Now, a year later, Catherine couldn’t wait to finish her degree, pass the bar, and actually, at last be able to practice law. It was a shame her mother wouldn’t be around to see that she really did amount to something in spite of her father. Her mother would have been so proud. But tonight, after a grueling session at the library, as Catherine headed out to her car, her mind was empty, tired from too much thinking and too much concentration. She was just anxious to get home to a glass of wine and a hot bath. Tomorrow’s another day, she thought. My paper will be done, the final exam is in two weeks, and maybe then I can finally relax for a while.
With the exception of the silver Volvo that belonged to the night librarian, her little yellow Volkswagen was the only car left in the lot. The wind that had been whistling stopped suddenly, and she had the sickening sense that someone was following her. As she glanced back toward the library, she wondered where the campus police officer was that usually patrolled the parking lot. She strained to peer through the darkness, but could see no one. She stopped and slowly turned to the right, then to the left … but again … saw nothing. There was only the strange eerie light shining from the street lamp through mist that was just beginning to fall. She tried to shake off the looming feeling of dread. God, this is ridiculous, she thought. I’m just tired. I must have pushed myself too hard tonight. I’ve got to go easier tomorrow, no more burning the candle at both ends. She looked down at the cell phone in her hand, ready just in case, but saw that now the battery had gone completely dead.
As she reached her car, one of the books started to slip; she scrambled to get her keys out of her pocket and juggle the books at the same time, but her arms were tired and she felt them give way. The books fell out of her arms with papers scattering in all directions. Everything began to take on a bizarre quality, as if in slow motion, and she heard the echo of her keys, as they hit the ground. It seemed to take forever, as she shoved her cell phone into her coat pocket, and then bent down to gather up the papers and the books.
She was trying to find her keys, when again, that terrifying feeling of panic came over her. Before she could think about turning around, out of nowhere the attacker was behind her. He was upon her so quickly and with such force, she couldn’t move. He had been lurking there in the shadows, waiting for his prey, and now one of his grimy hands covered her mouth so she couldn’t scream, while the other hand held a knife to her throat. He started dragging her off toward the heavy trees and shrubbery that lined the parking lot.
She struggled desperately to get free, writhing and kicking her legs, but he was so much stronger there wasn’t any hope of stopping what was about to happen. At that moment, she realized she was about to be raped, possibly even killed. In a burst of adrenaline, she did the only thing she could think of—she bit down on the hand covering her mouth with all the strength of a rabid dog. She knew she drew blood, because she could taste the saltiness on her tongue, but his grip didn’t relax in the slightest, in fact, the knife pushed harder into her throat.
“You bitch,” he hissed in her ear. “You’re gonna pay for that.”
Copyright © 2010 Helen Laibach. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author.