Did she have a justifiable reason to believe she was being stalked or was it just all in her mind?
Sudden feelings of unease washed over Sarah as she glanced in the rear view mirror of her car. Gripping the wheel firmly, her heart began to race as those ever familiar waves slowly stirred within her.
She had no reason to, yet completely out of the blue, Sarah strangely sensed that someone was following her, and she knew exactly who it was; ‘he’ was following her...
Heading home after a long day, Sarah had finished her shift on the cosmetics floor at the department store where she worked, before attending her weekly appointment with Jonathan, her therapist, who had been helping her with anxiety.
The hourly sessions had benefitted her tremendously and recently, Jonathan had enlightened Sarah that like her, he too had noticed a vast improvement in her over the few months since beginning therapy.
“Yes, I’m much calmer now than I was” Sarah had acknowledged Jonathan’s observations on that stormy evening several weeks ago.
“I do feel like I have improved since I’ve been coming here”, she smiled, genuinely pleased with the progress she had made.
However, depending on what was explored with Jonathan, greatly influenced how she felt afterwards. As sometimes, her anxiety appeared to intensify and that evening was no exception.
It was dark by the time she entered the deserted car park after leaving Jonathan’s office to drive home.
Echoes of her footsteps bounced around the concrete walls. Large foreboding shadows creepily surrounded her, following her every move.
The sound of her car unlocking shrilled as she hastily opened the door, jumped in and switched on the ignition.
Gliding the car out of the car park, she travelled into the high street and through the town centre. With few cars around, the streets were far quieter than they would have been several hours earlier.
She indicated right at the roundabout towards the main route out of town. Her home was eight miles away, where she lived alone with Oscar and Buster her two cats.
Sarah approached the edge of town, the street lights began to diminish and her surroundings darkened as the subdued countryside beckoned.
As she flicked her headlights onto full beam, those unsettling thoughts had mysteriously slithered into her head, as if an unknown voice spookily whispered to her that someone was following her – and that someone was ‘him’...
“How was your day today?” Jonathan had enquired during therapy that evening.
Immediately, haunting images of earlier played out in her mind; ‘he’ had visited the store again to look at perfume...
“Good afternoon sir, can I help you?” Sarah had enquired when he stopped at her counter. He was around middle aged, bespectacled and always wore the same beige raincoat. She knew he wasn’t really interested in the perfume – he never was...
“Just looking...” he muttered, as he shifted awkwardly. Sarah’s gaze followed him as he sauntered across to the ladies handbags and accessories.
He picked up a silk scarf and softly entwined his fingers around the delicate material, all the while, his eyes remained fixed on her, sparking uncomfortable feelings to well up within her.
She cautiously kept a watchful eye on him as he walked around the department He paused every now and then to glance at her.
Then, in a mysterious moment, he was gone...!
“How did his presence today make you feel?” Jonathan questioned, to prompt Sarah to put her feelings into perspective and to explore her experiences from earlier.
Chills cut through her body, as memories of the strange encounter she had found herself experiencing again, were put into her own words...
“He just completely vanished...” Jonathan raised his eyebrows slightly, as he slowly reflected back her final words.
“I’m not imagining it!” a guarded Sarah insisted, as Jonathan watched her silently.
He nodded his head to acknowledge he was hearing her, but did he think she was completely paranoid? Did Jonathan think it was all just innocent?
With her long blonde hair and large blue eyes, Sarah was conscious that she often turned heads, so was she jumping to the wrong conclusions and he was only quietly admiring her from afar...?
Feeling apprehensive, Sarah drove into the increasing darkness of the countryside.
A flash of intense lights reflected through her car rear view mirror. Suddenly dazzled, the bright headlamps from a large vehicle seemingly close behind had startled her. She caught her breath as a chill swept throughout her body.
As if materialising from no where, its unforeseen appearance had strangely captured her imagination in a disturbing way.
It’s lights created eerie images along the trees on both sides of the road. Ghoulish shadows cast across their branches into the road in front, creating the heady brainwashed feelings of being swept towards a mesmerising tunnel, enveloping her car into a weird sense of oblivion...
Sarah’s vision blinded as she became more conscious of the closeness of the vehicle at her tail. Registering it was a truck, the realisation of it being more larger and powerful than her small car, made her vulnerability seem much more apparent.
Fear engulfed her body as the strange overpowering perception of danger added to her anxiousness.
Was ‘he’ driving the truck? She knew nothing about him, not even his name.
Further along she drove, accelerating more to attempt to get away from it, she glanced into her mirror every few moments.
Her over dramatic thoughts spun out of control as the vehicle continued on her tail.
The trees on the left dispersed slightly, revealing open fields which spiralled down over the steep hill which the road followed.
As her car slowly travelled further towards the edge, she noted the sheer drop on the nearside of the road, as the ‘what ifs’ began to surface;
What if he was behind her? What if he intended to harm or kill her? What if he deliberately ran her off the road? What if. What if. What if!
She gripped the wheel firmly to maintain control. Her heart raced as terrifying visions of her car plunging over the edge into the valley below controlled her mind.
What was causing her to believe ‘he’ was stalking her? Her rational brain interrupted her silly thoughts.
She breathed deeper to calm down,
‘It’s just my mind overthinking’ she informed herself, remembering those words Jonathan had spoken of - ‘an over thinking mind can deceive reality and distort our perception’.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a beam of bright lights shone across the right hand side of the road.
She looked in her side mirror, a speeding car was overtaking both her and the truck. Her imagination morphed into sheer overdrive as she conjured images of this unknown car ramming her over the edge!
Sarah unconsciously slammed on her breaks; Her sense of reason had been completely compromised as she feared for her life.
The truck behind sounded the horn at her, startling her back to reality as her heart raced nineteen to the dozen.
The driver of the car seemed oblivious to what had just happened and had accelerated on ahead, completely disappearing into the distance.
No it was not ‘him’ in the car, she consoled, catching her breath in relief. Unless...? Her irrational mind taunted her...
No Sarah, of course not! Now your being utterly ludicrous, he was just an impatient idiot!
She breathed in and counted to five before exhaling to slow her rapid heart beat.
She glanced again in her rear mirror, the truck had distanced itself away from her. Probably scared the living daylights out of him! As the reality of her stupid actions in nearly causing a serious accident struck her.
Retracting her thoughts, she tried to become reasonable in the situation which just occurred. Pull yourself together! This isn’t ‘me’ thinking, concentrate on the road ahead, she scolded to herself.
But she couldn’t, despite her stupidity, and her rational brain trying to reason with her, she was still firmly convinced he was close by, watching her, following her - somewhere.
“Come on Sarah, calm down!” she spoke aloud, she was tired, a good enough reason for her wild imagination, if he hadn’t come in that day, and she hadn’t spoken about the events of earlier to Jonathan, she would never have given him a second thought.
Sarah had forgotten how it felt to be her old self as her anxiety uncontrollably grew within her. The sudden breakdown she had experienced several months ago had sparked her into seeking professional help, to establish the causes in her sudden change in behaviour and the loss of control in her life.
Sarah used to be calm, confident and rarely anxious about anything, she had always been laid back and took each day as it came - until recently...
Gradually becoming aware of the strange presence this man portrayed when he came into the store; it appeared innocent, yet slightly creepy.
Was he secretly stalking her? That thought did prey on her mind, yet she hadn’t felt compelled to dwell on it, not at first, she had initially just brushed it from her mind.
“There have been times when I have been out and about in town during lunch breaks or after my shift and I would suddenly spot him.” Sarah recalled during one of her sessions with Jonathan. “Sometimes he would be walking in the street, but usually I’d see him in the supermarket or in the car park” she continued.
Often it seemed like he hadn’t noticed her as he wasn’t looking her way, but he had been close by and those occurrences were appearing to become more frequent.
“Then there are the days at the store, when I would just casually glance around the department and...” she faltered, “and there he is, just stood there – watching me...”
Jonathan had recently explored with Sarah the reasons she had felt for not reporting her worries to her supervisor Jeanette?
“If you truly feel this man’s intentions is to harm you, then what is preventing you from informing Jeanette?”
“Because – because he’s not actually done anything wrong...” Sarah answered, “he’s only browsing, he’s allowed to come into the store and look around”.
It was Sarah’s state of mental health which drove her into believing she was in danger of this man, like she said to Jonathan, he hardly spoke to her!
“Maybe he acts like this everywhere he goes...?” Sarah continued, watching Jonathan nod as if in agreement with what Sarah was saying. “besides, he’s been coming in for months and nothing bad has happened...” she trailed off, trying not to think of what consequences could occur if it did.
In the car, Sarah thought back over those sessions with Jonathan. They had helped her immensely, however at that present moment, those same overwhelming feelings had again returned to haunt her, still playing at her senses.
In an attempt to disperse them, she turned on the radio, something Jonathan had mentioned in their early sessions;
“Many people find that listening to music can help to calm you down” Jonathan had suggested once and Sarah had established that he was right.
The evening ‘Drive Time’ show was airing, lots of upbeat music to sing along to, that should dispel her overactive imagination!
With the truck still behind, followed now by a trail of cars, she approached a corner at the foot of a hill, changed down a gear and placed her foot on the accelerator to keep up speed to get the car up the hill. The distance between her and the truck began to increase.
She felt relieved as the road markings changed to double solid lines; no overtaking lines. The vehicles following the truck were not permitted to overtake.
She sped up a little more to widen the gap further; if he was somewhere behind, following her, she had an advantage to get away, further from him, further away from ‘danger’- if she was in danger! She told herself rationally.
Darkness filled the reflection in her rear mirrors as the road straightened up, the road markings returned to normal, no lights illuminated the dark trees behind, the truck had lost more speed climbing the hill and was nowhere to be seen.
She continued along her journey home. Paranoid! She consoled herself, breathing deeply to calm her nerves. Jonathan was probably right, she was not psychic, she never experienced premonitions! Paranoia, that was all this was.
If Jonathan was sat beside her in the car, he would have told her all these fearful feelings were caused by irrational thoughts in her head.
“Thoughts, feelings and behaviours” Jonathan had informed her in previous sessions, as he had outlined how our unjustifiable fears can cause us to think and behave in a certain way; learn to curb them and she should start to feel calmer and dispel them permanently.
Yet was it more than just irrational overthinking?
‘Trust your instincts’ many people say, or ‘women’s intuitions’ which women are often claimed to possess. Was that the reason why she couldn’t shake off the disturbing notion that ‘he’ was tailing her that evening....?
She wouldn’t dare mention that to Jonathan, she had an inkling in how he might reply to her about ‘instincts or intuitions’.
Jonathan’s training in psychology would have given him an insight into how the brain works; she imagined him saying words to the effect of;
“Psychics are in the profession to make money from the lonely and vulnerable, and
instincts and intuitions are only really just coincidences...”
Further along the road she drove, yet she still could not comprehend her intrusive thoughts, they seemed real, and no matter how much she tried to brush them away by singing loudly along to The Bee Gees ‘Staying Alive’ They still unnervingly crept in.
Momentarily, street lights became visible as she approached the town she lived in. She dropped her speed as she entered civilisation. As she cruised along, past houses and shops, the vehicles behind her slowly caught her up.
At the junction was Holbrook Road, the truck pulled over into the right hand lane to turn right, she was going left.
She captured her breath, relieved to lose the truck and its menacing lights, the road was clear, so she pulled out of the junction into it, the two cars which were behind the truck also followed her left.
Were they the cars who had been behind her all the way home? She didn’t know, she assumed they had, so felt she still had to be vigilant.
Sarah stop it! Why did she think she had to ‘look over her shoulder’?.
As she neared her house, she felt her anxiety escalate. If he was stalking her, she certainly didn’t want him to know where she lived; living alone made her more vulnerable.
No, she had to ensure she got home safely without ‘him’ seeing her. Her active brain scanned the road ahead of her.
Next turning right was her road, Oak Avenue. Her house, a small modern terrace situated at the beginning of the road, just yards from the junction she was about to turn into.
The right hand turning into Oak Avenue loomed into view, Sarah looked again in her rear mirror, the cars were still behind her. Ahead of her, a few cars were coming towards her.
She should really have given way for them to pass as they had right of way, however a voice inside her head suddenly cried “go!”
Sarah just about had enough time to pull out in front of them. Foot down on the pedal, she quickly turned the wheel and whizzed into her road.
Yes! She breathed, as relief washed over her, she looked back in the mirror, nothing had followed her, the cars behind had either continued along Holbrook Road or waited for the oncoming traffic before turning too.
She drove a few yards up her road, then without hesitation, manoeuvred her car left into the narrow entrance of the private courtyard. Residential garages were situated behind her house, out of site from the road.
She hoped he hadn’t noticed her turn in – if of course he had been behind her?
Heart in her mouth, it ferociously hammered as she swiftly guided the car into her open garage. Sarah turned off the car lights and engine, grabbed her bag, stepped out of the car and silently closed up her garage.
Vulnerable and alone, with eyes wide, she scanned the small courtyard, still enveloped with fear, she envisioned him suddenly pouncing on her.
The trees rustled in the breeze, capturing her attention to her surroundings, enhancing her wariness.
Eyes and ears alert, she quietly ran to the rear of her house, towards her back gate.
It was dark but for the courtyard lamps. Spectrums of light from her neighbours’ houses created strange shapes which loomed all around her.
The trees swayed and hissed softly, which made her edgy, their shadows moved like monstrous limbs from a creature, trying to ensnare victims like prey.
Suddenly, she heard a rustling noise behind her. She swung around and strained her eyes in the darkness. She heard it again, it wasn’t the branches of the overhanging tree near her garden. Something moved and a figure leapt out yards from where she stood.
A silent scream sounded from within Sarah, as in that moment, she couldn’t find her voice - lost from the intense fear which gripped her body. Again she tried to scream, as the figure lunged towards her.
Motionless, Sarah found herself unable to move as her body froze completely, she was trapped as sheer terror took control.
Then within the faint lights from the neighbours house, Sarah caught more of a glimpse of the strange creature, as two huge shining eyes reflected in her direction.
Suddenly it pounced within inches of her, landed on the fence and scrambled down over the other side - her neighbours black cat!
Sarah closed her eyes and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
As the sudden terror she had just experienced slowly drained away, she steadied herself until she was able to swiftly continue her way to the gate.
She caught her breath again, heart racing, she noticed how like jelly her legs had become. Her fingers trembled as she rummaged around for her keys, felt the small torch attached to them, flicked it on and quietly opened the slightly creaking gate, it’s squeak she had never noticed before.
She shut it behind, eyes still staring into the blackness of the rear garden, she proceeded to the back door.
Suddenly, her gate creaked! She swung around, torch firmly in her hand, she shone the light towards the gate and all around the small enclosed garden. There was no one there! Maybe she hadn’t closed it properly? She wasn’t running back over to find out. She felt safer indoors.
Eyes still scanning her garden, she used her fingers to feel her way around the door until she managed to unlock the patio door, crept in, locked it behind her and made her way into the dining room.
The house was in darkness, the only light was from the open curtained windows.
She kept the lights off, ducked down and ran to the hall, up the stairs to the front bedroom, which was softly illuminated by the street lamps outside her window.
Crawling on hands and knees on the floor, she crouched down by the bed, opened her bag, pulled out her phone and waited – how long for? She couldn’t stay hidden on the floor all evening!
Should she message someone, Jonathan perhaps? What could he do? Arrange for her to be taken away to the nearest asylum where she probably belonged at that present time? So maybe not! He probably had a client with him anyway, he often finished his practice late.
No, someone else? The police even No!
She would get arrested herself for wasting their time! Besides, would she sound stupid if she had confessed she was hiding on her bedroom floor in complete darkness in the belief she was being watched?
She had no proof, only her wild imagination and her strong senses had led her into this crazy notion.
Was she being completely and utterly unreasonable? Or did she have a justified reason by listening to her inner voice?
Eerie silhouettes shimmered across the darkness of the room, as flashes of light creepily danced along the walls, glowing significantly brighter, as vehicles passed the window.
Suddenly a loud thud outside her room startled her. Wide eyed, she averted her eyes towards the open bedroom door, she pricked her ears amongst the silence, broken by the sound of her thudding heart and shallow breath. Trying not to make a sound, the faint noise continued from the landing.
A delicate shadow floated across the door until it transformed into a small shape which loomed into view.
A soft chirp broke the ghostly silence. Buster! Relief washed over her as the cat rubbed himself against her in need of attention.
Sarah glanced at her phone, she had been there for forty-five minutes! She couldn’t stay crouched on her bedroom floor all night, she took a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself down.
“I imagine you need feeding” she whispered to the purring cat as she slowly got up, walked over to the window and cautiously peered out.
The road was quiet, the familiar cars were parked outside. No sign of anyone sat in a strange car staking her out!
Maybe it was just an over reactive imagination she had experienced that evening? Maybe it wasn’t the ‘woman’s intuition’ disturbing her thoughts?
She drew the curtains, switched on the side lamp and with Buster running on ahead, she made her way downstairs...
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
He turned into Oak Avenue, the residential road was long and straight, he could see quite a fair distance up ahead, yet she was gone!
The road was deserted but for the few cars parked up alongside the road. None of which were hers.
He crawled along further up the road, which lead up to the larger semi’s and detached houses with drives and garages.
He looked around to see if he could spot her car but it was nowhere to be seen.
Where did she go?
Turning the car around, he drove back down a little way. She must have turned off into one of the side entrances down the bottom of the road. He guessed they must have led to garages belonging to the smaller houses.
There were quite a few of those he noted. ‘In which case...’ he concluded, as he drove back down the road, his eyes scanning the modern terraces‘...her house must be one of these...’
He decided to park up and wait, he had been only minutes behind her; enough time for her to park and let herself into her property. He knew she lived alone and had recently moved.
It was dark, therefore... his mind continued to race as he looked around the houses, some of which were still in darkness, her house lights will switch on as soon as she got in, then he would know which house was hers...
Waiting and watching, his gaze scanned the properties in the vicinity.
His obsession was clearly escalating beyond control. She was on his mind constantly and he needed to know more about her. He was just curious about where she lived now; after she had briefly mentioned today about her recent move, he deduced, aware of his somewhat seemingly unconscious actions from the past few months since he first met her in his therapy room.
No, he would never hurt her, not intentionally anyway; yes, he was the driver of the car which overtook her. Not wanting to be directly behind her if the truck turned a different way, so he overtook them both and parked in a layby further along, so he could become several cars behind her.
To him she was lovely. He wished he could tell her how he felt, see her more than the hour they had once a week...
He glanced at his watch; half an hour had gone. No house lights had been switched on.
There’s always tomorrow... Jonathan decided, as he flicked the ignition, turned on the car lights and slowly drove away...
About the Creator
..Suddenly I crash back down to earth with a big almighty bump!
...when not in a dolly daydream, creative me is at home in the UK doing the normal everyday mundane jobs, that seem to go on forever...until the daydreaming kicks in again...
Holy Moley. that is great. Well done.
It had my heart beating quickly. Well done