Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)
TITLE: The Stalker
By Brad Paulson
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A silhouette appeared behind the smoky glass of my office door. I studied the image for a moment determining that it was a woman in her late twenties, well put together and probably the victim of a stalker.
“Come in,” I said as she knocked on the door. Her brunette curls swayed gently as she sashayed toward my desk. This was no ordinary, down-on-her-luck, run-of-the-mill, stalker victim. This dame had class and if my instincts were right, a few greenbacks as well. When she sat down her air of confidence began to diminish. She appeared somewhat fearful.
“What can I do for you, Miss?” Her lips began to quiver as she told me she didn’t know where to begin. I had to be careful not to offend her, but I wanted to cut to the chase.
“Tell me why you’re here”
“I think someone is following me.”
Just as I suspected, chalk up another one for instincts. I ask her if this person intended to do her harm and, if so, did she have any clue who it was.
“Yes, I do think he plans to harm me. I think he wants to take my life.” She pulled a lace handkerchief from her pocketbook and dabbed at the tears in her eyes. “I don’t know who it is, but I know he knows me. He seems to know every move I make, every place I go. I never see him, but I know he’s there, around every corner and behind every bush. Sometimes I can hear his voice, but no one else ever hears it. It’s driving me crazy. . . I think I may be losing my mind.”
The tears increased and she buried her face in her handkerchief. I let her sob for awhile, resisting the temptation to comfort her. Her vulnerability at that moment was enough to make a guy want to give up bad coffee and stale donuts forever, but I wasn’t about to fall prey. When she began to regain her composure I continued.
“Why do you suppose this person has chosen you? After all there are plenty of potential victims in this city.”
“I don’t know, but I feel like it has something to do with my past. I’ve made my share of mistakes, and a number of people have been hurt by my actions. I’ve been pursuing money and power for a long time now. Chasing after all the wrong things, it could be any number of people.”
“Sounds like your harboring some guilt.”
“I have my share of guilt, mixed in with a bit of shame as well. But doesn’t everybody? Sometimes I wish I could just start over, get a second chance. I’ve really messed up, and now this person is going to make me pay.” I let her sob.
“What if I told you that you could start over, that someone else has already paid for your past mistakes.”
“I wish I could believe that. If it were true, would it mean this person would stop following me?” I could tell she was longing for hope.
“No, it’s just a hunch, but I’m fairly certain he will continue to pursue you. What you need to do is start following him.”
“I don’t understand.” I could tell by her expression she was perplexed. I’d seen that same expression in a hundred other faces.
“You don’t have to understand right now, all you have to do is trust. Understanding will come.” I could tell she didn’t have a clue as to what I was talking about; this one was going to take some time. “My instincts are telling me you have nothing to fear, but I would like to meet with you again tomorrow to continue our investigation.”
As she got up to leave she paused for a moment, then turned and said, “I’ve never met with a pastor before, it was a bit different than I’d expected.” The door closed behind her. She could have been implying a number of things by her final comment, but my instincts told me to take it as a compliment.
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