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Air escaped her attacker in an explosive screech and for a second or two Katy
was free. However, the rage was still with her, and that was good, that was
positive, for it gave her the strength, the superiority over mindless panic,
to bring one fist down hard across the other woman's face. Nell staggered and
Katy's arms shot out, her other hand still clutching the joggers, to catch her
attacker off balance. She thrust at her with all her might, sending Nell
stumbling to the floor by the side of the bed.
Seizing the moment, Katy whirled and ran through the
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open doorway, then down the staircase, her heart racing as H to beat her to
the front door below. Her bare feet pounded on the boards, which groaned and
cracked with the hurried pressure, and when she reached the small landing
below, she did not pause, not even when she thought she saw something - a blur
of movement only, a small animal perhaps that had crept into the cottage while
she and the woman had been otherwise occupied upstairs - dart through the
bathroom doorway that was slightly ajar.
Besides, the maniacal screaming coming from the bedroom above easily overrode
any curiousity she might have had.
Never mind that she was naked from the waist down, Katy flew out of the
cottage on to the cracked path, spitting blood as she went, small stones
sticking to the soles of her feet. She felt no pain then, only blind panic -
almost literally, for without her spectacles her vision was seriously at fault
-and the adrenaline that roared through her body overruled any notions of
modesty. Because no one was likely to steal her car in this remote area of the
woods, she had left the key in the ignition and gratefully she tore open the
driver's door to throw herself inside; with virtually the same action and
without waiting to catch
her breath she switched on the engine. Then she quickly locked both driver and
passenger doors.
There was not enough room in the clearing outside the quaint 'gingerbread'
(her first thought on seeing it) cottage, so Katy had to reverse at an angle,
go forward to the trees, then reverse again. It was a stilted three-point
turn, but at last she was facing the rough lane leading to the main road.
At her second reverse, Katy had glanced back at the cottage, expecting Nell
Quick to come chasing out after her, but the path had been empty. She had,
however, looked up at the bedroom windows and there was the woman, somehow
made pale, ghostly, by sun reflecting on the glass. She appeared to have one
hand to her cheek as if soothing the blow she had taken; she also appeared to
be grinning. A
flurry of wings as a bird took off from the parapet above distracted Katy for
a moment, and then she was concentrating on the track ahead, pressing down
hard on the VW's accelerator so that wheels spun and stones and small sticks
shot up from behind the tyres. The green car roared off through the opening in
the woods, with Katy jolting and bouncing inside, her naked buttocks slipping
in the seat, loosened hair blown by the breeze coming through the open
She drove fast, trees and branches rushing by on either side, the longer,
leafy branches frequently scratching metal and scarring paintwork as she
fought to keep control of the vehicle, the steering-wheel jerking violently in
her hands each time the wheels struck a particularly deep rut. Even so, as she
drove further away from the cottage, her heart still beating crazily, her
breath coming and going in short sharp gasps, Katy became aware of her nudity.
She slowed the car almost but not quite to a stop, manoeuvring the joggers
down her legs, taking swift peeks to see what she was doing, pushing the left
foot through first, then releasing the accelerator pedal for an instant to
stab her right foot through. The car almost stalled, but she quickly stamped
down again and it roared on. Then it was a question of pulling the grey
joggers up to her knees, pressing back against the seat so that she could
raise herself and slide the clothing all the way up. She did not notice the
magpie circling overhead.
The track was difficult to see through the tears she continued to weep - out
of anger as much as shame and fear - and her own poor eyesight hardly helped.
She knew she would soon be approaching the busy main road that ran past the [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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