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Chapter 4

Shelly felt a hard surface against her side. Opening her eyes she was dismayed to see she was lying on a park bench. It’s dark? How did I get here?

Her hands automatically checked her clothes. Her jogging jacket was still zipped and her pants were in place. Had she been attacked? I could have been raped? Why was I so stupid? She could hear her mother scolding her for not listening to her warnings. She sat up. I’m okay, she thought, breathing a sigh of relief. Everything is fine. She gazed up at the trees, recognizing that she was in the park. What am I doing here?

It came back to her with a jolt. The last thing she remembered seeing was a body…a

man… lying dead! At least she thought he was dead. He was on the ground. Wasn’t he? There was blood.

Her eyes searched the dark area behind the bench. “I’ve got to call 9-1-1,” she muttered, recalling what she was about to do before blacking out. She reached into her fanny pack. “Where the hell is my phone?”

“You dropped it on the ground before you passed out,” a voice replied. “Are you okay now? I was concerned about you. One minute you were all fists and nails, and the next, you were gone. Out like a light.”

Shelly recoiled as her eyes darted toward the voice. A man’s voice! She prepared to fight him off, terrified of the voice of someone in the dark. She remembered now. She had heard a

man’s voice before…but where was he? “Who’s talking,” she asked, rearing up on the bench. He had to be near, but where? She shook her head. I must be in shock. That would be logical. “Is someone here?” She looked more intently. ”I don’t see anyone? Where are you?” She began to laugh at how ridiculous she felt, hearing voices, seeing bodies melt into nothingness. “I must be nuts,” she said, dropping back onto the bench, relieved nobody was near. “I’m probably just dehydrated. Where’s my water?”

“Please don’t be afraid--”

“What the hell?” Shelly reared up again and searched quickly in the dim light. Was this a trick? Was someone playing with her? “Stop messing with me. I called the cops!” Her eyes were trying to pierce the dark and search the surrounding trees. “The cops will be here any second,” she threatened whoever was hiding behind the bushes.

“While you were sleeping? With your phone missing?”

“Who the hell is this? I’m warning you!” She held her fists in front of her, wishing she had the man’s knife…was that knife even real? Is this him? The thought that the mugger was back, was hiding to terrorize her, waiting until he could attack, and God knows what, forced her to search the darkness again for her tormentor. “Just stay away from me! The cops are coming.”

“Don’t you think if I wanted to hurt you, I would have done it by now,” the voice asked. “You’re not going to try swinging at me again, are you? You almost knocked yourself out with that last kick. Pretty high though.”

“You’re not a mugger?” Or a rapist, she thought. “I’m hearing things,” she said. “There’s nobody here.” She sat back against the bench, relieved.

“I’m here,” the voice replied. “Right in front of you.”

“What the hell are you?” Shelly reared back further, searching desperately. “I’ve got a knife,” she lied, wishing she had taken the one from the body. ..the body. Holy crap! This could be the killer? “I can defend myself. Stay back whoever you are! This isn’t funny.” Where the hell is that damn phone? She aimed her fists, her body circling to ward off any possible attack.

“Calm down for heaven’s sake. I just saved your life. Why would I hurt you? By the way, you look angelic when you’re sleeping.” He would have said sexy but thought that would spook her even more than she already was.

What the hell is going on, Shelly moaned, wishing she could see who was tormenting her, her eyes searching every inch around the bench. “What do you mean you saved my life? You’re not even here.” I don’t see a damn thing, she assured herself, still on guard.

“Don’t you remember seeing that creep lying on the ground over there? Oh, I forgot, you can’t see me pointing. That’s why you’re so afraid of me. That’s how you missed me with those chops of yours. Not bad…for a girl.”

Shelly tried to stop shaking. It wasn’t a good idea to show she was afraid of whoever this character was. “I’m not afraid of you. You don’t exist. I’m in shock or something like that.

You’re not real. You’re not real. You’re not--” “Boo!” the man suddenly shouted.

Shelly jumped a mile off the bench. “Hey, don’t do that!”

“Sorry. But now do you believe I’m real,” the voice asked.

Shelly turned her body to where she thought the voice was coming from, eyes still searching. She told herself to act calm. Maybe whoever was doing this would think she had everything under control if she sounded calm? She tried to speak firmly, “I don’t understand. Who the hell are you? How come I can hear you but not see you?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” Shelly was still searching for a face, a body, a bit of clothing, dandruff, anything that would make this thing seem real.

“No. I seem to have no memory at all…before I saved you. That’s strange, isn’t it?”

His voice was soft. He didn’t sound like he was going to attack her. He hadn’t up to now. She had seen on T.V. if you personalize things, make friends with a kidnapper or hostage taker,

there’s less chance they will hurt you. It was worth a try. “What’s your name,” she asked, still wondering who exactly she was talking to, wondering if her legs would hold her if she tried to make a run for the middle of the street where a car might see her. It was worth a shot. ”What about your name?”

“My name? That’s a good question. I don’t know.”

This has to be a trick. I’m being punked. “What about an address, a phone number, email? Shelly thought she could make it to the street from the bench, but was it worth the risk? Her legs felt rubbery. What if he had a knife…or a gun? “Come on, you must remember something?”

“I’m telling you the truth. I can’t seem to remember anything from before I saw you.” That wasn’t quite true, but why scare her more than she was already, he thought.

Why was she still here? The mugger was dead and so probably was the girl. This guy, whoever he was, was somehow involved. She lowered her feet close to the ground, hoping he didn’t notice.

He did.

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