Inspiration piece provided to Michelle Wallace
By Michelle Wallace
Sara woke up from a restless sleep and glanced at the clock. Crap, it was already after ten o’clock. She groaned as she forced her legs to move from under the covers to the floor. Stumbling past her mirror, she noticed that once again she’d forgotten to remove her makeup from the previous evening. The black mascara mingled with glittery blue made her look like a fancy raccoon. Yikes, not picture friendly today, she thought.
After a hot shower, she was finally able to focus her attention on the day’s tasks. She had a voicemail from her manager telling her how great last night’s show had been. Sara smiled as she remembered the concert. There had been a good turnout, and despite several minor irritations with the sound system, it was one of her better shows. She had sung her heart out and flowed with the crowd’s energy.
She frowned as she remembered the creepy guy who cornered her as she was packing up her gear. He had piercing eyes and personal space issues. Sara always made a point of being friendly to fans, but this guy was making it difficult. He mistook her courtesy for an open invitation to be crass. She had two simultaneous thoughts- Is this guy for real? and, Run away! Luckily, her drummer came to the rescue and asked her to solve a merchandise problem. By the time all the equipment was loaded, the weirdo was fortunately nowhere to be seen.
She flipped through her calendar to see when the next show was and made a mental note to call her bandmates about some changes she wanted to make. She sent out a few emails and then went outside to check the mailbox. No thank you, I don’t need another credit card. God, I hate junk mail.
And then she saw it.
The black envelope with her name in silvery ink.
Hmm, I don’t think anyone’s getting married that I know of. What is this?
She slid her fingernail under the seal and took out the contents with faint curiosity. On the card was a black crow with feathers scattered around it. Bright red eyes stared back at hers. But most distressing were the words written next to the bird- “He’s watching and waiting.”
Sara nearly tripped on the door frame as she read the words. She flipped the card over and scanned the envelope for a return address. Nothing, not even a stamp. No clue as to the sender. Suddenly feeling very paranoid and vulnerable, she shut the front door and locked it quickly. She shivered in the warm room. Her thoughts raced as she tried to compose herself.
It’s probably a joke. Yeah, my twisted brother just wanted to have a good laugh at my expense. Or maybe it was Jackson. Her guitarist had always had a warped sense of humor.
But what if it was for real? That guy from the show was really weird. Maybe…
No, she wouldn’t let herself even think it. Trying as best she could to put it out of her mind, Sara went along with her day. She tried not to think about it during her run, but she had nothing to distract her brain from wandering. She pushed her legs faster, watched the trees blur on both sides of the trail. Up ahead she noticed a man jogging towards her. Instinctively she glanced away, but not before their eyes caught for a brief second. As she passed him, she felt his gaze on her. Don’t look back. Don’t look back. She picked up her pace even more.
A branch snapped nearby, startling her out of her thoughts. She looked into the trees, wildly searching for movement. She imagined someone hiding there, just waiting for her to come close. The thought made her almost leap with terror.
Overhead, a cloud covered the sun and left the trail in shadows. Her normal sunny routine suddenly felt like a scene from a horror movie. And she was the victim. Innocent girl wanders into the woods, where the hatchetman watched and waited. Blood red thirst, like the crow eyes on the card. Oh, God! She suppressed a scream and ran as fast as her legs could carry her down the trail, until she suddenly tripped on a rock that had fallen on the path. Thud! She landed in a heap of physical and mental exhaustion. Panic melted into hot tears of fear and frustration and confusion.
After a while Sara collected herself and wearily drove home. She immediately got the creepy card and without looking at it, threw it into the trashcan. She determined not to freak out about it anymore. Just then her cell phone rang.
“Hello?” she answered nervously.
“I’m watching you.”
Her heart stopped for a second.
Suddenly, laughter broke out on the other end of the line. Wait, was that Jackson’s laugh?
“Jackson? You jerk! You scared me to death! What do you want?” she spat out in one relieved breath.
“Did you like my card?” he laughed.
“What? Wait- you sent me that horrible card!? What in the world…!”
“Yeah, I was just messing with you. I saw that weird guy talking to you at the show, and I thought it would be funny if you had your own personal stalker. Thought I’d make you squirm a bit before I confessed,” Jackson said, obviously pleased with himself.
Right then, Sara decided she would get even. She would be patient, wait until he was relaxed and comfortable. Oh, yeah. A slow smile began to form in anticipation.