She ran down the block as quickly as she could, hoping she’d lose her pursuer in one of the alleys down the street. It’d rained that night, and water on the cold sidewalk splashed as she sped through.
Loud footsteps followed her, and the ragged breaths of the man she was running away from sounded too close for comfort. Knowing she wouldn’t lose him in an alley, she took a sharp turn, darting into the first door she saw.
Regin was an eighteen-year-old engineering student living in Chicago, Illinois. A native of New York, she’d only briefly visited the Windy City before starting college.
As a freshman at the University of Illinois, Regin knew little about the city she now lived in. But the little she’d learned told her Chicago could be dangerous at times. She didn’t think this statement was true until that fateful day.
Regin’s life was split between school and work. After her classes, she’d run simple errands for particular clients in the city, including picking up dry cleaning, kids from daycare, and grocery shopping.
Regin would spend long days at school only to have her evenings confine her in the city because of work. By the end of each day, she’d return to her apartment tired and worn out. But that would change soon.
The fateful night that would change Regin’s life started as usual as any other night. She’d spent the day in and out of classes, and by evening, she was in West Town running errands.
A cold shower poured over the city as night fell, and although Regin didn’t carry an umbrella, she pushed through the downpour to finish her tasks on time. But what should’ve been a peaceful night turned out to be anything but.
Regin had worked through most of her errands when it started to rain. It was half-past seven, and the rain was not letting up. Regin called her boss to inform her of the situation.
Regin’s boss sympathized with her. She agreed to move the remaining tasks to the next day. But as Regin relaxed on the bus back to her place, she received an unexpected text.
“Are you still in the West Town?” the text read. It was Regin’s roommate who went ahead to ask if Regin could pass by a particular chemist on that part of the city for medicine.
Since it was still early, Regin agreed, highlighting from the bus at the first stop to return to West Town. But as the bus disappeared into the concrete jungle before her, she realized she’d made a terrible mistake.
Of all the places Regin could have highlighted, she hopped off the bus at one of the worst parts of the city. Dark buildings stared down at her, puddles of water gleaming on the street as she waited for the next bus.
Her eyes darted around, registering that she was indeed in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city. What could possibly go wrong?
Regin had watched enough documentaries about dangerous streets in America. More often than naught, these places never failed to live up to their reputation.
She knew she should have waited for the next bus, but something told her to venture out and look for a taxi. The sooner she’d be out of this neighborhood, the better.
Regin took her first step into the ominous street before her. Although it was some hours after sunset, the entire street was already empty.
The deeper she walked into the neighborhood, the more she regretted her decision. Knowing it was too late to turn back, she forged forward. But a rough hand wrapped around her wrist.
Fear and awareness shot through Regin, and she broke into a sprint. Whoever had grabbed her was fast on her heels, and she knew she couldn’t let him get to her.
The man’s footfalls quivered in Regin’s ear as she ran. Already out of breath and with her assailant gaining on her, Regin did the unthinkable.
Regin took the first corner that came into her shaky view. A glass door materialized before her eyes, and she shot for it.
Regin fell on the door with her shoulder, pushing it open. She held the door’s handle from the inside, her eyes landing on her pursuer. She swallowed when he walked into her view, a sick smile on his face. And then it happened.
“Open this door,” the pursuer demanded as he ran a hand across his lips. He spat on the tarmac and repeated his statement.
“Or what?” another voice answered, and Regin spun around to find a man dressed in a gi. “Don’t open it,” the man said calmly, placing a hand on Regin’s shoulder. But what the pursuer did next made them step back.
The pursuer lunged forward, throwing the glass door open. But in the space of a second, the man next to Regin pushed her behind him.
He met the pursuer head-on, their collision shaking the entire room. “Go inside,” the man grated to Regin, his hands holding the pursuer in place. What was happening?
Regin sprinted deeper into the building. Her heart thundered within her chest, and adrenaline chocked her veins. The sound of the scuffle faded behind her as she surged into a brightly lit room.
Regin braked, her palms falling on her knees. She struggled to breathe as her sight took in several Japanese paintings hung on the wall. She looked around wide-eyed, finally realizing where she was.
As luck would have it, the first turn Regin took landed her in a karate studio. She’d been even luckier that the studio’s instructor had been around when she needed help. He effortlessly dealt with Regin’s pursuer and called the police.
After a few questions, the police drove Regin home. Although she thanked the instructor for saving her life, she knew no words could ever convey how grateful she was for his help.