Haunted

Icy wind whipped through Donovan’s hair as he held on in the near darkness.  Below him were the lights and sounds of a typical American metropolis, unaware of the small man hanging off a ledge hundreds of feet above.  Donovan was dangling by his fingertips, clinging to his ledge in desperation, having had nowhere else to hide.

He would be there soon- the man who had been hunting Donovan down and making his life a living Hell for the past week.  Donovan had been left no recourse when he stumbled out of the rusty, metal door and onto the gravel-covered rooftop.  There was nowhere else to hide, and there certainly wasn’t anywhere to run.  His only hope was that the powerful man who chased him wouldn’t see his fingers clinging to the building’s edge.  The moon was his enemy, and he prayed for the clouds to cover him.

The night air was pierced by a jolting screech as the rusty, metal door opened, then closed.  Soft footsteps crunched on the gravel beneath unseen feet, pausing as if the man was looking around.  The crunching sound of gravel picked up again after a few moments and Donovan held his breath.  His fingers were beginning to cramp in the cold.

It was certainly the man who was hunting him.  He had been close behind Donovan as he had dashed through the rooms of the skyscraper, and Donovan could think of no other reason for an individual to be on the roof at this time of the night.  Pain was gathering in Donovan’s hands.  He wasn’t sure how much longer he would be able to hold on.

Donovan wasn’t certain why the man had been tracking him, but he had a few ideas.  A few grudges from the past would explain it… Maybe it was that brother of his ex.  Donovan had gotten more than friendly with a woman he worked with and his fiancée had found out.  Donovan’s phone had received several messages from her brother explaining all the ways he was going to kill him.  That was one possibility.

The sounds of crunching gravel stopped again, nearer to Donovan this time.  Sweat trickled down the dangling man’s hair as he tried to keep it together.  The tendons in his arms were beginning to burn.  His fingers were numb.  He held his breath and tried desperately to think of who this man might be- he had been stalking Donovan for days.

It could have been Roger, Donovan’s old roommate that he had ripped off a few years back- before Donovan had landed his high-paying job in the city.  Rent had been sneaking up and Donovan found himself without options, so he had hacked into his friend’s bank account and removed what he needed.  It was so easy that it became something of a habit.  One day Donovan had drained the account and ran off before his friend could put it all together.  Maybe he had caught up to him after all this time.

Fear gripped Donovan’s racing heart.  He worried that the muscular stranger might be able to hear its beating and find him.  His arms were on fire.  He tried bracing his feet on the structure, but it was sheer and he was able to find no relief.  It wouldn’t be long now.  Donovan only hoped that the man would leave in time so he could pull himself back up.  For if he was discovered now, falling off of a skyscraper would seem like a Vegas vacation.  He knew being caught would be much worse than slipping, so he held on, breathing heavily but as silently as he could.  His joints cried out in pain.

Footsteps neared the spot where he was dangling and Donovan could hear breathing now.  Why had this killer come?  There were too many possibilities to count.  It could have been a disgruntled investor from the time Donovan had been put in charge of submitting the bid on a once in a lifetime investment.  Donovan had gotten so caught up in the excitement that he had gone out drinking the night prior to his deadline and he slept right through the meeting.  Some very powerful people had been left holding the bag.  Or maybe it was one of his old assistants he used to treat so badly.  Perhaps it was one of the homeless men who watched him eat his large, expensive lunches in the park every day, always begging, but Donovan was not the kind of man to share.  No, that couldn’t be it… the man chasing him was well-muscled, healthy.  He definitely wasn’t a homeless person.

Blood began to rush to Donovan’s head as he panicked, readjusting his tenuous grip on the cold, hard ledge.  Fright leapt though him with the realization that his adjustment may have alerted the man on the roof as to his position.  Donovan clung desperately to the building, sweating from the sides of his face.

Maybe Donovan’s neighbor had seen him smash in the windows of the new Porsche he had recently bought that Donovan was so jealous of.  Donovan’s blood went cold and his hairs stood up on end.

Maybe it was the ghost of the man he had killed all those years ago in a fit of passion.  Donovan had found out his girlfriend was cheating on him, so he went and found the other man to push him around a bit.  Donovan broke a vase over his head.  The man had been dead before he hit the ground.  And now that man’s ghost had come back to him to haunt him, to wait for him outside his home, to appear in the midst of crowds, to show up even when Donovan had booked a hotel to try and hide away.  That was it, and Donovan’s blood ran cold.  The ghost of his darkest hour had arrived to torment him.

Donovan slowly raised his eyes upward to see a darkened face appear, shadowed by a tipped fedora.  The man froze a moment and Donovan finally couldn’t take it any longer.  He desperately tried to maintain his grip despite fears of what faced him, but he was unable.  Donovan’s burning arms and torn shoulders windmilled through space just after his numb fingertips slid across the edge of the concrete, peeling the skin from them and condemning him to a long, cold, and brutal fall.  He screamed as he plummeted into the void, the dark monster of fear wrapping around his soul as the inevitability of his demise made itself clear.  The city lights and the sounds of traffic became much more apparent just before he struck the ground.

~.~

A man in a trench coat sat on the curb outside of a high rise hotel, clutching his head with one hand and hanging onto his fedora with the other.  The policewoman who had taken him aside was standing nearby.

“Do you think you’re ready to tell me about it now, sir?”

The man in the trench coat swallowed hard and nodded.

“I just don’t get it…”

“Don’t get what, sir?”

He looked up at the female officer with despondent, tear-swelled eyes.

“I’ve been trying to hunt this guy down for weeks.  I’d show up near his house and he’d bolt.  I asked around and tracked him to his office and he’d bolt.  I talked to his friends and found out his walking routes, but he’d always run off too quick for me to catch up to him.  This isn’t how these things are supposed to go…”

“Sir, are you aware that stalking is a crime?  Anything you say to me now goes on the record.”

The man in the trench coat shook his head again.

“It’s not like that.  I work for a sweepstakes company.  This guy Donovan submitted an entry to our business six months ago and he won.  I’ve been trying to track him down and film his reaction.”  The man handed his fedora hat to the officer.  “There’s a hidden camera in the front that we use for these kind of things.”

The policewoman inspected the hat as the man continued.

“I finally cornered him tonight- his neighbor told me he was going to stay in this hotel tonight, but when he saw me he bolted.  By the time I caught up to him he was hanging off of the building.”

The man in the trench coat sighed heavily as the policewoman stopped writing suddenly to listen.  The man cleared his throat and spoke again.

“The guy won a million bucks.”

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