04 April, 2019
A to Z Letter D
Claire glanced over her right shoulder as she walked down the dark street. It felt like someone was following her, but she could hear nothing. This residential part of town had street lights, but the city hadn’t gotten around to upgrading them to the kind of lights that actually cut through the black of night. As she walked under one, she passed through a cone of light, then back into shadow.
The brownstones and fake colonial facades were quiet at this hour. Just a few lights glowing through window shades of random upper-story rooms. A horn honked on some major street nearby, cutting through the eerie silence. It shouldn’t be so quiet, should it? Cities were usually noisier than this. Then again, she was in a different neighborhood, trying to find Emil’s new place.
Claire stopped near a stoop leading up to a brownstone labeled “2492”. There was that feeling again. Like a cold shadow hovering a few paces behind. Trying to look natural, she squinted up at the door, reaching into the pocket of her leather jacket and palming the blade she carried for safety. She turned her body to fully face the building’s entrance and leaned on the railing as if to get a closer view. Her head inclined to peer at upper windows, meanwhile she was scanning her peripheral vision for any movement on the sidewalk behind her, any shadow. She listened intently and was rewarded with a coo – like a dove or a pigeon purring in its sleep. She stood there for what seemed an eternity. At least 30 seconds.
Finally, she kept walking. At the next corner she’d cross to the other side. She had to be getting close.
As Claire approached another light post, the bulb suddenly burst, with a loud popping noise that made her jump. A dog in the closest building started barking, then abruptly stopped with a yip. She leaned with one hand against the light post, bending at the waist and clutching her chest. What was so scary about a lightbulb?
From her half-crouch, she looked around the street. Everything seemed darker than moments ago. The few trees along this street were black in the night. The buildings lost all color and lights faded in windows. No traffic sounds penetrated the dark anymore.
Claire noticed her breath. Trying to suck in more and more air, her throat and chest were tightening. She dropped to a squat, gripping the light-pole for balance, and fell to sit on the pavement under the blackened streetlight. What was happening?
As she peered straight up into the inky heavens, the shroud enveloped her and she collapsed. Death rose from where he had bent down to touch her. His mission was complete. He hated to use extra power by popping the lightbulb, but if he hadn’t forced her to stop, it might have turned into a chase and he hated that. She had good instincts, he’d give her that. Most people wouldn’t stop to explore a feeling when there was no accompanying noise of footsteps.
Satisfied, he disappeared back into the night, and the crickets and frogs began singing again.
Thank you for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! My theme is "Audience Participation" (read about it, here) and now it is your turn. Each day will be a new story based on suggestions from your comments. Suggest anything: a word, scenario, character, location... I will be keeping a list of suggestions, so if yours isn't used tomorrow, it may show up later.
Today's post was inspired by the prompt "leather jacket and blade", suggested by 50Plus Teenager, given in comments on my B post (here).
WITH APOLOGIES: During the first week of A to Z, I have a house guest. I am already taking time out each day to read/reply to comments and write a fresh post. Please forgive me for not visiting your blog until next week. I will visit the blogs of every commenter when my house is empty again.