Stranger Than a Stranger.

Submitted for Contest #37 in response to: Write a story about someone who keeps coming across the same stranger.... view prompt

61 comments

    Why was it so hard to live it up? 

At the time she’d left home, Samira had thought it a great idea. She had graduated school with the high spirited desire to travel the world, live it up! Her plan had been to live her life like all of those bloggers out there who seemed to love nothing more than to tell the world of how great their lives were. Samira had simply wanted to have and express as much fun as they had.

    So, she’d started a blog.

    Straight out of school and ready to live it up.

    She had been so ready for the life of a blogger. A perfect, fun, enticing life.

    But of course, nothing that perfect is ever as great as it seems.   

    The reality of her situation was that she was not living it up. 

Not really.

Samira, in actuality, was bored, depressed, and lonely. 

She had to admit, her acting skills exceeded even her expectations. She appeared to be having a good time, she really did! And all the people who followed her blog thought so too. They were the easiest to fool. It was harder for Samira to convince her close family of her positive outlook on her life.

She did it though, even if each new lie killed her a little bit inside.

Her family loved her, she knew this fact like no other, but they had their own lives to attend to. She couldn't bother them with her meager problems. They had other things to deal with.

The gist of her predicament was this: Samira was alone.

She lived alone in her small empty apartment.

All of her exciting adventures only ever included her, and only her.

This fact haunted Samira constantly.

What would become of her when her loving, supportive parents finally withered away. They were old, and this also plagued Samira almost worse than the haunting sense of solitude.

Her parents were all she had.

She did not have any friends or siblings. She was an only child.

An Outcast.

Alone and opressed.

---

The days started off easy enough. Samira simply started her mornings sliding open her much-to-stellar designer curtains to reveal the smoggy sunrise.

This is where she would record her early morning routines.

As for the rest of the day, Samira only recorded the most interesting parts for her blog.

At the end of the day, before she was free to relax, she would stop her extended recording of the day's oh-so-fun events.

Then she would post it.

The immediate reactions of viewers and comments that followed should have made her feel elated. 

People enjoyed watching her fail at life! Wasn't that just great!

It wasn't though. Not to her.

These people did not know her.

They were merely strangers believing every lie she spat out in their overshadowed, unseen faces.

Samira did not pay much attention to these people.

The only reason she kept up the act was to provide her with somewhat of an income. She had to survive somehow, and if this blog was her work then so be it.

At the end of the long day, Samira would power down and finally go to sleep, get the rest she deserved.

This she did day after day.

Week after week.

Month after month.

Year after year.

Until the day she rewatched her first video.

The day everything changed.

---

It was uncanny! 

UNrealistic.

Things like this only happened in those mystery-action packed fake movies that Samira hardly ever watched.

Sketchy looking strangers did not follow unsuspecting bloggers around as they moved through recorded lives. 

Especially not every day.

And yet… Here Samira was, watching in eerie silence as this faceless figure followed her around in each and every one of her videos…

For two years.

Samira never rewatched the recorded days on her blog, why bother? She already knew what would happen that day, and had little time to go back and review it all.

And now she wished she had.

The reason she’d gone back and watched her fist post was because of something her mother had said.

Samira’s parents had come over to her lonely apartment for a visit, much to her dismay. She’d made them dinner and been kind to them like any good host. The most of dinner had seemed like a blur to Samira. She responded to her parents' inquiries about her with reassuring, short answers.

Only, she was snapped back into focus when her mother had mentioned her blog.

Not just the general “How’s the blog going” or “Anything cool on your blog recently?”

No. None of that, instead her mother had asked an entirely new question.

A strange question.

“So who is this friend you have helping you with your blog?” she had asked Samira with a twinkle in her eye.

Samira had been awestruck. Nobody helped her with her blog. It was just her.

Her and her alone.

“Excuse me?” She’d frowned.

“You know the guy who’s always been in the background?”

Samira had simply stared at her mother in shock.

She was quick to find an excuse to get her family out of her apartment ASAP after that.

Sure enough, when she’d gone back to watch her videos in confusion…

He was there.

A guy, always in the same back hoodie, pulled over his head, obscuring it, with one bold word printed on the exterior.

“Stranger.”

It made Samira laugh, because that’s just what he was. A stranger.

A stranger who stalked her in each and every single video.

He was always behind her.

Following her.

Almost stalker-like.

No, definitely stalker-like.

For once in her life Samira did not feel alone, and it definitely was not a good feeling. It wasn't a relieved one either.

No. Instead Samira felt the horror inducing sense that she was being watched.

---

For the first time ever Samira clicked on the white square button that would lead her to read her comments.

As she read them terror fell over her nervous face. Every other comment seemed to mention the stranger who stalked Samira. These people thought it humorous! Like it wasnt life threatening and terrifying.

It was then Samira realised that they did not think that “Stanger” was an actual stalker or real stranger to her.

These figments of people had the impression that Samira had planned this, like some kind of inside joke in all of her videos.

Who is this “stranger” that follows Samira everyware like a stalker! HAHA what a funny little touch of excitement!

    Samira had spent countless hours filming her blog and found herself sporadically wondering how in the world she had not once noticed this “stranger” before.

How she could have been so stupid.   

So ignorant.

This man who seemed to always know where she was and what she was doing could be anyone.

And he could be dangerous…

It took Samira forever to fall asleep that night, and once she had, her head was filled with tormenting nightmares and afflicting worries. 

---

Samira could not go out and film today.

There was no way she was about to take that chance. It was possible that her stalker would only strike once she figured out he was there. Or maybe he’d never planned on her noticing him, so his plans would be forced to change and he would… he’d…

She didn't know what he would do but she definitely wasn't going to walk right into anything that had to do with any creepy stalker.

She couldn't die now. Samira couldn't die because she… 

She was alone… 

she was depressed…

And she could not think of a reason for her to remain alive other than the fear that haunted her.

The fear of death.

And of this new strange man who could probably take her out far too easily. 

She had never known much about self defence. 

    As these thoughts swirled in her head, something inside of Samira snapped.

    All the fears and doubts she had always kept pushed down inside her came to the surface, and for the first time in a long while, Samira began to cry.

    It wasn't a small hiccup of tears that trickled down her face as if to calm oneself down, it was more.

    Samira’s sob’s seemed to reverbarate off every wall and tear her body to bits. She wailed and fell to the floor in an attempt to bundle what had burst out of her mind and soul and into her shaking body away and hide it again.

    As she fell a sharp pain exploded in her head and her body went motionless.

    Her head tucked onto the kitchen tile with a loud thud.

    Samira turned her head to look up at whatever had assaulted her with a loud groan and saw the sharp corner of her messy counter she’s never bothered to clean up after dinner with her parents not long ago.

    Made more messy with, Samira realized with a terrifying shock, her own blood.

    It hurt to think so Samira closed her eyes and reached for her head.

    “Help.” she squeaked when she felt the unmisstakable warm stickiness that was most definitely her head bleeding.

    She attempted a meager call for help again but knew it was useless.

    She was alone.

    A stray tear fell down her cheek and her vision began to fade to black.

    ---

    The last thing Samira remembered was the darkness. The cold empty loneliness of the black. She had been alone and helpless. 

    Nobody had been there to help her.

    So why, she wondered as she lay down in the soft white covers of a hospital bed, was she here? Shouldn't she be, she didn't know, dying in the sad confines of her lonely apartment building? Maybe she was being too paranoid.

    A neighbor might have heard her ruckus and came to see what was going on.

    But that thought was strange to Samira. Her only neighbors within hearing range were a guy who only lived there a few months a year and some fellow teenagers who were always out extremely late and didn’t give a crap to whatever their neighbors were up to.

    She’d gotten lucky?

    Or maybe… a thought crossed her mind, a terrifying thought.

    Maybe the stalker had hel    ped her. Had he been watching her? 

    The mere idea of it made her shudder.

    “She seems to have taken a severe hitting to the head and passed out.” She heard a voice saying outside her door. “You can go in and see her if you’d like, but she probably won't be awake. She’s been sleeping since she arrived.”

    Her door opened, and two figures rushed in.

    Her parents. 

    “Sweetie! You're awake!” They cheered simultaneously.

    Samira tried to smile but it felt more like a grimace.

    “We were so worried.” her mother went on, “ we couldn't imagine losing you! And neither could they!” her mother gestured to Samira’s nightstand.

    She slowly turned her head in confusion towards her nightstand.

    The small wooden table was overpiling with thousands of cards, gifts and signs adorned with hearts and phrases like “Get well soon” or “We miss you!”

    Samira stared at them in awe. 

    “Who- what… ?” 

    “It’s your followers and fans. They all love and miss you. They got worried and have been leaving things for you since the doctors won't let them all in.” Her father offered.

    Samira started. People missed her. Wanted her to get better?

    Cared about her?

But she was alone…

Her followers were just random people who she would never know.

Weren't they?

Or maybe, something inside her head told her, maybe the reason they were all nothing to her was because she had never taken the time to get to know them.

She had always ignored her fans and saw them as a way to get an income. The more followers, the more money.

But each and every person who watched her videos, she realized, had a life, a personality. They watched her for a reason. They cared about her because they wanted to. Not because they knew it would give her income.

Maybe Samira was just overthinking everything.

But maybe her thoughts, her fears and doubts, were… could it be possible that none of them were real? That she had conjured them all up from the depths of her jumbled head.

Was she even alone? Had she ever been?

No, she realized suddenly, she wasn't alone. There had always been people that cared about her in her life, and she’d ignored that.

Heck, her parents were standing right in front of her, practically shoving their heaps of relief into her awestruck face.

They had always been there for her,even if they were busy sometimes, and now, she knew that she wasn't alone. In fact, she was quite the opposite.

She had an entire fan-based family supporting and caring for her wherever she went.

...wherever she went.

A thought struck her hard.

“Mom?” she asked. “Who helped me get to the hospital?”

Her mother smiled. “A kind boy who said he heard you.. Uh... crying in your room and came to see if you were okay.”

Samira’s smile dropped.

“Do you know what he looked like?”

“No, only the doctors saw him. Why?” 

Samira shrugged, feigning nonchalance. 

“No reason.”

“Okay? Your father and I are going to leave now, let you get some rest if that’s okay.” her mom said.

Part of her wanted them to stay, to leave her with a physical reminder that she was not alone, but she knew that she did need to rest, and her parents probably had other things to attend to, and she found that she was fine with that. 

“See you later! Love you.” she called to them as they left her room.

“We love you too!” Her dad called back before the door shut behind them, leaving Samira with her thoughts.

“Thought they’d never leave.” a cool voice laughed from the closet Samira’s hospital room.

She jumped.

“Who…?”

A boy pushed his way out of the closet. He looked about her age and had fluffy locks of chocolate brown hair

“Hi.” he said.

Samira’s eyebrows raised.

“What the heck are you doing in there?” She tried to hiss, glaring at the boy.

That’s when she noticed the hoodie.

A very familiar hoodie that had haunted her ever since she laid eyes upon it.

A midnight black one with a single white word sprawled across it’s center,

“Stranger”

“Glad to see you feeling... a lot better.” he said in a way that suggested he meant more than just her physical health.

“I…” she began but was cut off.

“Well. Guess my purpose here is fulfilled” The stranger said, then his voice dropped a level “Oh! And as far as you, or anybody else for that matter, knows...” He looked straight at her.

His eyes startled her more than she already was. They were glowing bright yellow and seemed to pierce her very soul.

“I was never here.” he finished and winked at her.

His wink sent a blast of neon yellow through the air and then he was gone.

Her pocket grew warm and Samira fumbled around in it for what had to be  her phone, she had no idea what was happening.

As she shakily typed in the passcode to gain access to her phone, a yellow flash blew over her screen. Her first video from her blog opened. 

Except, it was different. 

    The “stranger” was gone. It was as if he had never been there…


    After a while Samira wondered why she was watching her blog so intently. She could do that later, for now, she needed some rest.

---

Samira’s first thought the day she was released from the hospital was a shout of joy. She was free! No more lumpy bed and cheap cafeteria food! YAY!

Her second one though, was of excitement as crowds of people came to greet her and make sure she was okay.

People who cared about her.

A girl who jumped up and down squealing in happiness to have finally met Samira. A few boys who had sheepishly asked for a signature. An entire family who seemed overjoyed that she was okay! Countless others approached her, expressing their admiration and joy.

Samira felt overwhelmed, but in a good kind of way. A definitely-not-lonely way. 


It felt like it had been forever when the crowd finally dispersed, leaving only a few stragglers.

Samira smiled as she walked to her car. (her parents had brought it in for her) But stopped short when she saw someone standing there.

Something about him was familiar, but she couldn't put her finger on it.

He was wearing a black hoodie with the word stranger on it. It made Samira chuckle, because a stranger was exactly what he was.

He turned to look at her and Samira raised her eyebrows. 

His eyes were yellow, it was so uncommon that Samira found herself staring at them.

The boy smiled.

“Hi.” he said.




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61 comments

Matthew Gregory
08:04 Apr 16, 2020

Beautifully written. I didn't quite understand what was going on, but I still enjoyed it, which is a sign of good writting Well done

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Cam Croz
14:34 Apr 16, 2020

Thank you so much for the feedback!

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18:50 May 06, 2020

Hi, Cam! This story had me at the edge of my seat 24/7. But I would like to know why Samira didn't recognize the Stranger? I understand that he erased himself from her videos somehow, but did he erase himself from her memory, too? Unless I read it the wrong way and she actually did recognize him? I do believe that this was a great story overall, though. I know you get asked this a lot, but if you could read my stories and give me feedback, that would be great! Have an amazing day!

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Cam Croz
00:19 May 07, 2020

The Stranger erased himself from Samira's life. He is somewhat of a Guardian Angel. She only somewhat recognized his eyes, as they were very unique. I will try and check out your stories.

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12:48 May 07, 2020

Okay, that makes more sense. Thank you!

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Ruth Porritt
06:58 May 05, 2020

Hello Cam, This story rocks! In my own short stories, I am always trying to craft the perfect ending and you have nailed the ending to this one. :) Honestly, I would like to see this story adapted as an episode of Inside #9. (If you haven't seen this show, I highly recommend it.) Inside #9 always does subtle horror (with bits of humor) that add up to the perfect ending. Can't wait to read the rest of your stuff. Well done. Catch you later, Ruth

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Cam Croz
13:58 May 05, 2020

thank you Ruth! I really appreciate it! (I'll have to check it out)

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Ujiro Asagbra
14:47 Apr 24, 2020

This is really nice! Would you take some time to read mine and let me know what you think and how i can improve. Thank you.

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Cam Croz
18:37 Apr 24, 2020

Sure!

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Sebastian Ehlke
12:00 Apr 24, 2020

Interesting read! The only criticisms I have is that you used the "to be" verb about 80 times. Try to cut down on that and replace all the was's with stronger verbs. Another issue I had with your writing is the use of ellipsis. I would try to cut those out too, they don't really add anything to your writing. One more thing is your use of adverbs. Try to replace those with other, stronger verbs instead of relying on words like "simply", "hardly", and "really". Other than some small grammar mistakes, that's about it, keep up the good writing!

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Cam Croz
18:35 Apr 24, 2020

Thank you! I really love to get feedback! I'll think about this while writing my next story!

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Pranathi Gorty
17:18 Apr 23, 2020

(This is a question for anyone to answer - Do you think the story should have a cliffhanger?) I mean, do you think that stopping the story at "The “stranger” was gone. It was as if he had never been there…" would make a difference? I am trying to write my own story, but I don't know if I should leave it off on a cliffhanger or not. I am using this story as a reference for a cliffhanger so I was just wondering . . . Thank You!

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Cam Croz
18:04 Apr 23, 2020

It really just depends on what kind of story your writing and what kinds of feelings you are trying to convey while you write it and at the end. I for one was going for a kind of eerie story, and I felt like I should end it with a cliffhanger like I did. I just liked it better myself with the different ending. Whatever you do on your story will probably be amazing! best of luck!

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Pranathi Gorty
17:17 Apr 23, 2020

Good story! I was just wondering though if the boy left Samira, then why did he come back? Why didn't he want to be seen by others? Just curious. Also, can you read my story and give me some feedback on it? It is called "The (Not So Stranger) Stranger." It's for the same contest. Thanks!

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Cam Croz
18:07 Apr 23, 2020

Thank you! The boy was kind of like Samira's Guardian Angel in a way. He's there to protect and make sure she is happy inconspicuously. Sure I'll review your story!

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Pranathi Gorty
19:08 Apr 23, 2020

Oh, that makes sense, thank you!

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14:48 Apr 23, 2020

I really enjoyed your writing and Samira is a very sympathetic character, making it easy to root for her.

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Cam Croz
18:07 Apr 23, 2020

Thanks!

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10:04 Apr 23, 2020

This is an amazing story that kept me on edge! It kinda reminded me of the stalker in You.

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Cam Croz
13:28 Apr 23, 2020

Thanks. Never read You though. Is it good?

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21:14 Apr 25, 2020

It is a series actually.

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Cam Croz
21:52 Apr 25, 2020

oh?

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Kira Kloehn
22:33 Apr 22, 2020

This story is so amazing. It caught my attention immediately. Very well written!

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Cam Croz
23:04 Apr 22, 2020

Thank you!

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Jack Fitzgerald
20:33 Apr 22, 2020

I was hooked. That's all I can say really. It was amazing. Period.

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Cam Croz
20:56 Apr 22, 2020

aww! Thanks!

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Tammy Tsang
06:24 Apr 22, 2020

This was both nice, and chilling. The story itself was unexpected and I was on the edge of my seat. I like the way you parted out the story and your choice of short sentence structure throughout. However, I wish that the final dialogue was Samira's instead of the boy's. It would have felt like she learned to talk to a fan and appreciate them. Or perhaps if the boy simply had the Stranger hoodie, but had different coloured eyes. Then it wouldn't seem to reroute back to the chilling feeling from earlier. Granted, it also depends on the m...

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Cam Croz
14:46 Apr 22, 2020

Thank you so much! I really love to get this much feedback! I like your ideas! I was originally going for an ending the gave the reader a sense of eeriness because that's what the whole story is centered upon. The last line was the boy's because it was meant to relate back tot he first time she actually saw him, where he said the same thing. I'd never considered it to be Samira's. Thank you for your amazing ideas and advice though! I really do appreciate it!

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Tammy Tsang
19:07 Apr 22, 2020

Hey Cam, I'm glad it helped and I wish you luck with the contest! The ending definitely feels eerie the way it is. It felt like maybe she was perhaps in a loop of being haunted by the Stranger.

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Cam Croz
19:21 Apr 22, 2020

Thanks and you too!

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Tammy Tsang
07:59 Apr 24, 2020

Hi Cam, If you have a moment, I've just submitted my first story for this coming week's contest and hope you can read it when they open it up to everyone at the end of the week. (Technically you can already click my name and read it from my profile!)

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Cam Croz
18:37 Apr 24, 2020

Sure!

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Ndekwoh Ojen
06:09 Apr 22, 2020

Awesome story. Really loved d characterisation and tension. Great job! I also summited a story for this prompt, The Unfriendly Friend, a feedback will be appreciated.

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Cam Croz
14:48 Apr 22, 2020

Thank you! I'll check out your story!

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Casey Farley
03:16 Apr 22, 2020

I think this story is written well. Good job with putting your heart into the characterization, the tension and atmosphere. I hope you read mine too. I'm wary about my stories because they are linked. The stranger submission is chapter 5 of my The Girl in the Crystal franchise. I wanted to make a new series out of Alice May, but I can't seem to start so I did my best. Hopefully, you’ll like the characters, the humour, etc.

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Cam Croz
16:13 Apr 22, 2020

Thank you! Your stories are good! And I love the characters!

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Joe s. Thomas
00:47 Apr 22, 2020

Well written. Thanks for reading my stories too. Keep up the great work. Stay well.

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Cam Croz
01:46 Apr 22, 2020

Thank you as well for the kind comment! You too!

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20:52 Apr 21, 2020

You have a wonderful story. There were some grammatical errors here and there but overall it did not detract from the story. I loved your use of the stranger and how mysterious and mystical you made him feel. I know we don't get to know who or what he is but I want to know more about him. The way in which you wrote Samira having those thoughts of realization that maybe she wasn't alone and that maybe she made it all up was very realistic and made her feel human. I commend you on writing such an intriguing story. Speaking of stories I was won...

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Cam Croz
23:02 Apr 21, 2020

Of course I love giving feedback! Thank you for yours!

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Ananya M
17:35 Apr 21, 2020

I loved this story! The title was also very creative :)

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Cam Croz
17:37 Apr 21, 2020

Thank you!

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Rebecca Smith
15:23 Apr 21, 2020

Cool story! I loved the moral and the intriguing stranger. It could use some grammatical sprucing up, but doesn't every story? I also loved how it had normal elements (like your blogger) and the more supernatural elements (like the stranger). Excellent job!

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Cam Croz
15:27 Apr 21, 2020

Thank you! Feedback is always appreciated.

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Imogen Bird
14:12 Apr 21, 2020

Creepy! Intriguing! I love the idea that everyone noticed this person when she didn't. I loved the parallel between the story-line of her not noticing the stranger was there and the realisation that she wasn't as alone as she felt. Clever writing!

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Cam Croz
15:27 Apr 21, 2020

Thanks!

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Sg Kubrak
13:54 Apr 21, 2020

I really like the idea of a stalker as a guardian angel. Which, if you think about it, they would technically be. This also has that semi-autobiographical feel to it, which we all do to some extent right? Nice reversal on the trope.

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Cam Croz
15:29 Apr 21, 2020

Thank you! This means a lot to me!

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