The sensations rushing through her were chilling. She had felt it before when Dodd was helping her up the three flights of stairs after her near miss with the bus. At that time, she had the eerie feeling Dodd was going to throw her down the stairs. But he was helping me…I am going crazy. I’m being paranoid. Dodd would never hurt me. But Allen? Would he?
Shelly turned back to the staircase, unable to move. Someone is behind me, she thought, sensing invisible hands about to shove her down the steps.
But there was nobody there. And yet she still felt certain that someone was there, someone was going to push her.
Her hand held the brass banister, fingers clutching tightly as she gingerly moved down, one step at a time. She wished Dodd was here to help her again…just as he had helped her climb the stairs before. Why didn’t I call him?
Shelly breathed a huge sigh of relief when she finally reached the ground floor, her legs still trembling, and her hands still clutching the banister.
Was it my imagination? She looked up.
For a second she thought someone was looking down at her, but when she looked again, she realized there was no way she could see around the corner to the landing. “I’ve got to get control of myself”, she said, as she headed for the large plate glass doors that fronted the building.
The bus was sitting on the corner, the door open wide as if it was waiting for her. A white driver leaned toward her. “Need a bus, Miss,” he asked.
“I’m not taking a bus,” Shelly said, as she tried to calm herself on the sidewalk outside the dorm. She gazed up at her window half expecting to see flames from the note licking at the cheap cream-colored shades, but everything looked as it always did, her window totally uniform with all the rest along the brick façade of the building. “What the heck is wrong with me,” she asked, starting to walk away from the bus stop.
“Need a lift?” Shelly heard a voice ask.
When she turned toward the street, she saw Susan peering out from her PT Cruiser. There were brownish patches where rust had eaten through the body, either that, or the girl was the worst driver in the world, with more accidents than anyone she had ever known. “I don’t know,” Shelly replied, walking parallel to the car, but away from the curb.
“You don’t know?” Sue asked, the car rolling next to Shelly. “Where are you headed?”
Shelly suddenly wondered why everyone lately seemed to be questioning her about where she was going. She remembered the warnings she had received about going to see Dr. Lasker, and wondered if Sue was someone she should trust. Could she have been the one writing the warnings? That would explain her saying she couldn’t see the writing in the shower. She
turned back to the car. Somehow the patches on the body seemed to assure her, after all, who would use such a car if they were plotting a kidnapping or something awful like that? And yet, she had only just met Sue this morning in the shower room of all places…just before the bus incident. Shelly frowned. Why would a black girl she hardly knew suddenly want to help her? This is stupid, she scolded silently. “I’m headed for the Student Union,” she lied, not knowing why she didn’t want to tell the truth.
“Hop in. I’ll give you a ride.” Sue leaned across the bucket seat and pushed open the car
Shelly hesitated, but how do you turn down a ride without offending the driver? The car was moving slowly next to her, its door wide open, hard to ignore.
“Come on. I’m not really as bad a driver as the car looks.” Sue gave a good-natured
I hope not, Shelly thought, wishing there was some way to avoid getting into Susan’s car. “It’s a nice day. I was looking forward to walking,” she said.
“Hey, I’m heading to the S.U. myself so get in.”
Shelly hopped reluctantly into the car and pulled the door shut. She heard the click of the locks as she pulled the shoulder belt around her. “Thank you. I wasn’t expecting a ride.”
“No biggie,” Sue replied. “I was heading there myself.”
“Everything okay?” Shelly asked, sensing Sue wasn’t telling her everything. “Can we talk a little?” Sue’s eyes were hidden behind sunglasses.
Shelly felt Sue was studying her. Her curiosity was piqued. “Sure. What’s up?”
Sue was driving slowly, her eyes still on Shelly. “I was looking out my window this morning.”
Shelly froze. This was a strange way to begin a conversation. “Well the thing is…I saw something…something weird.”
Shelly’s eyes were glued to the mirror reflection of Sue’s shielded eyes bouncing back and forth from the road to her face and back. She was glad the car was moving so slowly. Sue seemed unable to keep her eyes on the road…another accident waiting to happen. “What did you see?” She held her breath, afraid to hear what this girl was about to say.