It all started at the office. I’m usually the first one there. I crossed the parking lot, and a bum was sleeping under one of the trees. He wore a navy blue hoodie, and had some kind of tattoo on his neck. I hit the lock button on my key fob an extra time, unlocked the front door and went inside. I admit to looking outside once more, but the guy was gone.
Two days later, it was on the morning commute. An old brown car pulled up on the blind spot in the left lane. The paint was peeling off the top, and he just hung there for several blocks. I didn’t think much of it; just another day commuting. As we approached my office, he sped past. Same blue hoodie, what looked like an iron cross neck tattoo. I tried to see his face, but he had on one of those medical masks like germophobes wear. I admit to looking over my shoulder as I entered the office in the dark.
The time changed. I forgot all about it. When I came home one night, the garage door was open. I blamed my wife, and never really thought about it. The pit bull was happy to see me. It must be safe.
On the way to work the next morning, there was the brown car again. He was in a parking lot about five blocks from my house. It was in a dark spot, and I couldn’t make out the license plate. I nearly rear ended a woman in a minivan, because I was watching my stalker pull out behind me in my mirror.
The work week ended. We went and saw the new Thor movie. My wife went to work early Saturday. These mornings are my favorite writing time. I got up early and went through my morning routine. When I left the bedroom, there he was in the living room. He pointed a shotgun at me. I stumbled back into the wall.
I groped around in the dark feeling for something to hit him with. Probably a futile effort, but nothing was handy anyway. He raised the shotgun and asked, “Scared?”
“Fuck you,” I said. Probably lame, but he had me cold.
“That’s no way to talk to an old friend.” He lowered the gun and morphed into Lorelei. She wore the same hoodie, but her jeans morphed into tight fitting ones with the fancy stitching on the pockets.
“Bitch,” I said.
She grabbed my shirt and pulled me to my easy chair. She shoved me back and forced a cup of coffee into my hand.
“I’m an old guy, you could have killed me.”
“But were you scared?”
“You said you wanted to write a scene to scare the crap out of someone. To do that you need stakes. What was at stake?”
“My life, possibly my family and coworkers.”
“And isolation too. How far away was any help? Think about the mood. It was dark, if I could have arranged fog I would have.”
“There were plants and payoffs too. I’ve used that before. Set me up before you strike.”
“You’re getting it. High stakes, far from safety, plant some info early, and don’t forget to set the mood.” She sipped her coffee and asked, “Got any cookies or anything?”
“There’s a muffin in the kitchen.”
She retrieved her breakfast and brought me one. “Write about what scares you. You’ll do a better job, and if it scares you it will scare other people too.”
“You know, I’ve always wanted to write a really steamy sex scene.”
She leaned forward and smiled. “Nice try, slick. A Muse inspires. That’s where my shift ends.”