She was being watched.
Carrie stopped and scanned the trees that stood sentry on either side of the street. The bare branches reached down like bony fingers wanting to grab at her and pluck her from where she stood. The full moon cast a luminescent glow to the night. While the extra light was welcoming, when a dark cloud slithered across the face of the eerie orb, Carrie shivered despite herself.
She was being watched.
She could feel invisible eyes following her every movement. Maybe she was just being paranoid, but she felt like she was being watched…and followed. With one final wary sweep of the seemingly empty street, Carrie resumed her walk with a quicker pace.
She muttered as she kicked the crunchy leaves that littered the sidewalk. She was walking home from the Halloween dance at the school she had attended that evening and she shouldn’t be walking home alone. She should have been escorted home by Damien, her beau and date for the evening. But of course, he had to go running off with his best friend, Frank, leaving her to walk alone as she walked the path between her house and Salemwood High.
A rustling sound behind her made her stop again. She swore she heard the rasping breath of…something.
“Who’s there?” she called. She felt foolish and paranoid…even more so when she received no answer.
And yet there was something there. She knew it.
She turned forward and started speed-walking towards her home. Only three blocks more.
It seemed as if the rustling footsteps kept pace with her. When she sped up, they sped up. When she broke into a run, they seemed to run too.
And still they watched.
Two more blocks before she reached the safe circle of her porch light.
She damned Damien for deserting her. She swore she would never speak to him again. Her heart beat wildly in her chest, both from fear and from running.
One more block before she was home. One more block before she was safe.
It couldn’t come soon enough.
She swore she felt the hot breath of whatever was chasing her on the back of her neck. Her vivid imagination was making it hard to convince herself that she wasn’t really being followed.
She imagined a decrepit hand reaching out…closer and closer…to grab her from behind.
An ear-piercing scream tore from her throat when something actually did grab her coat. The scream was abruptly cut off when whatever it was covered her mouth, but it couldn’t stop the tears from filling her eyes and spilling over.
Those same green eyes widened when she was spun around and came face to face with Damien.
Carrie tore herself from his grasp and punched his chest.
“You jerk! You scared half my life from me!” Carrie continued beating on him, but Damien just laughed at the ineffectual blows.
“Aw, baby, I’m sorry I scared you.” Damien tried to keep from laughing, but couldn’t quite manage it. “What had you so scared to begin with?”
“I could feel you watching me and hear you following me, but I didn’t know it was you!” she said, giving one more punch to let him know he wasn’t completely forgiven.
Damien looked at her, laughing. “Carrie, I just got here. Honest.”
She looked at him for a moment. “Sure, Damien. Whatever. At least you can now make yourself useful and walk me home.”
Damien shrugged and put his arm around her and steered her to her home that was still half a block away.
Carrie leaned her head on his shoulder. “What are you doing here, anyway? Other than scaring me half to death, I mean.”
Damien kissed the top of her head. “I came to make sure you made it home alright,” he said.
“Really? You came all this way just to check on me?” she asked.
“Sure. You’re my girl.” He smiled at her and the dimples that always made her melt flashed at her.
Carrie smiled back. By that time they had reached her front porch. She looked down at her hand and noticed the stone in her class ring winking at her in the overhead light. She twisted the ring off her finger and held it out to him.
“Would you think it was stupid if I asked you to wear my class ring? Would you wear it?” she asked.
Damien smiled and took the ring. “I’ll put it on a chain tonight when I get home. Here, I want you to wear mine too, okay?”
“Okay.” Carrie took his ring and slipped it on her thumb.
Damien stepped closer to her and cupped her face for a kiss. “I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”
Carrie smiled and nodded. “Okay.”
Damien turned and walked away. As Carrie watched him, he turned and waved before disappearing down the street.
She sighed and smiled as she slipped inside. She locked the door against the night and slowly walked upstairs — so she did not hear the guttural sound of a scream that was choked off before it really began. She never heard the scuffling sound of feet trying to find traction. She never heard the soft tinkling sound of a class ring bouncing along a sidewalk. And she never knew…
…she was being watched.