Plym is an ordinary college student. Until someone starts following her.
Things everywhere. Like an overcrowded attic. Aisles wound their way through stalls filled with things: Musty dresses from the 80s, mismatched silverware, a soap dish shaped like a duck, broken record players, ancient milk churns and cheese graters. Cases full of cheap jewelry failing to pass as antique.
Someone coughed and the sharp sound echoed off the high ceiling, reverberated through the glassware and fake crystal and died in the corners of the room with the dust bunnies. The front cash register beeped and amplified murmurs crept through the building as the last paying customer checked out.
Through this silent chaos strode a pair of high top Converse sneakers that had been trained not to squeak. Plym always chose her footwear with care, preferring to go unnoticed.
Especially when someone was following her.
Her eyes darted from side to side, peering through to the other aisles with an occasional glance over her shoulder, graceful enough that if anyone saw her from a distance they would swear she was just hunting down a particular antique. A little closer and they might think she had been out for a run, her breath coming in short bursts. This impression would only be shaken if they were able to zoom further, past the brown curls, damp with sweat, into her mind.
She was being followed. Had been followed for the past several weeks. Nobody else saw anything, but someone was there, a blur in the corner of her mind.
The fact that she had always had an overactive imagination wasn't overlooked by the psychiatrists, and the fact that she truly believed these "delusions" resulted in a peculiarly strong pill she couldn't pronounce. She hadn't taken it.
There it was again. A tiny movement in her peripheral vision that vanished as soon as she looked.
Plym swooped into a dimly lit alcove full of DVDs and used barbies and froze.
In what way do these count as antiques? she thought, distracted.
The scuff of a boot on the linoleum several yards away echoed plainly through the store. Plym slowly sank to the floor in the corner, wedged between a coffee table and a box of cheap paperbacks. The opening to this stall was a clear rectangle of light opposite her.
A boot stepped into the light. Plym looked up cautiously. A man glanced into the stall. Plym held her breath and willed her heart to stop racing. He stared into the dark for a long moment. He was tall, with small eyes and huge ears, his mouth not quite closed around crooked teeth. Plym squeezed her eyes shut. His boot squeaked as he turned away. He moved on, stopping at each stall to peer intently into the darkness.
She breathed a slow sigh of relief. At least she wasn't crazy.