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The Jogger’s Phone

8th May 2024 | 3 Views

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Harry had no idea that after his jog he was going to wonder if he should get a gym membership instead of jogging in the woods, but at the time, he had no idea it was going to happen.

Hell, it was such a regular day for him. It had started out the same way with him waking up and putting on his tracksuit to go jogging in the woods. Harry’s jogging route was at least 8 miles long, leading in a wide circle, past a small road all the way back to his house and the woods covered a large chunk of it. An experienced jogger who’d moved quite a few times in his life, Harry had initially been reluctant to go into the woods because of how muddy it could be during rainfalls, but the paths were nice and only a few places became really muddy.

Once he got going, Harry puffed at a reasonable speed through the woods when he heard an unexpected sound. A ping. Harry cursed when he realised he’d just gotten a text, and he pulled his mobile out of his pocket and as he jogged on the spot he turned his phone on, and he opened the text; he had no idea what he’d expected, a message from his sister, a long overdue voicemail alert which worked its way through but was too late for him to deal with perhaps.

But what he didn’t expected to see was what he read -Hello, can you come back?-

Harry blinked in surprise at the message.

He…didn’t understand what it meant. He checked it, fully expecting to see it came from one of his family, that there was an emergency. But no. The phone screen said that it had come from an unknown caller.

At the time, Harry was more puzzled than worried. Had something happened to his phone? Had someone he knew sent a text, and the stupid computer in the phone developed a fault so it registered as an unknown caller. With that in mind and not thinking anything was really wrong, Harry merely texted back, -What do you mean?-

Harry was not sure what he had expected. The reply came back immensely quickly, and when his mind registered what his eyes were showing him, Harry’s blood began to chill. -Come back to the junction you passed a moment ago.-

Harry stared at the screen for a moment, uncomprehendingly before he heard a rustling sound nearby and he returned to reality when he realised the sounds were footsteps. Harry had been jogging for a long time and he had expected many things happening on his jogs, from meeting other joggers, getting into arguments with dog-walkers, and maybe even find and rescue an abandoned kitten or puppy someone had left in the middle of nowhere, but he had never imagined himself being stalked like this.

Harry looked around, letting his ears track the sounds of the footsteps. They were quite close. “Who are you??” He called out, the situation unnerving him.

There was no reply.

But he did see the branches moving, and he saw the distant silhouette of somebody moving around in the woods. They were quite a distance away, but they were near the junction they’d told him to run back towards. They stopped for a moment, and even through the layers of branches and bushes obscuring everything but their outline, he saw they had stopped.

“Who are you?? There’s no point hiding, I can see you,” Harry called.

No answer, but a second later he got a text.

-Come back.-

Whoever they were, Harry knew that whatever plans they had, they wouldn’t be good for his health and wellbeing.

Harry had only one response to that one. “Fuck you!” He yelled defiantly. Harry turned and ran off, shoving his mobile back into his pocket as he put on some speed, as he ran away he heard the sound of somebody crashing through the foliage and branches as they tried to get through to him. He thought he heard the sounds of someone swearing but he was too far to really hear them and hopefully place their voice.

Harry shut his mind down as he pushed himself to remember his thoughts and views of the latest book he was reading which he normally did whenever he was jogging and he wanted to take his mind off of his body’s state, and he raced through the woods, and he heard the sound of somebody behind chasing him further down the path. They were catching up. But he had quite a distance on them.

Harry breathed in and out, taking in deep breaths and exhaling as he pushed himself on, keeping his ears pricked for the sounds of the person chasing him, and he realised they were wearing heavy shoes that were holding them back, and he could hear their panting even from the distance they were from him, but they were persistent, he’d give them that.

But he was faster, fitter and it showed since he could hear the crashing behind him at a distance. And he had another secret weapon; he unstoppered his water bottle and took a generous swig, and after a bit of effort he swallowed the lot so he wouldn’t choke. The water gave him the energy he needed to push himself even more as he took more deep breaths. The end of the path was coming up and he rushed past the concrete road stops and raced on, taking another swig as he did to keep himself going. There were houses just ahead.

As he raced down the dirt track, before he reached the road, he looked around desperately for someone to help him. But the road was empty. He was on his own.

Harry’s ears pricked up as he tried to hear the sound of footsteps from behind. He couldn’t hear anything. He didn’t dare stop going. He kept on running, as fast as he could. The road was surrounded by hedges that ran all the way down, and after a few hundred yards, Harry came out and on his right were houses and parked cars along the road.

Finally he spotted a man getting into his car, while a woman and two children who had to be his wife and children got into a second.

“Excuse me!” Harry called breathlessly.

The man and the woman turned in his direction as Harry slowed down. “Hello?” The man said, eyeing him thoughtfully but politely. “I’ve seen you jogging along here, but you’ve never been still enough to say hello.”

“Today’s the exception,” Harry panted. Now he’d stopped, the weight of the jog hit him like a cannonball to the chest. “I need to know, is there someone behind me?”

“…What?”

Harry sighed. “When I was jogging, someone was stalking me,” he explained to them, “I managed to get away from them when they told me to go back along the way I’d come. They had my phone number while they kept their ID hidden; don’t ask me how they did that. I saw their silhouette and they didn’t reply. I need to call the police, but I couldn’t without slowing down. I need to know if they’re still chasing me.”

The man and woman exchanged a serious look before the man nodded and stepped out into the road to get a better look. He stayed there for a few moments before he shook his head. “I can’t see anyone; either they gave up, or they saw you coming to us,” he added with pointed accusation to Harry at the prospect of him endangering his family which the jogger took on the nose, since he had the right to think like that, “but its empty.”

Harry nodded. “Thanks,” he said, taking his mobile out.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m phoning the police.”

“Are you sure that’s a wise move?” The woman asked. “If he could get your number, who else knows what he did?”

“All the more reason to tell them,” Harry said as he started tapping out the number.

“Use my phone,” the woman offered, already taking her mobile out, and getting the number out quick.

“She’s right,” the man gently rested a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Who knows what could have happened to that mobile?”

Harry looked between them both and then nodded. There was no telling how much of the conversation would be heard by the stranger who’d come after him, if he had control to that degree or not, but with the police he could check it out. He nodded again before putting the phone away.

Xxx

“And you didn’t see them?” Harry’s mother Isabella asked.

“No, well I did see their silhouette and I heard them chasing me, but I didn’t dare look back. In hindsight I wish I had,” Harry added as he looked down.

“What about your mobile?” Emily demanded.

Harry looked down at his hands which were curled around his glass. After he had met the man and the woman – Tom and Martha – the police had come to his address. They had questioned him thoroughly about the incident. He had told them the same story he’d given his family. They had  his mobile when they had heard about the texts so they could get an idea of who had called him. They were also going to speak to all of the contacts on Harry’s phone so they could triangulate where they were to better get an idea of who was there. But Harry was dubious it was one of his friends or co-workers, so that meant it was a stranger. And that scared him the most; the idea someone had somehow gotten his number, and stalked him and planned to do god knew what to him was a scary one.

“They’ve taken it to be examined,” Harry replied, thankful that there was nothing confidential on his phone which the police would charge him for, “hopefully they’ll be able to triangulate what other phone was used to call it.”

Harry….wasn’t sure if that was possible or likely, and his uncertainty must have shown because his family shared worried looks.

“Do you think they will?” Nick, his father asked.

Harry shrugged. “I hope so.”

Xxx

But the police never found the stalker. When they went over the woods for a quick search, they found the mobile that was used to call Harry’s phone. This was confirmed when they got into it, and discovered it was a brand new, very simple smartphone without any personal information on it. Further examination revealed no prints on it. The phone was clearly meant for one use and then it was abandoned.

That was bad enough, but Harry had told his friends at the gym about what happened. A week after the incident and Harry had stopped jogging in the woods and while he would miss the freedom, and the fresh air, he had to admit it was safer. But whenever he thought of the woods, and inevitably thought about the stranger who had stalked him, he would always have several important questions on his mind.

The police had not discovered if his phone had been cloned, so they had no idea who had gotten his number.

The police had questioned everyone on his contact list, but they had sworn blind they hadn’t been anywhere near the woods, so who could it have been?

What had they planned to do? His imagination would run wild as he thought about it despite trying his best not to even think about it.

To this day, Harry worried about the answers. The scary thing was he knew the stalker was out there still. It was someone close by. And that was scarier to think about than what they would have done to him.

Robert Feld

@TimeTraveller2024

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