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Jasen Nicely and Michelle Wallace

Wallace_RE

Jasen Nicely
Created using Michelle Wallace’s story (below) as inspiration

Stalker
By Michelle Wallace

He paddled slowly, taking it all in. The feel of the wind ruffling his hair, the sound of the ripples in the water. Little splashes each time the wood kissed the river. It reminded him of sitting in the cathedral. The awe of something so manmade, but otherworldly, too. He could almost hear the angelic choir singing, the echoes of voices in the rushing water. He squinted against the bright sun and watched the rainbow of colors dance in the light, like the mosaic glass he remembered. Colors of sky and earth and trees, the red of her lips.

Agh, her generous lips. He remembered her smile, sitting next to him in the chapel. The magic in her eyes as she gazed at the beauty around her. She was entranced at the history of this place, the spiritual quest contained in these arches and stained-glass fragments. It rang true in her. It mirrored her own journey. She had reached over for his hand and smiled.

The memory made him sigh. He paddled on, a little faster now. Breathe deep, let it go. His muscles ached and his head began to throb. As a splash of river spat on his cheek, he felt the sting of her hand on his face. It surprised him how clearly he remembered the feeling. It made him ache inside. He pushed away the thought and rounded a bend in the river, passing by some unusual rock formations to his right. The trees ran by him quickly now. Flashes of sunlight pierced his eyes, blinding him for a few seconds. The river was colder, darker than before. The gurgling water morphed into a quiet roar. He could feel the tension building in him, around him.

Why couldn’t he have told her the truth? But he was too ashamed to admit his neediness. That he felt desperately alone without her. It scared him to realize he depended on her so much. He willed himself to hold back, withdrew from her siren’s song. But he was forced to see that look in her eyes. The innocent brokenness that searched his, waiting for a reason. The cool blue eyes that had always drawn him into safety.

He always abandoned security, no matter the form. Peace was illusive, promising what it couldn’t deliver. So he chose independence instead. He paddled on in silent thought, wondering if perhaps he had been mistaken.

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Jacen Nicely_INSP

Jacen Nicely
Inspiration piece provided to Michelle Wallace

Untitled
By Michelle Wallace

Sara woke up from a restless sleep and glanced at the clock. Crap, it was already after ten o’clock. She groaned as she forced her legs to move from under the covers to the floor. Stumbling past her mirror, she noticed that once again she’d forgotten to remove her makeup from the previous evening. The black mascara mingled with glittery blue made her look like a fancy raccoon. Yikes, not picture friendly today, she thought.

After a hot shower, she was finally able to focus her attention on the day’s tasks. She had a voicemail from her manager telling her how great last night’s show had been. Sara smiled as she remembered the concert. There had been a good turnout, and despite several minor irritations with the sound system, it was one of her better shows. She had sung her heart out and flowed with the crowd’s energy.

She frowned as she remembered the creepy guy who cornered her as she was packing up her gear. He had piercing eyes and personal space issues. Sara always made a point of being friendly to fans, but this guy was making it difficult. He mistook her courtesy for an open invitation to be crass. She had two simultaneous thoughts- Is this guy for real? and, Run away! Luckily, her drummer came to the rescue and asked her to solve a merchandise problem. By the time all the equipment was loaded, the weirdo was fortunately nowhere to be seen.

She flipped through her calendar to see when the next show was and made a mental note to call her bandmates about some changes she wanted to make. She sent out a few emails and then went outside to check the mailbox. No thank you, I don’t need another credit card. God, I hate junk mail.

And then she saw it.
The black envelope with her name in silvery ink.

Hmm, I don’t think anyone’s getting married that I know of. What is this?

She slid her fingernail under the seal and took out the contents with faint curiosity. On the card was a black crow with feathers scattered around it. Bright red eyes stared back at hers. But most distressing were the words written next to the bird- “He’s watching and waiting.”

Sara nearly tripped on the door frame as she read the words. She flipped the card over and scanned the envelope for a return address. Nothing, not even a stamp. No clue as to the sender. Suddenly feeling very paranoid and vulnerable, she shut the front door and locked it quickly. She shivered in the warm room. Her thoughts raced as she tried to compose herself.

It’s probably a joke. Yeah, my twisted brother just wanted to have a good laugh at my expense. Or maybe it was Jackson. Her guitarist had always had a warped sense of humor.

But what if it was for real? That guy from the show was really weird. Maybe…
No, she wouldn’t let herself even think it. Trying as best she could to put it out of her mind, Sara went along with her day. She tried not to think about it during her run, but she had nothing to distract her brain from wandering. She pushed her legs faster, watched the trees blur on both sides of the trail. Up ahead she noticed a man jogging towards her. Instinctively she glanced away, but not before their eyes caught for a brief second. As she passed him, she felt his gaze on her. Don’t look back. Don’t look back. She picked up her pace even more.

A branch snapped nearby, startling her out of her thoughts. She looked into the trees, wildly searching for movement. She imagined someone hiding there, just waiting for her to come close. The thought made her almost leap with terror.

Overhead, a cloud covered the sun and left the trail in shadows. Her normal sunny routine suddenly felt like a scene from a horror movie. And she was the victim. Innocent girl wanders into the woods, where the hatchetman watched and waited. Blood red thirst, like the crow eyes on the card. Oh, God! She suppressed a scream and ran as fast as her legs could carry her down the trail, until she suddenly tripped on a rock that had fallen on the path. Thud! She landed in a heap of physical and mental exhaustion. Panic melted into hot tears of fear and frustration and confusion.

After a while Sara collected herself and wearily drove home. She immediately got the creepy card and without looking at it, threw it into the trashcan. She determined not to freak out about it anymore. Just then her cell phone rang.

“Hello?” she answered nervously.

“I’m watching you.”

Her heart stopped for a second.

Suddenly, laughter broke out on the other end of the line. Wait, was that Jackson’s laugh?

“Jackson? You jerk! You scared me to death! What do you want?” she spat out in one relieved breath.

“Did you like my card?” he laughed.

“What? Wait- you sent me that horrible card!? What in the world…!”

“Yeah, I was just messing with you. I saw that weird guy talking to you at the show, and I thought it would be funny if you had your own personal stalker. Thought I’d make you squirm a bit before I confessed,” Jackson said, obviously pleased with himself.

Right then, Sara decided she would get even. She would be patient, wait until he was relaxed and comfortable. Oh, yeah. A slow smile began to form in anticipation.

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