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_A Glimse of his Face_

He stepped out of the night, grabbed her by the throat and forced her face into the rough brick of the building beside her. A scream tore from her lips only to die as her assailant clenched his fingers deeper into her pale skin and tender muscles, cutting off her oxygen.

"It's been a long time Cathy, how is everything?" His voice was rough, his breath foul and Cathy wondered how he knew her name. Her eyes bounced back and forth, trying to catch a glimpse of where he stood behind her but to no avail. Her neck hurt and her lungs had caught fire inside her chest.

"Please." She gasped, choking for air. He eased his grip on her throat long enough to let her suck in a quick breath before he pulled her deeper into the shadows of the alley behind them.

Harshly he pushed her onto the rough ground beneath them, her head cracking against something cold and sharp in the alley. A flash of white light went off before her eyes followed by jagged hot pain ripping through her skull. She wished for unconsciousness. Her eyes squeezed shut as if to wipe away the man in front of her she struggled to get back on her feet. He dropped to his knees beside her before she managed to stand and took her roughly by the arms.

"Oh god please."

"Oh don't beg Cathy, its so pathetic." He mocked, chuckling to himself against her ear.

The background noise of the city increased, and the alley was suddenly illuminated as a car turned a corner a little further up the road. It was gone again almost as quickly, but the momentary brightness had caught the attacker's features. As he turned away from the light to hide his face, Cathy seized her chance. With all the strength she could summon, she twisted her body. Her foot shot upward, and caught him between the legs.

The blow didn't connect with as much force as she had hoped, but it served its purpose. The hands that were still gripping her arms opened immediately, as her assailant first dropped first to his haunches and then backward onto the pavement.

She scrambled to her feet, and ran.

* * * *

It had been five weeks since the attack, and Adam was growing more and more worried about her. At first, he had been understanding; it was always going to be difficult for her, and he had done his best to be supportive, but it was more than a month, and she was still almost in a catatonic state.

The police were also worried. Cathy was not the first victim of this man, but she had been so withdrawn since it happened that they still hadnít managed to get a good statement from her.

Constable Granger, the young policewoman handling the case, had called again, wanting to arrange another interview, and Adam had agreed, but he knew it would be the same as all the other meetings.

He had had half an hour to try once again to persuade Cathy out of her daze, but there didnít seem to be anything he could do. He knew he was in for another tough evening.

* * * *

Jane Granger was a liaison officer for the police. For the past five weeks she had been struggling form a bond with Cathy after the attack.

She had learned that Cathy had seen his face, which was unusual - he usually did a good job of keeping himself in darkness - but although she seemed to have a vivid recollection, she hadnít been able bring herself to give the detailed description the police needed, even this long after the event.

Jane was determined to bring Cathy back out of her shell, and had arranged something special for this evening. Several of the manís previous victims had agreed to come along, and Jane was feeling pleased with herself for the idea - and for managing to pull it off. The meeting was as informal as possible. She had arranged for them all to meet in a local restaurant, and she was hopeful that a friendly atmosphere, good food, and the company of others who had been through the same thing, would encourage Cathy to start talking about it. It was a slightly unorthodox idea, and definitely an unorthodox location, but Jane had tried everything else. Still, she was hopeful that it might provide the breakthrough she needed.

* * * *

The meal was at its end already, and the conversation had been intense, but it had not gone according to Janeís plan. Cathy was being as quiet as ever; simply going through the motions, and although she had seemed to be listening at times, as the other ladies discussed their experiences, she had hardly said a word the whole time.

The three of them were driving back from the restaurant, and the silence within the car was intense. Cathy was still dwelling in her own silence and Adam, in the drivers seat next to her, was just glad to be going home; wondering why he had even been invited at all. Jane, who was behind Cathy, was simply sitting in deep thought, contemplating what she could possibly try now to get through to her.

It was getting late, and there was very little traffic as the car sped through the quiet streets of the city. The silence continued until, as they were crossing Elliot Street, Cathy suddenly whipped round in her seat. After a moment, she turned back to face forward again, and spoke:

"We have to turn round," she said, "I... I think I forgot something at the restaurant."

Adam pulled the car over to the side of the road, and looked at her in disbelief. It was about the most coherent thing she had said to him in five weeks. He had been praying for her to say something, but it was such a mundane thing to say - so ordinary - that it took him completely be surprise.

He nodded, drove up to the next junction, disobeyed a no-turning sign, and started driving back toward the restaurant.

"Do you mind if I drive?"

Again, Adam and Jane could hardly believe it. Maybe this evening hadnít been wasted after all? Once again Adam pulled over, and the two of them swapped places. Cathy hadnít driven since the attack either, but she seemed confident enough as the car set off again back towards the centre of the city.

But as they were approaching the Elliot Street junction again, Cathyís mood changed. Her shoulders hunched, and the car accelerated violently.

"What are you doing?" asked Adam, his voice sounding nervous.

Cathy didnít answer. Instead, she twisted sharply at the steering wheel. The car swerved violently onto the pavement, and hit a man.

Another pedestrian, a young woman who was only a few metres away, saw the accident and hurried over. "Is everything all right?" she asked.

"Yes," answered Cathy, as the face that had been haunting her slid slowly off her windscreen, "and it will be for you too."

Spudley Strikes Again

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The following comments are for "Write Off: A Glimse of his Face"
by Spudley

the imagery is fantastic..really put the scenes in my head

( Posted by: arkaleel [Member] On: July 6, 2003 )

I liked this. I agree with Jessicanm that you could have done more artful skirting at the attack, but it didn't create so many problems for me that you didn't. I liked this one because it took a different turn, an entirely unexpected one. It could haveused more elaboration, but the sparsity was not too detractive(I hope that's a word) from it. Though the set up was rushed, the unique handling made it worth it. I love an ending I have to read twice.


( Posted by: Kitten Courna [Member] On: July 7, 2003 )

I feel absolutely nothing was left out. He left everything for us to connect. If he had given a lot of detail, it would have ruined the ending for me. I love it.

( Posted by: tissue [Member] On: July 7, 2003 )

I was hooked!
Hey Spud, thought I was reading the latest headline story at the London Times! You reeled me in right at the start! (I almost felt her head cracking on the pavment!) Because of time limitations, you had to sqeeze too many characters and descriptions,into what amounted to "throw aways". I would have liked to learn more, possibly about the other victims! This has the makings of a good, longer stroy. good work!

( Posted by: Beatrice Boyle [Member] On: July 8, 2003 )

Kept me wondering.
I'm amazed by both Write-offs, and the ability to come up with this stuff just floors me. I liked that I didn't know where you were going with the piece, and didn't know what Cathy was doing until the very moment of impact. I also think that ending could be developed a bit more in a re-write.
Only complaint I have is lack of emotional connection with Cathy for me. She got away. To be catatonic I felt she must've been raped, but she got away. Didn't add up to me. Anyone else feel that way? When she spoke, I'd also limit her speach to just "We have to turn around." leaving off the following excuse. It's enough that she spoke, and it's more powerful that they respond at just that statement from her. Just my personal reading of it. Good work, and great read.

( Posted by: malthis [Member] On: July 10, 2003 )

re: wondering
Thanks for the comment. (and thanks to all the rest of you too :-))

"To be catatonic I felt she must've been raped" (a couple of other people have said similar things too)

*sigh* Yes. I agree. This for me was the hardest part of writing this story. The simple fact is that I just couldn't bring myself to write it that way, even though my plot demanded it. I just didn't have the courage.

I'm glad you enjoyed the story anyway. :-) (and Bartleby - Well done.... the best man won. *grin*)

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: July 10, 2003 )

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