THRILLER

Love Obsession

Novella Miniseries
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EPISODE 1 – COMPETITION

An advertising art director pairs up with a secret admirer during a gym encounter, leading to a psychological thriller that dares anyone to interfere.

⚠️ This story depicts dangerous effects of a mental disorder, including violence. Continue with discretion.

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Attention

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Heather and Ryan are both single career professionals, unfamiliar with one another. About four days per week, both attend the local Strength and Fit gym for early morning cardio and light weight lifting.

Ryan first notices Heather on a treadmill beside his. Though height differences vary their strides, Heather mirrors Ryan’s distance and speed for ten minutes. She then increases the incline 3 degrees without losing stride

Ryan responds in kind. Heather dials to 5 degrees, as does Ryan. At 20 minutes, he shuts down his machine, but Heather continues 5 minutes longer.

Ryan rinses off in the shower before slipping into the olympic-size pool. When coming up for air three quarters of the length on his first lap, he notices Heather is in the lane to his left. He completes the distance with a freestyle crawl and does the backstroke in the opposite direction.

For his third lap, he uses the breast stroke before resting on the pool edge. Heather continues an additional two laps with the butterfly stroke.

Ryan heads to the juice bar for a 16-ounce green smoothie and finds himself in a chugalug contest with Heather. Finally, he states the obvious, “You seem competitive.”

“Maybe I’m just thorough,” she suggests.

“My name is Ryan.”

“I’m Heather.”

“Nice to meet you thorough Heather. Do you come in here often?”

“A few times a week. How about you?”

“Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays… and most Sundays.”

Tapping on her smartphone, Heather asks, “What times?”

“Usually about 6:30 each morning. A half hour later on Sunday.”

“Perfect. We should sync up our calendars. Let me see your phone.”

“Oh, well, I just remember it in my head,” he says while unlocking it.

Grasping his phone gently, with full eye contact, Heather asks, “May I…?” Without a response either way, she pulls more firmly until he releases his grip. Heather types in her contact info, adds the workout schedule with herself as an invitee. She then extends his phone back to him. “We’re all set. Where are you heading now?”

“I’m going to hit the showers before heading to work.”

“All right. Looks like I will see you on Friday. Give me a call if something comes up. My info is in your phone.” She then heads to the public showers.

The interaction lacks enough dialogue for Ryan to understand why Heather already shared her contact information and home address in his phone. She did not even ask about his line of work. Obviously, she expects him to phone her—perhaps for more details then.

Recognition

At the advertising agency, Ryan suppresses reoccurring questions about Heather throughout the day. That evening, he rehearses his first call, but decides to wait until Thursday night.

“Hello, Heather? This is Ryan, from the gym. How are you?” Ryan begins his phone call.

“Hey, Ryan. Now I have your number. I’m fine. Are you cancelling already?” asks Heather.

“No, no, I’ll be at the gym in the morning. It just seems we know very little about one another.”

“That was true yesterday, but you waited a whole day to learn more. Were you trying not to seem eager?”

“Something like that…. Actually, exactly that’s it, yes. So how do you fill your days?”

“I teach middle-school students. What about you?”

“That’s impressive. I graduated from middle school long ago and am now an advertising agency art director.”

“What a coincidence!”

“I don’t follow…”

“Besides you attending middle school as a child, I’m also a part-time fine art model. So we are both in the arts field.”

“Are you one of the nude models I used to draw while studying fine art in school?”

“I can’t say for sure. Do you remember drawing me?”

“No, I mean you are like one of the many models I drew as part of my human anatomy studies.”

“I guess so. Perhaps I’m a better model. But until you show me your drawings, I must deny your abilities.”

Looking at the contact info she left in his phone, Ryan remarks, “Your address seems to be near the gym.”

“Yes, are you making a pop visit, or stalking me on street view?” Heather asks.

“No, I am just somewhat familiar with the area?”

“Relax, I’m kidding. If you want to stalk me, I think it’s a sign of your undying adoration. Do you live nearby?”

“Actually, no. But the gym is on my way to work?”

“So you work on Sundays too?” Heather reasons.

“Sundays? Oh, not usually. When I do, I may go to a different gym.”

“What about this Sunday? Are you working?”

“Whether I do or not, I’ll make a point to meet you at the same location.”

“And tomorrow… will you be at the gym?” Heather inquires.

“Yes, Friday, I’ll be there too.”

Matching

“What are you wearing…?” Heather seems to ask out of the blue.

“Wearing? Oh, long pajama bottoms and a T-shirt. Nothing racy,” Ryan replies.

“Not at this moment. Wearing to the gym, tomorrow, silly.”

“Oh, of course. I will wear my gray sweatsuit like before.”

“You should wear navy blue,” Heather suggests.

Ryan responds, “But I don’t have navy.”

“Then I’ll have to wear gray too. We should match. I prefer brighter colors though.”

“Your concern is noted. I will shop for some new colors this weekend.”

“Great. I will send you a list of colors I already have.”

“Okay, see you in the morning wearing dark gray or black!”

“For sure at 6:30 on the treadmills,” Heather confirms.

Again

Friday morning, Heather is just as competitive as before—not only on the treadmills but also with leg-press weightlifting and bench pressing. Ryan has a difficult time keeping up. Afterwards, they head over to the juice bar.

“Are you going to the classroom now?” asks Ryan.

“No, actually, I’m only a substitute teacher so I don’t have a regular classroom schedule. But I do have a pretty consistent modeling gig at Otis College of Art and Design. It’s easy money. I just have to be still during a few poses and get paid more per hour than teaching classrooms.”

“Perhaps we could see each other outside of the gym. Would you like to get a bite to eat tonight?” he asks.

“I’m not a big eater. That is to say, my food consumption is a byproduct of other activities and not a main event.”

“Understood. Then maybe we can visit a museum. Who knows, we might even see a drawing of you. If we get hungry afterwards, we can munch on something. How’s that sound?”

“Much better. In fact, I’ve been modeling for artists that have a gallery showing at Otis tonight. So I definitely will be the focus of attention.”

“Can’t wait to see you. I mean clothed on the date.” Ryan attempts to clarify his intent, “Not that you won’t be great in the drawings…”

“Allow me to extract a foot from your mouth. You have my address. Pick me up between 5:30 and 6:00 PM. You only have one opportunity to impress me by being on time. No work excuses.”

“I will be there exactly in between,” Ryan assures.

Continued

Return twice weekly for miniseries. Any relation to actual persons or events is coincidental. Login provides a more immersive experience. Audio may include sound effects or omit super­fluous details. More than 15 images bring this miniseries to life.

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