The elevator bell rang as the doors silently slid open and I walked inside. I pressed the button for the third floor, where I always parked when I came to the nearby casino’s theatre to get my weekly movie fix. Whereas I usually go every Tuesday morning for discount day, I decided to change it up a bit and catch a late night showing of a horror film I had been wanting to see for a while.

I go to horror movies alone all the time. First, because I only recently moved here and don’t really know many people. Second, because I hate when people talk through the film. This is why I prefer Tuesday mornings. The theatre isn’t crowded at all. Actually tonight’s showing wasn’t that busy either, as it was a Wednesday night, and most people go to bed at a reasonable hour to awaken early for work even here in the city that never sleeps. I suppose that theatres closer to tourist areas are likely more crowded but not out here.

I’m very awake though, thanks to my chronic insomnia and, thus, I sleep when I can and work the rest of the time. Except Tuesday mornings, of course.

The elevator bell rang again and I exited into the parking garage. There were a few vehicles scattered about, and while the area was lit, near my car the overhead fluorescent bulb was wavering, as if the ballast was about to give out in protest of overuse.

As I walked to my car, my paranoia kicked into overdrive. I thought of urban legends about psychopaths hiding in parking garages—or worse—inside or beneath an unsuspecting person’s own vehicle, only to emerge with a hook or razor wire or scythe with which to murder her. Or him, for the sake of equality.

The closer I got to my car, the more paranoid I became. Every little sound made me jump—the rustle of a piece of paper being moved by the breeze, emergency response sirens from a mile away, that damned elevator bell. I slowed my pace and became increasingly vigilant. I clutched my pepper spray a bit tighter and held it ready to spray—just in case.

By the time I reached my car, my subconscious had me convinced that someone—or something—was waiting for me in order to effect my demise. I squatted down and looked underneath my car. I slowly walked around it, carefully peering into the windows making sure nobody was inside. I did lock it and set the alarm, but one truly doesn’t know just how secure that really is.

Convinced that I was truly alone—and that no sociopathic murderer was waiting for me—I pressed the remote’s unlock button, quickly got into my car, shut the door, and locked it. My shaking hands were having difficulty trying to insert the key into the ignition. Calm down, I admonished myself. My imagination was in overdrive, and I needed to get my shakiness and racing pulse under control a bit before I attempted to drive.

I started the car and sat in it for a moment while I took a few deep breaths toward calming myself enough so I could leave this parking garage that was never menacing until tonight. I turned and looked in the empty back seats. I glanced down at the floorboards. I even opened my glove compartment looking for…well, I had no clue what I was looking for. I glanced in the rearview mirror and adjusted it slightly, expecting at any moment for some hideous or mask-covered face to appear. I checked the side view mirrors as well. Nothing.

I inhaled deeply, held my breath for a few seconds, and exhaled. I did this a few more times until I felt a bit calmer and less paranoid.

I tapped the accelerator with my right foot, making sure the car was still running. I then pressed the brake pedal and slid the car into reverse. I looked behind me and proceeded to slowly back up, I stopped again and shifted the car into drive.

“There is no such thing as paranoia. Your worst fears can come true at any moment.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson

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