by Kevin R. Doyle
They kept to the shadows so no one would know they existed, and preyed on the nameless who no one would miss. Where did they come from, and who was protecting them? In a city that had seen every kind of savagery, they were something new, something more than murderous. And one woman, who had thought she had lost everything there was to lose in life, would soon find that nothing could possibly prepare her for what would come when she entered their world.
“Hey there,” the one on Karen’s right called out.
“Do you think,” he continued, “that you could see your way through to spotting me a few bills?”
“A few bills?” the one in front of her repeated, his voice slightly firmer than before.
“Sorry,” Karen said, working her throat muscles to keep her own tone controlled, “but I don’t have all that much on me.”
By now, the guy to her side had shifted so far that he stood on the verge of leaving her peripheral vision altogether.
“Aw come on, miss. Surely you can spare just a little.”
“I’m really sorry,” she said, her right hand sliding out of her jacket pocket. “But I really have to be going.”
The tall guy in front set himself, as if expecting her to try to surge past him. Just the move she wanted. Instead Karen did about a ninety degree turn, her left foot, positioned flat and heel forward, jamming out towards the side man.
She intended to impact on his crotch, but her aim was off and instead she took him on the front thigh, about two inches above the knee cap. Not the blow she wanted, but powerful enough to cause him to gulp and slump to the sidewalk.
The problem, Karen knew, was that he would be up and at her in only a matter of seconds, so she continued her turn, by this point doing a near three sixty with her right hand, keys firmly gripped and jutting out from the knuckles, striking into tall guy’s neck.
“Urghh!” The bastard stumbled back, hand flying to his neck. Karen hadn’t even come close to dealing him a killing blow, but going strictly by pain the guy probably felt the complete opposite.
She stopped her circular motion, bringing both feet flat on the ground in order to take a breath. A mistake, though. And she knew it a fraction of an instant later when the second guy, by now recovered, grabbed her from behind, encircling her throat with his forearm and bringing down enough pressure to cut off her wind.
If anything, the adrenaline coursing its way through her system amped itself up even higher as she slid her hand into her jacket pocket, the left one this time, and brought out an old-fashioned, but still serviceable, switchblade.
Karen snapped the blade open and jammed it into her attacker’s thigh in nearly the same instant, causing the man to let out his own scream, release his arm from around her neck and stumble backwards, groaning to no end. Unfortunately, her jerked away from her with such force and at such an angle that he took her knife, still embedded in his thigh muscle, with him.
She whipped back around to see the first man, the taller one, hobbling to his feet. He looked at Karen and, evidently seeing something in her that he didn’t want to deal with, turned and took off himself.
Pushing away from the wall, Karen straightened all the way up, and took one last, cleansing breath. Feeling almost human, though her stomach still bothered her, she turned and headed back in the direction of the garage where she’d parked her car.
She figured she’d had enough excitement for one night.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
A high-school teacher, former college instructor, and fiction writer, Kevin R. Doyle is the author of numerous short horror stories. He’s also written three crime thrillers, The Group, When You Have to Go There, and And the Devil Walks Away, and one horror novel, The Litter. In the last few years, he’s begun working on the Sam Quinton private eye series, published by Camel Press. The first Quinton book, Squatter’s Rights, was nominated for the 2021 Shamus award for Best First PI Novel. The second book, Heel Turn, was released in March of 2021, while the third in the series, Double Frame, came out in March of 2022.
Web site: kevindoylefiction.com
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