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  • Writer's pictureChase Walker

Writing Prompt: They're After Me.

It’s raining again. Always raining. I slosh down the alley to an overhanging ledge. I throw my back against the bricks to flatten myself inside the curtain of dirty runoff from the rooftops. I pull my sodden coat tightly around my gaunt ribs and plunge my fingers into my armpits, willing them to warm up and regain feeling.

I have to find someplace dry. But where? They would be waiting anywhere I could go. They have eyes in shelters, libraries, and any other public building. If I had a few bucks I could hang out in a restaurant, but that would only be a short respite from this rain. They would turn me out as soon as they could.

They’d say I was driving away customers. A man can only get so clean by cloth bathing in park bathrooms. I ditched my cell soon after it all happened. They could use it to triangulate my position. Couldn’t risk it. If they weren’t watching my accounts, I could use a card to get out of town, but I could never leave Cynthia.

Cynthia. Why did they take you? It was me they wanted. They came for me but they took you because I ran. I took off like a coward.

Cynthia, I’m sorry.

Tears warmed my cheeks, but only for an instant.

I let my legs give out and slide my back down the rough bricks. There is nowhere else to go. This is as good as any place to spend another shivering night. I rest my head against the wall and closed my eyes, willing myself to sleep. I try to clear my mind, but it keeps coming back to home. It all seems so far in the past: my house, food, a warm shower, the roof over my head, Cynthia. Everything I took for granted.

I use to gripe when the wifi was slow. Then my thoughts wander to my soft bed, the soft sheets with a ridiculous thread count, the plump pillows. Cynthia always put too many on the bed. No one needs that many pillows.

I smile.

But it quickly vanishes.

That mattress. That tag. I owned the thing. Why wouldn’t I be able to do whatever I wanted with it? Isn’t this a free country? As my mind trails to the same slippery place it did every night, I drift slowly to sleep.

I sleep, but hardly. Anyone who has been camping could tell you, sleeping outside is never as restful as you would hope. This is a thousand times worse. The rain lets up sometime in the early morning and I’m left with the bustling sounds of the city around me.

When the sun rises, the air warms and the puddles begin to dry up, at least until the rain tonight. I try to keep sleeping to recover some of my lost rest.

Screeching tires. A van door. I open my eyes and find four men striding down the alley toward me. Dark sunglasses hide their eyes. Leather soled shoes clop and echo in the corridor of brick walls and rusted fire escapes. Sharp black suits. All at once, my sleepy mind recognizes the peril I’m in. They found me. How could they have found me?

Extendable cattle prods drop from their sleeves and into their hands. The electrodes pop and fizzle, threatening pain like a rattlesnake before its bite. I groggily force my feet under me and stand, eyes darting all around for some escape. Nothing but sheer brick walls surround me. I lunge for one of the rusty fire escapes, but it’s just out of reach.

The men surround me and one of them pulls a black bag from inside his jacket.

“Darrick Smith,” the closest one said in an authoritative, yet hushed tone. “Under statute 426 of the Furniture code, subparagraph 6E, you are under arrest under suspicion of unlawful removal of the mattress tag. You do not have the right to remain silent. You do not have the right to an attorney-”

I heard enough. I take a deep breath and scream as loudly as I can.

“Help m-,”

Electrical fire webs across my neck, choking off my cry for help. I drop to my knees. Another agent thrust his prod into my ribs, sending more lancing pain through me. He throws the bag over my head, and everything goes black. Two lift me to my feet with little effort. I kick out to either side and try to call out again. A cattle prod zapped my thy as a fist punched into my guts, pressing the air from my lungs.

They are dragging me now. The didn’t need my legs to work. They toss me and my back slams into something hollow and metallic.

A dumpster? Then I feel the suspension bounce slightly as the agents get in after me.

A van. That iconic van door slamming sound rings inside the vehicle like a bell. The engine fires up and the driver punches it. With a moment of screeching tires and g-force toppling me over, we are gone. I’m gone. Maybe I’m going to see Cynthia. Maybe I’m never to be seen or heard from again.

For a stupid mattress tag.

Thanks for reading. This week’s writing prompt is from u/SomeGuy671 from r/WritingPrompts.

[WP] The streets are no place to make a life. I had a family, a house, a mattress. If only I hadn’t torn that damn tag off, they wouldn’t be after me.

If you enjoyed this, please share it with others who might enjoy it. Feel free to check out the rest of my blog. I post every Friday. Sometimes it’s writing and publishing tips, sometimes it’s a writing prompt.

Also, if you like my style and would like to support an independent author, check out my debut novel, Well of Bones by either clicking the tab at the top of this page or by using the link below. Thanks again.

Until next week,


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