Tuesday, May 17, 2016

And Now the Running

Sandra had a corner apartment on the third floor.  They were the only units in the building that offered the large obnoxious roman bathtubs.  The only draw back, if you saw it that way, was that they were at the end of the living group for the hallway.  The closest thing to her door was the fire escape across the hall. It was open, and Sandra loved to climb it instead of taking the elevator or the interior stairs.  In her heart of hearts Sandra was really a recluse, and this suited her.
While musing over the oddities that comprised her best friend, Charlotte had locked the door, and had that feeling. As soon as she had turned the bolt, the sudden creepy crawly feeling of being watched covered her.  It had been in a split second, but her mind had yelled RUN!!  She hadn’t thought about it, she had just reacted.  She had run to the elevator of the long hall way as the door was closing.  Then she bolted for the stairwell at the end of the hall.  Charlotte hadn’t heard the footsteps, but she had felt the eyes.
Don’t look back.’  She heard her brother in her head yelling at her.  The self-defense pointers he had given her starting to play in her mind. 
Focus on what is in front of you.  Will yourself to that place.’  She flew through the doorway to the stairwell. 
If you get a chance, hide, don’t try and outrun them.’
She turned the stairwell, and went up instead of down.  The stairwell was a myriad of walled half flights, carpeted, and quiet.  She crouched on the other side of the wall facing the steps leading to the next level hoping her pursuer didn’t realize that she was there.  Charlotte pressed her back to the wall of the stairwell flattening her palms near her hips.  She balanced on the balls of her feet ready to spring because of the low heels on her black boots.  Her breath was coming out loudly almost panting. The air-conditioned area was musty like carpet that had been left wet.  There was a single oval recessed light on each landing right above the open space before you stepped through the door.
The creaking of the door on the landing beneath her as it flew open made her stop breathing.  Charlotte swallowed her gasp. Her heart was beating so loudly it could probably be heard from the street. She flexed her hands against the wall willing herself not to move. Even as the slight sound of padded footsteps receding reached her she waited before she let out the breath she had been holding.
Be patient. Don’t make a mistake now. You’re almost there.’
Charlotte slowly moved away from the wall, and made her way back down to the landing she had come from.  She walked slowly, fearful that her pursuer would get wise, and come bolting back up the stairs at any moment. When she reached the hallway she stood nervously in front of the elevator knowing that she couldn’t go down it alone.  She paced a few moments as a crowd of young adults made their way to the elevator.  A few of the ladies had hair like hers.
Don’t shy away from people.  Other people are your best cover if someone is looking for you to be alone.
She boarded the elevator with them.  They reached the garage under the building where she had parked her F-150.  Because of her brother’s diligent teachings, she always parked very close to elevators, and always under highly lit areas.  Charlotte streaked for her F-150, and got in locking the doors, and starting the truck in the same motion.  The creepy feeling returned, and for a split second she stared into the black eyes of a tall stocky man with a greasy look and feel to him.  His face snarled as she hit reverse, shifted to drive, and burned rubber pealing out of the parking lot.
It had all happened so quickly.  She had come home locked all her doors, closed all her blinds, and battled herself into not calling the police.  What would she say?  I think this guy was following me.  Oh yeah because my best friend and me have gotten ourselves into some serious trouble with a local oil baron.  And did I mention the CIA agent that kidnapped her off to Japan.

She had finally convinced herself that she would’ve sounded nuts.  At that time she most likely would have.  After all who was to say the guy didn’t need change or something.  Maybe he was a bill collector she had missed and was trying to find Sandra.  Charlotte had spent the night concocting an array of amusing, interesting antidotes that would explain what had happened at Sandra’s apartment.  Then it had happened again.

An excerpt from Charlotte's Chance on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords