Another week of the Indie Ink Writing Challenges. This week I challenged Lazidaisical, and my challenge this week came from Mare. My challenge is at the end of the post. This one is all fiction.
Having mild OCD has its benefits at times. I can tell when someone has gone through my stuff. Today, I got home and everything was just a little off-balance. The books on the coffee table didn’t line up perfectly. A drawer was slightly open. The sugar and flour tins were switched. They have their places and they don’t get put back wrong. Once something is in the right place, it stays there. I called the cops and explained what I was seeing. They sent out an officer, but he seemed rather bored.
“So nothing was taken?”
“No. Things were just moved. I’ve looked through everything and it’s all still there.”
“I’m not sure what to say, ma’am. Unless something has been taken or damaged, there isn’t much we can do. Does anyone else have a key?”
“My mom, but she wouldn’t go through my stuff.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, though I could tell that he really wasn’t, “I can’t help much. We’ll keep this on file for you, though, in case anything else comes up.”
I bought new locks and had them installed that night. For the next week or two, there were no more strange events, so I chalked it up to the universe messing with me. Then a friend of mine called and asked what story I was going to be in.
“A reporter was over here asking questions. He said he was writing a story about you and needed some background information.”
“I’m an accountant and I don’t do anything particularly exciting. Why would anyone do a story on me?”
“I don’t know. That’s why I’m calling. He seemed nice enough. I didn’t tell him anything really private or anything, just that we grew up together. He knew where we grew up and what some of your old jobs had been, so whoever he is, he sure does his homework.”
“I really don’t know. Thanks for calling, though. Hey, want to get lunch sometime soon?”
The conversation wandered to other topics, but I was thinking about the filing cabinet that held all of my historical information: jobs, addresses, notes from friends. I knew where he’d done his research. After we got off the phone, I checked the cabinet. The files showed signs of having been examined.
The next day at work, my boss said that they didn’t generally encourage interaction with the press, but he was excited to hear what award I’d be getting. He asked if I was allowed to tell him.
I stepped into his office and sat down, shaking a little. I explained everything that had happened, including the fact that I wasn’t, so far as I knew, winning any awards or having anything written about me. My boss looked concerned.
“The cops can’t do anything unless something is really wrong, and I don’t know if anything is. Everything is just getting weird.”
He asked me to keep him up to date, said he’d call me if the reporter came back. I said that I was pretty sure he wouldn’t, but I certainly appreciated the thought.
This went on for another week, people calling to ask what was going on, excited about the prospect of knowing someone famous. The descriptions of the reporter varied, but all of the changes were things I knew could be done with makeup. There was always one feature that stood out, so the rest of his face was not memorable. A big, crooked nose dominated his face in one case and prominent cheekbones in another, so I didn’t actually know what he looked like.
I started worrying that I was being followed. I was afraid of my own shadow. I installed more locks, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was always nearby. It had been a month since someone had come into my house and looked through all of my things, and all I knew was that he was doing everything he could to get to know me better without actually talking to me.
I came into work a little early one morning and found a single red rose on my desk. That did not improve my day. The next morning it was a typed note. “You look good in blue. You should wear that suit more often.” He was talking about the suit I was wearing right then, which meant he saw me coming out of my house and he got to work before me. I called the cops and they dutifully bagged the evidence, but they didn’t find fingerprints or even any useful smudges.
Every morning there was something new. Coffee, made just as I like it, from my favorite coffee shop. A bagel with lox and cream cheese, freshly toasted. Tickets to a play I was considering attending. He was beginning to anticipate my moves, and I was beginning to be very afraid.
The final moment came just a few days ago. Sting’s “Every Breath You Take” was playing from my computer as I got to work, earlier than usual, hoping to catch him at whatever he was doing. Someone touched my shoulder, and as I turned I felt a blow to my head.
He took me with him to his house. He has me locked in a small room. I still haven’t seen his face, but that damn song, forever to be known as the stalker song, at least in my head, is always playing. He feeds me well, talking from the other side of the door about the idea he had for the food and how he makes it especially for me. He tells me I’m beautiful, that he can’t keep his mind off of me.
I asked why he hadn’t tried to get me to come on a date. He said, sadly, that it didn’t work that way.
I don’t know what he wants or what he’s waiting for, but I don’t think it’s going to be good for me.
My challenge was “Someone wants to get to know you better, whether you want him to or not.”