“Hey,” I knocked on the doorframe to get Tony’s attention.
“Wassup,” he said, without glancing away from his computer.
“Um, you have a minute?” I asked, a slight tremble in my voice.
Tony tore his eyes away from the screen and turned in my direction. His indulgent smile faded when he focused on me.
“What’s happened?” he asked alarmed, “you look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
“I don’t know,” I mumbled, “but something happened on my way back.”
“Tell me about it,” he said.
I sat down on the edge of the bed and related my story:
Every day, after night school, I walk home via the same route. My mom always told me to stick to well-lit streets, and I always do. But tonight, as I stepped onto the sidewalk outside the school, I felt an eerie chill in the air. Shrugging, I turned up my coat collar and started my walk home. I noted the empty sidewalk, though at that hour—a little before ten o’clock—the street is often busy. It being a cool evening, I figured people had stayed home.
At the corner, I turn onto Main Street, as it’s always bustling because of the shops and restaurants, but something stopped me. I couldn’t continue; the familiar thoroughfare with the raucous hubbub and beaming shops gave me goosebumps. So I did what my mom said never to do. I walked up a block and turned onto the tiny byway that runs parallel, it’s called Stygian Alley. It’s a dark lane, almost ghostlike at any hour of night. An icy wind blew against me and chilled me to the bone, but I would rather face that eerie, deserted street than enter Main.
All the while on Stygian Alley, I sensed someone watching me, stalking me, like a lion in the bush. I whipped around, but saw no one, only black masses flanking a black void. No buildings were lit. The dread increased with every step until I thought I would burst out of my skin. I ran all the way home, the clack-clack of my heels thundering in my ears like the ticking clock of the universe.
Wringing my trembling hands, I finished. Tony, silent and thoughtful, joined me. He put his arms around my quivering shoulders; I rested my head against his.
“I can’t explain it,” I went on, “but the thought of walking down Main Street frightened me more than Stygian Alley. Though I’m scared shitless, I’m certain I did the right thing. Is that possible?”
He contemplated me for a moment, “You followed your instinct, and that’s always a good thing. I doubt we will ever know otherwise.”
He kissed my forehead, and we left it at that.
Tony’s startled cry woke me up the next morning. I ran to the kitchen.
“What is it?” I gasped.
He showed me his phone. The local news read:
Last night, around ten o’clock, an out-of-control truck plowed into a restaurant on Main Street. It hit a gas pipe. The explosion started a four-alarm fire that spread to other businesses. Many people are dead, wounded and missing. Authorities are still investigating.
I stared at him wide-eyed.
“Never, ever doubt your instinct,” he said.