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It wasn’t the most well-lit path home but it was the quickest.

 

The chill and frost in the air attacked Heather's slivers of exposed skin, above her socks and where her woollen gloves didn’t quite meet her jacket sleeve. Her breath hung in the air like a ghost and wafted up to the glowing squares of apartment windows.

 

She wanted a cigarette but couldn’t decide if it was worth taking her gloves off for the nicotine hit. After the long day she’d had working for her tyrant of a boss, hoofing it around the city to run her errands, even pick up her dry cleaning. Maybe she would have the cigarette…

 

The street lamps ahead of her started to pulse, flicker and then died. Perfect, now it was even more creepy as she pulled her beanie further down her head she heard a sound.

 

Just a rat… or some homeless person trying to get comfortable for the long, cold night ahead. Heather decided to skip that cigarette and put her head down and increased her pace to get back to her apartment. She hoped her roommate was home and had left some dinner for her, maybe a glass or two of wine to unwind from the day.

 

That sound again.

 

“You gotta light?” A voice came from the shadows and nearly made her scream.

 

“Sorry, I don’t,” she lied and kept walking.

 

“Why are you lying?” The voice came again, male, a stranger.

 

“None of your damn business,” Heather said loudly, hoping to scare him off, she tried to get a look at him but he was purposefully cloaked in darkness.

 

“That’s not very polite now,” his accent was foreign, British or Australian.

 

“We can chat another time, preferably not in a dark alley in the middle of winter.” Heather took off again, stomping the ground harder to make more noise and seem larger than her petite frame.

 

He hadn’t followed her, just another New York weirdo, probably off his face on drugs or alcohol or both. Heather could see the end of the street; her apartment was just around the corner. Her mind drifted again to a nice glass of merlot and putting her sweats on.

 

The voice again, it was in front of her.

 

“Such a hurry.”

 

“How did you…”

 

“Magic, my sweet,” the voice purred.

 

“I’m going to scream if you don’t leave me alone,” she warned.

 

“No one will hear you,” he smirked, she caught a flash of pale skin and dark eyes, his teeth were even and straight.

 

He waved a stick at her, Heather laughed and quickly realised she made no sound. He watched her eyes grow wide and the panic settled into her simple mind, her mouth wide, she was certainly screaming now.

 

But no one could hear her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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