“I’m telling you, there is someone out there.”
Tracy glanced from the window to her sister. She knew she wasn’t crazy, but she just needed Debbie to believe it too. “Will you just get over here. Quick, before he leaves.” She waved her hand towards herself as if fanning the heat away. Debbie rolled her eyes and released a sigh before sliding her legs off her bed. She grudgingly walked towards the window making sure to go at her own speed. It was dark out, but the streetlights made a large portion of the road visible. “I don’t see any-” Debbie bit her lip.
She blinked and squinted to make sure that she saw things clearly. From where she was standing, it looked like there was a small shadow near one of the trees that resembled the outline of a tall man. She focused for a second longer and as if on cue, the shadow disappeared. “I don’t know what you’re seeing, Trace, but there’s nothing there.” She fought the urge to shudder as she quickly spun around and headed to her own bed with the chevron quilt. “Just go to bed before mom and dad freak out that we’re even still up.”
Tracy released the breath she’d been holding and felt her face form a scowl. “Alright,” she finally answered before sliding into her pajamas. She plopped herself onto her twin bed and stared at their popcorn ceiling. Counting the little bumps forced her mind to refocus on the last few nights. It seemed like this guy was forming a habit.
Whoever he was.
An hour passed, then finally another before she felt her eyes grow heavy. When she fell asleep, her dreams took her to the conversation with her sister and the man outside the window. She was grateful for the second story bedroom they shared, but it terrified her that this man had been around the last couple of nights. Her mind took her through the previous week as she remembered something catching her eye on her way home from school and then again when she’d gone to close the curtains that night before bed.
Her mind played out five days in a row where she checked for this strange shadow. Morning arrived before long, and her nightmarish dream came to an end with the sound of her alarm clock. Debbie had already gone downstairs for breakfast, leaving her to fend for herself.
“You really need to get yourself in order here,” she muttered as she removed her daisy printed halter from the back of her closet. She threw it over her head before finding a pair of denim shorts and slid a headband in her hair for good measure.
“Mom, she’s really starting to freak me out with all this talk about a stalker.”
Tracy rolled her eyes as she jumped down the last two stairs. “Oh boo. Try having a stalker in the first place and see how it feels.” She sat at the table and removed a banana from the bowl in the center. “Tracy, come on, don’t you think it’s time you gave up this silly nonsense?”
Always taking sides with Debbie. “Sure thing. Just, you know, remember this moment in time when the police find my body somewhere after I’ve been kidnapped.” She stood and left the table. “See you all later.”
“Tracy, you know that’s not what we meant. Come back here.”
She reached for her backpack and slammed the door on her way out. Glancing up and down the street, she made sure it was clear before crossing and heading towards the library. It was still early, but she figured that spending time at the library was better than listening to her family call her a liar.
When she reached the old building, she planted herself on the steps and rummaged through her backpack. It took a second for her to find the book she needed to return but she removed it from the bottom and flipped through it absentmindedly. After some time, she got the weirdest feeling that she wasn’t alone and examined her surroundings.
From what she could tell, she couldn’t see anyone or anything, but she couldn’t shake the feeling. Thumbing through the novel one last time, she slowed as footsteps approached her. She kept her eyes focused on the words within the page reading, “They took the cat back to the vet,” for the fifth time before a fist appeared in front of her face. When it opened, a plastic spider jumped out at her.
“Damon, are you serious?” She stood and slapped his arm before reaching for her pack once more and heading towards the door. “You know I am deathly afraid of spiders.” Damon just chuckled at her expression. “Loosen up, it’s fake.”
She rolled her eyes once more and folded her arms. “Right, well, be sure to tell that to whoever has to revive me after my heart stops.” Damon threw his arm around her shoulders. “Come on, babe, it was a joke. You know this is how I tease you.” He tried to kiss her cheek as an apology, but she was quick as she raised a hand to prevent it. “Nice try but today is so not the day for this.”
He sobered up for a moment and examined her expression. “What’s wrong, babe?” She pulled away from him, but he was smart enough to see it coming as he scooted himself closer to her. “Come on, you know I wouldn’t do anything to purposely hurt you. What’s going on?” She faced him and frowned. “Debbie flipped because she thinks I’m lying about everything that’s been going on lately and my mom basically told me to get over whatever obsession I have. Plus, did I mention that I had that dream again…”
“Did anything change from before?”
“No! In fact, it’s the exact same every time. The only difference is I saw him last night.” She began chewing on her lip once more as her eyes scanned the area. “Babe…” She felt his arms squeeze around her before he released her. There was nothing he could say or do to make her feel better, so she tried to drop the conversation. She didn’t know how to make people comprehend what was happening. How could she? She hardly understood it herself.
“It’s not a big deal, Damon. I’m sure I’ll figure it out.” Tracy took a moment to compose herself internally before offering what appeared to be a genuine smile. He watched her for a moment and then decided to let it go. They sat there for a while before Lauren arrived. She was the librarian who allowed them to read in the private room near the back but never bothered them or asked for anything in return. As long as they remained quiet, they were good to go.
They entered the library together, Lauren offering them a friendly wave before heading to her morning duties. Tracy and Damon headed towards the conference room in silence. Damon could tell she was still thinking about everything as they got themselves situated in the chairs near the back. “Wanna talk about it?” He examined her every move as he waited for an answer.
She finally shook her head no and idly flipped through the book she’d meant to return. “I need to go put this back,” she finally offered after a moment or two. She stood and approached the door. Pausing for a moment, she glanced back in his direction with a smile. “It’s all going to be okay. You don’t have to worry. I’m sure I’m just crazy, and it’ll all work itself out soon.” He smiled back but couldn’t bring himself to believe what she was saying.
Her mind clouded with additional thoughts as she reached the counter. Lauren started setting up the books reserved by other people, but Tracy didn’t bother saying anything. She merely sent the novel through the slot for the returns and wandered through one of the empty aisles. Her eyes fell on a smaller paperback near the top. An ominous face stared at her from the cover. Tracy’s mouth opened for a second as she reached for it.
“The Stolen Ring of Ebron. That’s a mighty fine choice,” a southern voice commented from behind her. She felt her skin jump as her heart began to pick up speed. “I especially love the reasons and things. I really love his -why- if you know what I mean.”
“I-I…” Her fingers fumbled with the novel for a moment as she turned around. “Oh, I-I’ve never actually read it,” she finally managed to reply. He grinned a toothy grin at her before holding a hand out. “May I?”
She nodded and slowly passed it to him. He flipped through the pages and folded one of the corners over. “This chapter was my favorite. It’s where the ring gets stolen by a young girl.” She felt her jaw slowly close as she forced herself to swallow. “Oh.” It was all she felt she could muster at the moment, so she went with it before adding, “I’ll have to check it out.”
He grinned once more as he handed it to her and nodded. “Absolutely, darlin’. It’s definitely one worth reading.” She politely smiled before turning on her heel and heading down another aisle. She was sure he could hear her heartbeat from where she was standing as she bit her lip and attempted to calm down.
After a moment or two, she finally worked up the nerve to peek around the books, but the man was nowhere to be found. She couldn’t shake the weird pit in her stomach as she maneuvered through the library and back to Damon. He glanced up at her for a moment with a quizzical look before asking, “Where were you? What took you so long?”
“Oh, you know me. Always finding another book to read.” She smiled then hesitated before taking a seat. It wasn’t every day that a man approached her about a novel. Damon looked at her curiously before patting the seat next to him. “Are you sure that’s the best choice with everything that’s going on with you?” She smiled. “Why not? Maybe it will help distract me a bit.” He shrugged, not sure if he thought it was a good idea. “Well, if it’s what you want to read.”
“It caught my attention, so yeah. I guess so.” They shared another smile before falling into their own silent rhythm of reading. Half an hour passed and Lauren softly knocked on the door. They both looked up. “It’s almost time for school,” she offered. Her voice was soft like a mouse as she forced the words out. “Thanks, Lauren. We owe ya one!” Damon threw his items in his backpack before standing. He headed out the door before Tracy could follow, though she wasn’t really trying to keep up. Lauren started to leave as well.
Lauren turned slowly. “What’s up?” Tracy glanced down at the floor, trying to find her words. “I was wondering who the other man was that came in with us.” She shuffled her feet for a moment and began to nibble on her lower lip as she slowly raised her gaze to Lauren’s. She wasn’t really sure that she wanted to know the answer, but part of her felt like she needed to know. “What guy? I only let you and Damon in like I always do.”
Tracy felt her blood run cold. “You sure?”
Lauren nodded. “Fairly certain. I always lock the three of us inside until business hours.” She turned and went back to work, leaving Tracy there to consider her words. Damon returned when he realized that she hadn’t followed and dragged her with him to school but she couldn’t shake the events of the morning from her mind. She tried her best to pay attention throughout the day, but she couldn’t shake the two thoughts that rolled around inside her brain.
‘If Lauren locked us in, where did the mysterious man come from and what did he want?’
Hello and good morning, my darling readers!
Today, my post is brought to you by Amanda and her Blog Challenge. She gave us the following prompt: “A stolen ring, a sinister stranger and a fear of spiders.” This lovely little excerpt is not completed. Tracy had an exciting encounter with a man in a library. And what about the shadow she’s seen outside her window? Are they connected? I’m not really sure. She definitely has a story to tell, one that I think is worth writing at some point in time. For now, this is what I have to share with you, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did while writing it.
If you’d like to check out other entries for the prompt, click here. The link will take you to a page where all of our websites have been clustered together for easier access. We’ve already got some great input that took alternative routes. It’s so fascinating to me that we have interpreted this in our own little ways and taken separate creative journeys together. Go check ’em out!
As always, have a beautifully fantastic day!
Until next time,