Catherine loved her morning walks. It set the tone for the day. To her it was a must. She suffered terrible anxiety ever since a concert she attended a couple years back. It was her first time in the mosh pit. Her girlfriend had won the tickets in a radio contest and invited her to join. It was an early birthday gift. Had she known what would transpire, she would have declined.
Mosh pits are known for physicality. Catherine knew this but at the same time she had no idea how violent it could be. The concert had barely begun when the crowd started surging. More and more people rushing the stage. People were being trampled. Catherine had been knocked to the floor and tried time and time again to rise to her feet. Each time she was stepped on and knocked back down. Out of nowhere a stranger came to her rescue. He pushed people back and picked her up, carrying her to safety. She sat safely in a corner, shaking and trying to gather herself. It seemed impossible. The tears ran down her face as she gasped for air. She looked up and saw the stranger that had rescued her. He was a handsome man with dark hair and piercing eyes. He smiled at her and handed her a bottle of water. Her hands were bleeding from being trampled. She dropped the bottle and bent over to pick it up. When she rose, the stranger that had saved her, was gone.
Since that night she suffered anxiety and panic attacks. She’d have nightmares about that night and would wake up in a full blown panic attack. She found that her walks helped with her anxiety. She never missed a morning walk. It was as essential to her as the air she breathed.
This morning she decided to check out a new walking path that had just opened. The town had been working on revitalizing the downtown area. She had heard about the natural beauty of this new path. Just what she needed.
She walked the path slowly as it was her first time. There was so much to see. The gardens and statues were breathtaking. Near the end of the path was an area covered on each side by trees. The shade was a welcome sight. The morning had heated up quickly. She wasn’t even but a few feet in when the trees seemed to be closing in on her. She could feel herself start to panic. She knew she didn’t have the time or energy to turn back and walk another five miles. She continued to move forward. She tried to anyways. Everything was closing in on her. She went to her knees trying to keep from going into a full blown panic attack. Slow steady breaths. Breathing in and breathing out. She lifted her head and at the clearing she saw a shadow of what appeared to be a man. He was motioning to her.
She felt like someone had lifted her to her feet. She looked around but the only person she saw was at the clearing. He was still motioning to her. She took a step forward, the tears falling like rain. Then she took another step. She just kept moving towards the stranger at the clearing. It seemed to be taking an eternity. She finally made it to the clearing and there she saw the man that had rescued her at the concert. He smiled at her and put a loving hand on her shoulder. One regret she had, was never thanking him for what he did for her. She gathered herself and found the words this time. He smiled. As she walked towards the parking lot he walked alongside her, in silence. She finally reached her car and she turned to thank him again but he was gone.
Karen’s hobby was photography. She always loved capturing the beauty of a moment. Her subjects varied. Lakes, the sky, friends, the woods, you name it.
She had the next two days off and decided to head to the local park near the river. She’d grown up going to this park. It was her favorite location to take pictures.
When she arrived, the park was already buzzing with activity. Families playing on the playground, dogs playing fetch, people boating and skiing. It was a beautiful day. She readied her trusty camera and began.
Out of nowhere a storm hit. Everyone ran for cover. Karen had already been out in the blazing sun most of the afternoon and decided to call it a day. She could feel the heat of her skin. She’d gotten enough sun.
Once she got home, she changed into her comfy clothes and decided to just kick back, relax and enjoy a movie. She sat in her recliner with her favorite blanket.
Karen stretches and yawns looking around. She was having a hard time focusing. She looks around then realizes she had nodded off and ended up sleeping through the night.
She got up and started the coffee. She headed to her bathroom and noticed in the mirror her badly burnt nose. She took a quick shower and once finished she headed to the kitchen and fixed herself a cup of coffee. She decided to check the pictures she had taken the day before.
She takes a sip of her coffee while opening her viewer on her camera. Her eyes widen and she gasps in horror, dropping her coffee, the cup shattering on the floor. She continues flipping through her pictures. Karen was unsure what to do. She begins walking through her house, checking all the windows and the doors. All were locked. She began searching for something to use for protection. She noticed her baseball bat in the corner. She grabs it and her cell phone, takes a deep breath and opens the door leading to the basement.
She turns on the light and begins her descent. She makes her way down the flight of stairs and begins checking every corner. She finds nothing. She wasn’t sure if she should be happy about that or not. She heads back upstairs and grabs her camera, once again flipping through her pictures.
There on her camera were pictures of her as she slept in her recliner the night before. She lived alone. Someone had been in her home the night before. She knew it was from the night before as her nose was noticeably burnt. She continues flipping through her pictures and comes to one she had taken the day before at the park. It was of a little girl swinging. That wasn’t what caught her eye though. It was the man standing behind the little girl. She expands the picture.
She falls back into her recliner in shock. She looks at the picture again. It was her grandfather. Her grandfather that passed on his love of photography to her. Her grandfather that took her to this park every week when she was a child. Her grandfather that had passed away the year before.
But, how? At first she was creeped out by all of this. Then she looked closer at her Grandpa’s face. He was smiling. No one had broken into her home. It was her grandfather making contact with her. Karen smiled while the happy tears ran down her cheeks. She felt safe. She felt loved.
Her eyes were fixed. I couldn’t gain her attention. It was almost like she was in a trance. I then noticed her breathing became faster and louder. Then slight trembling of her bottom lip. I called her name but she wouldn’t respond. It was like she was staring at something horrifying. But nothing was there. A tear streamed down her face as she gasped. I grabbed her arm.
I was finally able to break the spell she seemed to be under. She stood before me still shaking and seemed unsure just where she was. She looked around as if she was trying to find something she lost.
We gathered our things and headed to the car. We sat for a minute. I turned to her, wanting to know but not quite sure what to say. Then I hear her speak, “I saw myself. But it wasn’t me. It was like I was in another world. Everything I am here, doesn’t exist there.” She wipes her tears away smearing her mascara further. “What do you mean, what did you see?” She turns to me and says, “the yin to my yang. The dark to my light. Evil. I saw evil.
It is a foggy, damp night. I wander the streets aimlessly. My mind is blank. I have no idea why I am out nor do I seem to care. I just wander. I hear a sound behind me. I quickly turn but nothing is there. I continue aimlessly wandering with no destination in mind.
I hear the sounds of the night. They comfort me. Night is my time. It is my element. I hear my feet on the blacktop as I make my way no where. Then I hear footsteps that are not my own. I stop and for a split second I hesitate turning around to look. But I do turn and look. My heart is now racing. There about a block away, I see a shadow. I turn back around and quicken my pace. My mind that was blank is now seeking refuge, a safe haven. I want to be home. I turn to see the shadow gaining on me. I quicken my pace yet again. I feel like my heart will beat out of my chest. Faster and faster I walk. I turn again and the shadow is just feet from me.
I’m no longer walking. I’m running and screaming. Pleading for anyone to come to my rescue. This cannot be happening. I see my home just ahead. I’m trying to not hyperventilate. I just knew my heart was going to stop. As my feet hit the first step, I look to see the shadow’s hand about to grab my shoulder.
I wake up in a cold sweat. I am still in a panic. I realize I am safe in my bed. I grab my pillow and pull it close to me as I try to calm my breathing. “It was just a nightmare”, I tell myself. Then comes a shuffling sound outside my window. I jump and turn just in time to see a shadow pass by.