The streetlight flickered once. I was walking home from my friend’s party when I saw them. The man was walking in the girl’s footsteps. It was no accident…I could tell from how he didn’t take his eyes off her.
It was two in the morning, and the city was illuminated only by the occasional streetlight. Anyone could’ve been lurking in the shadows, waiting for an innocent person to come along to rob – or worse. Yet, the man only seemed concerned with the young woman’s safety, not his own.
Most people would have chalked it up to the man’s genuine sense of altruism, to a duty to protect others.
But I knew what humanity was really like. I knew the truth. He was after her.
And I was the only one who could stop it.
I was a couple yards behind the man. There was about the same distance between the two people, but as I watched the distance began to shrink. There was a glint of silver in the moonlight. A knife.
If I didn’t act now then the man would catch her. I couldn’t bear to think of the consequences.
I ran up to the man and fell into step beside him. Oddly, the man didn’t look like a bad guy you would read or hear about in stories or movies. He just looked normal. The guy looked about 5’6” and very frail, he had this strange white hair, as well as fairly pale skin, but it was hard to tell in the dim light.
“Nice night for a walk,” I said, brushing dark hair out of my face. I hoped my shaking hands wouldn’t betray my inner fear.
“I was just thinking the same thing,” said the man. He continued to stare straight ahead as he walked.
“That’s why I’m out here.” Uh, no, you’re out here because you’re a creepy stalker, I thought. But I kept that to myself. Getting stabbed was not on my bucket list.
And I was sure it wasn’t on that girl’s list either. How was I going to stop this guy from attacking us?
“Why are you out here?” asked the man. I blinked.
“I’m just walking home from my friend’s house,” I said quickly. “How about you?”
“I needed the exercise. I do have a place to go, but I’m in no rush to get there.” The man smirked, probably thinking of the potential victim ahead of us.
I glanced ahead. The girl’s auburn braid waved hypnotically in the wind. She carried a paper bag in her arms, clutching it close to her dark peacoat. I imagined the warm apartment she lived in – electric heater, piles of blankets, fuzzy cat. Maybe she even had someone waiting for her. I couldn’t let that person wait forever. Besides, I had to get home.
“Oh, well, have a nice time on your walk,” I said, speeding up. There was a left turn into a neighborhood up ahead. The girl went straight, so I took a left. I also made a rude gesture at the stalker so that he’d feel an obligation to follow me.
I quickly walked down the street. My goal was to make the man think he had me when I’d actually gotten away. Then I would be safe, and more importantly, he would have lost track of the girl. If I could corner him I’d also have the added bonus of calling the police and making sure he couldn’t hurt anyone again.
There were footsteps behind me. I sped up.
The footsteps quickened. I doubled my pace.
They sped up again — shouldn’t the man have caught me, moving at this pace? I stopped in front of a dark green house with cracked paint and boarded up windows. The footsteps were just my heart, pounding in my chest. I wasn’t sure which was scarier — that my heart was beating that fast or that I wouldn’t be able to hear the man coming.
I threw my scarf over my shoulder and kept walking. I pretended to watch the antique houses, but I was really sneaking glances at the dark silhouette in the corner of my eyes. The man had crossed the street, and now he watched me from the shadows between streetlights. His green-gray eyes reflected the light, and I felt like he was staring into my soul.
Up ahead I caught sight of the girl. She was walking over to my side of the street. Another glint of silver — the man reached for his knife and started running towards the girl. I ran as fast as I could, gritting my teeth. The man and I raced towards the girl. I had distance on my side, but he had speed. Just as the man lunged for the girl, I stood between the two. He shoved me to the asphalt, my hands and knees bursting open with pain. How could a man that skinny be so strong?
“Nagito!” The girl knew this man?
“What the heck are you doing here?” squeaked the girl.
“You know what I’m here for, Marlow,” said Nagito in a low voice.
The girl screamed. I clambered to my feet, dropping into a self-defense stance. Even if I couldn’t save the girl – I could still save myself .
Marlow was on the ground, crying and clutching her torso. Red stained her clothing everywhere, oozing from her t-shirt and ripped jeans. It seeped into the cracks of the sidewalk, forming crimson pools. How could she be bleeding that much and still be alive?
The paper bag lay torn open beside her. The remains of jelly donuts were spread across the concrete, powdered sugar scattered in clumps and raspberry jam congealing.
Nagito was sitting cross legged, quietly cutting a loaf of bread with his knife.
“I bought those for our movie night, you idiot,” exclaimed Marlow, tears in her eyes.
Oh my gods, how dare he murder those poor innocent donuts? They would have tasted so good!
“Oh. Really? I’m so sor–” Nagito never finished his sentence. I stared with wide eyes as Marlow grabbed the knife from Nagito’s hand and plunged it into his chest.
“That’s for murdering my food.” Nagito collapsed to the sidewalk. Blood pooled around his limp form. Was he still alive?
“I’m… gonna go now,” I said. Marlow bit her lip.
“Are you sure you want to leave? Already?” she asked. “Maybe you and I could go buy some new donuts.”
I shook my head. “No… I think I’m fine.” I ran one hand through my hair. The other one dialed 911 on my phone behind my back.
Marlow grinned. “Stay a little longer.”
-Story by Lilith, Amelia, Lisa, and McKenna for Mrs. Riley’s Freshman English class.
-Images by students from Mr. Emmert’s Photo 1 and Photo AP classes.