Okay. To borrow a phrase, "doodoo" just got real.
I saw him. And he saw me. And, well, I should probably start at the beginning.
Tuesday, 1st of November, 2011. The day after Halloween. My only class today was English. It just so happens to be right at the end of the day though, so although I don't have to get the bus until around 11am, I don't leave college until half four. It was almost sunset by the time I got outside.
Most of the day went without a hitch. I met my friends for lunch, and in class we made an "academic poster" for Cuckoo's Nest, which was slightly stressful but fun. At the start of the class, our lecturer informed us that the next test is going to be at [redacted]. I haven't been there before, but B was at college last year and C's already had a test there, so they both know where it is already.
This is taking too long.
Long story short, I found out roughly where it was and went to find it myself after college. I was walking along, through an area of posh-looking flats, noticed someone behind me, found the place, turned back but walked through the park this time.
Now I'll tell you what happened.
It was nearly dark. The orange hues of sunset were turning to the purple hues of twilight. When I'd seen the figure behind me, my paranoia had almost kicked in, but I stuffed it down before it had a chance to panic. After all, why shouldn't someone else be doing the same thing I am?
I decided to walk back through the park (big, wide, open, gently undulating - land that had once been a barren waste of crushed bricks and metal but now had trees and grass and water) to calm myself. For some reason atmosphere and landscape seems to affect my mood.
As I walked, I couldn't see another soul. This was comforting until I realised I couldn't see the ducks or the swans. I thought it was strange, but I kept walking. "I shouldn't worry. There's usually a logical reason for anything, even if we can't explain it."
I was wrong.
It was when I was near the centre of the park - no trees nearby, and the water was at least five jumps away - that in the three or four of seconds my head was turned to the right, someone had appeared at my left.
Needless to say, when I turned my head I nearly jumped out my skin. I screamed at him. The guy laughed. He was around four inches taller than me. He had a blue hoodie, with the hood up, and a mask across his eyes. His trousers were black. I couldn't see his hair and the mask had some sort of fabric obscuring his eyes. Now that I think about it, the mask was made up of multicoloured sequins and was the shape of bat wings.
I asked "Who are you?" (with emphasis on "you"), well, I think I yelled it.
He laughed again. I bolted. After ten metres, I felt him against my shins and he brought me down from behind. I rolled to the side and tried to kick him off, yelling "No! Get off!". He laughed and I tried to kick him in the mouth, but missed.
He let go but I only had time to flip back onto my front before he pounced on me and pinned me down. I tried struggling but it didn't work.
"Are you going to join us, Barbara?" He said quietly in my ear. His voice was clear and soft, but I could hear mirth breaking through, disrupting its natural smoothness.
My heart dropped and I looked up. There he was, less than two metres away - tall, slim, sharp-dressed man with no face, staring down at me. His arms were open as if inviting an embrace. He seemed to emanate calmness. He tilted his head slightly to one side, as if he was waiting for me to come to him.
His very presence seemed to fill the atmosphere with calm, but all I felt inside was fear, washing over me, filling my body with panic. I bucked and managed to throw the guy off my back. I scrambled up and ran.
It couldn't be real. It had to be a hallucination or a nightmare, I thought as I sprinted. Well, actually, that was what my subconscious brain thought. The only thing my conscious brain told me was "GET OUT!".
I could hear the thud of steps behind me. It had only been a few seconds, though, when suddenly I tripped, and once again I was pinned down, this time on my front.
"Did you think you'd got away?"
Movement caught my eye, and I saw a long black tentacle retreating across the grass to its owner. Then I heard the most unnerving sound I've ever heard in my whole life. It giggled. It actually giggled. Though the noise seemed to come from inside my own head, like I was hearing it through earphones. It was like a child's giggle, so high-pitched, and with an almost gurgling quality.
Slowly, he moved towards me. It was so smooth. His legs were moving as though he were walking, but his torso seemed to glide gently forwards. I can't remember his feet. Does he have feet?
I could only stare as the distance closed. The boy glanced over his shoulder, then pulled me up, keeping hold of my elbow. I saw my opportunity and punched him in the arm.
"Ah, ya f***er!" he yelled as I sprinted away. I couldn't hear him running after me, but I wanted to get as far away as possible. I spotted a way out the park and I ran until I reached the main road, paused to check which way to go next, and ran to the nearest bus stop. There were people there, thank goodness. I don't think I've ever been so glad to be in the company of strangers, even if they looked at me weirdly.
It was only five minutes until my bus came, but it felt like half an hour. I kept looking back the way I came, just to reassure myself I hadn't been followed. It was a relief to get on the bus. Climbing the stairs was difficult, but I got up there in the end and collapsed into a seat as the bus pulled away.
My heart was still racing, and my limbs were shaking slightly, but the coarse rumbling of the engine felt almost soothing. Darkness was closing in around the bus, isolating it from the bustling world outside.
But I happened to look out of the window just as we passed my college, and I saw a too-tall figure with dark clothing and no discernible features standing near the entrance. Standing. Watching. Waiting.