Have you ever had the feeling you were being watched? Imagined dark, cold eyes boring into the back of your head? No matter where you look you cannot spot them, but you know they are there, watching you; Yet you felt completely alone in the same instant.
The hair was standing on end on the back of my neck, like it was trying to jump free of my body, as I silently picked my way along the tattered street in the dark, using the light of the moon as my guide. I could feel that I was being watched and I found myself looking over my shoulder every few steps. I realized that my heart had continued to race, the adrenaline heightening my senses, giving me a stronger hold on my fear.
I stumbled over a sharp rock and cursed, the noise echoing down the empty street, bouncing back off the dark stone walls of the unoccupied buildings. These streets were well used, I could tell by the numerous foot prints littering the dusty walks. My subconscious registered that it didn't seem right, so many people travelling these streets when these old, run down buildings were all boarded up and abandoned. But I ignored it at this moment. The most important thing was to get away, as far away as possible.
I needed to get away from him. As I gulped down a breath, and a scream, my throat gave a dull ache, the nightmare seemed to play across my eyes. I could still feel his calloused hands that had been wrapped around my throat, trying to squeeze my very life out. I could feel the slow, warm trickle that ran down my cheek and neck, dark red blood soaking into my ivory dress. All I wanted to do was get away from him and that damn pig sticker of a knife he had tried to murder me with.
I rounded the corner and ducked into a side street, taking me into a secluded alleyway. I froze. There he was. Waiting silently for me. How had he caught up to me? How did he know which streets I was taking to escape?
"Hello again my dear Jocelyn. We have a conversation to continue, which I do believe would be better done inside, away from prying ears" he smiled politely.
That voice belonged to the handsome Nicholas Johr, the only child of an extremely wealthy family; polite, even when discussing the most inhuman of acts, of course.
"I have no wish to continue our conversationMr Johr" I replied softly, brushing my hair from my eyes. Do not cry, do not cry! I told myself firmly.
I had hoped I would sound confident and in control, however my body had other plans, and betrayed me with a soft voice and shamefully shaky hands. I tried to show any emotion other than one that played across my features, I was taught that monsters lived off fear. Why couldn't I have been an actor I asked myself silently. A talented actor could have hidden behind a mask, a blank mask that hid their fear from all but themselves.
All I could make out was Nicholas' silhouette from this angle, his dark hulking frame obstructing the light as he shifted his weight, making me uneasy. He mustn't have had any trouble seeing me. He took one look at my uncontrollable shaking and laughed a long haughty laugh, the laugh of a gentleman.
"Jocelyn, I have no intention of having anyone privy to this discussion." he sighed as he took a slow step forward.
It was the step of a predator, cool and calculating as he watched his prey whimper with fear.
"By discussion I mean cutting." He grinned wickedly.
Another step. His eyes had always been black as coal, now the emotion behind them made them shine like silk. My heart rate doubled again as I realized that emotion was excitement. He was eager for the kill. Eager for the pain I was about to endure.
The anticipation was hurting more that what I imagined. My mind was in overdrive, trying to find a way out of this horrifying nightmare. An open door, something I could use to defend myself with. My eyes searched the shadows frantically for something, anything.
Nothing. My chest felt like it had been crushed, all my hope was now gone. I was going to die, and at the hands of a merciless man.
When my eyes returned to his face I found deep furrows across his right cheek. I remembered I had managed to get a few lucky fingers to his face and had dug in. If he was going to kill me at least I had left a mark. A warning to other women not to trust this man's charm and smile.
I couldn't help it, I grinned. An insane smile shot to the suited demon that casually walked towards me as if to embrace an old friend. No woman would ever trust him now, no one will find themselves at his mercy. The deep cuts would scar his beautiful face, hopefully for life.
"You laugh at your own death wench?" he snarled as he came to an abrupt halt not 20 feet from me.
"I laugh at one thought," I began shakily, gaining confidence with every word, "How does a gentleman such as yourself explain the scratches on your face? Those alone condemn you. The city guards will have you for attacking a woman." I threw the last few words at him angrily, confidently.
"I will have you know my dear that I am very well connected, the city will not charge me or banish me. What else would I fear?"
"If you fear nothing why do you prey on women?" I whispered to myself as much as him.
"Enjoyment" he replied without a breath.
"Coward" I spat at him.
He started a painfully slow advance, taking a full second with every deliberate step. He wanted me to be afraid, maybe to even beg for my life, I thought as I backed towards the dark stone wall. A breeze blew softly through the alleyway, turning my cheeks icy. Before that moment I had not realized I had been crying, slow tears had leaked down my flushed face.
He followed me step for step until my back pressed up against the cold, hard stone. A shiver went through my body along with an old memory. A story of a Concar woman. She had faced death with no fear, to keep her loved ones safe. I had never dreamed of such determination, such bravery until papa had told me that tale.
It felt like I had struck a cord and everything had fallen perfectly into place. It was so clear, so right. I knew what I had to do, and it was not run. I felt like I finally understood part of my personality, my soul.
I straightened my shoulders and stubbornly lifted my chin to look him straight in the eye as he approached. I would not be a victim. I would fight until my last breath like my father taught me, like that Concar woman. I would stand my ground.
He grinned his wicked grin again as he neared me, sensing my decision to fight. He slowly raised the knife held in his right hand, showing me how he intended to kill me.
It felt as if my brain had either gone into overdrive or my surroundings had gone magically into slow motion. As the knife was raised to his shoulder height, I threw myself at his arm at the speed of light. I hit him hard, throwing him off balance, and we fell to the cobblestones with a grunt, and began wrestling for control of the knife.
A sharp, searing pain came from my left shoulder, telling me that the blade had found my skin. I screamed and rolled out of his grip and that of the weapon. I could feel the warm blood racing down my bare arm, to drip quickly onto the stones beneath me. I took a few deep breathes to steady myself and focus. I knew in an instant that it was a serious wound, the amount of blood I was loosing was would probably give me a few minutes of fight, if that – my head was already spinning.
He rolled away from me and straightened up to his full height, kicking me to the ground in the same movement. My breath escaped my lungs with such intensity as I smacked into the street I was surprised not to hear my lungs pop from the force. He stood over me like they do a dog, daring it to bite and defend itself. My mind wanted to fight but all my body could manage was to roll onto my back and up to crouch against the wall in exhaustion. My energy had drained from my body along with my blood.
"You stupid bitch! Did you really think you could have gotten away?" he screamed at me, spit flying from his mouth to land on my weary face.
I had no answer. I could feel a darkness taking me, forcing my eyes to blur and my ears to roar. I slumped to the right and slid down the wall a fraction, giving me a distinct view of his shoes. They were expensive leather but had collected scuffs from the fall. I smiled inwardly to myself. What kind of murderer wears a black suit and dinner shoes?
He said something to me, but I couldn't understand it through the deafening roar in my ears. I was going to be unconscious any moment and wouldn't feel the knife slice me again, I would be safe.
He closed the distance between us with a final step, raising the blade which was already dripping with my blood.
That is when my world changed forever.
A dark shape hit him hard and carried him into the far wall of the alley with a deafening crack. The darkness grew more intense and I could no longer see clearly, just blurred shapes, hearing only the faint gasp and then the gentle rustle of material.
There was a short pause of silence, something icy cold brushed softly against my cheek. Before I could register anything more I was lost to the darkness, all of my senses drowned as I plunged into complete nothingness.