22,025 / 50,000
Deep down, I suspected that such concerns wouldn't really stop the murderous shade if it really wished to deliver a message to me, but I felt I would have some degree of peace until I got home, and probably even until I went to sleep.
If the old Irish luck held out, I might even manage to have some quiet time until the sun rose again, but that lucky? I was doubting it.
By the time I had driven back to the apartment, the rain had almost stopped, and only a few drops fell from the sky. A few remaining faucets leaked out their last bits of rain onto the Earth.
I found my thoughts continually drifting back to Jay. While there were cops, and paramedics around him, he was very likely safe, unless my doppleganger was bold enough to kill someone in front of so many witnesses. But they wouldn't be there forever, and even if they took him in, sooner or later, he'd be alone in a cell, or room somewhere.
Even if he was let go, he still had to lock up the shop. Or maybe the police would seal it off and keep an eye on it for now. And then there was the drive home, or here. Too many chances for the doppleganger to strike, too many risks.
I parked my car and sat for a few minutes, partly trying to calm my thoughts, and in part waiting to see if Jay arrived. Even the walk up to my apartment may be too long of a period alone. And what if she somehow appeared to him with my face? He'd never expect what was coming. I found myself wondering if that was what happened to Heather, and remembered the tape.
Reaching back into the back seat, I grabbed it off the cusions, and got out of the car. I walked around the car to the other side to get my still-soaked coat out, and draped it over an arm, almost toppling over onto the pavement of the parking garage from the weight throwing me off-balance.
I was amazed at how late it was. Usually there was always someone coming or going from here, during the day. Cars zooming in and out, or people puttering around, either to their cars, or just hanging around. The was almost always someone down here having a cigarette, too.
The pale glow from the overhead flourescents reflected off the green-painted cement that comprised the structure of the parking garage, reflecting in a pale green tint over everything. So dark outside, and so cold inside, and wet from the blowing rain, the light, sparsely dotting the ceiling, leaving the pale green glow fading into darkness in some places, made the garage feel even spookier than it usually was. I'd never much minded being alone, but then I came across times like this, when even just one person would put my mind at ease.
"Hey, Spunky!" So of course, the fates conspired to send the second to last person I wanted to see right now.
The door to the stairwell creaked shut and made its all too familiar slam, leaving the guy with the '57 Chevy standing there, holding a large, grey, plastic bucket. Trash day tomorrow, great.
"Look, guy, now is a really bad time. I just want to get back up to my apartment, and put a movie on." Not entirely a lie, no. I crossed my arms and tucked the security camera tape underneath the sopping trenchcoat, hoping it had gone unnoticed. This guy was probably too busy staring elsewhere.
"Man, you look like a drowned rat. Did you get caught down in that wicked storm that came down about half an hour ago?" He used the trash bin in his hands to gesture at my coat, dripping on my feet, and leaving more puddles around me. "Was that a killer rain, or what?"
I nodded politely, and stepped forward, hoping to just get past him and into the stairwell. The sooner I got up to my room, and locked in nice and safe...and I realized how futile that all was now. Even locked away in my apartment, there was no safety from what was after me.
I heard the low thud of the plastic container connecting with the concrete, and something grab my arm. Spinning myself around that point, I whipped around a foot, and kicked the guy in the back of the leg, and he fell to his knees like a brick.
He still held on to my arm, barely, and I grabbed his back with my free hand, wrenching it from gripping me, and twisted it behind his back, turning it as sharply as I could, almost able to touch his neck with his own fingers.
"Jesus Christ," he called out as his knees hit the pavement, not sounding entirely unlike his trash bin.
He tried turning to look at me, but all that did was twist his arm even further, and he turned back, looking straight ahead. "I said, now was a really bad time. I've not had the best of days, and it is a very bad idea to grab a woman unrequested, alone, in a parking garage, even on the best of days. Do you understand these words?"
His head nodded, and he stammered out a halting yes, eventually. I let him go, pushing him forward, and he barely had the time to get his hands around to balance himself before hitting the ground face first. As much as that would have greatly amused me, I was glad as well that I didn't cause too much harm, directly or indirectly.
"Good. Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to attend to my plans, and leave you to finish taking out the trash." I gave his foot a nudge with my boot, and strolled past him, leaving him behind.
He surprised me, and actually spoke to me as I neared the door. "Hey, uh, now, don't hurt me anymore for asking this, but would it still be ok to give you a call some time?"
I stopped dead in my tracks. Again, I had to give the guy credit. Even after all that, and he still asked to call me sometime. And just when I thought I couldn't be surprised any further. Turning, I stared at him for a moment before I spoke. "Yeah, sure," was the best I could just blurt out in my surprise.
In retrospect, I should probably have continued kicking his ass to scare him off, since I was a dangerous person to be around, but I somehow thought that wouldn't entirely disuade him. And he likely wouldn't believe the reasons why he doesn't want to get close to me, either. Still having some trouble on that front, myself.
And if the doppleganger did take over my life, then this guy would be her problem. See? You just need to find the bright side of life.
He smiled, while rubbing his forearm that had been twisted back behind him. Great, the guy liked a challenge. While the ass-kicking wasn't his sort of thing, his little kink, he was enjoying the chase, I could tell. I figured he had girls just falling at his every word, but that wasn't my style, and that was the kind of girl he actually liked. And despite his being rather annoyingly persistant, it was nice to be chased for a change.
I shook my head, still in disbelief at the events of those last few minutes, and pulled open the door, ducking into the stairwell and leaving the guy behind to pick himself off the ground. I could hear a sneaker scuffing along the concrete as he got up, and the door slammed behind me, leaving him to his own devices.
Half-expecting him to get his trash bin and come rushing after me in the stairwell, I made sure to move quickly up those stairs to put as much distance between the garage and me before he could get in there himself. It wasn't that easy, with the weight of the coat in my arms making the run all the harder, not to mention the slight heel of the boots. It wasn't much, but even running in the slightest heel, especially upstairs, wasn't easy, despite how simple it looked in the movies.
I rounded around the corner to the last flight of steps before the door to my floor, and just heard the door far down the stairwell close and echo its way up the chasm of the stairwell shaft.
Part of me was tempted to lose the coat and make a break for it, but with my luck, he'd find it, and see it as his duty to return it to me. I'd rather hold off on his calling me for as long as possible.
I quickly skipped up the last few steps, taking two at a time here and there, and grabbed the door handle, giving it a good yank and ducked inside. I pulled the door closed behind me, and fell against the wall, sliding down to the floor to catch my breath. I needed to lose a few pounds, but that was not the expected excercize I wanted. I could feel a wet spot on the wall behind me, left behind by my hair and sighed. Water, water everywhere, and most of it on me.
Feeling the weight of the coat in my lap, not to mention the water seeping out of it and into my jeans, and completely ruining any attempts I had made to try and minimize my getting wet any further.
I let out a heavy sigh, and flopped the jacket onto the floor beside me with a thump, and a heavy arm. I expected the coat to go further, but it was so heavy, and I was so drained, I was lucky to have gotten it off me at all, but just getting it off me was a relief.
Part of me wanted to doze off right then and there, but I struggled to keep awake, through the sore muscles, the haze of exhaustion, and the downright drowned nature of my hair and clothes. My door was just a few down the hall, but the break was much needed after that run up the stairs, weighted down with all that water.
I turned the tape over in my hands. There was nothing special about it, just an ordinary videotape, but it held the final moments of my best friend, and was a permanent record of how she left this world.
Not many people could have such an honour, to have their last moments forever preserved for all to see. Not that I expected this to become a smash hit at the locale cineplex.
Suddenly, the door to the stairs opened up and hit my leg, stopping for a second, and closing with a thud. It happened again, and once again was stopped by my leg. This time, I called out, and the door opened just an inch or two, and I saw an eyeball peek through it, looking at me.
Jay's voice called through the crack, "Say, are you going to block traffic all day, or are you going to let me in?"
I grinned up at him, and tucked my legs towards me, setting the soles of my feet on the carpet, and managed to shift myself away from the door, nimbly managing my way over the soaked coat, and sat back down on the opposite side of it.