Betty walked a little faster as she crossed a derilect parking lot. Circling around the park took time, and the looming clouds overhead didn’t look like they wanted to offer her much time to get to her makeshift shelter, such as it was. She gingerly made her way down the embankment at the far end of the lot and began walking along the overgrown railroad tracks that had long since fallen into disuse. With every step, she both cursed where she was and wished to be somewhere far off to make a brand new start. She didn’t much care where. Just somewhere where she could keep the past in the past and never have to think of it again.
The hairs on the back of her neck prickled suddenly. Her pace slowed, and she looked around. She would have sworn someone was watching her. Seeing no one around, she continued on along the tracks, still more slowly, despite the increasing wind and chill air. She still had several hundred yards before there was a passable way to climb up to the park where her tree awaited.
She smirked bitterly to herself. Her tree. It had only been a week and a half, and here she was, laying claim to a bent old pine tree as her new home. Well, the closest she could get to a home right now, anyway.
She stopped. There it was again. Stronger this time. Someone or something was following her. She couldn’t see or hear anything, but she was sure of it. She folded her arms and stood defiantly where she stopped. She searched long and hard for her hiding spot, and no way was she going to risk it being discovered. She glared around her, daring her persuer to come out. The air around her got strangely quiet. The wind had stopped, and there was no other sound to be heard. The silence stretched on for an almost painfully long time, but Betty stood her ground.
Just when she thought she couldn’t take it anymore, the apparent battle of wills ended. She couldn’t be sure, but she thought she heard a disgruntled “Hmph” as the wind picked back up and conditions returned to normal. Betty stayed where she was another half minute or so, just for good measure, then pulled her jacket tight and resumed walking. The further she walked, the more ridiculous the whole incident seemed. She was prone to flights of imagination, especially when her emotions were working overtime. It had to be a simple case of paranoia. There was just no other explanation.
She slowed again, just to help calm her nerves. Her footfalls became almost rhythmic as she watched the railroad ties pass out of her vision one by one and tried to clear her mind.