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I finish my shift at the diner in a dismal state. My hair is in knots, my clothes are drenched, and my head is pulsating with a seemingly never ending headache. Saying today was a complete and utter shit show would be the understatement of the century. I'm just thankful it's finally over and I can go home.

I lost count of the times I almost flew off the handle today alone. I stopped counting after the third instance of being tripped by the same group of snotty teenagers, and every time ended with me being launched head first onto the floor, the tray of food I was holding smearing all over my chest. They found it hilarious, laughing endlessly as if it was the funniest thing in the world. I don't find it funny. 

And yet again I was harassed by drunk middle-aged men with egos somehow even bigger than their beer bellies. I've learned to ignore their rude comments and sexist remarks, but that doesn't make their constant pestering any more bearable. Not to mention that despite the diner being especially overcrowded tonight, the tips were sparse. 

Needless to say, I am eager to get home and take a warm bath.

The diner had a rather dark vibe surrounding it today. The dark news report that flashed across every TV screen this morning with the same story really killed the mood. "Missing person found dead in the Hudson River after an extensive two-year long search." The police concluded that she was beaten to death and thrown into the river, but they have no other leads about how she had gotten there. Because in the photos of her body she looks like a skyway prostitute Barbie doll gone rogue, one of her escapades must have gone wrong and her client went mad and pushed her out of the airplane. I don't blame him though. With fake boobs like those, I would have done the same. I didn't get the hear the rest because my boss yelled at me to get back to work. Fucking Bert, one of the biggest assholes you'll ever meet.

Anyways, there's nothing like a dash of murder to brighten the mood. The gloomy weather outside also didn't serve to help the cause.

The unforgiving December wind slaps me in the face as soon as I step outside. I try to sink into my scarf like a turtle would bury its head in its shell. My hands reside in my pockets to protect them from the harsh air. I forgot my gloves at home. Luckily for me, my apartment is only a ten-minute walk away from work so I am essentially almost home. Well, not really, but that's what I have to keep telling myself.

As I walk under the bright street lights I curse winter under my breath. I probably look like a mad woman by the way I am muttering to myself, but do I care? No. Not even in the slightest.

I take notice of how eerily quiet the streets are. Sure, it's around midnight, but usually, there are a few cars driving by or a group of girls trying to find their way to one of New York City's many clubs. But not tonight.

The empty air only adds to further the chilling effect of the cold. There is no sound or life around me except for the whistle of the brisk wind, yet I get the sudden feeling I'm not alone. The feeling is a shivering one.

I can sense another presence behind me but I don't see anyone at all. I've walked this street countless times at night with no problems whatsoever, well, except for the occasional catcalls, but what else would you expect from the big city?

I decide to quicken my pace anyway. After all, a warm bath awaits me at home. I let my mind wander. Perhaps I will even use one of my bath bombs tonight.

I hear the faint sound of footsteps behind me and my attention spikes as my heart jumps out of my chest. There really is someone else here. I'm not alone...

I swear to god if it's one of those sexist creeps from the diner, I'm gonna—

Yes. I take a deep breath, reminding myself to relax. I think I deserve a bath bomb tonight. Perhaps lavender scented. No, island breeze.

I soon break out into a jog until I reach my apartment building. I just wanna be home faster. This feeling in my gut won't dissipate.

All I have to do is cross the street and get up to my—

I stop dead in my tracks. A lanky man dressed in a dark cloak leans leisurely on the door to my building. All of his features are hidden except for the bottom of his chin. A crooked smile bends across his face as soon as I walk under the bright streetlight. This man gives me a strange vibe and I'm absolutely not here for it.

I can't help but feel intimidated. I am frozen in place, both physically and mentally. Something seems very off about this man. There's a certain unsettling ambiance about him. It may just be my imagination but his smile looks like satan.

I've never seen him before. I know every person who lives in my small apartment complex. There's only twelve of us living here. I can guarantee that whoever this man is, he is not a resident of my building.

Something tells me to continue walking. I trust my instinct and decide to spend the night at my friend's apartments a few blocks down. When I turn around the block, my eyes dart back to where the man was standing.

The keyword here is was.

The man has disappeared into the shadows of the night. He's completely out of sight. Panic takes full control of my body as I speed up to a run. An unsettling feeling creeps up into my chest.

I find myself bumping into something hard and stumbling backward. I absentmindedly stutter out an apology before looking up at the figure towering over me.

A different man than the one before stands in front of me. This one is dressed in a similar black cloak but he has a smaller, yet bulkier and stronger stature.

"What are you looking at, darling?" The deep voice holds a rather dangerous ring even in a whisper. Each word is drawled out slowly. My heart thumps through my chest as my instincts take charge of my limbs.

"I... um sorry. I h-have to g-go..." I manage to stutter before I turning around to run. I don't get very far though. He catches my wrist almost immediately and holds it in a death grip. The force causes me to be pulled back into his chest. He takes this opportunity to wrap his arms around me, rendering me immobile.

"Where do you think you're going, my doll?" Another voice echos from near by.

I struggle relentlessly. The man's grip only strengthens. I really didn't want to use this tactic, but he leaves me no choice. I force myself to relax allowing the man to loosen his grip in accordance as I feign submission.

"Good girl."

Before he has time to think, I turn around and knee him with all the force I can muster where the sun doesn't shine.

He collapses to the ground crying like a baby. I don't even feel bad.

I run faster than I ever have in my entire life. A shrill chuckle reverberates from the man. I turn back to see what is so funny but yet again I bump into another hard object, but instead of bouncing off this time, a pair of arms envelop me tightly. Why couldn't I have bumped into a damn pole like a normal person?

"Are you asking for a death wish?" I glance from him over to the other man writhing in pain on the cold unforgiving concrete.

A chuckle emerges from inside the cloak. Closer up I can observe the man much more easily, but the dark night still conceals his face.

"I've got her, boss." A deeper, raspy voice asserts, directing his voice to another figure approaching. The shadow gets nearer and I see it's was the man who was leaning on my door.

The same crooked smirk widens on the lanky man's face as he advances towards me. I struggle to be released out of this man's grip. The man holding me captive with his bulging arms responds with a terrifying laugh, "Sweetheart, struggling is futile. You may as well save your energy."

"Looks like our new doll is feisty." The lanky man exaggerates a pouty face for effect, "Looks like we have our work cut out, don't we?"

I'm shaking.


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