FIRST THREE PAGES OF CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER ONE

She ran down the turning alleys, splashing in the water left from the rain. The night was thick with city mist and her rapid footsteps echoed off the walls. Somewhere back there in the dark, he was coming. She managed to escape the cruelty of his knife, but not his fists, and not the evil of his icy fingers pressing against her throat. She still hadn’t caught her breath and it was hard to run, but she willed her feet to go on.

Garbage cans fell behind her as he thundered through the night in pursuit of her. She did not know how close he was and she didn’t have the guts to turn and look. If she turned, he might be close enough to plunge the blade through her eye, just as he had promised to do. She ran on, trying to hear his steps through her laboring breath but could not discern his whereabouts. The alleyway she fled through had now curved towards taller buildings and their roofs shrouded the streetlights. She was almost lost in complete pitch, wildly running away from death.

In her line of work, she had always expected this could happen. Any john could be psycho enough to try and kill her–or, a rival pimp or hooker walking her stroll. She was always ready for that. But, she hadn’t even worked this guy. She had no clue where he came from. This was the first time she’d ever seen him. At first, she thought he looked like a cop–a bit of a disheveled one–but a cop all-the-same. She figured if she just complied and played nice, he’d be on his way. But, she was wrong. He began beating her as soon as he stepped out of the car. When he swung open the door, he punched her in the gut. He stood up and kneed her in the face, then threw her into his car by her hair. After that, everything had been a blur. She felt some blows rain down before she was rolled onto her back and held down with a knife dangling in her face and a hand squeezing her throat.

“I’m gonna kill you, whore,” the man whispered, his violent eyes dancing with lunacy. “But first, I’m going to cut out your eyes.”

Not knowing where the reserve of strength came from, she started to wiggle and thrash about until her arms came loose from beneath his body. Somehow, she managed to flail her hands around enough to knock him back out of the car. Her next move was immediate, the streets had taught her well: she leapt from the car and stepped on his groin, then ran off into the night.

Now, she was running out of steam. Her heart was ready to blow and her lungs were ready to freeze. Her legs burned like they had acid coursing through them and her feet felt like they weighed a hundred pounds apiece. She could almost go no further and he wasn’t far behind.

She expected to turn down a dead end any minute, trapped with the walls of death closing in. Instead, she came to a tall fence with a giant hole cut through it. Beyond that, she saw the open streets and the city. She didn’t know the limits of the man’s urge to kill her, but she thought she had a better chance out in the open. She rushed towards the gaping hole and hopped through. The alley wasn’t much longer and the streets beyond came to greet her. As she passed between the buildings into the street, something hit her legs and sent her gliding on the concrete. She landed on her front side, bashing her elbows and face on the street, knocking her silly and spilling blood down her throat when she rolled onto her back.

The world was blurry as she looked around, groaning. Her elbows were most certainly broken and her right shoulder was pulled hard out of place. She couldn’t move her jaw without searing pain ripping through her face and it hurt her mid-section every time she breathed. As she lay there feeling the dampness of the street saturate her skin, she forgot why she had been running.

She felt her left leg lift up and her body begin to scrape the street. The sky above her was slowly sliding past. She realized her body was moving. In seconds, she was dragged out from the dim night lights back into the shadow of the alley. That’s when she remembered where she had been going.

But, it was too late. The man had caught up to her and was smiling down at her, his sinister blade reflecting glimmers of light from the world beyond the alley walls.

“I know these alleys as well as the rats,” he told her. “You never had a chance. I was going to cut out your eyes, but since you made me work for it, I think I deserve a reward. Perhaps some flesh to take home. Or, maybe something from inside you. Or both. I guess I’ll decide while I’m carving you up. But first, let me make sure you don’t run again.”

He lifted his right leg and stomped on her ankles and broke them. Then, her knees. She screamed from the pain. He then knelt beside her and pulled a rag from his pants pocket and stuffed it in her mouth.

“Now, back to business.”

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