Reasonable Suspicion

An Urban Fantasy Short Story by Allen Demir

Reasonable Suspicion

by Allen Demir

It’s a fine line between being vigilant and being paranoid, and some people can’t help but color outside the lines.

Contact info for Allen Demir
* Website – https://allendemir.wordpress.com/

 

He was there again, going through my garbage. I spotted him seven times in the past two months, always digging through the dumpster behind my apartment building, like a half-starved rat. He was clearly looking for something. I knew what he wanted. He was searching for evidence of my identity, proof of who I really was.

Who was this man working for? Had my old business partners sent him, still seeking vengeance? I could only guess what he hoped to find. Maybe a letter from a relative. Perhaps a message to my wife. He was wasting his time. I took numerous precautions to ensure I left no trace of my previous existence. I hadn’t spoken to anyone from my past since I moved out here. No matter how much he looked, his search would turn up nothing. Not that I would give him the chance to realize that.

I pulled out the rusted old knife I always kept on me. Though it had become somewhat dull over years, it still served its role when I needed it. With the man unaware of my approaching presence, I ran over to him, brandishing the blade in a defensive manner. His eyes bulged when he noticed me, and before I could accuse him of prying, he darted off. He never tried to hide that he was up to something. Bastard even left all his cans.

As I watched him run, I knew I was safe, if only for the moment. I’m not sure I ever truly felt safe, but at least I had a somewhat normal life now. I’d learned how to keep a low profile, drawing no attention to myself. I just needed to stay vigilant.

This isn’t the lifestyle I would have chosen. I wanted to avoid the typical nine-to-five world, so I got into things I admittedly shouldn’t have. Things I’d rather not talk about. One day I got caught holding the bag, so to speak. I found myself forced to choose between turning on my associates and spending the next twenty years in a federal prison. And now I’m hiding out here, in the suburbs of a small metro area, doing the sort of menial office work I despised. Christ, I even bought a tie.

Aside from the guy tailing me, the next three days were fairly uneventful. That changed on a seemingly ordinary bus ride. I had been sitting there for exactly seventeen minutes and thirty-four seconds, when I noticed that the man in the seat across from me was staring in my direction.

He was a scrawny, unintimidating guy. Clean-shaven. Expensive looking suit. Typical yuppie from the looks of it. He certainly fit in well, I’d give him credit for commitment. He wasn’t brazen enough to look directly at me, so instead he pretended to stare out the window behind me.

I gazed down at my watch. Eighteen minutes and twenty-seven seconds. He was still watching me. I grew worried. When I tried to make direct eye contact with him, he just pretended not to notice me. I wouldn’t fall for that.

Trying to gain his attention, I loudly cleared my throat. He glanced over at me for a moment before he turned his gaze away. He seemed committed to playing innocent. Not a bad actor. I guess he hoped I’d be too stupid to suspect he was after me. Or he didn’t want to make a scene in a crowd of people, too afraid to do in public what he was sent to accomplish. In that case, I would draw as much attention as possible.

I proceeded to clear my throat again, far louder this time. I glared at him while I did so, inciting him to do whatever he had planned while surrounded by a dozen witnesses. He looked over at me, but upon seeing me stare him down, his eyes darted away from mine. He became visibly uncomfortable, fidgeting in his seat and trying to avoid eye contact. This continued for almost half a minute until the bus reached its next stop. He then rose and headed for the exit. But I wouldn’t let him get away.

Don’t confront anyone if you think you’re in danger, just call the police.” That’s what they told me when I relocated. But there was no way I would rely on cops. I wasn’t a coward. I’d find out who he worked for myself.

I followed the man while he walked off at a hurried pace. He veered left into a dark alley. Suspecting I might be after him, he looked back. A look of terror flashed on his face when he spotted me, and he hastened his speed. This guy couldn’t be any more suspicious.

When I increased my pace to keep up with him, he dashed off. Before he could get away, I tackled him from behind and knocked him into the pavement. Not giving him a chance to recover, I pulled him up by the front of his jacket.

Who sent you?” I yelled in his face. “Who do you work for?”

I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, “I’ve never seen you before!”

I didn’t buy it for an instant. When I reached for my knife to continue the interrogation, I noticed something odd. There was a strange dark liquid, almost green in color, running from the side of his mouth. Distracted by the sight, I was caught off guard when he shoved me off of him, then pinned me to the ground.

He grabbed me by the collar and slammed my head into the concrete. He did it again, with more force than before. I was dazed. My vision was blurry.

You damn human, you’ll ruin all our plans!”

I was unable to make out anything, so I couldn’t tell who said these words. I assumed it was the man trying to kill me. It was like no voice I had heard before, with a strange tone that seemed to reverberate when it spoke.

As I began to see more clearly, I looked up at him. My sight was hazy, but I saw him convulsing, his mouth agape. I came to the conclusion he was going to vomit. Since he was currently above me, I proceeded to struggle, before he slammed my head down again. He continued shaking, retching, until a large appendage burst out of his mouth.

It seemed like some kind of hollowed tendril, with what looked like fangs lining the inside. It drew closer to me. My hand, drenched in sweat, searched through my pockets. Pulling out my knife, I plunged the blade into the appendage, which caused more of that green fluid to fly out. There was an otherworldly shriek while I tore at that thing. I stabbed him repeatedly in the chest next, and his screams filled my ears. With my remaining strength, I pushed him off of me. I stumbled to my feet, nearly toppling over as I rose. I stood there for some time, hunched over, gasping for breath.

I didn’t know what just happened. As battered as I was, I was unsure if I really saw it. Maybe it was simply my mind at work. But I wasn’t willing to stay around and wait for my head to clear. I couldn’t be found here. I hurried out of the alley, my vision still a blur, trying not to attract any attention, despite the mess on my clothes.

I’m still not sure what happened back there. The stuff on me was proof I didn’t imagine it. But it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that I’m safe.

For now.

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