I look down at my watch again. Two minutes. Her time is up.
Ready or not, here I come, Marjorie.
I clutch the penknife in my right hand as I walk down the path that Marjorie followed a minute earlier. I can still hear her footsteps ahead of me. Thump thump thump. They seem to be timed with the beating of my heart.
This would be more fun to do at night, with a flashlight. Or with infrared vision. If only I had one of those pairs of infrared glasses. But I have to work with what I’ve got. This will have to be good enough.
I follow the sound of her footsteps for another couple of minutes. But then they end all of a sudden with a loud thud.
I walk more briskly in the direction of the loud noise, my sneakers crunching on branches and leaves. My heart is racing. After another few seconds, I find her.
Marjorie is on the ground, clutching her left ankle. There’s dirt on the legs of her pants and on her palms, likely from her fall. Her round face is bright red and she has tears in her eyes that are pouring down her cheeks.
“I twisted my ankle!” she sobs.
The prey is injured. Wow, she’s made this almost too easy.
I grip the penknife tighter in my right hand. I step closer to Marjorie until my body casts a shadow over her. She’s crying, but then when she sees the knife in my hand, her sobs abruptly stop. She stares up at me, her jaw trembling.
“Nora?” she says. “Why do you have a knife?”
As I take another step closer, the pain in Marjorie’s face dissolves into fear. I can see it in her eyes. She knows what’s about to happen.
I remember the blue eye peeking out from under that sheet in my father’s basement workshop. It was the exact same look.
“Nora?” Her voice is shaky. “What are you doing?”
I grip the handle of the knife so tightly, my fingers start to tingle. Marjorie can’t even move. If she tried to run away, she wouldn’t be able to do it. This is going to be so easy. So easy. Too easy.
“Nora,” she whispers.
I stare down at her, my heart pounding so hard now that it’s making me lightheaded. This is the moment I imagined last night when I couldn’t sleep. The look on her face. The weight of the knife in my hand. She looks so scared. But now that I’m here, watching the fear in her eyes, I…
I drop the knife to my side. “You lose,” I say.
“Oh.” Marjorie lets out a shaky laugh. “You scared me for a minute. I thought maybe you were going to…”
“Don’t be dumb,” I mumble. I look at her swollen ankle. “Can you walk?”
She tries to get up and put weight on her left ankle, but she lets out a wail. “It hurts too much!”
I shove the penknife deep into my pocket. “Here, lean against me while you walk.”
We make it back down the trail the same way we came, with Marjorie leaning heavily against me. As soon as we get back on the main road, I feel a rush of relief. I help her walk the rest of the way to her house and up the steps to her front door. As soon as she is in her house, I can’t get out of there fast enough.
We don’t discuss ever meeting again.
I walk back to my house, my feet dragging with each step. The whole way, I have a sick feeling in my stomach. There’s something I need to do, but I’m scared to do it. It’s time to stop being scared though.
I only hope it’s not too late.