I’ve been promoting authors for the past three weeks and – well you might have already seen – I also write books. This week one of my own stories is reduced to $0.99/£0.99 so I thought today I would shove the other authors out of the way and bring you an extract of my book The Running Game and don’t forget your comments are encouraged and welcome.
Five past eleven. Rachel’s shift should have finished three hours ago. She slammed her time-card into the machine. Nothing. She gave it a kick, then another until it released, punching her card and signing her out for the night. The hospital locker room was unusually quiet. There was a nurse signing out for the night, two doctors signing in. Nobody spoke to each other – it wasn’t that kind of place. Grabbing her threadbare coat from her locker, she drew it over her scrubs – the only barrier between her and the unforgiving October night. She walked through the ER waiting room, eyes fixed on the exit. You had to ignore the desperation. Three hours over a twelve hour shift, you had no choice but to pretend like you didn’t care. Push past the mothers offering up their sick children like you could just lay your hands on them and everything would be better. Push past the factory workers bleeding out on the floor. Push that door open and get out. Get home. You had to. In six hours the whole thing would start again.
The first blast of cold air slapped the life into her aching body. The second blast nearly pushed her back inside. She tightened the coat around herself, for the good it would do. November was coming, and coming fast. She quickened her pace, trying to outrun the winter.
She hurried past the skeletal remains of another fallen bank, a relic of the days when there had been an economy. Now the abandoned building housed those left to the streets; the too old, the too young, the weak, the stupid. Cops would be coming soon, moving them on, pushing them from one shadow to another until dawn or death, whichever came first. But for now they sat, huddled around burning canisters, silently soaking in the heat as though they could carry that one flame through winter. They didn’t notice Rachel. Even the really bad men lurking in the doorways, waiting for helpless things to scurry past, overlooked the young doctor as she made her way home. Nobody ever saw her. At least they never used to.
Three – two – one. Right on cue. She felt someone watching her. It was always the same place, opposite the third window of the old bank. He was hidden, not in the bank but close. So close she could almost feel his breath on the back of her neck. She’d watched muggings before, these were desperate times and people took what they could when they could. There were rapes too, five this week, at least five that had needed medical care. It was a dangerous city and getting worse. But this was different. He – and for some reason she knew it was a he – did nothing. For a week he had been there, never betraying his position or his intentions, but she could feel him and the longer he waited the more he tormented her. He knew where she lived, where she worked, the route she took to the exchange store. And he escorted her home each night without ever showing himself. It made no sense. And that made it so much worse.
She wasn’t intimidated easily, doctors in St Mary’s couldn’t be. It didn’t matter that she was only five feet tall and looked like a strong wind would knock her down, she had to take care of herself. But the stalking had spooked her. The sleepless nights followed, wondering who he was, what he wanted, if he knew.
There was nowhere for her to go in the city, no place she could hide, no escape. If she wanted to eat she had to work and he would be waiting for her outside the hospital – watching, doing nothing. She was tired of it, tired of everything, but there was something she could do. She could make it stop, one way or another. Whatever he had planned, whatever he wanted to do to her, he would have to look her in the eye as he did it, because she was done running.
She stopped walking and turned.
The street was empty. But she could still feel him there. The buildings pressed their darkness into the street and the spattering of hissing lamplights did little to expose the nocturnal danger below. There was noise, there was always noise; voices, vehicles, the persistent buzzing of the electricity struggling to reach the edges of the city. So much going on, so little to see – a perfect place to hide.
“Okay you pervert,” she whispered to herself. “Where’re you hiding?”
The road stretched back into a tightrope. Gingerly, her feet edged back towards the ruined bank. She scanned the buildings around her, the upper windows, the ground level doorways, waiting for him to pounce. One step – two step. Look. Nothing. She retraced her steps to the next building. Then the next. He felt so close – why couldn’t she see him?
“You want me, well here I am, you freak. Come and get me!”
There was a shout from the bank. Someone running. A man. Her stomach clenched. She braced herself. He pushed by her, hurrying away. It wasn’t him.
She turned confused and warm breath touched the back of her neck.
“Get down!” The world went white.
You can download this book for $1.66/£0.99 for this week only