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I have my bus tickets, and, if all else fails, my mace

Here's a short story I wrote; a very quick short one that has nowhere else to live. Hopefully you'll enjoy it.

I have my bus tickets, and, if all else fails, my mace.

 

With that as my means of farewell, I left the party and stepped out into the night. It had been a good party, I don't dispute that. The theme I had questioned at first; "Walt Disney's Secret Horror." Chris had the idea; basically, it was a return to the Grimm roots of a lot of the stories. Turn the lovable beast from the misunderstood love interest back into a violent source of danger. There was too much turning what we feared into love interests anyways.

 

Yes, before you ask, I did have more than a couple of drinks.

 

I read after everything happened that over 900,000 thousand people go missing in the United States every year. Every year! Someone told me that's analogous to the numbers of animals that get killed on the African Savannah by a large predator. Imagine if that were Savannah, Georgia? How big is Savannah, Georgia anyway?

 

I'm off track. I was telling you a story. Right; just a story.

 

So, yes, I walked out of the party, down the hallway to the elevator. I did leave early; it was still before midnight. Pressed the button, waited for the creaking beast to show up on my floor, and rode it down to the lobby.

 

Do you remember how hard it was raining that night? Wow, right? I have to walk past Clint Avenue on the way home. That's the one that's on the steep side of the hill. Crossing the street felt like crossing a river, the water flooded my boots and dragged at my jeans. I would've been mad except I was soaked already.

 

Have you ever been out hiking in the Rockies? I went once and the guide just knew things about the wilderness that I had no idea. He knew the food you could eat and where to camp and all sorts of things. I think his name was Randy? When I asked him about it he said that he didn't know more than I did, it just took experience for your body to remember all the instincts that kept it alive for millenia. I thought he was joking at the time.

 

Anyway, we were out hiking and I asked if we could stop. He's really stiff and funny though and says we can't. We need to keep going he says. So we keep walking for awhile and slowly he starts to relax. Eventually I ask him what that was about and he said there was a mountain lion that had been on our trail back in the pass we had been in. I didn't believe him, then he gives me his binoculars and points me back towards a spot on the cliff above the pass and sure enough there's this great big cat there. I had no idea but something in him told him we were being hunted.

 

When I'm walking home from the party, dressed in my jeans and some sort of princess-y thing. Like I said I didn't really get it. So I'm walking and I pass the raging river of Clint and I keep going. I noticed at this point that there was no traffic. No one walking other than an idiot like me I can understand, but no one driving down Eglinton? That's weird.

 

Then I feel it. Hairs on my arms and neck are all standing at attention like when you rub your socks on the carpet as a kid. My shoulders are tight and pulled in like I'm trying to make myself small; if I'm small maybe I'm not good eating or it misses me right? I moved my hands from my pockets, gripping at my little canister of mace right, and shove them into my armpits. Nice and small. Not even a meal.

 

It’s coming for me though. All I can think of is a Discovery channel special and the lone wolf stalking its prey through the forest. It’s waiting for me to look or to run or something and I'm shaking trying not to. I try to lengthen my stride and be stealthy about it but its not long before I'm jogging then running down the street.

 

That's when I hear it. Even in the rain I could hear it breathing as it ran after me. Other than it’s breath though it’s silent. I don't even hear the pads on its feet hitting the ground. I'm running as fast as I can and its not even breathing hard behind me. Like some giant cat it’s playing with me, fucking with me. I tried to lose it by suddenly taking a corner and I glanced at the thing.

 

Its eyes are wide and yellow in the dark and they're like the size of my hand. I can see bits of it reflecting in the light: large teeth in an open mouth that snaps at me, the shine of wet dark fur on a broad shoulder catches the light from the lamppost.

 

I'm around the corner and I'm running. I duck into the awning under a building and I'm holding the mace out in front of me and my hands are shaking. I remember tasting blood in my mouth. It never comes though. It doesn't come around the corner.

 

I have no idea how long I waited there, but eventually I got out from under there and slowly walked home. I tried to call the cops with my cell from the subway station, but the person on the line thought I was drunk and threatened me about the implications of drunk calling the cops.

 

Later though, I checked. I watched the missing persons reports and a woman went missing from that area that night. Teresa Slessing? You know about this right? She's just gone. There's tons of them missing. You've gotta believe me. No one else will. Please.