When Chantelle Lloyd opened the door to her appartment and saw the man standing in her hallway, she knew exactly who was to blame: Herself. This was the culmination of years of naïve negligence. The apartment was small and run down, nothing inside even worth stealing, and for a long time she had thought that was enough. The mere fact that she left her window open was enough to advertise that her apartment wasn't even worth defending. Any of the unsavoury sorts that lived in the same complex knew as much too; she was as poor as dirt. It was common knowledge that the girl in 32B barely made enough to meet ends meet. Her pimp was a nasty sonofabitch who took far too much of a cut from her profits for her to lead anything even close to a comfortable life. So most people usually left well enough alone.

At least until that night, when the man with the knife had broken in.

For a moment, she thought that he was a client that had stalked her home. That would have explained why he was there, at least. But the look in his eyes told her something different. It wasn't the evasive, shameful look of the middle aged men that paid to have their way with her. Nor was it the fearful and inexperienced expression that clung to the young outcasts that needed to buy their way out of their virginities. The man stared at her with an empty and cold look that terrified her.

In an instant, Chantelle's mind flicked through her options, rolling between them one by one like a cheap Rolodex. 32A across the hall was empty. It had been for months. That meant that her closest neighbour was the old woman in 31B; but the very idea of the old bitch opening her door was ridiculous. She wondered how far she could get before the man caught her. Intuition told her that it wouldn't be very far. Her gun was in the drawer beside her bed, but to get there she would have to somehow get past him.

Her cotton mouth opened as she considered screaming. Fear stopped her from letting out the sound. If she cried out, she had no idea what he would do. If she didn't scream-

Maybe he won't kill me...

Maybe just the raping.

Chantelle could feel the tears coming. Her mouth was dry, but her eyes were another story.

Nerves reached out of her body, stretching down through the apartment complex and spreading into the city. They probed the streets, searching out for the warm sensation of safety. Her heart longed for her family; for her sister that never called her. A deep optimism, that she thought had long since abandoned her, hoped against hope that Janie would somehow know that she was in trouble. When they were younger they always been so close and intuitive that they knew when the other was in trouble. But alas, not any more. Not since Janie's baby had been born. She didn't want her whore of a sister around her child. Even a year later, it still hurt her to remember the event.

Before she even knew what was happening the man was in front of her. He appeared in her face, as if the space in between them had been erased. So close that she could study the individual hairs of his eyelashes, his breath was heavy with the fresh scent of mouthwash.

It happened so fast that she didn't have time to even react, much less fight back. One of his hands closed around her throat, crushing her windpipe, while the other — the one holding the knife — was forced up under her ribcage.

Fire radiated out from her lungs, jamming her breath in her throat. Following behind the sensation within her, a blossoming flower of blood seeping out of her and spreading across her shirt.

Eyes rolling back in her head, darkness took her vision and blood drained from her head. Her legs gave way beneath her and she passed out, crumpling into a heap on the floor.

And that was when things became truly terrible for Chantelle Lloyd.