Here I Am

As Dave walked down the empty street, he noticed that, even though there wasn’t a soul in sight, he still felt as if someone was watching him. Dave was a young man, 22, in his final year of college. He was of medium build, and had jet black hair, very different from the airy blonde hair he had inherited from his mother. His dark blue eyes gazed out from above dark circles, not an uncommon feature for someone who had been awake for 22 hours straight with less than two scant meals in the past day. Dave was aware of the fact that he, as well as many other students at his school, had exams in under five hours, but despite the fact, he knew it would be practically impossible for him to go to sleep.

Trying not to think of the horribly unsatisfying feeling he would have when he received his midterm evaluations for his exams, he continued walking along the worn sidewalk at his steady pace, staring down at the cement and thinking to himself about all the things that the city council might be doing with the money that they had diverted away from public works this year. The thought quickly left his mind as his attention was drawn to a rustling noise that came abruptly from behind him.

It’s 3 a.m. he thought to himself. Who in the hell would be out skulking around at this hour of the morning? Dave was a bit tired, and it took him a moment to realize that it was a possibility, since he was out at 3 a.m. also.

“Anybody there? Somebody stalking me? Are you going to try to steal my wallet, ’cause if you are, don’t bother. I spent my last three dollars on a Mountain Dew and some Doritos.” Dave continued walking, and he had the notion that he shouldn’t have had that Mountain Dew. He didn’t think of it at the time, but his dinner snack was probably not the wisest choice, as Mountain Dew had a tendency to give him prolonged insomnia. If only I hadn’t had that Mountain Dew, I could be at home, asleep in my bed, but no, I had to be impulsive, didn’t I? Dave decided that his poor beverage choice was in the past, and if he was to be out meandering among the streets at night, he should at least take in the scenery.

The street was deserted and a creepy silence surrounded everything. The overhead streetlamps did little to ward off the darkness, and what little light was illuminating the sidewalks was provided only by the neon signs of the shops on either side of the street. Steam rose from the sewer vents alongside the curbs. A smell akin to that of a landfill leaked from every alley. Again came a rustling sound, almost like a whisper.

Dave was startled by this, and glanced over his shoulder. Seeing nothing but a cloud of steam at the mouth to an alley, Dave dismissed the sound, but quickened his pace. He was beginning to think that maybe someone was following him, that he wasn’t just hearing things.

Dave continued up the street, then crossed to embark down another, yet seemingly identical, street. He was in front of a butcher’s shop, when he heard a scratchy voice whisper something from behind him. It was just quiet and distorted enough as to almost be unintelligible, but Dave thought he could make out the words “Here I am.”

“Here who is?” Dave called back, but after no response, he shrugged and continued walking.

Dave stopped and looked into the meat shop window for a moment, but the sight of butchered animals was too much for him to take in at 3 in the morning, so he moved on down the street.

“Here I am,” came the voice, louder this time, so Dave was quite sure that he had heard it. He walked as fast as he possibly could without running down the sidewalk.

“HERE I AM.” Dave took off running full tilt down the sidewalk, arms flailing wildly, feet slapping the ground in a loud rhythmic pattern.

“Leave me alone!” shouted Dave. “Leave me the hell alone!” Dave used up the last of his breath shouting and running and was forced to stop. Hunched over, panting fit to make a dog jealous, looking frantically around for his follower, Dave saw nothing but a large, opaque cloud of steam coming from the sewer drain grate. Footsteps could be heard growing louder as they approached from behind the white curtain of water vapor. Dave sat gasping for breath as he waited for his pursuer to reveal himself.

“HERE I AM!” Dave heard the final cry, but was surprised to find the sun shining in his eyes from across the room.

“ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANE!” Dave flailed his arm in the general direction of his alarm clock and after three separate tries finally connected with it, silencing his wake up call.

“Son…of…a…bitch,” he groaned as he looked at the time on the clock, grabbed his books from the floor beside his bed, stuffed a number two pencil in his pocket, slipped into his shoes, and lumbered out the door.