Chapter 1 - Paranoia
I left my office around 10 PM. Paula almost cried when she watched me leave. Being self-employed definitely has a lot of perks; perks that Paula, the receptionist at the co-working space I work in, doesn’t have.
A networking event was happening tonight, and though I usually tried to attend as many of those as I could, my brain was fried from fixing an infinite number of bugs on one of my client’s websites. And I was not going to be able to do any sort of small talk for an extended period of time.
I'm usually a patient person, but working as a programmer definitely stretched my sanity to its limits at times.
I waved to Paula and got into the elevator. Samuel, a guy from one of the other tech firms renting here, got in at the same time. Great.
“Hey Violet, how was your day?”
I smiled politely and we exchanged for a few seconds. I had a great amount of respect towards him, and had always enjoyed chatting him up, but it had gotten a little awkward between us ever since he’d asked me out a couple of weeks ago. I’d turned him down, but I had really scrambled to come up with a clear reason on the spot. Now it was way too late to bring it up again.
Samuel was good-looking, successful, smart, kind...a lot of things you’d want in a man. But, I didn’t want to date anymore. Not since my ex and I split up a few months ago.
I’d spent years with my ex Ethan, and I had been happy for a while. He too, was a handsome, smart and kind man. But we’d grown so accustomed to each other, everything became bland. Especially our sex life. That had rapidly gone up in smoke within the first year of living together, no matter how hard I tried to keep it alive.
He ended up leaving because he wanted more out of a relationship, and I’d lost 3 years of my life. At almost 28, I had been in countless relationships that always ended the same way. Bottom line is that they all eventually ended. What was the point?
I used to believe in true love and getting married, and all that crap. But I woke up from that crazy dream a while ago, when I realized my relationship with Ethan, which was full of promise at first, ended up just like my others before him.
So I’d decided there was no point in dating anymore. For me, it was always pretty much the same. You start dating, everything is rose and dandy, then you start getting tired of each other, you fight, intimacy disappears. In the end, the relationship is broken beyond repair so you part ways, having wasted happiness, time and energy.
I walked out of the elevator and with a small nod to Samuel, I walked out of the building and headed towards my car that was parked a few blocks over.
Although the office space was beautiful and pretty costly, it was located in a dodgy neighbour full of old industrial buildings and dark narrow alleys. I didn’t particularly like leaving work at this hour, but then again, I was a bit of a wuss in general.
As if on cue, my paranoia came to life inside of me when I noticed a man following me. Surely, he wasn’t really following me; he was just walking in the same direction as me. Right?
“Just keep walking, Vi.” I muttered under my breath.
As I kept walking by the run-down parked cars in front of the local tavern, I noticed another man walking towards me, with his eyes trained on me. I averted my gaze for a few seconds, then glanced back up, but he was still looking at me. A sense of panic grew inside my core and I clutched my purse tighter.
As he got close, the man’s face cracked into a toothy smile, and I saw a shimmer in his eyes. Like a predator about to pounce on his prey. My breath accelerated, and I tilted my head to take a quick peak behind me. The other man was still walking just behind, but he’d almost caught up to me.
I had nowhere to run, we’d already passed the tavern, and there wasn’t anyone around.
A few more strides and he’d reach me. One, two, three...
“Hey man, so good to see you!” The man that was walking behind me made me jump out of my skin as he spoke. The one walking towards me embraced him and they hugged each other for a few seconds, oblivious to the fact that I had almost just screamed out at the top of my lungs.
I exhaled loudly, shutting my eyes for a breath. I kept on walking, faster now, towards my car. Holy crap. Ok, I definitely needed to find a way to calm my creative imagination down.