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Sam Hyde

Leonard Goldstein’s hands trembled as he lit up another cigarette. He turned to the window and looked down at the streets. New York City was unusually quiet tonight. There was hardly a soul in sight. But he knew a certain someone was out there stalking him.

It all began a week ago. Leonard worked as a journalist for Rubberneck, a news media conglomerate that had ties to the Franzetti Family, who controlled the Merchant Republic of New York. He specialized in writing outrageous articles that stretched the truth like silly putty. The job didn’t pay very well, but the Franzettis gave him an opportunity to earn more. He was assigned the task of writing smear articles against the family’s enemies. He would dig into a target’s life, find embarrassing or incriminating details, and then plaster them onto the internet for everyone to see. If he couldn’t find any dirt, then he would just make things up. He grew to enjoy ruining the lives of others because it gave him a sense of power, and no one dared to file defamation suits against him because they knew he was protected by the Franzettis.

One day he ordered a sandwich from a local deli after writing up another hit piece. For him, nothing hit the spot better than an avocado club. As he walked down the street, he noticed out of the corner of his eye a strange man standing in a dark alley, holding a brick in his hand. When he went back to get a closer look, the stranger was gone. He swore he saw him somewhere before, possibly in an old documentary or a history book. He thought to himself, Am I starting to see ghosts? He pushed the thought out of his mind and went on his way.

The next night he was in a bar with a co-worker, discussing their plans for the next few days. Some spurious claims of misconduct, some manufactured controversies, they came up with all sorts of different ideas to enrich the company. Leonard turned his head to the window and saw the strange man from the day before walking past it and shooting him a dreadful glare. He got a better look of him this time. The stranger was tall and muscular with messy brown hair, a scraggly mustache and goatee, and black-rimmed glasses. He also wore a black t-shirt and ragged jeans.

“Hey Leonard,” his co-worker asked, “did you see a ghost or something? Why are you staring at the window like that?”

Leonard went outside and looked around, but the man had vanished once again. He grew curious and anxious. When he got home, he went onto the internet and did some research. He eventually came across someone who looked just like the man he saw. His name was Sam Hyde, a notorious terrorist and serial killer from the twenty-first century who directed his ire towards journalists.

That’s impossible, Leonard thought, shaking his head. Sam Hyde died a thousand years ago.

But no matter how much he tried to reassure himself, he could not dispel the nagging fear that perhaps Mr. Hyde was still alive through some supernatural means and was now stalking him. He couldn’t sleep at all that night. He walked into the office the next day feeling miserable. He sat down and tried to work despite his throbbing head and eyes. He looked out the window, and on one of the floors in the skyscraper across the street, he saw the strange man glaring at him. He trembled.

“Is something wrong?” asked one of his co-workers.

Pointing at the skyscraper with a shaking finger, he told him about the strange man. The co-worker went up to the window to get a closer look and saw nothing out of the ordinary. He gave Leonard the same pitiful look one gives to a mentally ill homeless man.

His condition worsened as the days went by. His eyes were bloodshot, his bones ached, dark circles formed under his eyes. He began to assume there was someone lurking behind every corner ready to jump out and kill him. When he tried to write one of his hit pieces, his body tensed up with overwhelming fear, as if God would smite him if he were to type a single letter. The editor-in-chief called him into his office.

“Leonard, you look like crap. What’s wrong?”

The weary journalist explained everything that happened to him up to that point. His superior looked at him incredulously.

“I know you’re an expert at making stuff up, but what you just said was ridiculous. Sam Hyde is dead and remains dead. You have nothing to worry about.”

“What about all those journalists who mysteriously died over the centuries?”

“Just because they all died in the same way, that does not mean they had some sort of connection. You know those musicians who died at the age of 27? That doesn’t mean they were cursed. It just means they happened to die at a certain age. Same with those journalists.”

“Look, can I just use my paid sick leave for a few days?”

“Okay, fine.”

When the journalist went back to his apartment, he had a paranoid suspicion that someone was inside his home. He overturned all his furniture, emptied out all the cupboards, checked every inch of every room, he even punched a few holes in the walls, but he found no threat. His floor was now covered in clothes and other miscellaneous items. He locked all his doors and windows, then sat down at his desk and lit up a cigarette with trembling hands.

As he sat in the dark, his mind went back to those articles he read about journalists dying mysterious deaths, their skulls caved in by some blunt weapon. They all had one thing in common: they specialized in hit pieces, smear campaigns, and life ruination. Sweat covered his brow despite the air conditioner being on full blast. His heart was beating so rapidly, he thought it was going to burst out of his chest. He did not take religion seriously for most of his life, but now he began to wonder if God was punishing him for his crimes.

When the clock struck midnight, his cigarette went out. Then he heard a heavy breathing behind him. He tried to convince himself he was just imagining things, but the sound persisted. He slowly turned around, and towering above him was Sam Hyde, his face twisted into a scowl of disgust. Before Leonard had any time to process what he saw, the giant man struck him over the head with a brick, sending him to the floor. He then got on top of him and started furiously beating him in the face with his makeshift weapon. All the journalist could do was let out horrified screams. First his nose was flattened, then all his teeth were broken out. The sound of stone smashing against flesh was soon accompanied by the cracking of bone. His screams turned to gurgles as blood filled his throat. The last things he saw before losing consciousness were his assailant’s eyes, which burned like blue fire in the dark.

One of the neighbors heard Leonard’s screams and called the police. They showed up a few minutes later. When they broke down the door, they found Sam Hyde, covered in blood, brick in hand, standing over the journalist’s corpse, whose head was reduced to an unrecognizable red mess. The strong beast of a man gave them a glare that pierced their souls, then he walked backwards to the window and jumped out. The officers rushed forward and looked down to the streets, but he was already gone.

One of them muttered under his breath, “He can’t keep getting away with it.”


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