Chapter 1 - Paranoia
I left my office at around 10 PM. Paula almost cried when she watched me leave. Being self-employed definitely had a lot of perks; perks that Paula, the receptionist at the co-working space I rent an office 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 a bunch 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 was a patient person, but working as a programmer definitely stretched my sanity to its limits sometimes.
I waved to Paula and got in the elevator. Samuel, one of the guys from another tech firm 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 for him, and had always enjoyed socializing with him, but it had gotten a little awkward between us ever since he’d asked me out a couple weeks ago. I’d turned him down, but it was kind of hard to come up with a clear reason.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, 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 just 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 bewildering 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 walk out of the elevator and with a small nod to Samuel, I walk out of the building and head towards my car that’s 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 finishing work at this hour, but then again, I was a bit of a wuss when it came to walking alone at night, 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 and 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 breathing accelerated, and I tilted my head to take a quick peak behind me. The other man was still walking just behind me, but he’d almost caught up to me.
I had no where to run to, 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.