Thriller | Suspense
Sarah was drunk from celebrating. A letter arrived today informing her that Stanford awaited her in the Fall. Derek insisted on making her dinner, just the two of them, when she called him to share the news. A dinner party with close friends and family was a better-suited event for this occasion. But she couldn’t deny Derek’s desire to be with her.
The floor-to-ceiling windows in Derek’s apartment provided a beautiful city view to accompany their dinner. He made vegetable lo mien, the only non-microwaved meal he knew how to make. The lackluster meal reminded Sarah why she hadn’t requested he invite more guests. They sipped on wine and talked for hours about their future together in California.
Sammy, her long-haired Dachshund, pawed at the door. “What time is it? Sarah asked.
“Almost 11:30. We better let him out,” Derek replied.
The city was peaceful, abnormally quiet for a Friday night. Boys laughed as they sped by on electric scooters down the centerline of the empty street. Jazz melodies escaped the cigar bar across the street. The breeze warmed Sarah’s skin as Sammy’s nose analyzed a urine-covered tree trunk.
“It’s so nice out. Let’s go on a walk,” Sarah suggested smiling at Derek.
“But I don’t have shoes on,” he protested.
“What?” she replied, looking down at his dirt-covered feet. “You’re so gross. Why don’t you ever wear shoes?” She asked, her speech slightly slurred. “I’ll just walk around the block and meet you back here.”
“You probably shouldn’t walk alone. It’s late, and you’re drunk,” Derek responded with worried eyes.
“I’ll be fine,” she replied in an annoyed tone as she tugged Sammy away from a limp black beetle hidden beneath his paw. “This isn’t the first time you’ve made me walk alone. Come on, Sammy.”
Lighting a cigarette, Sarah silently judged Derek as she staggered down the sidewalk. Derek never puts on shoes when they let Sammy out, arguing the sidewalk was his backyard. All the while, he refused to go on barefoot walks with Sarah. The feces-smeared, bloodstained sidewalks are far from a suburbia back porch. She cringed, thinking of him getting into bed once again with dirty feet. Sarah turned left as she reached the end of the block.
Sammy’s short legs danced as he energetically weaved behind her. His recently brushed rust-colored coat glistened under the streetlights. Sarah’s lousy handling allowed Sammy to tangle her legs with his leash. As she untangled herself, Sarah recognized a woman walking a Rat Terrier several feet behind.
“That girl seems really drunk. Look at her wobbling back and forth,” Sarah overheard the woman saying to herself.
“It’s risky walking your dog when you’re drunk,” she heard the woman continue with a little laugh.
Sarah made another left turn to circle back towards her boyfriend’s building. Broken lights poorly lit this street. Homeless people used the darkness to camouflage their presence as they settled next to the buildings for a night’s rest. A man sat next to a building several yards ahead of Sarah. His face illumined by a cellphone plugged into a public outlet.
He studied Sarah’s unsteady gait as she approached him, his eyes scanning her body. Wetting his lips, he noticed her curves through her high-waisted skinny jeans. His gaze paused on her bare stomach before it continued over the silhouette of her breasts in a black cropped t-shirt.
Dreams of her life in California and how to handle Derek’s opinions distracted Sarah from noticing her captivated audience.
Derek adamantly wants to move with her. He already found an apartment for them to share near campus. But Sarah’s reluctant to agree since they’ve been dating a few short months. She enjoys Derek’s company but having a serious college boyfriend wasn’t a part of her Stanford dream.
As she clumsily walked past him, the man inspected the bounce in Sarah’s hindquarters like a piece of meat. She turned the final corner of her brief walk.
Sammy suddenly pulled his leash backward. Staggering as she turned around, Sarah felt a sharp, cold object pierce her neck and drive upward into her throat, only to be quickly removed. She dropped to her knees, clasping her neck with both hands to stop the bleeding. Her mouth flooded with warm, thick blood. Screams escaped as gurgles until she topped over, her arm reaching for Sammy.
Sarah heard the bass rattle a car driving in an adjacent street. Girls’ laughter echoed through a parking structure nearby. But no one came to her rescue. Sammy whimpered as Sarah’s blood pooled on the sidewalk beneath her still body.
“She was always careless with you, Sammy,” the woman said as she pried the blood-soaked leash from Sarah’s hand.
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