I hate working late, and I hate the dark. When the two converge—like now—life sucks. It’s past midnight, and two blocks of Stygian night lay between the secured lot safeguarding my precious Z4 and me.
Park it on the street, my ex tells me.
The guy is a moron. On the street? A BMW Z4? Dude! As if.
The office door snicks locked behind me, and something electric chases across the back of my neck. I gasp, nearly choking on unexpected fresh air. Shit. Even the stench of rotten fruit from the jam factory next door has punched out for the day.
A sliver of moon sneaks from behind a bloated cloud, its watery light fringing the abandoned buildings and buffing rain-slicked asphalt. I jog across the deserted road, my Louboutin’s popping like machine gun fire in the quiet.
Too bad these stunning high heels will eventually destroy my spine as well as my feet.
Note to self: must thank The Moron for his concern.
Behind me, footsteps, tiny echoes that run along nerve endings and prickle the hair on my arms. I stop, hold my breath and listen. Silence. I spin around. The street is empty.
When you’re out alone at night, be aware of your surroundings and trust no one.
Yawn. More wisdom from The Moron. Talk about a tool. Thank God I dumped his sorry ass.
Another half block, the steps are back, as careful and deliberate as my own. Seven hundred dollars for these damn shoes, you’d think they’d come with a cloaking device.
The word run flashes neon in my brain. I lunge forward, my heel snaps like a fresh bean and I fly. The asphalt strips skin from my face and forearms, rips my thin skirt as if it’s tissue. Sprawled in the street, I spit blood and grit and look up.
Above me, the silhouette of a man. My fear is a living thing. I struggle to pull myself onto torn knees but am launched by a bone crushing boot slam to the ribs. Waves of nausea swell; tears sting my ruined face.
“Please, help! Somebody help me!” My cries empty into the void like pebbles thrown into the ocean. I roll and crawl, blood crashing in my ears. A grip around my ankle, rough, hard, and I am dragged quarry, my hip blistered by wet pavement, my nostrils filling with roadway smells of sulfur and cigarettes. I thrash, hear a grunt as a remaining stiletto buries itself in soft tissue. The vise slackens. I kick again and I am free.
My feet seek purchase on the greased blacktop even as my body involuntarily shifts into reverse. I stumble. An arm snakes around my throat, crushing my windpipe. I smell perspiration, feel hot, rank breath whisper against my ear and across my cheek.
There is an unexpected flash. Two beams slice the night and spotlight our obscene dance. The stranglehold eases. My body crumples. The assailant backs away and runs.
I lie frozen in place, focused on the dark figure that emerges from the vehicle, transfixed by his knife. But the familiar voice brings a rush of relief as warm and soothing as brandy.
“If you’d parked on the street like I said, this wouldn’t have happened. You got what you deserved. Karma’s a bitch, isn’t it?”
He walks toward me. I see his sweet smile and the tension seeps from my muscles. I hold out my hand.
I wake in my own bed, bruised, exhausted, poached in sweat, dawn lapping at my consciousness. The shadows shift, and I remember I am not alone.
He leaps from the chair and hovers over me waving a vintage Boy Scout hunting knife. “What if that guy hadn’t taken off? What if I’d had to use this? It’s a family heirloom.”
Good to know chivalry isn’t dead. I try hard not to roll my eyes.
“Haven’t I told you over and over again to pay attention to your surroundings? To trust no one?”
He looks crazy, and I ask him to put down the knife.
He slips it into its sheath on the bedside table. “If you’d been wearing real shoes, you could have run. It’s always vanity first with you.”
I reach for the alarm clock to check the time; instead my fingers find the knife. They slide along the embossed sleeve and curl around the blade’s stacked leather handle.
“Three years together, and you never once heard a word I said. You never listened to me.”
“Trust no one,” I parrot, as I drive the knife into his chest. “See? I listened. And you were right, Moron. Karma is a bitch.”
BIO: VR Barkowski writes noir, mainstream, and paranormal. She currently alternates her time between polishing her second novel and praying her agent can sell it once it’s finished.