17. Man with a knife
The person that will forever haunt my slumbering moments I met when I was just out of high school. I didn’t have a car and the concept of ‘public transportation’ is about as foreign here as the concept of letting strangers off the street into your house and offering them food is most other places in the country. So I walked anywhere and every where that was within 15 miles. I was working at a fast food restaurant that was about a 45 minute walk from my house, and was usually working a 5pm-1am shift. I personally loved that shift, it was usually quiet when I got out of work, and I could just walk and think and listen to the sounds of the night. That all changed after I met this person. I was walking home like normal, uniform shirt thrown over my shoulder, enjoying the feel of the breeze. I saw someone cross the street about 300 yds (~100m) in front of me, but all I could see was the silhouette against the front porch light of a house down the road, we have a grand total of about 6 street lights on the back roads in the county, so its usually very dark and very hard to see at distances.
Something about him just seemed off, I thought I saw him holding a knife, but then I thought, its dark and my mind is just trying to scare me so I cautiously took a step forward, reaching into my pocket and gripping my pocket knife. As I get closer to him I can sort of see his slightly darker shape against the black pine trees behind him. I know I can see a knife at this point, and my mind clicks, that he isn’t walking like a normal person. It’s almost like he’s walking crouched down. I’m not sure what to do, he’s between me and home. The back roads don’t connect to each other and I know the homeless people live in the woods around here, some of them are ok, others… aren’t all there. It was a grab bag of which you got and I don’t like the odds.
My brain is screaming at me to do something, but I’m not sure what I should do, so I stand and watch as he gets closer. He gets to within probably 100 ft(~30m) of me before I hear him saying something, I can’t make it out but I can hear him making some noise. I can also see he is swinging something around in his other hand, but again, it’s dark, its hard to see. I back off the road a little and put the drainage ditch between us, but never take my eyes off the guy.
He gets closer and I see that he does indeed have a rather large knife, and the object he is swinging around in the other hand is a dead cat. The warning lights are going off all over the place in my head, but I still don’t know what to do, I’m just hoping that a car will drive by, I’d even have taken a sheriff’s deputy at that point. He gets across the street from me and stops. I can hear him really well now, it almost sounded like he was chanting, or reciting a verse over and over again. He turned his full body to face me and just roared at me at the top of his lungs. I booked it towards home.
Looking over my shoulder every turn, and he was always there behind me. I ran faster than I think I ever have before, and he was with me pace for pace, swinging his knife and dead cat at me every step of the way. I’m not about to lead him to my house though, my mom and sister are home alone, my dad being out of town for work. I run as fast as I can passing the road I live on, and as long as I can but I can feel the burn and the pain, and the wobble that forecasts my knee giving out. I turn look over my shoulder and he’s still there, a little further away, but still there. I try to make it to a friend’s house that I know is home and most likely still awake, but about fifty feet from his fence I feel the pop, the grind, and the intense pain as my knee goes. I fall forward, grabbing my knees and trying to curl into a ball the pain is so intense. I hit the ground with my shoulder and roll, I remember why I was running and look behind me. He was no where to be seen.
I started crawling towards his fence, getting back on my feet and running as fast as I could hobble, and jumped over the fence before collapsing on the other side again as I landed on my leg. Shouting and crawling across his yard I start beating on the door and side of the house until my friend comes to the door and bolt inside and slam it behind me just as his very irritated father comes down the stairs. They both stop short when they notice how freaked out I am, his father always commented on how stoic I am. I explain what happened to them, and they both look at me like I’m speaking in tongues. I go through it all twice for them before my friend agrees to drive me home. I was watching the entire way, I never saw him. I figured he had ran into the woods or something. We got home and he waited till I was inside and locked the door before he left.
I changed clothes, got in the shower and stayed there until the water went cold trying to wrap my head around everything. I eventually calmed down and finally laid down to go to sleep around 5 am. Something knocked on my window, at first I thought it was just my imagination. Then it happened again so I went to look out. He was in my window smiling. I shouted and woke everyone else up and called the cops, but they didn’t show up for at least half an hour by which time he was long gone. I couldn’t sleep for a month, I stopped walking home from work, and I started carrying more than just a pocket knife if I had to walk alone outside after dark.
I still have trouble sleeping at night. I haven’t ever seen him again. But I swear sometimes I can feel him watching when I’m outside at night.