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It was a cold Saturday night. I'd just got home from work and was fatigued beyond belief. I threw my bag down on the sofa. Although my job as a receptionist is fairly simple, today was exhausting. I opened the fridge to grab something to eat, but oddly, it was empty. I was almost positive that my dad and I had gone grocery shopping a few days ago, but there was absolutely nothing in the fridge.
Not even a pack of baloney. That was extremely odd. The only other person who has a key to my apartment is my father. Why would he take food that he had helped me buy? I shrugged it off. "Ugh, now I have to go back to the store." I only lived about two blocks away from a 7 Eleven, and my car was low on gas, so walking would be a better option. Although the fact that it was eleven o'clock made me a bit uneasy. I live in a pretty crappy area of Chicago, so you'd probably understand why.
As I walked to the store, there were surprisingly several people out, which relieved me a little. If there were any rapists or muggers, I'd have a better chance of escaping. Or they'd most likely not come after me at all. I sighed in relief.
When I got to the store, I quickly went to grab a box of mac and cheese and some milk. I figured I'd do the rest of the shopping tomorrow. A sense of uneasiness still lingered over me because of the "fridge situation." I couldn't shake it. Anyway, I payed for the food: $6.79. A decent price. Then, I started walking back to my apartment.
The amount of cars were quickly decreasing by now, -but I didn't seem to notice- as opposed to earlier. And the only people out were either homeless guys or smokers. Sitting on porches and staring out at the cold street. I shivered and pulled my coat closer as a gust of cold air hit me in the face.
It was autumn, almost winter, so this was obviously expected. But this gust of air alarmed me, because as I lifted my head up to pull my hood closer, I saw a figure in an alleyway, a few feet ahead. It was a dark silhouette of a human. As I walked forward, the figure became more clear. At first I saw him as any other homeless man, but there was something odd about him.
He was wearing an expensive suit and a long dark trench coat, while having slicked back dark hair, to contrast with his pale complexion. He almost looked like a vampire. But not the kind from any Twilight book. There was a long rugged scar across his forehead, and he wore an eyepatch over his right eye. He had chapped lips and beady black eyes.
As I neared him, while scurrying past the alleyway, I was almost sure he would have lunged towards me, or shoved me into some car and do the unthinkable. But instead he simply stared, without blinking; even with the strong wind. As I passed him, his eyes followed me malevontley, but his head stayed perched to match his perfect posture. This was obviously no homeless man.
After about three more minutes of scurrying down the sidewalk with my hood pulled high over my face, I looked back, expecting to see the man following me. But instead, there were two crackheads fighting over, well, who knows what. I let out a sigh of relief. I finished the rest of the walk home thinking he was just any other person.
As I pulled out my key to open the door, I suddenly remembered the fridge. Most people would have shrugged it off by now, but the obvious realization that a stranger had been in my house dawned on me. Had they seen the entire layout of my house? Are they hiding under my bed right now? Are they going to kill me? But most importantly, who are they? The first person to pop into my head was the man in the alleyway. "No, you're just being paranoid." I tried to rationalize the situation, but nothing made sense. I decided to call my dad to see if for some strange reason he took my food.
When he picked up, I obviously realized that I had woke him up. I was so stupid, it's nearly MIDNIGHT. I briefly asked my dad if he had been into my house today, and the reply was an expected "no." Although I saw it coming, this answer immediately put me in danger mode. It's funny how the fridge situation was more frightening than the man in the alley. Before he could ask why, I quickly ended the call and grabbed a weapon.
Forgetting about being so hungry, I locked all the doors and windows and searched the apartment. No "man in the alleyway" was to be found. Maybe he took the food from my fridge to lure me out of the house; to see what I look like; to examine my habits. Maybe he's waiting outside my door right now. I sat on the couch to ponder my thoughts, but instead, fatigue took over me and I fell asleep.
A Year Later
He never came for me, that man. I never even saw him for a year. Everything went back to being normal and he disappeared from my thoughts for an entire year. Until last night at least. I was dreaming about that same night, that same night on the street.
All the details came back; the mac and cheese, 7 Eleven, the fridge, the crackheads. But the one thing that was missing was the man. He wasn't there as I passed the dark looming alleyway. In my dream, as that cold gust of wind hit me, as I pulled my hood up, he was not there. He wasn't there. In his place was the shadow of a nearby dumpster.
That's the thing that alarmed me the most. The "man in the alleyway" not being in, well, the alleyway. I kept having the same dream night after night without the man. Most people would have been relieved, but this was not normal. Not for me. Was the man ever there in the first place? Was it just my imagination? Maybe I took the food out of the fridge and my paranoia just got the best of me.
My thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door. My friend said she'd be here around this time so I figured it was her. But when I opened the door, you guessed it, the man was standing there with that same, penetrating glare. The same scar, the same missing eye. Before I could say anything, everything turned black.