterday.”

“Ummm… Thank you… I’ll have that right out Sir…” I walked quickly to the kitchen and placed his order. I scanned the kitchen until I found my boss.

“Dave! This guy who asked for me is super creepy! I’ve never seen him before, and he commented on what I’m wearing, and what I was wearing yesterday.”

“Look, he’s probably just joking around. Don’t worry about it. Hey, maybe he’ll tip well,” Dave said with a wink.

“Ugh. Fine, but this is not cool.”

I grabbed a glass and filled it with water. Exiting the kitchen, I headed back to the man’s table. The man’s eyes stared at me the entire way.

“Here you go, Sir. Your steak will be out shortly.” Looking into my eyes, as if he could see my soul, he nodded. I practically ran back to the kitchen to get away from the intensity of his stare. The way he looked at me… his hungry eyes made me feel like the meal.”

“Order up, Alice,” the cook said, handing me the mysterious customer’s food. Why couldn’t we be busy today, so I wouldn’t have to focus entirely on him?

With food in hand, I pushed through the bright white kitchen door into my dimly lit source of terror. I approached the man, who was looking straight down at his water.

“Here you go, Sir, one steak, well done, with mixed vegetables. Would you like more water?”

“No, thank you, this looks absolutely mouthwatering,” he replied, but he wasn’t looking at his food, he was looking at me.

“Ha, yeah, best steak in town.” I turned and rushed to my safe haven, the kitchen. I had no idea what was with this guy? I tried pointlessly to tell myself I had imagined him looking at me, but was forced to acknowledge that I had not misinterpreted the scene- he was definitely looking at me.

“Alice! There’s another table waiting for you!” shouted my boss.

“Okay!” I walked with more confidence to the other table and took their orders. All the while, I could feel eyes on me, watching my every move. I dared a quick peek at the man. He was staring right at me. I quickly looked away and retreated to the kitchen for the other groups’ dinners.

I got them their drinks, and then I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I walked back to the man’s table.

“Did you enjoy your meal, Sir?”

“Yes, I did, may I have the check?”

“Of course.” I fished for the mini-folder in my apron and handed it over to him. He merely glanced at it, like it didn’t matter, and threw two bills in.

“Keep the change.”

“Thank you Sir, have a nice day.”

“You too. Oh, and I hope you enjoyed your sleepover last night.” Before I could react, he was gone, walking out of the restaurant with sudden purpose. Standing, open mouthed, rooted in place, his parting words held my attention. He could not have known that unless he had been following me the day before. Unless he saw my friend meet me at my car and go into my house. He had been following me the day before.

The remainder of the day dragged on slowly, as these thoughts filled my mind. Finally, at eight, I drove home, only to find no one there. I walked into the living room and threw my things on the counter. As I turned around, I caught movement in my vision. Turning towards the window, I screamed. Someone was staring at me.

As if I had been shocked, I jumped and grabbed my keys and phone, and sprinted outside to my car, threw it into gear and sped down the road, trying to avoid contact with the stranger at the window. I pressed two on my speed dial, praying my mom would answer.

“Hello?”

“MOM! Mom! Someone was just looking at me through the window. I’m driving to Dads.” I glanced at my rear view mirror and saw the man was now following me. “Mom, he’s right behind me. Mom, what do I do?” I looked back in the mirror, and the man was gone. Checking on either side of me, I realize no one was there.

“Wait, he’s gone.”

“Honey, this is a bad joke. I’m on my way home. Just go to your Dads.”

“But mom, I wasn’t-“ The line went dead. Of course, she didn’t believe me. At least the man didn’t know where my Dad lives, I hoped. I drove to my Dads, keeping a constant eye in the rearview mirror.

I arrived at my Dad’s and unlocked the door. “Dad, it’s Alice, are you home?” There was no reply. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. I walked into the living room, and turned on the huge TV, and tried to find a random romance movie.

“Scraaaaaaaatch”

My heart skipped a beat, then I sighed. That must be the cat. Dad probably left him locked in his room. I walked to my dad’s room and opened the door. His cat flew out of the room like he owned the place.

I walked back to the front room and stopped. The door was open. I was certain I had closed it.

In a state of panic, I ran to grab my keys from my purse, but weren’t there. I tried to find my phone, but it two was gone. My heart began racing, my breath quickened. Suddenly, I heard the front door slam. I sprinted to my dad’s closet.

Hiding among my dad’s clothes, my heart beats like a drum. My breath came in jagged, short intakes.

“Creaaaaak,” The front door opened slowly. I heard someone’s footsteps in the house. Step. Step. Step. Louder and louder.

“Alice?” my father’s voice called from the hallway.

“Oh, Dad! I’m in your room!” I exclaimed, relief flooding my voice, as I stepped out of his closet. He opened the door to his room quickly.

“Alice what that he**-“ His voice stopped, as he slumped over and collapsed to the floor.

“DAD!” and then, I saw him. My Dad’s murderer, my stalker. Like a bolt of lightning, he rushed towards me and injected something into my arm.

The next thing I remembered was waking up on an unfamiliar couch. The walls of the room bright white and the floors of gray concrete.

“Ah, finally, you’re awake. Let me introduce myself. My name is James Hope.” I saw the man who had been stalking me sitting in a chair in front of me. He wore a black shirt, worn out jeans. His blue eyes pierce through me.

“Why did you bring me here?”

“Well, maybe I should explain. I’ve been watching you for the past year, Alice, and I know everything about you. We’ve talked multiple times, Alice, though I doubt you’d remember with my many disguises. Well, I love you, Alice. You’re fascinating to me. The most breathtaking person I have ever met.

“So I decided now was my time to act. I had to be with you. So I started being careless, hoping you’d notice, so you’d know I was coming. Then, I killed both of your parents so we could be together, no matter what,” he smiled genuinely at me, as if this was good.

“You…. You killed my mom?” I stuttered as a tear rolled down my face.

“Yes, sorry, but I couldn’t have her looking for you, not after that phone call you made to her. Well, I have to go. I’ll be back shortly.”

I’m not sure how long I was there, because he had taken my phone, and there were no windows. Days? Weeks? It felt like a lifetime. He would visit me multiple times each day, and I despised him more and more with each visit.

“Alice, I’m going to fun some errands, I’ll be back soon, love.” James said, leaving the house for the first time since I was here. This was my chance; I’d try to get out.

“I ran to the door, but it was locked from the outside. I grabbed a bobby pin from my hair and stuck it in the key hole. I had seen spies in movies do this all the time. Hopefully it wasn’t fake.

“Click” I got it! I opened the door and ran around the house, searching for a way out. I found a glass door leading to the backyard, but it wouldn’t budge. I looked around the house for another door and finally found the entry way.

As I walked up, the door swung open.

“Alice, Dear! I forgot- Oh my, now, how did you get out?”

I turned and sprinted. My heart beating a mile per minute as I raced through the house. In the kitchen, I picked up a gleaming object, and ran to hide behind a corner.

I heard him approach, just one more step.

“Ah, here you are- AAAH!” I stabbed him in the leg with the knife, and rushed to the door. I heard him behind me as I made it outside, I headed for the nearest house.

“Pound. Pound. Pound” I beat on the door with my fists as many times as I could.

“Come on! Answer the da** door!”

“Alice, get back here!!”

Desperate, I sprinted to the next house and knocked on the door as loudly as I could. The door flew open.

“You’ve got to help me! Someone’s chasing me!” I exclaimed.

“Who?” The woman looked at me like I was crazy.

“The guy right-“ I looked behind me, but no one was there. “He was right behind me, I swear! He lives in that house! His name is James Hope.”

The woman gave me an odd look and exclaimed, “That is a horrible Joke! James died a year ago. Go home.”





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