by @empoleon_tardis

As I walked home from work, the cold sting of the winter air brushed against my face like an endless stream of needles. I pulled my scarf up higher, attempting to cover my mouth and nose, but after walking a few more feet, it would slide back down around my neck. I could see my breath in the air as I hurriedly walked home to escape the cold. I watched the houses to my left as I walked, a beige house with a red door, with two cars in the driveway, a black SUV and a silver van. A white house with a black door, no cars, they must be out. All the homes looked the same, just painted differently trying to disguise themselves as different. Another beige house, with a brown wood door, with an old red car in the driveway. I knew the man who lived there, he’s a nice man who, I admit, Imight’ve be a little sweet on. I walked down the sidewalk, the thought of him made me forget the blistering cold for a moment. 

The street was so quiet, the small blanket of snow on the ground made the street soundproof. It began to get a little bit darker, the sun had just set. “The street lights should be on by now” I thought to myself as I huddled myself in my jacket. As I looked ahead, I saw nothing but the oncoming houses. I walked on further, a house painted in the ugliest shade of yellow, with a white door, and an old, beat-up station wagon in the driveway, painted green. I kept walking ahead. 


I stopped in my tracks. I knew this neighborhood well enough, I had only lived there for a couple weeks but I knew that things seemed nice for the most part… so why was I so scared? My hands shook, either from the cold or from some strange anxiety, I slowly turned around to simply see the street that I had walked about a dozen times already. Being a woman, I knew that walking alone, especially at night, was always something to be avoided if possible, my mother had always told me “there are sick people in this world, Allison.” I had always heeded my mother’s words and always kept a keychain-sized container of mace on me. I walked forward, a bit faster now. I looked to my left, another beige house with a red door, two cars in the driveway, a black SUV and a silver van. I walked ahead until I heard it again:

Tap… Tap…

This time I swung around as fast as I could, gripping the mace on my keychain… nothing… Why was I so worried? This was a nice area, but why was there this… almost primal… fear? I kept moving, this time my walk quickened even more. I was breathing heavily, the air expelled from my mouth turned into smoke on contact with the frigid air. I glanced behind my shoulder once or twice as I kept moving. I looked to my left, a white house with a black door, no cars. Then another beige house, brown wooden door… and an old red car in the driveway… I slowed down and gazed at the house that I swear I had passed already… I didn’t understand… I knew I passed his house already, had I gotten turned around in all the confusion with the noises? No. I was sure I hadn’t turned around. I tried to shake off the uneasy feeling as well as I could and continued walking along the sidewalk, this time almost running. I looked to my left again only to see the house painted the ugliest shade of yellow, with the green old station wagon… what was happening to me? Then…

Tap… Tap… Tap…

I froze in my tracks, which was a mistake… this time I was too scared to turn around. The cold air beat against my face as my entire body shook from fear, not the cold, but from fear. I couldn’t will my feet to move from their stationary positions. 


Louder than before! My feet ignored my brain and moved, but they couldn’t! I looked down at my feet, I had been walking in somebody’s footprints, they were the exact size of mine, and they continued on far past me… they were mine. I could move my feet, but it was as if my boots had been fused with the snow and concrete below me. I panicked, I struggled and got my bare feet free from the boots, it was freezing but I didn’t care. This time I didn’t run on the sidewalk, I cut through the yard in between the beige house with the brown wood door and the red car and the ugly yellow house with the green station wagon. My feet stung from the bitter cold snow and ice below me, but I didn’t care. I couldn’t afford to care. I looked back one last time only to see something… it was a dark, shadowy figure. It was standing on the sidewalk where I had just stood. It was so dark… the white snow around it seemed to glow with the light of the sun in comparison to its void blackness. I kept running.

Tap! Tap! Tap!

Louder and louder each time, the sound ringing in my ears, I ran through the yards and into the forest behind the row of homes. As I ran through the pitch-darkness of the forest, I could hear nothing but the cracking of branches under my bare feet and my heartbeat in my ears. My feet hurt badly, they were probably bleeding from stepping on sharp rocks and twigs, or they could’ve been hurting from the frostbite, but I didn’t care. I had to keep running. I don’t think I could’ve willed my legs to stop moving if I wanted to. My hands grazed the trees as I ran, just then I felt something catch my ankle, my body fell forward, the momentum of my run had been transferred into the momentum of my fall. My head hit the hard, cold, dirt. I opened my eyes, my head hurt and my vision was blurry, then I heard it again. 

Tap… Tap… Tap… 

My eyes began to shut, I felt so tired… the soft sound of crickets grew louder as my vision faded… I lay there, face down in the icy snow and dirt… dying…


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