HER FOOT SLAMMED INTO a puddle and water splashed her jeans, making them cling to her legs. From the brief rain earlier in the evening, many were scattered along the pavement, which made it hard not to land in one. None of that concerned her as she barreled her way through the murky streets.
Thwap thwap thwap went her shoes against pavement.
Kat’s breath came in quick gasps. She ran as fast as her legs could carry her, demanding every last ounce of reserve strength from her muscles. Not a hundred percent sure from what she ran, the fear in her belly urged her to keep going because whatever was behind her was not something that needed to catch up.
Her legs burned, her feet stung, she struggled to breathe. Her throat was raw from the harsh air wheezing through her and she wanted to stop, but fear propelled her forward. That fear and the sound of a pack of wolves she could have sworn she heard behind her. She had no intention of stopping to find out what pursued her. Not only would it slow her down, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to find out what was there.
Running for her life through the cold, dark city streets, fear boiling through her veins and her soul, wasn’t something she thought she would be doing earlier in the evening. It wasn’t something she ever thought she’d face in her life.
Earlier in the evening, Kat parked the car at the curb and turned off the engine. Grabbing her purse from the seat, removing the keys from the ignition and dropping them in the bag, she was none too happy about the two blocks she had to traipse to get to the building where her condo was located.
On a typical day she would not have had to park so far away. With all the cars about, it was a clear sign the Millers were having yet another party. The underground parking at her building was blocked off currently from the construction of some new “safety” thing, so no luck when it came to parking. Part of Kat wanted to leave and purposely avoid going home once she saw the cars. Not that she had anywhere to go.
One of the 6-condo dwellers of their building, the Millers loved throwing parties. They always had people coming and going during those parties. The hallway outside Kat’s condo would come alive with laughter and activity as they’d go and come. Kat never enjoyed those nights. Not only did they disturb the normal quiet of the building, but those were the, “Kat! You have to come over tonight and meet so-and-so, he’s dying to meet you!” nights.
The Millers loved Kat like a daughter and were always trying to fix her up with yet another “acquaintance” of theirs. They meant well, but she wasn’t interested in how many surgeries Bob performed that night. Or what John had for lunch. Sorry, but she found them boring and wasn’t interested. What she’d sought wasn’t found in men like that.
As Kat shut the car door, she heard the sounds—faint but noticeable—of the party going on above her, the music practically vibrating the earth. She took in the darkened street, having an odd sense of being watched, though she saw nothing but shadow. She really didn’t like being so far away but it wasn’t as if she had a choice.
For a brief moment she considered calling the Millers to see if someone would come down to the door, just so they could watch out for her; but what with the party going on, they probably wouldn’t hear the phone. Taking a deep breath, the air formed a little cloud in front of her as she exhaled.
Kat made sure she’d locked the doors, then hugged her purse against her body and braced herself against the damp cold night that would escort her home. Just as she turned toward her building, she froze.
Someone was not-so-casually clearing their throat.
Two men stood right across the street, hiding in the shadows. They were watching her, waiting. Waiting for what?
The hair on the back of her neck stood up and her heart skipped a beat. When she’d looked before, there was nothing there. Nobody. She should’ve at least seen the plumes from their breathing.
A movement out of the corner of her eye drew her attention.
Two more men on her side of the street advanced along the sidewalk, striding with clear intent and purpose. They were closer to the entrance of the building than she was. Judging the distance, she wasn’t sure she could make it inside before they got to her. The men across the street stepped forward.
Kat stepped backward, then again, and still again. As they came forward, she went backward. They came closer, she tried to gain more space. Her legs moved without thought, without any command from her.
Fight or flight kicked in and all instincts screamed, run!
Which is how Kat found herself running through the city streets in the miserable gloomy night, her cheeks burning from the cold, the tip of her nose numb. She heaved in air, desperately finding less and less.
Having dropped her purse a while ago for speed, she turned a corner, narrowly avoiding hitting her arm against the brick wall, and cut through an alleyway with no idea where she’d go, or where she was, but she knew she needed to keep moving. This wasn’t a part of the city she normally found herself in. In the distance was a river, which she normally didn’t go near. The warehouses around there were out of a horror show.
“Here kitty, kitty. . . .” Taunting voices called out in the dark. They sounded like they were all around her. The voices rebounded back and forth between the brick building on her right and the one on her left. She couldn’t pinpoint a location, but prayed they were behind her. They sounded much closer than before.
How in the hell—
Knowing the dumpsters she passed weren’t proper hiding spots, she kept going until she spotted an entryway in front of her. Kat ducked into the corner, pressing herself as far back into the shadows as she could. Another dumpster was nearby, providing more shadow for her body. The entryway ended in a doorway which had a huge lock on it, seen from the alleyway so she doubted they’d check for her there. Prayed more like.
The moment she was out of sight, the men entered the alley behind her. A group of them. From her vantage point she was unable to see how many were there, but it was a group. Many different thumps of their shoes against the damp pavement said as much, just not the number. If she had to guess, three . . . maybe four? At least that was the number she’d seen back near her building.
Kat’s heart pounded in her ears. It took every ounce of courage she owned not to scream. She flattened her body against the wall, the bricks of the building soaking through her clothes, making her shiver.
The men pounded on the dumpsters, calling out, “Come out, come out, wherever you are.” Crude laughter followed as they passed by. A pair of black leather shoes paused in front of her corner and her heart stopped. Kat held her breath for a few seconds, then a few more, and still a few more. God, please leave, please leave.
A second later they continued on. She slumped against the wall, closing her eyes, opening her mouth to allow the breath to escape. Carefully breathing it back in.
She fought to control her breathing, lest the men hear her and return. Once positive they’d passed by with enough time to spare, she slipped out and headed back the way she’d come. Checking over her shoulder as she went, ensuring they weren’t following her. Picking each footstep with great care to head back the way she came.
Then when she was sure it was safe enough, she bolted.
Kat rounded the corner, back to the street. Only to slam to a stop when she came face-to-face with a man wearing a preacher’s outfit. He appeared out of nowhere, just drifting into view. All black from head-to-toe, with a white collar around his neck, or what looked like a white collar.
Her heart thumped in her chest. Her eyes widened. What she saw wasn’t what one would call a man. She studied the creature in front of her. No hair, his deep blood colored eyes were cold and empty, his ears were longer than normal and pointed slightly at the end. They showed when he turned to look back down the alley from where she’d come.
Kat wasn’t sure whether or not she should be afraid. Was this one of the men who chased her? Had he been watching her as well? She didn’t know, and couldn’t know for sure. She figured it was, but the way he looked down the alleyway—
“M—e—o—w. . . .”
Kat jerked toward the sound as she heard the long drawn out taunt from the alleyway behind her, causing the blood to rush through her ears. A small whimper slipped out. Shadows loomed against the brick. The world around her blurred in and out. A monster was coming, one she didn’t want to face.
She spun back to the creature, man, thing standing there, knowing she needed to get away. The moment she did, his hand swept across her field of vision and in a single moment, blackness enveloped her world.
As she passed into unconsciousness, she heard him whisper, “You are safe.”
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Dark Illusions: The Beginning – Extended Edition is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, stories, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2018 Kim Iverson, 2021 Kimberly Sue Iverson
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