'Nachtgestalten', by António Bizarro


You walk through the deserted streets of Saint Paul, coming from the train station, alone, late at night. You are heading home and you are cold, very cold. You walk through the shadows and fog in your unsure step, anxious to get into bed for a good night's sleep. Suddenly, other footsteps join yours, echoing eerily in the silence of the uncrowded street. You turn back, but see nothing and no one. You quicken your pace as you tell yourself that there is no reason to be afraid. It must be someone who, just like you, is heading home from work.

    The footsteps that follow you also become more hurried, and then panic takes hold of you. Your heart seems about to jump out of your chest, your breathing becomes faster and heavier. You round the first corner and start running frantically. You stop listening to anything, all you can think about is getting home. The streets begin to look familiar and you realize that you are close to home. There are only a few meters left before you reach its warmth and safety.

    Finally, keys in hand, you run to the door of your building. Your hands are shaking, tears of despair are falling down your face, you can't find the keyhole. You feel surrounded, you think about ringing door bells or screaming for help, but you manage to open the door. Inside the building, you stand against the wall for a few minutes, in the dark, until you catch your breath. You wipe away the tears with the back of your hand, and when you feel restored and safe, you let out a nervous laugh, as if to express your relief.

    Then, as you turn on the light, you see him standing in front of you, just inches from you, an arm's length away. You feel something breaking inside you, your legs weaken, and you can no longer find the strength to scream for help when you see him take out a knife from his pocket...


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