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The Man in the Dark

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Rachel knew she was being followed, but she didn't dare run. If she did that, they would know and might chase after her. She needed to get somewhere crowded with people, but it was the middle of the night and nothing was open. She could try screaming, but honestly who would care? People didn't like to acknowledge violence, acknowledge the horrible things that can happen to people because it means they could easily happen to them. That's why people blamed tell victims because it give them the delusion of control of their lives, because it means they can choose not to be in danger. At least that's what her roommate says and since she's a therapist Rachel is going to assume she knows what she is talking about.

She picked up the pace a little, getting more hopeful as she got closer to her apartment building, and she had thought she could take a shortcut. She would get home faster and she could lock the doors, and try to forget this even happened. She was so excited she didn't see him until it was too late, when he used his large body to stop her from getting past him. She almost ran straight into him but she managed to stop a few steps away from him, her fear rising as she saw the smile on his face. She turned around but she had already guessed what she would see, and she was proven correct when she saw the two men who had been following her.

She knew that the phrase fight or flight was inaccurate, as there was a third response nobody ever spoke about. Freezing and doing nothing, too scared to run or fight in fear of something even worse happening. She knew it was stupid but as she took steps back in response to the three men approaching her, only stopping when she back hit the wall, she couldn't stop herself from feeling disappointed in her actions. She took self defense classes for this sort of thing but she couldn't bring herself to do anything even as the men closed in on her and she could tell from their faces what they were going to do.

"So, what are you doing out here all by yourself?" asked the man who had been in front of her as he leaned against the wall next to her, with breath that made her want to throw up and whose eyes focused on a specific part of her body.

"I'm going home." Rachel said simply, becoming more scared and more angry at herself for not doing something as the men took another step closer to her.

"Why don't you hang out with us instead?" asked one of the other men, this was being blond which made him stand out in comparison to his dark haired friends.

"Please, just let me go." she begged as tears formed around her eyes, her throat feeling dry as she flinched when she saw the bad breathed man reach for her.

"The lady seems to not want your company." a hoarse voice suddenly shouted from Rachel's left, and she turned her head with the men to see a man pushing a trolley as he emerged from the dark shadows of the alleyway.

The man was wearing a black trench coat, a dark red shirt being the only evidence that it wasn't buttoned up, while also wearing a similarly black fedora. It took Rachel a few second to realise but as the man got closer, pushing his trolley of damaged computer parts, she could see that his face and hands were completely covered in bandages.

"Go away freak." the blond man practically snarled as he looked at his friends, his face showing his surprise that someone was trying to stop them.

"You shouldn't call people names." the bandaged man replied, his voice tense and threatening though it didn't seem to scare the three men who were now focused on him. "And like I said, the lady does not seem to want your company. So I think you three should leave."

"Oh really. And what will you do if we don't?" asked the third man, who hadn't spoken yet and had a slightly high pitched voice.

"Please. I don't want to hurt anyone."

At that the three men burst out laughing, one even clutching at his knees to steady himself. Rachel saw the blond haired one clench his fist and she knew what was going to happen, that she was going to see this clearly injured and unwell man be beaten and unless she ran the men would then do unspeakable things to her afterwards. But before she could even force herself to run the blond man swung his fist and the most astonishing thing happened that made everyone, including herself, freeze in shock. The bandaged man had lifted his hand and grabbed the blond man's fist, his body language showing no fear at all. Nobody moved for a second and the spell was only broken when the bandaged man grabbed his attacker by the arm with his other hand, and while she couldn't see it Rachel heard the blond man scream in pain. She watched as he fell to the ground clutching at his hand, which was now bent in a shape that it shouldn't be in, while his friends could only store with their mouths open in horror.

"You son of a bitch!" the bad breathed man screamed in anger as he charged at the man who had hurt his friend, but he too was down quickly. The bandaged man was like a blue as his fist collided with his foe's neck, and the man was momentarily left clutching at his throat gasping for air before the bandaged man grabbed a TV from his trolley and swung it into the man's head. The screen shattered as the man's head was lodged into it, and Rachel could only fare in horror as the man collapsed to the ground. Her eyes focused on the only one remaining, the one who has said no more than ten words during this whole thing, who was taking frightened steps backwards away from the bandaged man who in turn followed menacingly. Eventually the man turned around and began to sprint, but he didn't get very far as the bangers man had practically leaped up to him. Rachel soon found herself looking down as the bandaged man had forced her last would have been attacked to the ground at her feet, and was clutching at his hair tightly.

"No, don't leave. The fun has just began." the bandaged man practically whispered, before he pulled the man's head back by his hair and then shoved it into the ground. He repeated this action several times despite the man's screams and continued to do so even once he made no more noise, and Rachel just stood there.

She stood and watched as blood splattered onto her shoes and the man's face became a red smudge, until finally the bandaged man stopped and let go of the head. He sat there on his knees for a moment, breathing heavily and whispering to himself words Rachel couldn't make out, before finally standing up to look at Rachel. Frightened she leaped back into the wall, expecting him to deliver the same violence upon her and reluctantly looked into his eyes with the belief that all she will see is a vicious monster.

Instead all she saw was sadness, just shockingly sad eyes which seemed heavy with guilt and loneliness. Rachel suddenly felt sorry for how she had acted and had an overwhelming urge to comfort the man, but he was already walking back to her trolley. She watched as he pushed his trolley past her and vanished back into the darkness from where he had emerged, his clothes making it impossible to see where he had walked off to. Quickly realising what she was standing next to and what would happen if people found her where, she began to walk away from the crime scene as quickly as she could.