A shopkeeper opened his door with a loud screech and started sweeping away invisible debris.
Startled back to reality, her plans for retreat were momentarily interrupted. Feeling silly for being scared, she flashed the smile that never failed her and added a nod for good measure.
It’s just a sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere. Used to the big city, it’s only natural her imagination would run a bit wild. All outsiders must be something of a novelty to the people here. Of course they would stop and stare.
He didn’t return the smile. She turned. It was time to go.
Back at the b&b, he’d already eaten and was packing up the car. One look at her and he knew something was up. She gave him a look that just said, “let’s get out of here.” Knowing she was never entertained by small towns, he smiled to himself at her demeanor, oblivious to the ominous reason for it.
The only way out of town was back down Main Street. While pleased to be in the safety of the car this time, she stared straight ahead to the horizon, wishing it closer every second and avoiding eye contact with anyone who might be lurking.
Before she could react, he squealed in excitement at the sight of an old-time General Store and was already parked and walking into it. Unaware that she’d been holding her breath, she let out an annoyed sigh and gave herself a mini pep talk before going in after him. She was starting to feel ridiculous.
On the way in, the screen door creaked exactly as one would expect after watching too many old westerns. She couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched but went in search of her favorite watermelon coconut candy. Might as well get something good before getting out of here. Distracted by the search, it took her a minute to realize she didn’t see him anywhere. Where did he go?
The shopkeeper from earlier appeared seemingly out of nowhere and asked if she needed help finding anything.
“Did you see the man I came in here with?”
“No, ma’am. There’s no one else here.” His voice was a cross between a whisper and a growl.
“What? He just came in right before me. He’s in here somewhere.”
His stare sent a chill up her spine. Confused and overwhelmed by the feeling of uneasiness that’d been gnawing at her since they drove into this town, she ran back out to the car to wait.
Now she really felt crazy. It was gone.