From a high vantage point, where the city’s night lights twinkled brighter than the stars in the sky, Karen made out with Todd in his flashy car.

They had been kissing for a while, but Karen still savored every moment. She slid her hands up and down the firmness of his back, while allowing him to feel the softness of hers. However, it seemed Todd wanted to take things further. 

He snaked one of his hands from Karen’s back to feel the cleavage that protruded from her halter. He then worked his hand into the waistline of Karen’s miniskirt and attempted to go even farther south. In response, she grabbed his vagrant hand and returned it to a setting more appropriate for a first date.

Still, Todd persisted. He transitioned his hand back to the cleavage he slid past before and groped her bosom. Again, she seized his hand. Only this time, she maintained her grip with a soft firmness, meant to convey a message, yet conserve their mood.

It seemed that Karen’s message was received. That is, until Todd worked his other hand up Karen’s thighs and into the humid garth within her skirt. 

With an expression of shocked anger, Karen yanked at Todd’s hand as she pulled from his kisses. But Todd pushed his face forward to keep their smooch going. So, Karen reached her dominant hand back and swung at Todd’s face with everything she had.

“What the hell?!” he said wincing in pain.

“Do I have to spell it out for you?! I don’t want to have sex!”

“Then why’d we come to this mountain at two in the morning?! We coulda saved this ‘soft-core’ shit for another time.”

Disgust pulled at Karen’s lips as her whimsy dissipated. Yet, she remained silent, and let the disgust speak for her.

“Well, it’s late,” Todd said, “and I, umm, have to work tomorrow. So…we can either do this, or–

“Take me home.”       

“That’s not what I was gonna say. Or,” he vexed before resuming his statement, “you can take a ride share home.”

Karen was stunned and already trying to remember how she found Todd attractive, recalling an instance when her roommate described him as a “creep”.

“Well?” he persisted. “What do you wanna do?”

Karen took a deep breath and finally replied, “We can stay.”


“Yes…but we have to use protection. Do you have a condom?”

“Fa’sho’!” Todd rushed to the ring of latex that began roasting his pocket.

Meanwhile, Karen reached into her purse, retrieved a small metallic canister, and aimed its plastic spray pump at Todd’s face. By the time Todd turned to her—condom in hand—it was already too late for him.

Psssst! Karen sprayed a fiery mist of pepper into the whites of Todd’s eyes.

“Ahhhh!” he yelled. “What the fuck?!”

Karen never responded. She just exited Todd’s flashy vehicle, slammed its door, and tromped away from the otherwise romantic setting.

Back inside the flashy car, Todd did his best to open his eyes through the pain, but could only slit them enough to get a blurry sense of the city lights that were so vivid before. “Stupid, bitch!” he yelled, wondering how long he’d have to wait for his eyesight to clear before turning the ignition.

Suddenly, Todd heard footfalls approaching from the rear of his vehicle, the same type of footfalls Karen emitted before, only slower and more profound. He interpreted the slow steps as Karen’s guilt personified.

When the footfalls landed outside the open window at Todd’s left, he turned to address who was sure to be Karen. Except, none of the blurry lines Todd saw resembled the sexy specimen he’d been trying to smash all night. In fact, all he saw was the watery impression of a large figure in dark attire.

Todd motioned to ask, “Who the hell are you?!” But the bowed end of a metal crowbar slammed into his face, never affording him the opportunity. The menacing blow sprayed a healthy portion of blood through the flashy car’s interior.

Todd was stunned and still suffering the effects of the pepper spray when more iron blows slammed into his skull. THUNK, THUNK, THUNK… Psychopathic percussions pounded on his head until it, and the rest of his body, went limp.


Karen strolled down the mountainside on a dark two-way road dotted with the occasional street light. She noted how the random houses along the trek were, just like the light posts she’d passed, few and far between. Fortunately, a full moon reflected just enough light to settle her fears. Karen longed to be free from the eerie quietness of the setting, and nestled in her bed where the familiar sounds of the city permeated the thin walls of her apartment.

As she continued, Karen searched her phone for a ride share. Due to her whereabouts, the cell’s signal fluctuated. Even when she managed to put an order through, it was immediately canceled by a driver unable to access her location. She attempted the order several times, only managing to deplete her battery to one percent. Karen also tried to contact her roommate, but thanks to the faulty signal, every call and text attempt was rendered fruitless.

“Shit,” she muttered while putting the phone back in the purse strapped across her torso to hang at her hip. “This night just keeps getting better.”

To Karen’s credit, she never hesitated, or looked back. She just kept charging toward the base of that mountain where she’d borrow a corner store’s landline to call her roommate. Soon after, she thought about the incessant shit she’d receive for giving Todd the benefit of the doubt, and hoped her roommate wouldn’t be too annoying about it.

Suddenly, Karen heard—or perhaps, thought she heard—another set of footfalls trailing in the distance. The extra steps were barely audible enough to garner a perception, yet consistent enough to gnaw at the curious side of her fears. When Karen turned to quench those fears, all she saw was the two-way road that she’d been traveling serpentine into the quiet darkness of the night.

Great, she thought, now I’m hearing things.

Karen resumed her stride and returned her mind back to the comforts of her bed. Before long, her fears from the ‘footfall fiasco’ transfigured into rationales of a stressed psyche wreaking havoc on the creative parts of her brain.

But then, Karen heard the footfalls again. So, this time, she stopped, turned, and looked to her rear, all in one go. The synergetic move allowed her to lock eyes on the portentous rat that had been scurrying the walls of her mind: a tall burly man that stood in the near distance carrying a metal crowbar.

Seeing the ominous figure silhouetted in the moonlight sent a surge of fright through Karen’s circuitry. Even so, she maintained her senses, and hoped the unknown man was not as unsavory as he appeared.

Maybe he’s stranded, she thought while narrowing her eyes at the crowbar, and is using that tool to repair his vehicle.

At that point, a shimmer of white light glinted at red drops of blood falling from the man’s metal bar and annihilated her hopes. The sick flirtatious grin she saw next confirmed Karen’s fears all the more and initiated her flight response.

As she flew, Karen saw a bright star of hope shining from a porch in the distance. Hopefully, the people living in the house—attached to the porch—would respond to the relentless banging she would ensue. Regardless, given Karen’s circumstances, it was her best move.

Karen pushed her afterburners to the max with each lunging step she took towards that guiding porch light. When she finally landed, Karen felt her stamina wane, but another dose of adrenaline supplied her with more than enough energy to commence the second phase of her plan.      

“Help!” she yelled while banging on a screen door. “Please! Somebody help me!” Karen continued to clang on the tinny door until she finally heard a deadbolt turn and saw the wooden front door open.      

“What the hell is going on out here?” an older gentleman said as he appeared at the threshold.

“Please!” Karen exclaimed. “You gotta help me. Somebody’s chasing me!”          

“Excuse me?”

“There’s no time to explain! Please, just let me in. He’s going to kill me!”

Who’s going to kill you?” he asked while looking towards Karen’s rear, “There’s no one out here.”

Karen looked behind herself and only saw the old man’s driveway and the dark empty road it met perpendicularly. “I must’ve outrun him.” She said, snapping her head back to face the old man. “Please don’t leave me out here.”    

“Alright missy, I can see you’re distraught. C’mon in so we can figure this out.’’

The old man unlocked the screen door and allowed her to enter the dim interior that she thought reeked with the harsh smells of an old beef dinner. Karen also noticed the tranquil hums of a small aquarium bubbling water through its filter. And that besides some soft fluorescence emanating from the fish box, a dull splash of tungsten falling from the stairway was the only other luminance on the first floor.

“Thank you.” Karen said with the utmost sincerity.  “You literally saved my life.”

“Don’t mention it,” he said while looking through the opened door, “I was getting lonely anyway. My wife’s outta town visiting our daughter.”

The old man finished his statement with a smile towards Karen—a smile that would not receive any benefits of her doubt. She’d learned her lesson twice that night already and wouldn’t provide the need for a third. Nevertheless, Karen also recognized how smiling back at the stranger standing on his threshold was the smartest thing she could do. 

The old man received her smile with a nod before taking one last look outside; which is where he met the embodiment of Karen’s fears, face to face.  

She watched a steel swing impact the stranger’s skull, rendering the old man’s body into a corpse that collapsed to the cold hard flooring.

Karen screamed, paralyzed by the murder, the dead body on the floor, and the dangerous man that now stood on the threshold. Yet, when she saw the sick flirtatious smile curl back onto the maniac’s lips, the paralysis subsided and her flight response re-initiated.

Karen blasted toward the rear of the house as she conducted a quick scan of the premises, but no exits readily appeared in any of her lines of sight. Should she continue searching for a rear door? Or, should she go up the stairs for definite distance? After hearing the screen door squeak shut with a slam, Karen’s trepidation opted her toward definite distance.

She darted up the stairs, sprinted through a dark hallway, and locked herself into a room that would now be considered the old man’s former place of rest.

At the rear of the cluttered bedroom, Karen saw a single pane window. She then stammered pass an unmade bed to swipe through its thin curtains and lift on its glass.

A loud BOOM banged at the bedroom door and jolted Karen’s attention away from the window she determined locked. When subsequent booms followed, she jolted herself back to the window and began searching for its clasps. Clinking doorknob twists accompanied the booms and jangled at Karen’s heart as she unlatched both locks. Once she heaved the heavy glass open and saw how high she was above ground, a rush of apprehension flooded her chest.



The bedroom door burst open as the window’s thin curtains billowed in the night wind.

Under the bed, where Karen shallowed her labored breathing, she observed a pair of dark work boots amble to the open window she left as a ruse.

Warm sensations pored sweat through Karen’s skin as waves of blood quaked from her chest and crashed at the ends of her extremities. And as her heart rate increased, her blood demanded more oxygen than her shallowed breathing could supply. White spots popped in and out of her vision, and Karen’s eyes started to close. Until finally, the work boots stepped away from the window, traipsed passed the bed, and exited the room altogether.

Karen sighed deep breaths of relief. Still, she sustained her silence as the bad man’s footfalls croaked down the stairs and pounced out the front door where the screen door squeaked into a slam.

Feeling a little safer, she took an even deeper breath and snatched her phone from the purse that was still slung around her torso. She went to call the police, but immediately saw that her device was dead. Shit! 


Karen waited under the bed for her autonomic functions to normalize. She also kept an ear out for the unknown man.

Six full minutes later, Karen felt replenished and assured enough to slide from beneath the dingy bed. She stood to her feet with a plan: lock all exits and find the old man’s landline. From there, she’d call the police and end this hellish nightmare. When Karen turned to exit, she saw the demonic dream weaver standing at the doorway, crowbar in hand.

Karen froze as the man’s free hand grabbed her throat. Then, with a grip that made breathing near impossible, she was pulled forward until their faces were inches apart. Her muffled cries barely escaped her larynx as the predator’s lips curled into that same disgusting smile she’d seen twice before. 

The man was bigger, stronger, and not entirely sane. What could she do?Karen could only think of one thing. She grabbed her mace and sprayed into the ghoulish man’s eyes.

The bad man yelled as he simultaneously dropped the crowbar and fell to his knees. As he clasped his eyes and howled in agony, it seemed to Karen that the madman had all but forgotten her, an insight that didn’t elude her when yanking the bloody crowbar from the floor.

While cocking the metal bar back like a nine iron, Karen couldn’t help but notice the large baby wailing on his knees. She almost felt sorry for what the unsettling display meant about the man’s past and how that past created the deranged killer before her.

Almost…Karen reached the crowbar back and swung at the man’s head with everything she had.