Katie leaned against the wall behind the club. She fiddled with the cigarette she had mooched from Melissa, enjoying the feeling of it between her fingers. There were something about cigarettes that could calm her down in ways nothing, or no one, else had ever been able to.
She brought it to her lips and fished up her lighter, lighting it and inhaled deeply. She closed her eyes and rested her head against the cool surface, for once enjoying the silence, or at least that much silence that was possible in a city with two million inhabitants.
She took another puff, watching the smoke circle upwards as she exhaled. Too soon the cigarette was finished and she stubbed it against the wall and threw it away. With a deep sigh she put her earphones in her ears and fished up her iPhone, scrolling the tracklist she pressed the first best song she found and soon Total Eclipse of the Heart with Bonnie Tyler echoed in her ears. She turned around, pulled up the hood on her cardigan and then the one on her jacket, digging her hands deep into her pockets and walked down the street.
It was only four blocks to the cemetary and she had walked the distance countless times the last ten years. She had been ten years old the first time her foster parents had taken her there, secretly hoping that seeing her parents’ grave would end all the talk of monsters and the constant nightmares waking her at night.
It hadn’t helped, but she had found the one place where she felt safe and once she was old enough to go there by herself had she also found the only place where she wasn’t afraid to talk about everything that happened to her, because she knew, deep down, that they wouldn’t have judged her.
The cemetary’s large iron gate came into view and she quickened her pace, she had always felt as if the shadows just outside the gate were trying to get her. As the shadow of the gate loomed over her she dropped her gaze to the ground and almost ran through the gate, feeling, for barely a second, as if she couldn’t breathe.
When she was in saftey on the other side she slowly made her way down the maze of half-forgotten graves whose tombstones were covered in decaying leafs, as if they were adding to the remnants of long-forgotten people. She took all the familiar turns until she ended up by the one grave that didn’t look abandoned and she stopped, letting her gaze rest on the letters that spelled her parents’ names;
In loving memory of,
Jaqueline Wilde 65/02/18 – 87/10/11
Joshua Stark 60/11/23 – 87/10/11
Katie reached out and brushed away a few leafs that had landed on the tombstone, smiling softly when her hand touched the cold stone. It had been less and less visits the last couple of years as her hunting had taken up more and more time, and she felt a sting of guilt.
“Hi mom,” she whispered and sat down, crossing her legs. “hi dad, I’m sorry it’s been a while.” she brushed a strand of hair from her eyes and looked down at the ground, absent-mindedly pulling at some weed. “I know it’s no excuse, but the truth is I’m tired. Tired of everything. Tired of the nightmare keeping me awake, night after night. Tired of the shadows hunting me, yet I don’t know why. I’m tired of feeling like a lunatic because no one understands what I’m talking about. God, I wish you guys were here, I wish I at least once could hear you say everything’ll be alright.”
She grew quiet, fixing her gaze on the names once again, shivering slightly when a cold breeze swept thought the cemetary. She reached out, gently brushing her hand against the letters and smiled softly before getting back on her feet.
“Goodbye.” she whipered, feeling tears burn behind her eyelids. “I’ll see you soon.”
As Katie turned around she thought she saw something move in the corner of her eye but when she looked in that direction, there was nothing. Not even the trees moved and she shook her head, cursing her own childishness. She had to stop seeing things everywhere.
As she neared the gate and steeled herself for the run down the street, she decided to go home instead of hunting. She had slept a total of five hours during the entire week and she knew she needed to, even though she doubted that she would actually get any.
Katie ran past the gate and down the street, feeling her heart pound against her chest. She slowed down when she’d come half-way and half an hour later was she standing outside her apartment building, feeling how her entire body ached. She dug out her keys from her bag and put them in the lock, but as she was about to turn it she caught a reflection in the glass – a tall person in a leather coat whose face was obscured by a hood.
She spun around, ready to confront whoever it was that tried to prank her, but the person was gone and she shook her head, hiding her face in her right hand.
“Jeez, Katie.” She muttered and looked up again, peering around her. “You’re loosing your mind.”
She turned back, unlocked the door and walked inside, making sure the door closed behind her, then she hurried up the three stairs to her floor and put the keys in her door. Suddenly she heard careful steps walk up the stairs and it was obvious that they were waiting for something.
When they stopped Katie ran over to the railing and looked down, but saw nothing. There was no one there. She returned to the door, managing to unlock it even though her hands were shaking like never before and as soon it opened she hurried inside and slammed it shut, locking it tightly again.
She leaned against the door, trying to catch her breath. Several minutes passed before she was calm enough to remove her bag, jacket and cardigan, throwing them over the chair standing in the hallway.
With a deep breath she turned and looked through the peephole, taking a breath of relief when she saw no one outside. It had all just been her imagination.
‘Get to sleep!’ Katie told herself. ‘You haven’t slept for days.’
She walked through the hallway to the bedroom at the far end, throwing her boots, jeans and tank top on the floor as she goes. Finally inside she throws herself on the bed, falling asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow.
Katie had barely slept for an hour when she woke abruptly by the sound of a window opening. She sat up, scanning the dimly lit room, realizing that her bedroom was empty.
She reached beneath her pillow and grabbed the knife she had hidden there, got out of bed and walked out into the hallway. It was empty as well and so she slowly turned to the left, facing the kitchen. Even the kitchen was empty and she began filling frustrated. Katie was absolutely sure she had heard something, but there seemed be nothing out of place.
When she finally turned around and faced the living room, she felt a cool breeze sweep through the apartment and she slowly walked into the room, the knife in a tight grip.
The curtains swayed in the breeze and she hurried over to the window, closing it. When she felt calm again, she began to chuckle and rested her forehead against the cool window.
Katie felt silly, it was an old building and it was not the first time her windows had opened unexplainably. That didn’t mean someone was out to get her. But as she straightened and was about to go back to her bedroom she saw someone stand in the alley outside, staring at her.
At least she thought the person was staring at her. He, or she, was wearing a long black coat with a hood that covered their face. Without any thought for her safety, Katie threw the window open, climbed onto the fire escape and glared at the person.
“What the hell do you want?” She shouted angrily. “Leave me the fuck alone.”
At first the person didn’t move a muscle, but then it burst out laughing and Katie could hear that it was a man. His laughter was deep and dark and when he finally stopped, he looked up and she could see yellow eyes peer back at her.
Katie flinched. Yellow eyes? How was that even possible? She looked down again, meeting his gaze defiantly, ignoring the chill that traveled down her spine.
“Who the fuck are you?” Her voice hit a high pitch and she grimaced at herself.
The man crossed his arms and leaned against the building, shaking his head slowly.
“Just an interested party,” He mused. “let’s stick to that.”
Katie arched an eyebrow. “Interested in what?” She quoted and scoffed.
“You.” The man replied, doing nothing to hide his amusement.
“Me?” She scoffed again. “I’m not that interesting.”
The comment made the man chuckle. “According to whom?”
Katie just shook her head and was about to tell him to fuck off when her neighbor’s window opened and the eighty year old woman stuck her head out.
“Katrina Wilde!” She shouted in her raspy voice. “Why are you standing on the fire escape in the middle of the night, dressed in nothing but your underwear..” Then she looked around, shaking her head. “talking to yourself?!”
Katie glanced back at where the man had been standing. He was gone.
‘Great!’ She thought. ‘Now my neighbors will think I’ve lost my mind.’
“I’m sorry, mrs Williams!” She said and turned back to her window. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
The old woman just huffed and slammed the window shut, making the glass shake violently. Katie crawled inside and closed her own window again, quickly slipping back in bed, pulling the sheets over her head.