A young woman is meeting her guy-interest at a city park. He's late again. Just when he arrives, so does someone else. Some enormous man who, for reasons she doesn't know, wants to kill her.
Jay was already late. Half an hour so. Why did she give him so many chances? He had stood her up six times, she counted. Six. And she gave him the opportunity for a seventh. Abigail figured she should probably adopt a three strikes rule. Three at the most.
She slunked back on the bench and watched the people pass. The park was always busy after 5 o'clock, and she sure did love people-watching. The general population had a way of making her feel better about herself. Like the one over there; a large man with a mole under his chin large enough to have a legible face drawn on it. Could probably even fit some freckles between the eye dots and the curved line of the mouth.
She considered what size of sharpie marker might be best for such a project, and, having been transfixed by the mole, she hadn't noticed him looking back at her. He was smiling. Oh God. Didn't he know he has a big ol' mole under his chin? She gave him a cold look and then scanned the crowd for someone else to look at.
A dozen or more people sat on the concrete surround of the fountain. Some kids, some parents. None of them were particularly interesting, although one of the mothers was far too heavyset for her choice of shirt. A cute guy with rippling calf muscles rode by on a speed bicycle, a teenager with baggy jeans rode by on a mountain bike. The cute guy hadn't looked at her, but the teenager had. Teenagers would look at anything, though. Most of them would take a second or third look at a topless mannequin. She realized not so many men had looked at her since she arrived in the park and she began to wonder about her own choice of clothing. At the very least, she wanted to look good when she told Jay off.
And, speak of the devil, there he was. On the far side of the fountain. He waved. She pulled her cell phone from her purse and dialed--who? Quick, damnit. She opened her contact list, pressed the down arrow several times, and then settled on Meg.
The phone was ringing. What time? Megan opened her eyes and rolled onto her side and looked at the clock. Five-forty. God. She dug the phone out from between her pillow and headboard. It was Abigail. She was thinking, this better be good, when she noticed an important two letters next to the numbers on her clock. P.M. Oops.
"Meg. It's Abigail."
"Are you sleeping?"
"I swear I'm not sleeping."
"Fine. I was."
"Stop sleeping all day."
"Okay I will. What's up?"
"Nothing. Jay is over half an hour late again."
"So? Call Kev. He won't stand you up. Just leave and give Kev a call. He likes you, you know."
"Can't. Jay is coming now. Just pretend like we're having a conversation."
"We are. But what do I need to pretend for? He can't hear me."
"Fine. Here he comes. You really think Kev likes me?"
"He bought you roses for your birthday, Abs. Roses."
"Yes, they were very nice roses." Abigail put an emphasis on roses. This was a game they played often. Make-the-guy-you-like-jealous. Fun stuff.
"I'm hungry. Help me decide on breakfast."
"Maybe I will call Kev. He's hot, too. Sexy." Meg knew he wasn't, but Jay didn't need to know that.
"Sure, Abs. He's a hottie. Should I make french toast or an egg sandwich?"
"Seven four two, six three one one? Yep, I got it."
"French toast, I think."
"You and Derek want to meet Kev and I for dinner or something?"
"No. You're right. Egg sandwich."
"Oh my God."
"Cheese and mayonaisse and an english muffin, mmm. Hold on, I have to get the pan out from under the stove."
"Hold on. I can barely hear you."
"Just a sec."
"Oh, God. Jay!"
"Abs. You sound desperate. Stop it."
There was a scream, and the line went dead.
The man approached from the same way Jay had. At first it looked like they were only walking the same path at about the same pace. Then Jay waved a second time, and this time Abigail waved back. The man, this huge man, grabbed Jay by his hair. Just a brutish handful of Jay's silky black hair. Jays eyes went wide for a moment; he was still looking at her. The man pulled Jay's hair, pulled him hard enough to make him fall backward, then caught him. He carried Jay, kicking and screaming, kicking and hitting like a child for God's sake, and threw him head-first into a tree. And Jay was not a small guy.
Jay wasn't moving. And the man was coming in her direction. Should she run? If he wasn't coming for her she'd draw attention to herself. Probably, with his stride twice her own in length, he could catch her. But he was coming this way. She thought he was looking at her but his eyes were in shadow, barely visible through the crudely cut holes in his mask.
"Abigail!" She didn't recognize his voice; but now she knew he was looking at her. He was talking to her. She didn't know what to say, if anything. She stood up, put her hand in her purse. There was nothing there that might help, but this gesture had sent more than one creeper on his way before. Not this man, though. He kept coming. Straight toward her.
"Abigail! I'm goan' kill you."
"What? Why?" Her voice quivered. Great, Abigail. Now he knows you're scared.
"You're goan' die! Right now! I'm goan' bash you into pulp."