A flash of sunlight blinded me momentarily as I gripped the swinging aluminum door for my life. My feet dangled uselessly above the concrete. The eighteen-wheeler sped down the highway, wind buffeting the open door so fiercely that it was all I could do to keep my arm, already numb from the pressure, hooked around the door frame. Just as the pain of my grip became unbearable, a face entered my vision. I let go of the door with a scream and blackness engulfed the world.


Electronic gadgets whirred and blinked at me in an attempt to ease my boredom. I stared blankly at my mother, a few feet away, who was debating the cost of a watch with the manager in a very reasonable voice, as always. With a sigh, I leaned against the counter, allowing my face to bask in the warmth of the sunlight streaming in through the skylights which dotted the oversized department store. I closed my eyes. Cement rolled beneath me at an impossible speed and I snapped my eyes open with a gasp.

"I'm terribly sorry," said a man standing behind the counter I was still leaning on. "Did I frighten you?" I looked at him in confusion, unsure of what he meant, until I saw the shattered fragments of what had been a ceramic vase cradled in his hands.

"No, not at all. Just thought I saw something." It was true. For the past few days since the accident, every time I looked into bright light, I'd see a snatch of some road or a huge truck. Once, I'd even gotten a glimpse of a face, but it had been so brief that it could have been my imagination entirely. My lips crooked into a modest smile as the man looked at me with apparent skepticism.

He dumped the cluster of shards into a waste bin hidden from view by the counter and wiped the dust from his hands. A short sigh escaped his lips when he noticed the white smudges on his sleek charcoal gray suit. His black eyes sparkled and he gave me a look that couldn't have been more plain, saying: These things happen. Running a slightly chalky hand through his curly dark hair, he asked me, "So, have you had a good summer?"

A good summer? No. It had been quite dull, as far as summers went. I told him as much. "Come now…" he insisted with a bracing smile. "Surely it can't have been all that bad?"

I thought about it with a soft grin. Couldn't it? I found that the man was already beginning to grow on me, like a parent's old friend. I shielded my eyes with one hand. The glaring brightness around me reminded me of my visions. The accident. "Come to think of it…no more than a few days ago, I was almost hit by a semi-truck." The man's eyes widened with courteous shock. "I don't remember much, but…" I looked away, focusing instead on the wide beige tiles that made up the floor.

The man bent over the counter, resting his head on his clasped hands. I wondered what his job was. "See? You've had a much more eventful summer than you thought!"

"If you say so," I replied, noncommittally.

"I know, I'll show you something that might cheer you up. It's really neat." I glanced back to where my Mom was still bargaining for a more agreeable price before nodding in interest.

He disappeared behind the counter for a moment as he crouched down to take something off of the shelf, reappearing with a small leather case held gingerly in both hands. He handed it to me carefully. I peered through the sheet of glass that formed the top of the case. It was a very delicate-looking cellular phone.

The man straightened, watching reservedly while I examined the dainty phone. "What's so special about it?" I asked, still turning it in my hands as I searched for some incredible function.

"Oh, I would say its price is the most unique feature. It's been valued at close to one million dollars." My speculation bloomed into awe at the contents of the small box in my hands. The man's voice grew an unexpected edge. "So I suggest you put it back."

Although I was perplexed by his change of mood, the dire implications of 'you break it, you buy it' resounded like an alarm in my head, and I quickly shoved the gleaming case back onto the counter, thankful that my shaking hands didn't shatter it against the edge.

The man, his pleasant smile replaced by an altogether unsavory expression, picked up the case and began looking it over, as if for any sign of damage. Why had he shown it to me if he'd thought it to be so fragile, I thought, rather unnerved. Rotating the box with care, his face began to darken. With a sickening feeling, I thought he might have found something wrong. I stood rooted to the spot, the same way a person can't look away even though they think something awful is about to happen.

The man's menacing expression sent a chill down my spine; something about the tilt of his brow and the curve of his jaw caused my thoughts to converge into one uniform emotion: fear.

I took a longing look at my mother, just across the walkway and yet so far away, willing her to give up on the watch and rescue me, but she paid me no notice. A rhythmic buzzing brought my attention back to the man, warily. He set the case on the counter before seizing a phone from his side and glanced at the glowing id. With narrowed eyes, he flicked the vibrating phone open and settled it against an ear.

"Yes sir. I do sir." A short pause. "Seven hundred…" his voice trailed to an inaudible pitch, but the unreadable glance he directed at me triggered such a feeling of apprehensiveness that my knees bent, coiled to flee. "Understood sir," he barked, still contemplating me in the way that a cat contemplates a cornered mouse. The man bared his teeth again in an attempt at his previously charming smile. I wasn't fooled. He returned his phone to the hook at his side and casually reached beneath the stylish jacket. The quick glimpse of a handle was all I needed to see.

As if in slow motion, I watched the man, even as I turned on my heel to run, while he pulled his gun out the rest of the way. Then I was running. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him throw himself over the counter, the gun plainly visible in his steady hand, to charge after me.

The frightful sight lent me a fresh burst of speed, and I raced through the department store, past racks of clothes and empty tables, the skylights glowing ominously in every direction. Something about the store tugged at my mind, trying to tell me something was wrong, but I couldn't think clearly—not as long as a man with a gun was chasing me.

As I rounded the next corner of the tile walkway, the entrance to the rest of the mall came into view and I dashed towards it. It was only when I flew past the exit into the wide open hall that I realized what had been bothering me. There were no other people. My eyes scanned all around; there was no one in sight. All the shops were open, but no customers or employees accompanied the merchandise.

The heavy stomp of the man's shoes closing the distance between us brought me back to my current predicament. I glanced at the shops, desperate to find one where I could hide, my breath already coming in sharp gasps.

At last, I spied a small jewelry store, whitewashed French doors hanging ajar, and quickly darted inside. Not all the lights were lit, so the sheer counters and displays cast distorted shadows across the stiff carpet. A tall display case to the left of the doors caught my eyes and I dove for the comforting shade beneath, just in time to observe the man's black shoes as he stalked silently into the store. My breath caught in my throat when he paused in the doorway, and I shrank further against the wall, scarcely daring to blink.

A hidden clock ticked deeply as the man took one small step closer to my hiding place. I let out my breath slowly. All of a sudden, he spun around and marched towards the corner past the right side of the doors. Knowing that it was likely my only opportunity to get away before he investigated my side of the room, I braced my hands against the wall at my back. Wait. As soon as he bent over to search beneath the display case mirroring my own shelter, I shot out and sprinted away from the shop, but not before he'd heard the noise.

His piercing shout followed me down the eerie hall, echoes ripping through the oppressive silence. My legs were beginning to feel like lead weights from the exertion of my flight, and I didn't need to look back to know he was closer than ever and still gaining. A small side hall lured me to a skidding left, the man's outstretched fingers barely missing the loose fabric of my t-shirt as my unexpected turn took me out of his reach once more.

Why wasn't he shooting at me? The thought found its way to the front of my mind as I hurtled down the narrow passageway, harsh fluorescent lights flickering arbitrarily. The squeak of my tennis shoes against the dirty tiles resonated around me. It was only when I came to the end of the straight that I realized the man was no longer behind me at all. I slowed to an unsteady halt on shaky legs. I couldn't seem to get enough air for an excruciating period of time. Looking about after I finally recovered my breath, I discovered with a fresh wave of icy dread why the man hadn't bothered to follow.

The hall led to one place alone: back to the jewelry store. All he had to do was wait by the doors to see which choice I'd made. Sure enough, as I slowly inched towards the back entrance of the shop, every shadow a possible enemy, I caught sight of a tall clump of darkness beside the open doors. He was watching the hallway, lazily twirling the gun around his fingers. I drew back from the sight.

Panic was trying to overwhelm me, so I closed my eyes and forced myself to take a long breath. The air tasted stale. The world dipped beneath me, and I barely managed to wrap an arm through the door frame as it swung open with jolting speed. My eyes opened, a few tears leaking down my cheeks from the strength of the wind. The stark side hall still surrounded me.

I stole another cautious glimpse at the room, desperate for something to inspire an escape plan. My eyes skimmed over a tall island display case almost directly between myself and my lurking pursuer. A small something was on the floor beneath the display and an idea formed in my mind. It was my only choice.

I dropped down on to my knees, hugging the cold floor as tightly as I could. More quietly than I had thought possible, I crawled swiftly forward to the base of the glass island. My shadow cast the ground before me in such intense blackness that I had to feel around for the object that had caught my eyes. Something hard and thin brushed my fingertips. I grasped it. It was a metal pen, covered by a thick layer of dust from years of disuse. Pen tight in my still shaking hand, I waited, my breath sliding through clenched teeth.

The dark figure of the man still watched the outer hall intently, as though he believed only a complete fool would have taken my route. Maybe he was right. Finally, I saw the round shadow of his head shift slightly to the left. Now. I threw the pen with all my might through the French doors to hit the glossy tiles with a sliding clatter. The man's head jerked at the sound and he tore away from the room. I remained crouched at the base of the display until the last clomping echo of his shoes died away before I risked poking my head up to make sure it was safe.

The glistening ebony barrel of his gun stared back. My eyes ran along the length of his arm to finally rest on his face. His artificial kindness had melted away to be replaced by a mask of cold emptiness. An unsettling calm washed over me. I knew where I had seen his face before. He narrowed his dark eyes as he brought the gun to rest like a slab of ice against my forehead.

"It's time to come with me."

A.N. This story was based off of a dream I had a night ago, and it was so intense I just had to write it down. I'm sorry to anyone who wanted a conclusion, but that's where I woke up, and for some reason, making something up just didn't feel right. I also wrote this as a way to test out suspense and action, because I've never written like that before. Advice and criticism would be much appreciated, as I will apply any counsel you offer towards improving my current story. Otherwise, just let me know what you thought! Thanks for reading.