Chapter 4

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"This is Kinsley."

The sound of the automated voice was barely audible, but it got me moving through the throng of people towards the exit. As soon as the train doors opened, a gust of cold air hit, making me shiver and wish I could click my heels and be inside my apartment. I soldiered through, pushing out of the train car and moving with the crowd towards the exit.

My stomach growled, reminding me of the need for sustenance, as I descended the stairs. Pushing out of the turnstile, I paused and glanced around, knowing there weren't many options. Well, not much that I'd be interested in eating anyway. My eyes caught the pizza place next to the station, but I'd had it four times this week. I could get the pizza, spend extra on delivery, or cook something I already had. For a moment I chewed on my lower lip. Pizza.

My steps were quick, but also hesitant, so I could avoid slipping on any invisible ice. I walked into the restaurant and removed my headphones, smiling at the man behind the counter and telling him my choice for the dough. He led me down the assembly line, and I informed him of the sauce, cheese, and toppings: pepperoni and bacon. When we were finished and I paid, I took a seat near one of the windows, deciding against returning to my music, and instead contending with my thoughts. I'd been able to keep my mind from wandering into a dark place all day but now but now the darkness poked at past my defenses.

"Sid!" The yelling made me cringe, but I rose and got my pizza, grabbing a cup of water as well. Sitting back down, I ate in silence, keeping myself distracted with YouTube videos on my phone and the pizza. By the time I'd watched two vlogs I'd also finished the food and guzzled my water. I threw away my cup and placed my tray on the counter before exiting and sinking deeper into my coat when cold air hit me.

"This freaking sucks," I mumbled under my breath, shivering. My pace quickened. I pulled myself deeper into the coat, trying to cover all exposed flesh.

The sun had completely set and the moon sat high in the sky , reminding me of the event several days ago. I was still shaken, but I had to push past all that. Hiding out to sit around and cry all day wasn't going to help me move on with my life or make it better.

I was shied away of those around me, eyes examining the area frequently. The paranoia creeped back to me, but nothing specific caught my attention. No one seemed obvious or overly "casual" in the way they carried themselves. Part of me thought the feeling was mostly a residual effect of the last time I'd wanted pizza. Shaking my head and blinking, I paused at the crosswalk, still scanning those who roamed this late at night. With how fast the people and cars were moving, I realized my own exhaustion. When the light changed, I lagged behind a bit, but fought to keep my pace.My pace didn't change though. I moved as fast as I could while watching out for any ice patches. My knees could take no more of the abuse.

As my favorite song played I sang along, my head bobbing along with the words. The beat had me feeling energized; my body relaxed a little and my legs moving without feeling overworked.

The crowd in front of me thinned, which I was grateful for as I approached a smaller part of the sidewalk. It didn't stop someone bumping into me though, causing my foot to slip and my body to tilt towards the ground. I found my footing, gaining enough control to keep me on my feet. For a moment, I stood there, regrouping before moving forward with my trek home. No one around me gave my almost wipeout a single glance though some guy's head turned away as soon as I glanced in his direction. My cheeks burned at the thought of anyone seeing that, but I kept walking, turning off the main street to traverse the block until I reached my own.

Keeping an eye out, I continued to try and remain calm; no need to go into a panic. When my street came up, I almost passed it, my focus on the people and cars that surrounded me. No one walked down the road, eliciting a sigh as I eyed the poorly lit area. Pushing on, I tried to just get through it, ignoring the creepy vibe I got from the area at night.The alleyway I had to pass didn't help, but I sped by it and felt some of the fear die down. My body relaxed a little and then I felt a yank on my purse strap

"What the...?" I stumbled back, lost my footing, and crashed down into the sidewalk. As my hands found stability on the cold cement, my head snapped up to the figure standing in front of me. My mouth went dry and my eyes widened, and I didn't think, scrambling back and pushing myself off the ground. Once on my feet and breaking into a run, they gripped my purse strap again, trying to yank me back towards them. I I struggle, my heart pounds in my chest as I try and use all of might. A burst of energy lends me strength, almost pulling free. My chest heaves and I can barely think, then I see the strap and try to duck underneath. I barely escape the straps. Without looking back, I broke into a sprint, not stopping once as I ran back towards the train station.

Upon arrival my breathing became heavier and my vision cloudy. I feel the unease growing, barely noticing that tears streamed down my face. Change from my pockets got me a ticket and through the turnstile, and I rushed to the platform. When the train rolls in I hop on, sitting near a few people and scanning the area. Adrenaline pumping, I couldn't help but fidget, and though I scanned the space, I didn't see the people's actual faces. By the time we reached the end of the line, my fear hadn't mellowed. Sticking to groups of people as we departed the station, I make the twenty minute trek to my friend's dorm.

The local high school had just let out, which was a godsend, I now had people to walk around me. Most kids walked the opposite direction, so I quickened my pace to be near those who were walking the same way as me. As I got closer to Jamie's campus it dawned on me that I should call her, showing up unannounced wasn't the best idea.

"Okay, Google. Call Jamie." My voice and hands became shaky. I listened as it rang, hoping she'd pick up soon. As suspected, she didn't, so I hung up without leaving a message and didn't try again.

When I reach a block where a vein of water runs below it, I take small comfort in being almost there. Glancing around, I ran across the street to avoid getting hit by any oncoming traffic. At first glance no one is there, then I notice someone standing in my path; someone who hadn't been there before. I don't get time to process because suddenly I'm going sideways and free-falling. I cry out and my head smacks into the ground.


My eyes blinked open, and my head felt like it was swimming in the clouds. My head pounded, and everything blurred in front of me. I barely made out the person kneeling beside me. Shaking my head, I attempted to sit up, but just became dizzy and nauseous. The person helped me into a sitting position, propping me against them. I sat there, searching for a memory, having zero clue of what happened. When my vision cleared, though, so did the haze in my mind. I scramble back, using a rock to aid me to my feet as I turned to get away.

"Sidney!" They ran behind me, but I kept going and searched for somewhere to go. My throbbing head impeded my thinking process as I tried to figure out where to turn next on the trail to get up to the street. Stairs came to view, but before I could reach them or scream out I was yanked back?

"Sidney, breathe!" They spun me around and gripped both of my arms. I tried to squirm free. When I finally looked up I froze, eyes wide and mouth agape. The fear of someone trying to hurt me dissipated, shock taking its place.


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