Evening walk

When I say goodbye to the others before walking back to my car the sun has long since vanished over the horizon, taking the storm with it. Even in the dark the way isn't hard to find, so the clicking of my heels on the pavement sounds full of self-confidence. Ever since I got used to it I've found it to be a soothing sound.

The street I have to walk through is rather narrow, with cars parked on both sides. Along the sidewalk are small, cosy-looking houses, many of which are decorated with flower boxes. Suddenly I hear a sound across the street that I hadn't expected, a sound that nobody ever expects : a soft chiming noise, as if a series of small bells is being stirred. Unbidden, the legend of Those who Watch surfaces in my mind. It is said that they make sure that nobody has to die alone, that every death which occurs in this world is seen. Nobody has ever seen them yet everyone is at some point seen by them. Nobody even knows whether they have bodies of their own or whether they are a kind of ghost that uses the eyes of whatever happens to be around – a bird, a rat, a statue, it doesn't matter. I don't know whether it's a coincidence, but I suddenly notice that in a flower box across the street, attached to the same house from which the bells are sounding, a few statuettes are sitting. They're probably meant to look friendly but I find them rather ominous and quickly avert my eyes while I quicken my pace.

When I notice a few china owls sitting behind a window next to me, staring at me with their large white eyes my heart starts racing and I need to force myself not to start running. Meanwhile I can still hear the sound of small bells across the street. It's almost as if they're following me, because I can't seem to leave them behind me.

I tighten my scarf a little, pull my long black coat, which is flapping around my legs because of the wind, a little closer around me and quickly walk on with my eyes firmly fixed on the sidewalk. The entrance to a parking garage I need to pass looks like a gaping black maw and just as I am about to walk past it the soft sound of the bells stops while the wind dies down. I don't know whether this is a good sign but I force myself to walk calmly past the entrance, the idea that if I look self-confident enough I might make it to my car alive firmly in the back of my mind.

A little farther I see a dark blue van parked partially on the sidewalk. The shadow it throws on the wall looks darker than the others and I hesitate briefly before I force myself to walk through it. Just at that moment the wind picks up again, causing a spooky rustling in a bush on the other side of the street. With that typical feeling you get when someone stares at your back hard enough I hurry past the van and heave a sigh of relief when I make it to the street corner. I'm almost there; my car is parked at the other end of this street.

I round the corner and walk past an ice cream van which, in large red letters surrounded by gaudy yellow stars, proudly proclaims that it sells the best ice cream in the city. In the distance I hear the sound of a deep voice laughing floating through the streets, as if something is mocking my futile attempt to reach the safety of my car. Instantly the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and send a cold shiver down my spine. Somewhere deep down in my mind a voice is trying to tell me that it's nothing more than a train rushing by in the distance but I'm not sure whether I should believe it. I'm halfway down the street now, only a little farther before I can get into the safety of my car.

That fence I need to pass, did the square behind it look as spooky earlier today? It belongs to some kind of institute, but what do they do there anyway? And the cat which just crossed the sidewalk in order to get under the fence and disappear into the night, it wasn't a black one, was it? I briefly consider crossing the street to make sure it didn't cross my path but pull myself together. I refuse to give in to such superstition, even if my entire back is covered with goosebumps.

There it is, my car. The indicators flash their warm orange glow across the entire street when I unlock it with the remote. I quickly throw my bag into the boot and hurry to the driver's seat. As soon as I've closed it behind me I activate the central locking. Just to make sure I check the rear seets, because you never know. Between the seats, I see nothing but darkness ...

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