Chapter 6 -- Chloe: Stranger
I stare at my phone in disbelief. What the heck was that? Had Donnie actually hung up on me? After all my hours of sleeplessness and worry?
Jan steps out of the shower, toweling her hair dry. I am already fully dressed –the result of a sleepless night.
“Have you spoken to him?” She asks, not sparing me a glance.
“Kind of…,” I reply, still mulling over the non-conversation. He had sounded so strange. And distracted too – that much had been clear.
“So was I right? Did he fall asleep and forget?”
“I don’t know,” I answer truthfully.
Jan turns around in surprise, finally alerted by the tone of my voice. “What? What happened?”
“I don’t know,” I repeat, shaking my head slowly. “He barely said anything. And then he hung up on me!”
The brief relief I had felt at hearing Don's voice has totally vanished, replaced by a more acute worry and a bit of undefined fear. And anger, too – I really hate being afraid. Jan is frowning at me thoughtfully, but she doesn't say anything. I’m guessing she doesn’t know what to say. Donnie has never acted like this before.
I huff, get up and pick up my bag. “It’s alright,” I tell her. “He said he would call back, so I'll wait. If he hasn’t called by lunch, I'll head to the Hub and pay him a visit.”
It's a sign of how serious she takes it that Jan doesn't object to that plan. Neither Don nor I are thrilled with the idea of visiting ourselves at our places of work, except in emergencies. Jan knows this. However, it's all I can do not to head over there right away. The Hub, which houses Donnie's Code Pen is not far from the college, and I can’t keep the whole thing off my mind.
In fact, I’m so distracted as I head for work that I almost walk into someone. I catch myself just in time but end up stumbling.
“Oh, sorry!” I say, regaining my balance and looking up at the stranger.
And then, I freeze. Because, although I have never seen the face staring down at me in my life, I know who it is. The black cloak. The black hat. It's the shadow at the window from the middle of the night.
“Hello, Chloe,” he says. “Do not be afraid.”
He has a deep, gravelly voice that makes me even more so. As well as the fact that he knows my name.
As my fear increases, so does my anger. “Who are you?” I demand. “And why were you peeping into my room in the middle of night?”
“I’m sorry… that was inappropriate,” he replies. “But I had to be close by. To protect you.”
Protect me? What’s this, some kind of prank? With my already stretched nerves and extremely bad morning, I'm in no mood for this. I’m about to yell for the cops when I catch his expression. Something in his eyes stops my shout in my throat. They are a deep grey, determined but kind, and filled with genuine concern. And something else. Fear. The man is afraid.
He takes advantage of my hesitation and continues speaking, lowly but urgently. “There is something afoot. Something that involves your friend, Donald. Something terrible. I’m sure, considering how much you love him, that you have felt it too”
I’m frozen. I cannot even name the array of emotions coursing through me. But the fear is so great, I can taste it on my tongue.
He nods, seeing the confirmation of his words in my eyes. “It began last night,” he says. “If we don’t stop it, the Donald Horsfall you know will be lost forever. He will become different – will abandon his family, friends. He will stop loving you. I can help, but I need your assistance.”
My mouth is dry. “What do you mean different?”
The man looks uncomfortable. “I… really cannot explain. But you must trust me, Chloe. Help me, or Donald’s love will be lost!”
That’s what does it – that final statement. Why would a stranger suddenly show up, interested in my relationship with Donnie? And why on Earth was I listening to him, someone who had been peeping into my room in the dead of night? Of course he knows I’m worried… he heard everything Jan and I said last night, perhaps this morning too! My fear vanishes instantly.
“Listen, mister,” I tell him angrily. “Whatever scam you’re pulling, go pull it on someone else, okay? Don’t approach me or Donnie ever again. And if I ever get you at my window…!” I let the threat hang, turn and march away.
“You’re making a mistake, Chloe!” He calls after me.
I ignore him.
“When you need me, I'll be near!” He calls.
I don’t acknowledge him. What a fool I've been! Those passing must have thought me crazy – conversing with a man dressed in such eccentric clothing so early in the day. However, when I glance at then, they don’t seem to have noticed the exchange at all. I risk a glance backward. There’s no one in a black cloak. The man has disappeared.
Click Here for Chapter 7 -- Donnie: Crystal
Upvote, Comment, Resteem
Follow me @whitewizard