"Thank you!" Emily held out a hand cashier put the loops of the bag over the palm of her hand. Cane tucked into the crook of her elbow she rummaged around. The soft fuzz of her new sweater, the thick denim of two jeans, and the elastic hairbands on a piece of cardboard. She smiled as she walked away, sweeping her cane across the ground in front of her.
Scratching behind her ear didn't relieve the itchy feeling settled there. The woosh of the automatic doors and leaving the mall store didn’t ease it either.
Hairs all over her body started standing on end. The feeling was being sustained, no matter how quickly or slowly Emily walked. No matter how many sudden turns she took, no matter how many people she bumped into, the self conscious itch, the dread of having eyes following her wasn’t going away.
Her heart was beating rapidly as she made her way to the food court. The noisiest, the busiest section of the mall. Being alone felt like the worst idea in the world, not that being in the crowd was much better. Any laugh, any clink, every scrape of a chair or slam of a tray, could belong to the eyes following her.
She pulled out her phone and held it up to her ear as she leaned against a podium.
“Just breathe.” She whispered to herself, moving her head a little. “Call John.” She said a little louder to her phone. The ringing was delayed and she stiffened up. There was so much noise, so many footsteps, it was impossible to tell if any of them were coming towards her or not. Or at least, if any were heading for her instead of past.
The first ring caused her to jump, and in that moment her worst fears came true.
A large calloused hand tore her phone away from her. A long, thick arm wrapped around the front of her waist trapping her arm and cane against her side. A musk of sweat and evergreen enveloped her. Before her scream could escape the large hand was back, pressing a damp cloth over her nose and mouth. He lifted her up, she flailed with her legs, trying to kick him or even some random passerby as a call for help.
Holding her breath left her lungs burning. She tried to jab him with her cane, but her wrist wouldn’t twist like that and bend.
“Not so powerful now, are you shape shifter?” The words were right next to her ear, a dull raspy voice. Emily’s feet were so heavy, dropping down to the floor. Her fingers went limp on the cane, the handle slipping from her grasp. The strap rubbed against her wrist.
She took a deep breath, enough to force her mouth open.
“I’b ot a a iffer!” The words were garbled and muffled as the sweet smelling fumes filled her lungs and left Emily weak in the man’s arms.
Word count: 497