He follows her every day, waiting and biding his time. Nobody knows what he might do. Nobody is watching him.

He follows her off the bus. He isn’t sure why he followed her; it was the stop before his and he’s a creature of habit. Predictable. Not today. She’s walking the opposite way that he wants to go, yet he still follows her. Keeping a distance, of course. He doesn’t want to appear out of place. He pulls his phone out of his pocket, he ignores the notifications and puts it back. Just a cover in case anyone was watching the way his eyes leer over her. He notices every tiny detail of her, but he focuses on her feet. He could be eyeing the way her heels make her ankle and calf look sublime, but he’s not. A small fairy tattoo adorns the top of her foot. He’s always been partial to a tattoo or two, especially there. He speeds up a bit to get a better view. She goes into the shop. One of those posh ones that he could never afford to even think about shopping in. He could follow her around inside; he even thinks about it for a second or two. Decides against it. He doesn’t want to look too weird. He turns around and heads home. He makes sure that he checks his phone again before, though, and pretends that he forgot something. Just in case someone’s watching him. There are plenty of people around that could notice what he’s doing. Nobody does.

Next day, same girl. The other side of the bus journey this time. He leaves the bus where he’s meant to today. He walks behind her, keeping a bit more distance than he normally would. There are more bystanders now. The normal rabble of nine to fivers. She stops and starts rooting around in her bag. He has to carry on. He can’t stop too; it’d draw too much attention to him. She starts up again before he gets to her. He got lucky. He’s closer to her than he’d like to be. This close he can smell her perfume. It draws him in further.

She turns. She goes into her office; a solicitors. He carries on moving. He wonders if they have pictures of their staff on their site. A picture that would have a name. A lot can find out with a name. He never will find it. She’s just a receptionist. Not site worthy. It’s a shame, too. He would have enjoyed her social media. Lots of good content to fuel his fire and laughably public. Her name is Natalie. He’ll never know that. He’s not brave enough to find that out. After all, he could pop in, offer some inane question that he doesn’t need the answer to and ask for the young lady’s name. With a name and a location, he could gather everything he needs to find to view her from afar, where it’s safe. He knows what she looks like. It’s not hard to do. He won’t, though. He’s not there yet. This is his first. And his last.

He stays late at a job that he hates just so he can catch her leaving work. He lets home know that he’s got a meeting that he can’t get out of. A pathetic lie. He leaves at 4:57. Enough time to walk up to the solicitor’s and catch her. He assumes she’ll be leaving at 5pm on the dot. He assumes correctly. He could have had a future in this. He has a good head on his shoulders. She walks to the bus. He follows her. She doesn’t notice him. Oblivious to his gaze. Who does pay attention to every person walking in the same direction?

He picks a seat on the bus close enough to her so that he can observe but far enough away that he doesn’t draw attention. If he’d waited a couple of moments the seats would have filled and he could have sat next to her. Instead he has an odorous drunk pushed up against him. She has a little old lady next to her. He shows such promise, yet he has so far to go. He could have made small talk if he’d sat with her. They could have bonded over the fact that they get the same bus in and home every day. He could have sweet talked her into some kind of date-like meeting. Well, someone could have done. He couldn’t charm a hooker.

He doesn’t follow her off the bus. He’s having doubts about the path that he’s on. He’s not fully committed to the cause yet. He goes home. He eats a dinner that does nothing for him other than sustenance. He makes idle banter with people he doesn’t like. He retires to his bedroom. His sanctuary. The one place where he can sit and just be. He doesn’t have to wear his heavy mask when he’s there. His mask of normality. He doesn’t know why he feels safe and content there. Not yet. He could have done. For now, he pilfers his time away on a computer. Doing lots and nothing at the same time. He pretends that he’s doing something meaningful. He almost believes it. If only he’d accept his true self. He’d finally know the peace that he craves. I remember that feeling well. That moment of clarity. Part of me would like to see him reach his.

Days of the same. He never changes what he does. He never finds the courage to take that first step. She still hasn’t noticed him. He has a remarkable ability to blend in. To join the rest of them. He’s well on his way to becoming a nobody; faceless, a forgettable bystander.

Even the way he walks puts him in the shadows. He keeps his eyes low almost constantly. He’s completely non-threatening. If she did manage to notice him, she wouldn’t fear him. A non-descript person so un-noteworthy that she’d instantly forget. He’s sensible. He knows that alphas get noticed, get remembered. Unless he’s lived for such a long time thinking that’s who he is that he’s forgotten what’s inside of him. Maybe.

If only he’d find whatever it is that he needs to find to admit who he truly is. It’s a shame, really. Any other place and he’d be well on his way to becoming number one. Not here.

It’s almost time. This has gone on long enough. He won’t ever take the plunge. No. That’s not fair. He will eventually. Something will be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back and he’ll know what needs to be done. He has all the skills at his disposal. All the desire. He just needs that one thing that so few truly have. Purpose. It’s a shame. It really is.

But enough is enough. He’s gone too far now. He’s kept this up for too long. He’s going to get noticed sooner rather than later and spook her. She already has the sense that something is wrong. That can’t happen. Too much work has gone into her already. He can’t be allowed to continue this anymore.

He normally walks down an alley on his way home. Most people avoid it. Afraid of the monsters that plague the darkness. Monsters don’t tend to think of these kinds of things. That’s where it has to happen. It’ll happen quickly. He won’t see it coming. He’s extraordinarily observant and aware of what’s around him. It won’t do him any good in the end.

His family and friends will mourn him for a time. Not long though. They sense what he feels inside of him. They always have. He never had the chance to learn that they cause nothing but problems. They’ll move on and the world will forget he existed quite quickly. He’ll fade into dust with everyone else.

He doesn’t feel it. They never do. There are a few spots on the body that provide that perfect doorway to instant death. I know what I’m doing and they don’t even have time to realise that nobody’s there. They won’t find anything. They may even backtrack him a little and see him watching her. They’ll probably speak to her and she won’t be any help. They’ll get her name, though.

It didn’t have to happen like this. I already own this patch. And she was mine first. Some pathetic child isn’t going to take that hunt away from me. And without any further distractions, she’ll be mine tomorrow.

And then I will move on, to someone else.

David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.

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