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Crime Suspense Thriller

 

It was mid-day and the sun was high in a cloudless sky. There was a sharp bite in the air, as the season was turning. She loved running in layers, with her shin-high socks and light windbreaker. The chilly air wiping past her face, reddening her cheeks and chapping her lips. It was this routine that made her feel most alive.

 

10

 

She’d taken this particular running route, with its small inclines and even pavement, more times than she could count. Knew without looking the hidden cracks in the sidewalk where she’d rolled her ankle on more than one occasion. Even without her trusted tracker, she knew that precisely when she turned the corner and followed the winding trail through the thick patch of wooded area, that she just hit her 2-mile mark. With her headphones blaring and her focus inward, she didn’t immediately recognize anything out of the ordinary. As it goes with muscle memory, it’s only when something is out of place that you bring yourself back into the moment. Allow yourself to scan your surroundings and observe from a logical place what about this scenario seems off. 

 

9

 

For her, it happened in slow motion. The most primitive part of her brain caught on before processing could even begin to tell her how to react. Her eyes, normally trained to watch the path in front of her, caught a movement to her right. Her heart, already pumping fast from exertion, skipped a beat, then sped up. Her lungs, which had previously been keeping time to her steps, stuttered. Her hands, in loose fists that were propelling her forward, went towards her ears to rip out her headphones. Her legs, toned and trained to keep moving, stumbled to a stop. Before she could even understand the threat, her mind had hijacked her body into compliance. Frozen to the spot, she turned her head, and screamed.   

 

8

 

He’d been waiting for so long. Watching for even longer. But it’s a predator’s duty to know his prey. 

 

7

 

His obsession had started out rather innocently. Months before, he had taken a walk to clear his head. On this occasion, he’d stormed out of his lousy job, again. Not that he truly cared if he was fired. But he just got so mad sometimes. When they talked to him like he was stupid and worthless, he felt the familiar white-hot rage build, then erupt. A comfortable fury he’d spent years stoking, he would seethe for days afterwards. 

 

He always went to the same spot, regardless of what was troubling him. Call it a habit from his youth, but he’d marked this particular tree as his. Years previous, when he was running from his high school bullies, he’d made it to the woods before them and, desperate, had scrambled up this tree as fast as his skinny limbs would let him. He’d watched, with both tremendous fear and delight, as his tormenters ran right below him without a backwards glance. Safe, at least for a moment, he’d then made himself comfortable in his tree’s tall branches and full foliage. Since then, he’d come back to this same tree, with its same concealed limbs, like his own personal holy place. A shrine that would soon bear witness to his worsening depravities. 

 

He had crossed paths with her on accident this day. While listlessly walking towards his tree, head down and hands in his pockets, she had almost, literally, ran into him. Wide-eyed, he watched her mumble through an embarrassed yet sincere apology. She’d touched him then. Just casually extended her hand and placed it on his shoulder as a final gesture before she took off again, hair messily bouncing in her ponytail and streaming behind her. Belatedly, he realized he had never said a word in response. 

It ate at him. He absolutely could not stop thinking about her. About their brief interaction. He wondered if she had thoughts about him too. Had she run into him on purpose? Was she running the same path in hopes she might see him again too? He did deserve her. He knew it in his bones. So, he did what he did best. He perched atop his tree and began watching. What was once an innocent desire to see her again had slowly twisted into something more sinister. Morphed into a pining that melted into hate. At first, he’d be so excited every time she ran through the woods. Would smile so big to see her glide by. Would hold his breath as she came closer. He had watched her in hopes that he might catch her looking for him. He longed for her to notice his absence, to seem puzzled that he hadn’t materialized in front of her like she did to him. He fantasized about the roles reversed. Would she let him place his hand on her shoulder? An innocent, casual gesture? But she never did. Never looked around. Never looked UP. Just kept running with her headphones plugging her ears and her eyes trained to the ground. He resented that. Resented that his thoughts were utterly consumed by her and she hadn’t spared a single thought for him. How dare she not give him the same respect. When he could no longer bare his bitterness, when his stomach turned to acid every time she would haunt his woods, he decided he had had enough. 

 

6

 

5

 

4

 

He had timed it perfectly. Knew within a 10-minute period when she’d round the bend. Could picture her running with his eyes tightly closed. Knew what her winded breath sounded like. He had memorized the precise amount steps she’d need to take from the rounded curve of the woods to his tree. 

 

3

 

He’d worn his old camouflage and did his best to conceal himself within the woods. Crouched down, he blended in perfectly. He knew so well how to shape himself into shadows. He’d spent most of his life cowering away in corners, hoping no one would notice how his eyes would incessantly track those around him. 

 

2

 

But now, he had a persistent restlessness in his soul. He had exhausted himself; wrestled with the morality of what was to come. This, he knew, would be the only thing that would bring him the peace he so desperately hungered for.

 

So, heart racing and mouth salivating, when he saw her approach, he stood.    

 

1

December 27, 2020 21:23

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18 comments

Cole Lane
22:31 May 05, 2021

So, I'm thinking, you know what. There is one last story on your list that I haven't read. I should check it out ... wait, what just happened here!! Holy crap! This was a dip into the mindset of a sorry, twisted individual. You really nailed the life of disappointment, and why the one warm gesture kick-started his obsession. Now, what have we learned from this? Running is bad for your health. :) Really excellent take on this prompt!

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KED KED
23:53 May 05, 2021

Ha!! I regret to say this was born from my own idiot self running alone. In the dark. So... you know. (I no longer intentionally put myself in high risk situations like this. I think.) Thanks for reading 🥰🙃

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Ruth Porritt
05:12 Jun 11, 2021

Hello Kelly, This story is truly amazing, and I wish that I had written it. The pacing of the narrative is just right, and I was literally on the edge of my seat while reading it. This story is perfect, and I can't wait to read the rest of your work. Have a great weekend, Ruth Porritt

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KED KED
14:31 Jun 11, 2021

Hi Ruth, Thank you so much!! This one creeps me out still... Have a lovely weekend :)

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Ruth Porritt
08:58 Jun 12, 2021

Hello Kelly, I was still thinking about this story, today, and I can't remember if your profile page says that you have an agent. (or not) Unfortunately, I am not an agent, but I think you should get an agent for your writing. (I would pay a lot of money for your stories. Seriously.) I don't know how to go about getting an agent, but I imagine that many writers on Reedsy would give you advice about this topic. Have you published any books? (Just curious.) If you have, I would like to buy one. Catch you later, Ruth

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KED KED
19:16 Jun 13, 2021

Hi Ruth, Wow. Thank you, seriously. What a compliment! No, no agent and no book writing. I only just started writing recently as an outlet. That's all I need it to be for now! :)

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Ruth Porritt
03:26 Jun 14, 2021

Hello Kelly, Sure, it's really my pleasure. :) If you ever change your mind, let me know, and I will be first in line (so to speak) to buy one of your books. Yes, isn't writing a great outlet? (Also, it's one of the healthiest hobbies I can think of.) Catch you later, Ruth

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Daniel R. Hayes
04:43 Mar 26, 2021

Yikes! This was a well written - spin tingling story into the mind of a psychopath. These kinds of stories are always scarier than fantasy fiction because it could really happen - does happen. I thought you did an amazing job writing this! I remember this prompt. I had a hard time coming up with a story based on 10 seconds, so I went with another one ;) With this line: "As it goes with muscle memory, it’s only when something is out of place that you bring yourself back into the moment." - I totally understand what you mean by this. I...

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KED KED
18:51 Mar 26, 2021

As always, your reviews just make my entire day... Thank you! I remember this prompt and while also remembering the ONE TIME I thought it would be a good idea to run at night. By myself. NEVER again...

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Daniel R. Hayes
19:38 Mar 26, 2021

I'm glad I could brighten your day :) I also understand about running at night. After reading this story I don't think I will either :)

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20:04 Mar 22, 2021

Oh god, this scared me. You're good at writing suspense, I think.

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KED KED
20:29 Mar 22, 2021

Oh man...I wrote this after running by myself in the dark. NEVER. AGAIN!

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20:33 Mar 22, 2021

I mean, it always has the best aesthetic; I get most of my stories from bad ideas too

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KED KED
20:38 Mar 22, 2021

😂 🏃‍♀️ 🤦🏼‍♀️

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Aman Fatima
16:44 Mar 04, 2021

Such an amazing story!!

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KED KED
18:58 Mar 26, 2021

Thank you so much!!!!

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02:42 Jan 18, 2021

Wow! Very good. Definitely left me wanting more.

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KED KED
03:20 Jan 18, 2021

Thank you!!!!

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