There were no thoughts in my head as I ran. I could barely see but I just had to run ahead and hide somewhere. The stranger was here. And he was after me. I was running towards a huge building which looked like a church but I wasn’t sure. I looked back but couldn’t see him so I decided to hide and settle down for sometime. I ran to the side of that building and climbed up a tree and hid in between the branches. My vision was returning but my breath was still gone. I looked as far down the street as I could but I couldn’t see him so I decided to try and make myself as comfortable as possible, and figure out how it all led to where I was right now.
I’d first seen him in my dreams about 2 years ago. He was standing on a cliff, looking up at the stars. Each night he’d look down, stare at me and walk a few steps away from his cliff, towards where I stood at the shore. There was something strangely familiar in the strangers face, but I’d still wake up sweating and terrified to the core. However, I never really gave it much thought and went back to sleep wondering why I have the same dream each night, and wanting to meet the man. That was a mistake.
Last week he was within 10 feet of me. I tried to run but I couldn’t move. He smiled at me and I understood that he wanted to kill me.
Yesterday he’d come right upto me. With murderous eyes and a chilling smile he pointed towards my feet. I woke up as soon as I looked down. I walked to my window to get some fresh air and saw him standing right across the street staring at me. The man in my dreams had become a reality.
I was pulled out of my reverie as I saw a woman walking into the building on my right. Which, as I peered inside the windows, was a church as I’d previously thought. She solemnly walked and sat down in the corner of the first pew. There was something alluring about her that I couldn’t quite place my finger upon. She wasn’t beautiful, a rather plain Jane in fact, but something about her expression made me forget about the dangerous situation I was in and just look at her and wonder. She stood up abruptly, and screamed. It was a scream of a woman who’d long since forgotten how to live and was simply enduring the hardships life threw at her. A scream full of frustration, directed at people all around her, but mostly at herself. She stopped screaming and fell to her feet. I could see her shoulders shaking so I assumed that she was crying, but I had a feeling that she was laughing.
I’d never given much thought to people around me, and watching this woman was an overwhelming feeling. She made me realise that her life was as much as, if not more, complex and deranged as mine. I’d forgotten all about my familiar stranger who’d somehow become an actuality. With a jerk, I looked at the far end of the street and saw him standing there in the middle of the road and looking at me right through the branches. The longer I stared at that chilling smirk plastered on his face, the more numb I became with fear. I jumped off the tree and ran straight. Away from him, and away from her. I ran with a feeling that over time, I would come to know this darkness and fear, and maybe I’d even call them my companions.
By Sonam Sharma (Fiction)