Author's note: Hey folks: Happy Halloween. Hope you enjoy my very first pasta. (Well, not actually my very first, but we don't talk about the things of the past) It's a bit short and a bit rough around the edges, but I was really excited to post this in time for All Hallows Eve. Thanks for taking time to read this.
Today was ordinary. Too ordinary. It’s on days like this that I have a sneaking suspicion something will go very, very wrong. I could just feel it. A man was looking at me from across the street. And he looked ordinary. A little too ordinary. Reluctantly, I crossed the street. He did the same. Giving me one final glance, he continued on his way.
Or that’s what he wants me to think. In any case, I kept looking over my shoulder on my way to work.
The workday was long. Just like it always is. Co-workers were chatting about very mundane things. Things that happen all the time. Nothing new, nothing bold. It’s all too ordinary. And when things are so ordinary, bad things tend to happen. I don’t care much for my co-workers. They are always up to ordinary stuff.
After the shift was done I packed my things and walked home. I took the less crowded road. Less ordinary. By that time it was already night-time, but that was ordinary. It’s always night-time when I walk home from work. At the opposite end of the road was the man again. His eyes locked on me for a moment. Nobody else around on the street.
Was this ordinary?
Yes, yes it was. I’ve seen this man before. I see him every day before and after work. He is always at the same place at the same time. This is suspicious. Very, very suspicious. I tipped my hat to him, and he did the same. Is he copying me?
I began to cross the street. He did the same. He was approaching me. In the dark. During an ordinary day. I felt sweat drip down my forehead. My hand reached in my pocket and l clenched my keys inside my fist. He inched closer and closer. I froze in fear in the middle of the road. What will he do with me? Nobody is around. Will he rob me? Murder me?
He merely walked past me, shooting me wide-eyed glance before he ignored me and moved on. I stared in disbelief; he is toying with me. Well, I’ve read enough horror stories to know better.
That night I double-locked all my doors, secured all the shutters and hid a knife under my bed. Whatever he was, I was prepared for him. I don’t think I even slept that night.
The following days I kept seeing him there. At the same spot, at the same time. He was mocking me, reminding me of my mortality. I spent all my time before work in the library, then all night reading the books I had managed to check out. But I concluded that he was not mythical nor supernatural in any way. Common maniac he was. Perhaps one who liked to torment his victims before he finished them off. That would explain why he hasn’t tried anything on me so far; he’s trying to break my spirits. But I wouldn’t fall into his trap.
The street was more crowded during the day. We both knew that. He pretended not to see me that time, Clever, clever gent. But I know you’re watching. I can sense it even when you’re not looking at me. And I have got a surprise for you next time we meet. When it’s less crowded and you are more likely to attack me. I’ll be ready.
During work, I was not focused. All I could think of was my brilliant plan. The thought that I would finally be rid of my tormentor filled me with glee. I hummed a soft, unordinary tune. Herbert asked me why I was so happy.
“It is my birthday, today.” I responded, which was not a full lie. My birthday was today but I could not care less about this. No, I never cared for my birthday after the incident. There was a bigger joy waiting for me later today.
“Oh, I had all but forgotten.” George chimed in and presented me with a lavishly decorated box. “You’ve been such a good fellow. And we know things have been difficult for you as of late. Must have been hard in this empty house all by yourself. We all decided to get this for you; a birthday gift if you will.”
This was not ordinary.
I took the box in my hands, wiggled it around a bit. It sounded like it had several smaller boxes inside.
“Go ahead, mate. Open it.” Herbert prompted me.
I gently untied the bow on top of the box and removed the lid.
“We know how much you like scary stories,” George commented. “so we hope this would cheer you up at least a bit. A friend of mine likes these books too, so he told us which ones he strongly recommended.”
Inside that box was a collection of books. Books written by Edgar Allan Poe.
“Thank you.” I replied with a smile in my eyes and my heart feeling warmer.
These men were not that ordinary after all.
During my break, I read “Telltale Heart”. And it all finally clicked:
That man who had been following me all this time. He was obsessed with me.
Maybe I looked at him wrong, or maybe he didn’t like the way I brushed past him that one time. Whatever the case, (There is no point trying to explain the machinations of a demented mind) he was planning to murder me, chop my corpse up and hide my parts under the floorboards of his house. I paled at the thought.
But my co-workers were loyal. My co-workers were smart. They found out what was going on, and they wanted to warn me, but they knew that fiend was watching them. So the only way to tell me was through the books. That man (if you can even call him that) must be harassing and tormenting them, too.
I stood under the dim yellowish light of the gas lamp above. Waiting for my adversary fully prepared. And sure enough, at the same time as always, he began crossing the street. This time, I didn’t cross to the other side; I began to follow him.
Slowly at first, but I gradually began gaining on him. He looked over his shoulder periodically. A hint of nervousness in his eyes.
Great. Now he knows how I felt when he was threatening me. I followed him until we reached an alley with broken lamps and boarded windows that I usually pass through when leaving work. By that point, I was almost a breath away from him.
I took my baton out of my belt holding a side in each hand. Excitement filling my entire body, I leapt onto the man and pulled the baton over his neck faster than he could scream.
I squeezed and squeezed and didn’t stop until he was all but unconscious.
I did not plan to let him die so quickly, though. I released him as soon as he could move no longer. As he laid there on the ground, barely awake, I stepped onto his stomach, merrily dancing up and down on the unprotesting body. The sound of his breaking bones was the beat. His pleading grunts and coughs were the melody. And me? I was the Composer.
Too early did the music stop, leaving nothing but the beat and making my dancing come to a halt. I caught my breath, a relieved smile forming on my lips.
The deed was done. The monster was slain. Satisfied, I took the burlap sack I had packed for the occasion out of my briefcase and stored the mangled body inside. Left it next to the dustbins amongst the rest of the rubbish. Caring not if somebody discovered it. I had left no evidence behind.
I slept like a baby that night.
No day was ordinary after this one. My coworkers and I were assigned to the case of that man’s murder. They didn’t say anything out loud, but I am sure they were grateful I dealt with the threat so quickly. It was like a hidden pact between us to never talk about it. But I smile to myself in secret every time the case is brought up. My friends are such good actors.
The more time goes by, however the more I feel like things are slowly becoming ordinary again. Almost a full year after the case, something has been bothering me quite a lot.
This little girl I’ve been passing by on my way to work. She’s been acting ordinary.
A bit too ordinary.