There is a certain pattern to running through dark and rain-swept alleys. It is a pattern of fear and relief. Fear cropping up at every shadow that you come across, with the expectation of some unknown yet horrifying danger waiting to jump out at you. Relief when you get closer and realize it is nothing. You forget the danger and feel safe, at least until turning the corner and the next shadow is holding a danger.
Despite all logic telling me that such dangers did not exist, they still held my attention. I ignored the rain and the cold and all the things caused by it: a line of moisture that seemed always to find a dry path down my back; how my rain-plastered hair hung in my eyes; the way that the water caused my undergarments to ride up.
About the only thing that I did notice was the increasing difficulty it was too keep my pace up because of my waterlogged footwear. That slowed me down, something more than annoying – it was almost fatal. I stumbled, and something nicked my shoulder. Pain flared up and I instinctively grabbed for it. My balance off, I fell in a clumsy somersault, landing on my back and skidding a few feet.
I paused a brief moment before scrambling to my feet. I spun around, bringing my hands up in a futile measure of protection. Whatever defenses I could put up wouldn’t stop whatever was thrown at me.
There was a scuff behind me. Shit, I’d forgotten about the second one – the swordplayer. I swallowed, turning towards him. First threats first, after all. His grip on the blade was unwavering, aimed directly at my throat. One easy lunge and it would be through me.
My name is Karen Thompson. And I’m…