Editor’s Note: This story contains mentions of blood.
Water flies upward as I dart through campus, rain beating down on my face. I can hear heavy footfalls behind me, closing in and telling me I’m not going fast enough.
It feels like a bad dream where running feels like you’re moving your limbs through water. I want to cry, but the fear and adrenaline coursing through my veins have dried up all my tears. They are closing in.
They’ve known my every move, from hiding behind the bleachers at Turner Stadium to climbing a support beam on the Dome.
In one of the few lamps which light my dimly lit path, my shadow appears ahead of me. Although I still hear footfalls, a second shadow does not appear. I expected some sort of monstrous creature’s form to be unveiled in the shadow, or at least a cleaver swinging in the hands of my pursuer. But there is none.
I hear my heavy breathing, blood pumping rapidly through my ears. But I can also hear them, whoever or whatever they are, breathing just as loudly.
Still watching for a shadow as I run past the Sammy Statues, I feel their breath on my neck. I scream, risking a look at whoever was chasing me. However, there is no one there.
I come to a screeching halt under the Bell Tower. Whipping left and right, I look for them. Catching my breath, I see no one. No footsteps.
In the distance, I can hear heavy breathing. It almost matches my own. I try to follow the sound with my wide, frightened eyes.
I peer through the rain, seeing nothing beyond the bright floodlights pointing upwards toward the tower: a symbol of the integration of faith and learning. I had no faith in that moment that I was safe and I was quickly learning that this person was multiple steps ahead of me. Mission accomplished, I guess.
As my breathing calmed, I listened. I walked in a slow circle, looking out into the darkness. I hear footsteps again. They’re back. Maybe they’re afraid of light. Maybe they’re not real. Maybe they— A sharp pain radiates through my chest. The adrenaline courses through me for two more slow heartbeats before everything slows down.
I look down first, finding the very tip of a blade sticking out right next to my sternum. Blood begins to make the journey down my clothes to join the rain at my feet. As my body numbs and my knees hit the pavement, my attacker slowly walks around me to stand in the puddle of blood and rain. I feel cold as I raise my head to meet the eyes of my imminent murderer.
I gasp as I fall over, face down, into the puddle. My mind slows as I grapple with their identity. It’s impossible. But as my mind fogs over it all makes sense. They knew my every move. Only my shadow appeared in the lamplight. Their breaths matched my own.
As my eyes close, I watch as my murderer spots another student hiding in the bushes. A witness! Justice may prevail! I watch, my cheek pressed to the cold bricks as my attacker’s face and body morph to match that of the witness.
The witness has run, not seeing the identity of the murderer change to their own. Unbeknownst to them, they too were about to be murdered by themself. Everything goes black, and I feel weightless and warm as the bell tower chimes.