Helen walked spritely away from the old schoolhouse where she had just left Daisy. She loved being alone at night and what was there to be afraid about? Her parents always worried too much anyway. She knew there would be trouble when she got home, but she'd face that when she got to it. For now, she had twenty wonderfully free, moonlit minutes all on her own. And after all, it wasn't her fault if her brother had refused to accompany first Daisy and herself, and then just herself, preferring the comfort of a ten minute ride home to the drudge of a thirty minute walk, conveniently forgetting that it was her secret hope all along that he would do so. And what good would Ian have done them anyway. Had there really been a mad sex-attacker on the streets, then her spindly little brother would scarcely have proved a match for him. Besides, their club meeting had been both interesting and dense. There was a lot to think about. And now was the time to think things over. That's why she needed to be on her own.

* * *

Carter had chosen his spot carefully. He'd never been to this town before and no one here knew him. He'd arrived just a couple of days previously and taken a berth at the campsite outside of town. He had paid for a week's stay in advance and mixed easily in with the holiday makers. The mornings he would spend in town. The afternoons and evenings he'd laze around at the swimming pool reading or joining in the various sports activities held for the benefit of the campers. Anyone who'd talked to him, came away thinking this was just another Mr. Normal. True, they had no idea where he came from, but they'd never thought of asking. He just fitted in wherever he was.

During his morning visits to the town he would meticulously prepare his one deed of shame. That was his first rule, and he was totally scrupulous in the way he stuck to it: never more than one attack in the same town. That was the only way to stay free. He had heard of others in his position who'd been taken because they grew too greedy, or they didn't leave enough time between attacks. That would not happen to him.

Shopping bag in hand he melted into the crowds of locals and holiday makers, whilst all the time taking in the information around him. The streets, the narrow alleys and the broader pedestrian areas. The shops, the street vendors, the local meeting places. Where did people congregate? He'd have to steer well clear of those places. What routes did they take walking back and forth into town? And where could he lie in wait? His search revealed several interesting facts. The first was a concert Thursday evening in the large courtyard opposite old schoolhouse. That would certainly attract a large number of young people. True, most wandered home in groups, but if you waited then there was nearly always the odd one out, who either wanted or had little choice but to be alone. Then, he discovered that Ransvereux had no municipal police force - all the policing was done by car. And the moment he had discovered this, he knew where he would lurk.

The town centre was cordoned off by a small metal posts strategically placed just a few months previously, in order to prevent cars from parking on the sides of the wide pedestrian alley and clogging up the entrance. Anyone needing access could come through the back streets but it did mean that there was a stretch of some fifteen metres into which no cars could come. No cars meant no police controls and Carter's heart skipped a beat. Within minutes he had found a suitable hideout between a second-hand bookshop and a baker's. The alley led to a courtyard with nothing but storehouses and the bakehouse. At night, it would be totally uninhabited. Now, all he had to do was wait for Thursday.

* * *

Helen skipped along gaily as she approached the square leading down to the main street. She'd had her time alone, and was now looking forward to getting home. As she went on, she gradually became aware of the sound of music somewhere in the distance. Must be the concert she had seen when she dropped Emily off at home. They'd soon be getting out and the town would liven up again for a brief time. But Helen was in no mood for company tonight, so she carried on home, stopping only to glance into the window of the second bookstore long enough to note that they had nothing new today... on past her favourite baker's, the flower shop where her mother worked and then down the steps and through the small alley that led to her parents' flat. And just one minute later Carter took up position in his lair on the lookout for some unsuspecting victim.


The anticipation is what kills the reader. YOu are one master of that..

swaying dandelions

25 January 2008 at 12:07  

scary isn't it that two plans could coincided so perfectly and create a brutal crime....

25 January 2008 at 14:37  

I really hate to think of how many near misses like this we all might have in our lives. I agree, I hope this never happens to your daughter.

25 January 2008 at 16:15  

Creepy to write from the perspective of the cold-blooded criminal. I like the way you approached the "brush with" danger and made it a type of Sliding Doors situation. If she'd lingered just a little longer at the book store... yikes. I admit I was surprised at the ending. And, of course, relieved. There is still a chance the cops will catch him or he'll accost a black belt perfectly capable of taking him on. We can hope.

25 January 2008 at 17:18  

Wow Paul you gave me goosebumps what a great read

25 January 2008 at 17:42  

Knowing that the prompt was "brush with danger," I started reading fully aware that the heroine gets away safely ... but ... as I read, I really did find myself almost holding my breath and wondering whether she really would get to her destination safely. Well done!

25 January 2008 at 20:23  

Thanks for the chilling start to my Sunday morning.

I liked the juxtaposition between the innocence of the girl and the brutality of Carter ... both of them planning to have their versions of the perfect night, and thankfully missing each other.

Tauntly written - as I had a much more 'serious' take on 'brush' I feared the worst for her - so thank you for the 'happy' ending.

26 January 2008 at 23:04  

Newer Post Older Post Home

Blogger Template by Blogcrowds