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Mystery Thriller

I shouldn't have come here. I shouldn't have been as foolish as I was to get into this taxi cab, drive all the way across the city, and come here. Yet I did. I thought perhaps it was only my imagination, seeing that face amidst hundreds of others. I thought that perhaps it was an illusion of some kind, a sadistic trick. 

I thought, just maybe, it was a sign I needed to get out. Grab a drink or two. Or three. 

Am I losing my mind?

Their face is everywhere. I don't know them. I thought perhaps they knew me. But those violet eyes, that wicked scar. That blood, seeping from their nose. How could I have met them before and not recalled it? 

Am I losing my mind?

The first time I saw them, I thought perhaps they needed help. I pushed through the sea of fleshy bodies on the sidewalk to reach them, yet when I did, they were already gone. The only thing in their place was a splatter of blood. Two drops, maybe three, running down the cement. 

I thought nothing of it, really. Just regret. Regret I hadn't helped them. I've also helped people. My mother always says, "Katrina, stop helping people and think, for once, about yourself." But why think about myself? There is nothing left I can do for myself. 

Am I losing my mind?

Perhaps I would have forgotten that ribbed skin, the burns speckling those hands. Perhaps I would have moved on, except I saw them again. The same street. On my way to work. And, again, by the time I reached them, nothing left. A few blood splatters, mingling with the grime and dirt on the New York walks. 

My friend grabbed my arm- she was with me then- asking, "Katrina, you're pale. Are you alright?"

"Didn't you see them?" I questioned, though I couldn't look at her. I was busy scanning the bustling faces for that caramel skin. That nightmarish gash along their forehead. 

"Who? Katrina, you're shaking. Do you need to sit down?" 

Did I need to sit down? Was I shaking? I didn't know. I don't remember exactly what happened, except I ended up at work. Somehow. 

Am I losing my mind?

The third time was different than the first two. Well, maybe not different. It was along that same stretch of sidewalk. By that same McDonald's that's been closed down for years, yet no one has replaced the crap-shack. 

But it was different in the sense there were few people. Irregular for mid-day in New York. Just me, and a few stragglers who'd missed the lunch rush as I had. The crowd was thin, and this time when I spotted them, I knew for certain it wasn't a trick of the light. It wasn't a manipulation of the dense population. 

As soon as I saw them, I screamed, "Wait! Please!" 

The heads near me turned. Theirs didn't. Almost irrationally, my pace quickened into a jog. A sprint. They ran, too. As fast as me, almost, which is saying a lot. I've been running ever since I can remember, winning countless races in track. Medals. Yet they were as fast as me, and with their given headstart, I doubted I could catch them. 

"Please! Who are you?" 

They rounded a corner, and by the time I reached it, their usual calling card was splattered at my feet. And them? Gone. Vanished into the hustle. 

Breathing hard, I crouched beside the blood. Hardly thinking, I ran my fingers through it, as if trying to grasp at it. 

"Honey, are you bleeding?" A kindly woman set a hand on my back, so gentle it made me jump, slapping it away. She stepped back in alarm, holding her hand to her chest. 

"Sorry..." I managed, wiping the blood on my jeans. Turning away. Whispering, "Am I losing my mind?"

Was I? Was there something wrong with me?

So that's how I ended up here. When the phone rang, when my friend's cheery voice echoed through it, "Katrina, I got us into this party!" then who was I to say I couldn't go? So I did. Perhaps I just needed out. Perhaps work was getting to be too much of a stress. 

The second I walked into that bar, I knew I shouldn't have. They were there. And why wouldn't they be? They'd been stalking me, hadn't they? 

But only on that stretch of road, the one my that old McDonalds. I'd never seen them anywhere else. Never, in all three times I'd seen them, had I glimpsed them anywhere else. Yet here they were, sitting on a stool at the bar, stirring a drink with a blue-tinged finger like they'd been there all their life. 

The world shifted around them, almost blind to their presence. To that metal, jutting out their stomach. To the dark circles rimming their sagging eyes. Or perhaps they weren't blind, walking past them, chatting happily, laughing. Perhaps they just didn't see anything wrong with it. 

Am I losing my mind?

My friend grabbed my arm, steering me toward a table, nodding her head in tune to the music. The same way the metal would bob in their stomach with every drink. 

"Come on," she giggled. "There's someone I want you to meet."

Weasling out of her grasp, I said, "Hang on. I... I need to go to the bathroom. I'll be right back, okay?"

She shrugged. "Okay, Katrina, but hurry. We didn't drive all the way across the city for you to pee."

She brushed past me, and I headed toward the figure at the bar. This time when they ran, I was ready for it, already sprinting. Already tearing down the sidewalk after them. 

Perhaps some part of me knew I'd never catch them on foot. Perhaps I recognized, although grudgingly, that they were at least as fast as me and even with their foot head-start, it was too much. 

I spotted a man unmounting a motorcycle. Green, the same color as the metal in their stomach. He was busy, chattering with a girl. Or two or three. I've never liked a player, especially when I could see the ring glinting on his left hand, so I stole it. Mounted it and was halfway down the road before he realized it was gone. 

Am I losing my mind?

They were still in sight, dashing down the street, and I sped up the bike. I'd never ridden one before, but I'd never stolen anything before, either. 

The figure kept a good pace but so did I, and we'd been at this for several adrenaline-pounding minutes before I realized somehow we'd made it back to that street. That street I'd seen them on for the first time. The second time. The third. 

And then, just as the thought crossed my mind, they stepped into the road. Directly in front of me. Panicked, I swerved. That's how I ended up here. The bike tires skidding under the hand of an inexperienced driver. 

The bike squeals, sliding to the left in the road, yet they don't move. I shout, a ratchet thing that burns the inside of my throat. "Get out of the way!"

Yet they stand there. 

The bike slides beneath me and I grasp for any sort of traction, hoping to right it. Regret flashes before my eyes the same time the blinding lights of a car do. I shouldn't have come here. 

The car hits me, driving the motorcycle against my abdomen, and I scream. The pain worms inside me like a red-hot flame and as I'm thrown against the steps of that old McDonalds, I realize with some amusement my nose has begun to bleed. Splattering down on the sidewalk. Dripping off the side of the green metal jutting from my stomach. 

Am I losing my mind?

My violet eyes swarm with tears, warm ones, ones that run down the scar on the side of my face. A hurdle I over-shot in track. I wipe them away, noticing for the first time the motorcycle behind me is burning. The flames have licked my hands, scorching them, yet somehow I don't feel the pain. 

I don't feel the agony that surely should be there, if from nothing but the deep cut running along my forehead. And, through the screams of sirens, the smoke and fire and cries, I look beside me, staring into the grimy reflection one of the half-shattered Mcdonald's windows provides. 

I see them. Right there, and rasping, I plead, "Who are you? Please tell me."

Yet I know they won't answer. Why would they need to? I already know. 

Yet one question remains. One that is clear despite my muddled mind. 

Am I losing my mind? 


April 16, 2020 17:29

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6 comments

Malz Castell
16:15 Nov 06, 2020

Wow, this was really good. I loved how you repeated the line "Am I losing my Mind?" and how you ended the story with that same line.

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K. M. Carpenter
17:33 Nov 06, 2020

Thank you! I really appreciate your feedback!

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Grace M'mbone
20:38 Jul 06, 2020

Carpenter you are a great writer. Wow. Please take a look at at least one of my stories and critic it. I love your writing style and how your ideas flow. Brilliant.

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K. M. Carpenter
03:22 Jul 07, 2020

Aw thank you :) I am headed over to critic one of yours now!

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Tvisha Yerra
20:03 Apr 24, 2020

The stalker is her?!

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K. M. Carpenter
15:15 Apr 25, 2020

Yeah, haha. I didn't know who else for it to be.

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