After a long 14 hour day at the office crunching numbers, Ray Spencer was looking forward to just having a late night dinner, and relax while watching an old movie. The stress of pouring through the books of the last five years for Hartwell Enterprises was beginning to take its toll on him. He began looking through the previous years books a couple weeks prior to that when he noticed a few errors that weren’t corrected.
He began working through the nights so he could work more freely, without having to worry about anyone looking over his shoulder. As a general rule all the accountants in the building were allowed to work as late as they wanted as long as they locked everything up when they were finished. Spencer always made sure he had some work to do so no one would question why he stayed later. Just enough to finish after everyone left but not so much that it’d take up too much time away from looking through the books. It was the only way he could investigate the numbers without drawing attention to himself.
As he backtracked, he noticed several more errors. The company had misstated its numbers by millions of dollars to make the financial statements look good. The only person he confided in about this was his girlfriend Stacy. He wanted to wait until he completed looking through all the books before brought his findings to the company’s supervisors. Spencer was a very moralistic type of person. He was the kind of guy who believed in honesty and fair play. Loyal to his friends and family, he always tried to treat other people with respect. As an accountant he believed in the ethics code he’d taken to always report numbers accurately, whether they were good or bad.
Everybody else in the office had already left hours before when he finally decided to go home for the night. He put some papers in his briefcase that documented some of the accounting errors the company made before putting on his coat. He walked out of his office, and looked around to make sure nobody had returned to the building. As he walked through the hallways he periodically stopped to look behind him, not being able to shake the feeling he was being followed. He kept shrugging it off to his paranoia though. He decided to walk down the stairs instead of using the elevator. Maybe he’d seen too many movies but he was wary of using an elevator and not knowing what’d be there when it opened.
He walked down several flights of stairs till he got to the ground floor without any problems. Once he finally left the building, he sprinted to his car, trying to avoid as much of the heavy rain as possible. Quickly unlocking his door, he just sat in his black Acura watching the falling rain. He wondered if he was doing the right thing sneaking around looking through the books. He wasn’t even sure what he was trying to find, and he knew they’d eventually find out what he was doing. He thought maybe he should just stop looking for errors and worry about his own job. He started his car, and was about to clear the rain from the windshield, when he noticed a piece of paper stuck to the wipers.
Spencer at first thought that maybe the wind had blown it onto his car, but upon looking more closely, realized it had been put there. It had been folded, and was firmly entrenched between the wiper and the windshield. He opened his door and reached his arm around to the windshield, and pulled the paper out from the wiper, and quickly got back in his car. He hoped the rain hadn’t washed away any of the writing on it. He curiously unfolded the paper, and looked at both sides of it to make sure he wasn’t missing anything. It simply said “WATCH OUT”.
“Watch out. Watch out for what? For who?” he asked himself. Spencer sat there a few minutes longer trying to think of who could’ve written the note. As short as the note was, he didn’t notice any of the letters matching up to anyone’s handwriting that he knew. He started to head for home where maybe he would be able to think more clearly. Driving through the streets, he popped in his favorite Billy Joel CD, which always seemed to relax him a little.
He reached his house in about half an hour. Spencer loved living in the suburbs. It was such a quiet neighborhood, which he envied after growing up in the hustle of the city. There was never any excess noise, or trouble in the area. Spencer passed by a blue car on the curb of his house before pulling into the driveway. He’d never seen the car before but he assumed it was someone visiting one of the neighbors. He got out of his car, and ran towards the door, with his briefcase covering his head from the rain. The one thing he always hated about coming home though was not having someone greet him at the door. He missed not having a dog run up to him as he walked in, wagging it’s tail, just wanting to be petted and play around. He figured it’d also be good to have a watchdog around, not that it was necessary, but just in case. But having a dog would mean changing his girlfriend’s mind about the subject, which would be an almost impossible task. She wasn’t much of a dog person, so he always relented about buying one.
He took off his coat and started shuffling through his mail when the phone started ringing. He hated hearing that as soon as he walked in the door. He assumed it’d be Stacy, since she usually called about 10 o’clock every night. He was caught off guard when he heard a man’s voice at the other end of the line.
“Did you get my note?” the strange voice asked.
Spencer tried to recognize the voice, but it wasn’t familiar to him.
“Watch out for what?”
“You’re creating problems for yourself, Ray.”
“What kind of problems?”
“Problems from people that you’re not prepared to handle.”
He was getting an eery feeling listening to what the man was saying, but he couldn’t just ignore what he was saying either.
“So what exactly are you trying to tell me?” Spencer asked.
“To watch yourself. Watch your back. And above all, don’t trust anyone. The wheels have already been set in motion. They’re coming for you.”
“You’ll find out soon enough.”
“So how do I know I can trust you?”
“If you couldn’t, you wouldn’t be getting this phone call.”
“Who are you?”
“Just a friend. That’s it for now. I’ll be in touch later. Remember to stay alert at all times. The moment you let your guard down you’ll be dead.”
Spencer just stared at the wall with the phone still pressed to his ear, listening to the buzz. The last thing the man said to him replayed in his head a few times over, not really sinking in that it could be true . He put the phone down, and took a gulp, wondering what he had gotten himself into. He hastily turned around, looking the room over for anything that might have seemed out of place. Everything appeared to be normal though. He then snapped his head up towards the window, remembering the blue car parked outside the house. He slowly walked towards the window, and opened the curtains ever so slightly. He peered out the slit in the curtains looking at the car parked in front of the house.
His mind started racing with thoughts of who’s it could be. His mouth was dry, and he could feel his heart thumping heavily, like it was going to explode out of his chest any minute. He’d never felt such a presence of danger and uncertainty before. Spencer loved the peace and quiet that the house usually afforded him, but now he wished there was a party that would’ve matched the hottest night club in Philadelphia. T
he uneasiness of being by himself at that moment, or hoping that he was alone, tied his throat up in knots and made his hands sweat. One thing he knew was that he wasn’t going to be able to relax until he knew he was the only person in the house. He was going to have to search the house to put his mind at ease. Spencer certainly wasn’t about to go searching the house without some protection, so he walked into the kitchen and pulled a knife out of one of the drawers. There were two small rooms and a bathroom on both floors of the house. The two rooms on the first floor were his home office, and a game room. The two upstairs rooms were his bedroom and a guest room.
Gripping the knife in his right hand he gingerly walked into the bathroom. He put his free hand on the side of the shower curtain and strongly threw it to the side, ready to pounce on the intruder. To his relief, the shower was empty. He breathed a little easier for a few seconds. After he took a moment to settle down, it was time to search the other rooms. He slowly opened the door to his office and flicked on the light. He quickly spun around behind the door as if someone was waiting there for him, but again, he was relieved to find nothing. There were few places where a person could hide in the downstairs rooms.
Next up was his game room. He wiped the sweat across his forehead with his sleeve just before he entered the room. His head peeked around the door to once again find empty space. Although he was scared out of his mind at what he might find, it was a rush like he’d never experienced before. Then Spencer thought he heard a noise coming from one of the upstairs rooms. It sounded to him like the floor creaking, like it does when someone’s moving around. He tried to remain as calm as he possibly could, realizing that houses do creak a lot, and that it could be his paranoia playing around with his shot nerves. By this time, the knife in his hand had almost become glued to his palm with a deathlike grip.
He walked to the bottom of the stairs, and looked up towards the top, almost as if he was waiting for a push from someone to proceed. He took a deep sigh and started to walk up the stairs. He took to each step slowly and methodically, carefully trying to avoid making any sounds. When he reached the top of the stairs, he went straight ahead into the bathroom. He was glad this one had a clear shower door that he could see through from a distance. He hoped that this wouldn’t be a nightly occurrence, as he didn’t think he’d be able to handle it.
As he walked into the guest room, he heard a slight rattle to the left of him. Spencer instantly looked over, with his eyes bulging out, only to discover it was the shaking of the window from wind of the storm. Breathing rather heavily, he turned on the light switch on the wall, and looked to the right to see an empty closet. He then saw the bed which was directly against the far wall. Walking towards it, he thought hiding under the bed was something that was only done in movies, but he had to check. He slipped down to his knees and lifted up the sheets of the bed, not finding anything. He stood back up, breathing heavily once again, knowing there was only one more room to go. Although relieved to not have found any surprises thus far, Spencer knew that his bedroom would be the most likely spot for someone to be waiting for him. Maybe that’s why he saved it for last, procrastinating looking in that room, though he knew he had to.
He stood at the door and closed his eyes, like he was praying for everything to be alright. When he opened his eyes he felt a slight chill come across him, and felt goosebumps popping up on his arms. Gently turning the knob of the door, Spencer opened it just enough to be able to turn on the light. He flipped the switch up, but the room stayed dark. He quickly flipped it back down and up again, waiting for a different result. “Oh, no”, he thought. He wished he could just turn back, and pretend that he already looked in it and found nothing. Even if he did find nothing, he wondered how he’d be able to stay there if he was constantly looking over his shoulder.
He opened the door a bit farther, and upon turning around the corner of the door saw the outline of a man dressed in black. The man was wearing all black from head to foot, including a mask over his head that only had an opening across his eyes and bridge of his nose. Spencer’s eyes first noticed the man’s gun and placed his hand on the stranger’s wrist. The sudden impact of Spencer’s hand forced the man to pull the trigger of the gun with the bullet going into the floor. The gun had a silencer on it though, so no shots would be heard by anybody in the area. They wrestled with each other, neither man gaining an upper hand, before the momentum of the struggle carried them across the bed. While both men were trying to use their strength to gain an advantage, another shot fired, this time lodging into the corner of the ceiling.
After briefly feeling the warmth of the recently fired gun’s barrel pressed against the side of his head, Spencer was able to muster up the strength of a bull before the trigger could be pulled, throwing the man off the bed. Spencer took a lamp off the table next to the bed, ripping the cord out of the wall, and threw it at the man before he had a chance to regain his composure and fire. As the man got back to his feet after ducking the lamp, Spencer then rushed towards him, kicking the gun from his hands. Spencer reached down onto the bed for the knife, but as he picked it up was met with strong resistance. The stranger gained an advantage with his strength and forced Spencer up against the wall as they battled for control of the knife.
The confrontation carried out into the short hallway at the top of the stairs. Spencer’s foot slipped on the top step while grappling with the stranger, and both men began tumbling down the narrow staircase while still holding on to each other. They both hit the floor very hard, with Spencer hitting the back of his head on the wall. Spencer was the first to get up, and noticed the black shirt of the man had turned to red on his right side. He then noticed the knife on the floor had a trickle of blood on it. The knife must’ve pierced his side falling down the stairs. Judging from the amount of blood on the knife, it didn’t appear to be a deep wound. The stranger then began slightly moving around. It gave Spencer enough time to distance himself though as he ran out the front door into the pouring rain.
Spencer headed straight for his car and quickly padded down his shirt and pant pockets before realizing that he left his keys inside. “Shit,” he groaned. He looked back at the house and noticed the man emerging from the doorway, and took off running down the street. He looked back a few times as he was running to see if he was being chased but didn’t notice the man following. He cut through the lawn of one house and hopped a chain link fence, settling in behind a garbage can to catch his breath. His eyes were scanning all around for a glimpse of his pursuer, but saw no sign of him. Now he had to think about where he was going. There was no way he could go back to his house anytime soon and risk being ambushed again. He reached into his back pocket making sure he still had his wallet, which he did. He opened it up and counted fifty dollars, enough to get him a room at a hotel for the night.
The Sports Haven, a local sports bar, wasn’t too far away. If he could make that, he could clean himself up a little, and figure out what to do next. After catching his breath, and not seeing any movement anywhere, Spencer decided it was time to move. He cut through the sides and backyards of houses over the next few streets, trying to stay away from open spaces. As he reached the curb of one of the streets he heard the screeching sound of burning rubber. He aptly looked to the end of the street and to his horror saw that same blue car racing towards him with the headlights blazing.