Enveloped By Fear
Adrenaline was pumping through her veins. She was vigilant and scared at the same time. It made her feel sick to her stomach.
She felt as if she was living in a B-Grade horror movie. The dark, shadowy figure was following her. He was taller and faster than her, it wasn’t long before he was right behind her. There was only one way she could escape.
Sandra lived in a dingy neighborhood. It was the only place she could afford by being a waitress. She tried to be grateful but she loathed it.
Being a young, single woman, she had to take extra precautions for her safety. She invested in a reinforced steel door with padlocks. Her biggest solace was her adopted dog Bear, a huge fluffy German Shepard who never left her side.
A Cheeky Dog
Sandra’s dog Bear, was a bit older and he served as a police dog. He was still an obedient canine but because of his age, they had to rehome him.
Sandra enjoyed playing with Bear and spoiled him with dog treats. She felt he deserved it after being such a hard-working dog. She didn’t know how much she would need his quick instincts later on.
Sandra was behind on her rent payments. Her landlord was giving her grief about payments and threatened to kick her out if she didn’t pay up today. She had to grit her teeth and bear the cold to walk to the closest ATM.
It was already dark so she took Bear with her. The main street had a bad reputation for pickpocketing and her fears would be justified as she walked around the corner.
There was a group of rough-looking men sitting on their porch outside. They looked like gangsters. Their music was blasting and they were drinking and causing a raucous in the area.
All the men looked as though they had just escaped from prison. Their faces had tattoos and some dangerously were playing with knives. Sandra felt the pit of her stomach tighten. One of the men had seen her, she tried to avoid their glare but it was already too late. They were coming for her.
The disrespectful men started catcalling her. Making weird sounds and noises to imitate that they wanted to kiss her. She was disgusted. “What kind of men speak like this?” she thought.
She remembered a few news headlines of girls getting raped in the area. She did not want to become another statistic. So, she ignored them and quickened her pace.
It seemed as though she had lost them. She was just about to thank the heavens when she saw something dark out of the corner of her eye.
At first, she just saw a fast movement. As she walked into the streetlight, she could decipher that the shadow was of a tall man. Did one of those terrible men follow her? Her heart was racing. She held onto Bears leash tight and walked faster.
A Bad Situation
Poor Sandra was terrified. Her throat was dry. “Come on boy,” she said to Bear and walked faster toward the gas station where the ATM was.
As she approached the gas station the streetlights brightened up. She walked towards the ATM and stood still. She was checking around and saw that the shadow man was indeed hiding behind her. “What should she do now?” her brain screamed at her.
In My Space
The shabby man moved closer toward Sandra. Her heart was beating rapidly and she was filled with fear. There was nobody else around.
The strong smell of his cheap cologne was mixed with the stale smell of cigarettes. Sandra could feel that he was right behind her. He was invading her personal space. She turned around, pulled on Bear’s leash, and said one word that saved her life.
Sandra felt a surge of energy. “Protect!” she shouted as she looked at Bear. The brave dog remembered his police training and looked up, his eyes ready to attack. He growled fiercely next to his owner as he surveyed the tall stranger.
Sandra could see him clearly now. Bear started growling and slowly edging toward the stranger. The man looked up from his phone and let out a shriek in surprise. Sandra looked at the shadow man in full view now, as he was forced to stand in the light.
He was older – much older than the drinking guys. He was probably their leader. He had the appearance of a weathered biker.
He looked between a terrified Sandra and the intimidating police dog that was ready to go for the throat at any moment. He took a few more steps back and raised his hands in submission.
“Sorry, little lady. Didn’t mean to startle you,” the man said. He waved his phone. “Just distracted.” That wasn’t enough to let her take Bear off alert, but a fraction of the fear melted away.
Sandra came back to her senses. “You shouldn’t follow a girl like that,” she snapped. He nodded his head and then said something surprising.
He agreed and apologized. He was only there for the same ATM. It was too easy sometimes to forget that not everyone walked around feeling safe.
As Sandra quickly punched in her PIN and took out the rent, he commented he would never be able to sleep if his daughters lived in a place like this. He then pulled out a business card.
It turned out the guy, who introduced himself as Ian, was a bike repairman. She politely declined his offer to walk her home, but something inside her told her to keep the card and his other offer to call if she ever needed help.
You never know. As she made the nerve-wracking walk back to her crummy apartment, she looked down at Bear.
He was back on calm alert – a brown and black scruffy companion that would do anything to keep her safe.
She gave him a scratch behind the ears and one of his favorite treats from her pocket, and he gave her a loving lick in return. She was lucky beyond words to have him by her side. However, the night was far from over.
As she returned home from the gas station, one question popped into Sandra’s mind for a minute. Reflecting on what had just happened, she asked herself something.
Should she go through the same streets she had walked while going to the station and risk encountering the gang of loiterers again? Or should she take a different route?
Surely, those men would still be there. Her walk to the gas station and her interaction with Ian hadn’t been longer than 15 minutes. Sandra could still hear their subwoofer speakers blasting their music from a distance.
She had been lucky the first time, even though the encounter made her anxious. But would she be just as fortunate a second time?
Truth be told, now Sandra felt a bit more fearless than on her walk from home. The encounter with Ian and Bear’s presence and attitude during their brief run-in filled her with a renewed sense of confidence.
She even felt a little ridiculous about having been so scared. Maybe she was just being paranoid, and there was really nothing to be afraid of.
So Sandra decided to walk through the same route she had taken on her way from home to the gas station.
A part of her wanted to show the loiterers that their attempts to intimidate her were ludicrous; another one wanted to prove herself that she wasn’t a fearful person. Little did she know what she was heading for.
As Sandra walked home, her legs felt lighter and her motions more agile, as if her muscles were being boosted by her newfound confidence. After all, what did she have to be afraid of?
It wasn’t the perfect neighborhood, but she had been living there for months, and nothing bad had happened to her. At least, not until then.
They Were Still There
After turning a corner, Sandra found herself in the same street where she had seen the loiterers. And there they were, still blasting their music and standing outside.
But this time, Sandra had no fear. She had Bear, and nothing had happened to her in the previous encounter. She kept walking in the men’s direction, unaware of what she was getting herself into.
Staring At Her
The gang of loiterers recognized her from a distance and began staring at her. For a couple of seconds, Sandra felt the same anxiety that hit her on her first walk from home.
But quickly, she got over it. Unlike the first time, when she looked at the pavement as she walked past them, she raised her chin and looked them dead in the eye this time.
A few seconds of silence followed as she kept walking and got closer and closer to the house around which the men were loitering. They looked right back at her.
Usually, Sandra would have lowered her eyes and rushed to get past the house quickly. But not now. That would turn out to be a big mistake.
One Of The Men
As she got closer to the house, one of the men stepped into the street, still in complete silence while staring at her. What was he trying to do?
Sandra had felt confident up until that point, but now she was having second thoughts. Perhaps she had been too bold? Maybe she underestimated the dangers that might lurk in those streets.
“What are you doing in these streets alone so late?” the man said with a grin. That was the moment Sandra feared. But she wasn’t willing to give the man the satisfaction of seeing her intimidated.
“That’s none of your business,” she replied and kept walking. But then, something happened that made her heart jump to her throat.
“Hold on!” the man said as he grabbed Sandra’s arm. “I just asked you a question, and I want a response. What are you doing here? Are you working or what?”
Instantly, Sandra’s former confidence and boldness vanished in thin air. She had clearly made a mistake. Now, she had to try to get out of there as soon as possible.
She tried to escape, but the man’s grip on her arm was too strong. “Let go, or I’ll scream,” Sandra said in a quivering voice. The man smirked.
“What’s wrong? I just wanted to talk to you. Don’t be rude. Why don’t you come hang out with us?” Sandra’s heart was galloping. And right then and there, she heard something.
A Bike Engine
A motorcycle engine roared and rumbled right next to them. Suddenly, the man grabbing Sandra’s arm looked up at the road and adopted a shaken expression. Then, he let go of her arm and took a few steps back.
While Bear barked at the men, Sandra turned around and looked at the road. What she saw made her stomach drop to her knees.
Ian, the man she had met at the gas station, was sitting on his bike in the middle of the empty road, silently staring at the gang of loiterers.
In a matter of seconds, the men quietly walked back and got back into the house, turning off the volume of their speakers. Then, Ian spoke to Sandra.
“I can give you and your dog a ride,” he said. Sandra thanked him several times for what he had done but refused the ride. After all, she lived right around the corner. Ian just nodded at her and left on his bike.
Sandra went home and thought about what had just happened. She had the feeling that Ian was much more than just a bike repairman.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.