IS THIS A NO SMOKING AREA? |
Your eyes were set on the blinking line for a good minute or so. Eerie white text suddenly appearing on your television in the middle of the night wasn't a normal occurrence, that's for sure.
You shifted in your spot quickly, tossing your throw pillow across the couch. Were you lucid dreaming? Was Tally playing a prank on you or something?
Could it be that creepy fucker from the park?
Your blood pressure rose and the anxiety from earlier simultaneously crept its way up your spine. His eyes- it hadn't hit you until after the confrontation how bold they were. They'd been a warm hazel, but borderline red in the light. It chilled you to the bone, thinking those rubylike eyes were behind the screen at that very moment.
After a few seconds, it had shut off. Your heartrate couldn't have plummeted quicker.
Did you accidentally fuck with some hacker guy? Some tech genius, maybe? A mafia mobster? Some powerful criminal of sorts?
No, no. This isn't something to panic over. Worst case scenario, the weirdo was just messing with you for payback. You'd feel the edge of your table and reach for the remote, turning the monitor off a bit shakily. You'd be safer outside, probably. It was still only 11:30 or so.
The convenience store down the block was still open. You decided that you could use that extra cash given in tips earlier to treat yourself to something. Even so, spending money just got your mind off problems easier than confronting them head on.
Quickly, without disturbing your resting cat, you grabbed ahold of a pair of room keys (with a self defense weapon intact as well) and slipped out the door.
It was nine steps down the hallway to the stairs, several dozen steps down, and six to get into the lobby. Nobody had been there besides a mail-tending janitor, so that saved you the need to converse with a neighbor. Your nerves were too frayed from earlier to talk to anyone that wasn't a cashier.
With a hefty push came a burst of city air- somewhat warm but a comfortable kind of air, the kind that settled in on you easily without a worry. The bustling atmosphere reassured you that no freaks would try to blow smoke in your eyes and get away with it now. It's not like you haven't dealt with assholes before- just that none of the assholes were quite as memorable.
But you had to admit, while walking with a slight bounce, you kinda hoped to see him again.
It was more of an unconscious decision. You couldn't decide if you just wanted to spit on his coat or stare at the guy a little longer. Maybe it came from a need to clarify what exactly he'd been doing, messing with you like that. He should start to pay up for how long he's been living in your head rent-free.
It was odd, but not uncanny for you. That's for sure.
Your mind, despite having the tendency to wander like it was, snapped to the sign above you. It's not like it was a long walk, after all. Street lamps were always on around this area, having little to no residential spaces. It kind of spooked you, but in a way that made you giggle a bit to yourself. Nobody could see you, save for a stray truck down the road and the little old man working the store.
You were briefly met with the dry scent of cheap plastic and bad air conditioning after stepping in through the front door. Kip was preoccupied with reorganizing his liquor stash, so you'd be fine to sneak past a pack of gum. Not like he cared much anyways. You'd been convinced the old man had a crush on you.
You wandered through an aisle, snatching a pack of bubblegum and slipping it down your sleeve before loudly picking up a bag of your favorite snack. Kip turned, squinting with his dollar store reading glasses at your form. He'd grin as you wandered back up.
"Is that my favorite customer I see? You haven't been visiting often."
You'd smile back, eyeing him skeptically. "Tallulah and I were here just last Friday."
"Whatever. I'm old, I don't remember things anymore." He handed you the bag and rung you up, sorting through the register for change. "You ought to be safe out there. Who knows what gangsters are waiting for someone like you to snatch up."
You took the bag and began walking off, throwing back a quick, peppy reply. "Don't worry about me, Kip. I can take care of myself."
You'd wished later on that you would've listened a bit better to his advice.
The bell chimed and cut off as you strolled back in the direction of your apartment complex. Hazy orange street lamps cut through the dark of the streets, humming with electricity. You took notice of how quiet your surroundings were, picking up the pace out of habit. You let your mind be consumed by ideas of tomorrow's happenings.
Before you knew it, your body was swept and thrown brazenly against a cold stone wall. Whiplash rid itself through your limbs, fueled by a sudden rush of adrenaline. Your vision was blurry from hitting your head against the wall, but through dazed eyelids, you could make out a pair of bright red eyes, pale.. skin?
No, no, no. That was a mask. What kind of purge shit was this?
The shock had worn off temporarily after a few seconds. You'd attempt to duck under his figure and make a run for it, but he'd pinned and cornered you with little to no effort. So much for a self-defense weapon. Second choice was to start yelling.
"Hey! Fuck off, man! I don't have mon-"
A gloved hand slammed itself against your throat, nearly crushing your jugular in the process. What warm summer air you had previously been breathing was immediately cut off in one fell swoop. Clawing at the man's arms was futile. Through a strained gasp, you cussed and spat, but the masked man- ironically having a rabbit mask adorning his features- didn't let up. In fact, those vivid red eyes got even closer, almost as if you were a show he'd been amused by.
More force was applied to your throat, making your head feel light and almost bubbly. Just when you thought you'd pass out, he let out a muffled chuckle. If he hadn't been as close you might've missed it. Just like that, he let go of your neck and let your body crumple down.
It took a good ten seconds to gain coherent thought again. When you finally had the strength to look up, you saw his full form. Oh, what a sight it was. He'd been kneeling forwards, one false bunny ear tilted almost as if he was teasing you. He had his arms folded atop his dark slacks, clad in a full business suit. You could barely make out a rusty red stain by his breast pocket through the nauseating streetlight.
He grabbed ahold of your head and pulled you up so you were making direct eye contact with the mask. A tear you'd never even noticed traced their way down your right cheek.
He'd take his other hand, still covered in a glove, and took out a cigarette from his pant pocket. You'd followed every move he made, making sure that he wasn't going to hurt you- well, you suppose he already did, that's for sure, but badly.
The bunny mask shifted its way upwards to reveal a familiar jawline. Your brain, having just received blood flow once again, took a second to process the sight. He bit it between his teeth for a moment before reaching down and fumbling for a lighter. He held it out to you, his other hand still gripping the side of your head.
"Care to light me up here, bunny? I need a smoke after you rudely interrupted it earlier."
What an odd turn of events.