Wherever you run…he’s waiting for you!
Scott Randall is a corporate VP on top of the world. To celebrate a massive new deal, he’s going to drive from Detroit to LA. But before he leaves, he makes a bad mistake. He cruelly dismisses a homeless panhandler on the street. Along the road, he swears he sees the panhandler again. Then again. And again. Soon he sees the man—who calls himself the Nightcrawler—even in his dreams. No matter how frantically he tries, Scott can’t escape his relentless pursuer. He thought he was going to LA. But the Nightcrawler has a very different destination in mind.
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Copyright © 2012 Mick Ridgewell
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Outside, the din of the city came as a welcome change to the numbing silence of the office tower. The heat however was stifling. Scott struggled with his computer and briefcase while trying to remove his jacket. He slung the garment over his shoulder. His mood soared. He took a deep breath of the stale, Motor City air. Not even the midday Detroit smog could diminish his euphoria. His accomplishment would be unparalleled at Cobra Exotics. Add to that, he could finally take a week or two to relax. Relax and bask in the pleasure of that knowledge.
His eyes followed a blonde wearing tight shorts until she disappeared from sight, then he turned and walked directly into someone. He gave a halfhearted apology, not bothering to see whom he had bumped into, not until the odor registered in his brain. It was the scent of decay, of mold or old newspapers decomposing in a wet basement. It was stink, to an infinite degree.
He looked at the dirtiest human he had ever seen. The man wore soiled jeans that were more charcoal gray than blue, and a gray overcoat. The overcoat in the heat of midsummer looked out of place. His greasy hair hung over his ears and had definitely not seen a comb in ages. His unshaven face had deep creases, hollow cheeks and jaundiced looking eyes.
The bum held out his grimy hand. “Spare some change?”
Scott sidestepped the vagrant without acknowledging him and tried to stride by. He stopped when a hand firmly grasped his arm just above the elbow. His anger boiled over as he spun around and met the piercing stare of the panhandler.
“You were there, I saw you run,” the hobo said.
“Get away from me,” Scott uttered, jerking his arm free. His anger had abated, replaced by fear. He didn’t know why he feared this man. He had no idea what the man meant by his accusation. Nevertheless, Scott saw something in those eyes that scared him.
“You didn’t see her face,” the bum said, his wide-eyed gaze drilling through the younger man standing before him. “I still see her face.”
“Just buzz off, “Scott croaked.
“Okie-dokie,” the bum replied. He cocked his finger like a gun and clicked his tongue while pulling an imaginary trigger. Without another word or even a second look, the bum walked away and in moments faded into the pedestrian throng.
Scott brushed the sleeve of his shirt where the filthy hand had been as though he could simply whisk the whole encounter away. The man’s face, those eyes were burned into the backs of Scott’s eyes and he squeezed them shut in an attempt to banish the image. He couldn’t fathom a soul beneath that repulsive exterior. He didn’t really consider him a person. It was a thing, just street vermin. They should exterminate it with the rest of the creatures prowling the streets and alleys. After a few steps along the sidewalk in the opposite direction, he stopped to look back over his shoulder. Scott felt the need to make sure the bum was gone.
He resumed his walk and put the incident out of his mind. This was the beginning of his vacation and he wasn’t going to let one unpleasant altercation ruin his day. The only thing he needed concern himself with was what to do next.
It was much too early in the day to go sit in a hotel room. He couldn’t imagine himself watching Oprah, or Ellen. He had no idea what people watched at this time of day. If he were in LA, he would be in the office, or meeting with a client. He wouldn’t be watching TV. Before he got to the end of the block his shirt clung to his skin, damp with perspiration. Sweat beaded his face and stung his eyes. He needed to get out of the suit.
In his room, Scott immediately set up his laptop, then changed into shorts and a golf shirt while his computer booted. He sent emails to the office indicating the deal went much better than expected. After checking his voice-mail messages, he hit the street again.
He had lunch on the patio of Antonio’s Pasta House, a place plucked right out of a World War II movie. It had small circular tables with red and white checkered tablecloths on the sidewalk in front. The waitress wore a knee-length skirt and a white apron, her long dark hair tied back in a ponytail. She wasn’t pretty, but with the right makeup and lighting he thought she could look okay.
Relaxing with a glass of iced tea after lunch, he recognized the same foul smelling bum he bumped into earlier, now standing across the street. When the man saw Scott look at him, a yellow smile riddled with gaps noticeable across the fifty-yard separation, added to his unsightly appearance. The bum again pointed his finger like a gun, winked, then trundled up the sidewalk and out of sight…