Friday, June 17, 2011

"Sine Animus" -- Installment Four

He held out a black leather wallet overstuffed with receipts and ID cards, refusing to look at her as he spoke. "Excuse me, I think you dropped this."

Ami checked her purse, finding that her wallet was not there. The one the man held, then, was indeed hers. So that was what she'd lost; he must have picked it up when she'd dropped it.

She cautiously stepped up to him, accepted the wallet, turned around...

And felt huge hands like vises bind her, one by the waist, the other by the neck. She had been tricked for perhaps the first time in her life; to her memory, she'd always seen through every prank phone call and every practical joke since kindergarten. How had she made such a stupid mistake this time?

Torrential rain struck her cheeks and slipped down her face like cold tears. The man's muscles pressed against her soaked-through body, contracting as he lifted her up off the ground. Ami tried to break free, to hit her captor, but his body was as hard as a plate of armor. He leaned in to her ear, whispering, "Ami, Ami, Ami...I'm surprised you fell for such a simple tryst."

Before he could say any more, Ami leaned down and bit the man's forearm. His grip loosened only a little, but it was enough for Ami to squirm out of the hold and drop to the ground. He reached out to grab her again, but she sidestepped out of the way, tripping and falling on the pavement. As she picked herself up and began to run again, she heard the man's footsteps a little behind as he splashed in puddles on the street.

She didn't know where she was going, but she felt that anywhere was safer than here. She tore past kids making mud pies and commuters awaiting hover-buses and air taxis. A grocer stepped outside his shop door and Ami knocked him into a puddle as she zipped by.

Ami looked behind her, mortified by how much the man had advanced. If she didn't think of a way out soon, he was going to catch her again, and who knew what he would do to her this time...?

At long last, her deus ex machina appeared on the horizon. A tele-pad, unoccupied and seeming to glow in the midst of the crowded sidewalk, was there on the street corner. Ami ran in, shut the door, and punched every button, praying that the machine would let her go somewhere. She closed her eyes while the computer processed her molecules and transported them to what she hoped was a safe place.

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