Nothing but a Nuisance. Short Story.

Gemma walked through the crowd, weaving her way through, that one always one of the things she hated about the weekends, so many people just milling around. She dodged to the left as the group of old women in front of her stopped suddenly, they were arguing over something while one of them dug around in her purse. Gemma rolled her eyes and kept going. Behind her the man still followed, about fifteen feet back. They always tried to blend in with crowds of people, but they never fooled Gemma. She moved over to the side of the street and ducked into a small shop, Doug was coming over for dinner later and she needed to pick up a few things. She wanted to impress him with dinner, without being too over the top. She had gone to his place last week and he had cooked absolutely delicious steaks with potato gratin and a side salad, and she needed to make something just as good. She still hadn’t decided yet, but then she had all day to decide. As she walked through the aisles, steadily filling basket in one hand, the man followed, though he tried to keep one or two aisles away from her. Already she had run into him twice in the shop, Gemma took some amusement from the almost imperceptible widening of his eyes both times they ended up on the sames aisle. Obviously she was a bit more slippery than he had first thought, and he didn’t seem to realise that he was in danger. Perfect.

Gemma left the shops carrying two bags, the man followed behind with nothing. Gemma wanted to grab the man and shake him, could he be any more obvious? Ducking into the shop after her when there was only one way in and out, not actually buying anything once inside. She figured that by now they’d know not to send anyone after her and if they did, well she expected the big guns. It was a little insulting, when she thought about it. How many bodies had she racked up in her life time? Sixty? Seventy? She had stopped keeping track a few years back. Of course it wasn’t like she could control it all the time and not all of the deaths were intentional, but that was beside the point.

Gemma picked out a dress and held it against her body, she really liked the shape of the dress, and the colour, but it just didn’t suit her. Sighing she placed it back onto the rack and moved on to the next one. She wanted to pick up something nice to wear while she was out but it was looking less and less likely. The man hovered at a clothes rack about twenty feet away, repetitively pawing his way through the same rack of t-shirts. If Gemma didn’t know any better she’d think he wanted to be caught, he was practically gawping at her. If anything it was making her feel a bit uncomfortable now, the longer he followed her the less sure she became that he had been sent by anyone. He didn’t have that walk they all had, he seemed to be nervous too. If he had been trained he would have known she had spotted him, but he showed no sign of that. She had originally discounted the idea that he was just run of the mill violent perv, after all they knew better than to go after her, but now she wasn’t so sure. Those people were like predators, usually going after weaker, vulnerable prey and she was anything but.

As she stepped outside of the clothes shop Gemma, reassessed the man. He wasn’t experienced, that much was certain, and he most likely hadn’t been trained, if it was an act to make him seem bumbling then it was done very well. Was he a stalker then? Someone obsessed with her? There had been no signs of a stalker, she would have picked up on that relatively quickly. As she walked home she debated over stopping him or leaving him off. If she left him he could interrupt later, someone that inept wouldn’t worry too much about witnesses, they’d just kill everyone in the room. She sighed, might as well just get this over with.

The man ducked into the alley a moment later, it was empty for now but that wouldn’t last much longer, people used it as a short cut all the time. She stepped out from a doorway, the man jumped, his face was pale and he had beads of sweat coating his upper lip and forehead. “What do you want?”
“What? Nothing. I’m just out for a uh walk. That’s all. Getting some air.” He chuckled nervously
“you’ve been following me, badly, for the last two hours. What do you want?”
“Nothing I don’t want anything . I’m just out for a walk.”
Gemma sighed, “Ok. We both know you’re not going to kill me, so either tell me what this is about or piss off.”
“What? Why would I kill you? I’m just out for a walk on this nice day.”
“At least try to sound believable. Jesus Christ dude. Ok, so here’s what’s going to happen you’re going to tell me what you’re doing or you’re going to leave, if I see you again, ever, I will kill you. Got it?”
the man nodded, then lunged at her, Gemma jumped backwards, the man toppled forward landing on the ground with a heavy thud, knife clattering as it spun away from his open hand. Gemma turned from the body and kept walking. As she exited the alley a young mother entered pushing a pram, Gemma didn’t stop her or warn her away. She felt a pang of guilt, but it quickly passed, after all someone had to find the body and it was better that she wasn’t seen nearby. Sure the man died of a heart attack, or an aneurysm, or a stroke, it was never really consistent, but Gemma liked to keep herself to the shadows. Away from publicity. As she walked she kept an eye on the people around her, there was always the danger that it was a team and the first man was just a distraction.

Gemma relaxed a little as she entered her building, no one else had been following her, it seemed like the man was working alone. Someone had probably just sent him after her so she’d be the one to deal with him. She rode the elevator up to her floor and stepped out into the hallway, as she unlocked her door she decided what she’d make for dinner tonight. She closed the door behind herself and threw her keys into the small bowl by the door, it really had been a productive trip.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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