You wish you had followed your instincts. If only you had not ventured down into the subway tunnel, in pursuit of the masked stranger you had unfortunately encountered less than forty-eight hours ago. You quickly become adjusted to the dim white light, as you look down the seemingly endless tunnel. All too quickly, you feel a quick push and then become aware of the cold rails beneath you. A blinding light gives your eyes cause to squint, as the stars that cloud your eyesight clear. A loud horn rings through the subway tunnel, reverberating off of the solid concrete walls, when you fully reach the realization of the multi-ton train rushing toward you. It feels almost like a dream, to the point where your senses are diluted and your brain is in a fog. You find it ironically funny, as your life is essentially flashing before your eyes, right back to that moment when you bumped into that stranger.
You had just exited the bank at 52nd street. You had cashed your paycheck for the week, and stepped out into the bright Friday mid-afternoon sun. You had to squint, and just as you had, you bumped into some person wearing jeans and a large orange hooded sweatshirt with the hood up. You found this to be odd because, for a normal autumn day, it was quite warm.
You quickly murmured, “Sorry,” under your breath. As you walked away, you had the strange feeling that this person’s eyes were following you down the street. You stole a swift look behind you, and found that this person had disappeared. You carried on with your daily tasks, but couldn’t shake the feeling of someone’s eyes constantly following you. You visited the grocery store, the gas station, and a small fast food restaurant for a quick dinner, and then ventured home. As you looked out your window, you thought for a second that you saw the same orange sweatshirt that you had seen earlier. You moved closer to the window, and decide that whatever or whomever you had thought was there no longer was. You have dealt with paranoia issues in the past, but after taking medications for it, you believed it was gone.
You live all alone in a large old house, in a small township a couple minutes’ drive from the city where you work. After being kicked out of your parents’ house, you hastily bought the first house the realtor had shown you. With no utilities yet to power your house, you had quickly grown accustomed to snuggling in bed by candlelight, and continued to do so, even after the power was connected. You rapidly fell asleep after a long day’s tasks, yet just as fast you woke up to the screeching of your house alarm. When you had moved in, the realtor offered remove the system, but you had insisted it be left in to satisfy your slight paranoia. You had jumped out of bed and rushed downstairs with a flashlight and a baseball bat you always left in your room, to find the front door wide open and a cold breeze blowing inside. You had shut the door, reset the alarm, and quietly crept through the house looking for, what you hoped you would not find, an intruder. After looking for what felt like an eternity, your nerves seemed to calm down and the adrenaline wore off. You crawled back into your cozy bed, yet kept your weapon close, just to reassure yourself.
You woke the next day without having encountered any more disturbances during the night. Being the weekend, you did not have much to accomplish. You looked out and, deciding it was a nice-looking Saturday afternoon, left the house to go to the local park for a walk. You arrived at your favorite park where you used to play as a child. You sat on a swing, remembering the fun times you used to have there. You began to swing and, just as you reached the apex, something caught your attention out of the corner of your eye. Someone with a bright orange hoodie was standing some ways off; motionless and watching you swing back and forth. You felt a terrible sensation in your stomach, as if you knew something horrible was about to happen. You quickly jumped off the swing set of your childhood and hurriedly left the playground. You continued to take quick glances over your shoulder, but the fact that this person was still in the same place did not ease your terror. Millions of thoughts raced through your head at that second. Your pulse quickened and your breath became short and rushed. Chills spread through your body; you felt as if you could not move fast enough.
“Leave me alone!” you had finally called out in desperation. The only response this creepy being gave was a slow movement toward you. You exited the park, half-jogging down the street. The being in the orange hoodie seemed to quicken his step as well. You had looked above you and saw that the sky had darkened with storm clouds. You felt a couple raindrops and a light mist at first, which soon became a heavy downpour of cold rain. Your shirt was soon soaked and you were gasping for breath, but the man in the orange hoodie still was in pursuit. Every single nerve in your body was now on fire. You could hear your heartbeat in your own ears. Your blood pumped through your veins. Your senses were heightened to new levels. You were no longer in control of your body; animal-like instincts had completely taken over your every move. You soon found that you were randomly wandering the streets of the city. Every glance in a window seemed to present you with another terrifying image of the orange hoodie. Finally, you turned left at the end of the block to find that the street was completely deserted. Every shop was closed and there was no sign of life to be found. Still believing your pursuer was behind you, you continued down the street. You took another worried glance behind you, and saw no one there. You had breathed a small sigh of relief, only to see your follower venture down into a dark subway staircase. You were oddly filled with a strong burst of courage to start pursuing him, to see who he is and why he is following you.
You started down the staircase, calling “Hello?” and “Where are you?” No response came back, as you entered the subway station. The fact that the place was completely empty did not help your already tense nerves. The desire to run away slowly crept back into your body, but you suppressed that under your curiosity mixed with anger. You looked around in the dim station with the flickering lights, and felt a push from behind.
Finishing your flashback, you open your eyes, only for a second. The screech of the subway brakes mixing with the loud horn is almost deafening. Your eyes look up and find that the man in the orange hoodie is standing over you. His face is lit up, and time seems to stand still. His face is covered with scars. His eyes seem as black as night. Flaring nostrils and a wicked smile only add to your fear of this unknown man. You look back into the blinding light of the approaching subway train, and know that there is nothing you can do to save yourself. Slowly, your eyes close, your hands curl into fists, and you tense your entire body, knowing your doom is imminent. The last thing you hear before feeling the slam of the subway train is a bone-chilling laugh that echoes in your ears.