“Whatever you do, don’t let them get you.
Just hang in there, okay? Help is coming.
Victoria? Victoria? Hello? Are you with me?”
My stepmother stiffened for a second too
long. She looked over her shoulder and
found the empty doorway. Barely giving her
a moment to register that she’d been
effortlessly fooled by the girl she
underestimated, I launched myself at her
with a whole new strength I never knew I
had in me. I’d never been one for physical
attacks, but it seemed I’d been storing up
my energy for this moment.
She squeezed the trigger, sending
indiscriminate bullets ripping into the ceiling
and ricocheting around the house. A few
empty shots turned my trepidation to
amusement. I let out a full-throated laugh
as she groaned over her newest failure.
Gritting her teeth, she swung the empty gun
at my face, aiming to break a bone or two.
From the cracking sound that followed, and
the eye-watering pain that ensued, she had
surely hit target.
A warm liquid trickled down my temple, right
where I’d been hit. I’d wave it off as beads
of sweat, but the smell of copper and earth
wafting into my nostrils said otherwise. I’d
barely even recovered when she struck
again, making both sides of my face even.
I made to slither away as her empty gun hit
the floor, but a slap sent my face flying
sideways. Her hands, trembling with
untamed rage, grabbed my neck, raising me
till my feet were inches from the floor. My
legs dangled in the air as I struggled to
My hands scrambled to find hers and pry
them off. She reacted with gruesome
immediacy, putting more pressure. In a
frantic attempt to pry off her fingers, I dug
into my neck with my fingers. Watching my
pointless struggles, her eyes twinkled with
excitement; the kind of excitement a child
displayed when exploring his new toy.
This was the end. Death had finally found
Sometime ago I’d thought of death as a
Knight in Shiny Armor who would come
sweep me away from the world’s ruthless
depravity. But here I was now, on the verge
of death, praying for a miracle. But I knew
better than to hope for luck, because luck
always deserted me when I needed it the
Overflowing with scalding hot tears, my eyes
peeled open. If I would die—and with each
passing second it became clear that I would
—then I wanted to at least have one last
look at the world.
“Yes,” the murderer said. “Look at me one
last time. I want my face etched into your
She let out a cackling laugh intended to
irritate me in my last moments. A new found
energy soared within me. I would not stoop
so low to let her take away my life like it
meant nothing. No, I would live. And I would
write this story in my ongoing novel.
Energized by her malevolence, I grunted
with rage and delivered a bone-breaking kick
to her kneecap. She yelped in pain and
loosened her grip on my neck.
Simultaneously, we fell to the floor. I took a
moment to fill my lungs with the oxygen
they had been so rudely deprived of.
Gripping the bed frame for support, I
scrambled to my feet.
The enemy lay defeated in the spot where
shards of glass had been only moments
ago. She writhed and moaned, clutching her
possibly broken knee. Crawling, she made to
grab my leg. I jumped out of her reach,
grabbed my phone and bag, and darted out
Sat in the front passenger seat of a taxi, my
mind whirled around the events that had just
unfolded. My mum had tried to kill me. Save
for the blood smearing my face, I’d doubt
she had really tried to kill me.
I wrapped shaky arms around myself. Hot
tears blistered my cheeks, but I made no
attempt to wipe them off.
“You don’t look good,” the driver said.
“I’m fine,” I said.
“I see.” He obviously didn’t buy my little
white lie. “Boyfriend problem?”
He smiled knowingly. Although I felt his gaze
bore into me, I refrained from looking at
him. I wouldn’t want him freaking out over
“Don’t worry,” he said. “For someone to
inflict such wounds on you and leave you all
by yourself in the middle of the night, that
person doesn’t deserve you.”
Puzzled that he had already seen my
injuries, I turned to look at him. He looked
away, focusing on getting me to my
He had a point. For my stepmother to inflict
these injuries on me and leave me all by
myself in the middle of the night, then she
didn’t deserve me. If only I had realized this
from the start. But no, I’d been too busy
holding on to nothing. I’d been too busy
building a house with ice.
“I’ll drop here,” I said. The driver stomped on
the brake, but it responded a tad slow. I
handed him his pay and stepped out of the
car, taking my bag with me.
The night’s quietude brought with it a new
kind of insecurity I never knew existed.
Strapping my bag to my shoulder, I gripped
it firmly and headed for Sir Aaron’s gate.
More than once, I turned to look over my
shoulder, and although I found nothing
alarming, I knew being out here all by
myself was a huge risk. But what choice did
At least I’d arrived at Sir Aaron’s residence
in one piece. So, to an extent, I’d crossed
over to safety. If something bad were to
befall, it would already have happened. I
rapped my fingers on the gate. A few
seconds of no response told me to try
I knocked till my knuckles groaned.
Frantically, I turned around to scan the
street. The night, still as steel and quiet as
death, made to ease me out of my worry.
Finding no trace of danger, I retrieved my
phone from my bag and dialed Sharon’s
“Hello,” Sharon said, her voice groggy. I had
most likely disturbed her slumber.
“I’m at the gate,” I whispered.
“What?” she asked.
“I’m at the gate,” I repeated, my phone
trembling in my hand. “Please come quick. I
am so scared.”
“Oh no!” she shrieked. “Victoria, didn’t you
say you were coming tomorrow? We are not
around. We traveled for my cousin’s naming
ceremony, so we decided to spend the night
The weight of Sharon’s words knocked the
breath out of me. I fell against the gate.
Tears rolled down my cheeks. “Sharon,
please just stop kidding and come outside. I
am standing outside your gate.”
“Mum,” Sharon’s high pitched voice pierced
my eardrum. “Dad!”
I heard footsteps and the slam of a door.
She seemed to be running. “It’s Victoria!
She’s in trouble.”
Her voice faded, only to be replaced with Sir
Aaron’s. “Victoria? Victoria, what
I made to speak, but words deserted me. I
sobbed into the phone. Where would I go
“I think something happened at home,” I
heard Sharon say. “She’s at our gate.”
“What?” Sir Aaron and his wife shouted in
“Victoria,” Sir Aaron called. “Victoria, can
you hear me?”
“Yes sir,” I said.
“Please don’t panic,” he said. “Everything
will be fine. I will call one of my friends to
come pick you up. Just hang in there,
“Okay,” I said. The line went dead. Almost
immediately, Raheem’s call came in.
“Raheem!” I half-screamed, unable to mask
“Toria? Is everything okay? I’ve tried to
reach you all night, but you didn’t answer
any of my calls.”
Had he? I’d placed my phone on silent just
before stepping out into the dangerous
night, lest the sound of a ringing phone alert
night walkers of my pitiful presence.
I snuffled. “I’m sorry. My phone is on silent.”
Again, I snuffled.
“What happened?” he asked. “Are you in
some kind of trouble? Where are you?”
It crossed my mind to lie. But then I held
back. What’s the point? Knowing the master
sleuth he was, he’d already deduced from
my strikingly low voice and my snuffles that
I’d found myself in a new kind of trouble.
“Please call me later,” I said.
“Wait. Wait. Please. What’s wrong?”
Footsteps. I heard footsteps. Gasping, I
whirled in that direction and swept my eyes
around, squinting against the darkness. I
detached my phone from my ear and
strained to hear anything out of the
ordinary. But I could only hear the thumping
of my heart.
“Hello,” Raheem said. “Hello? Victoria? Talk
to me. Hello?”
A figure moved in the dark, confirming my
fears. Or was my mind playing tricks on me?
Either way, I had to leave.
I pulled away from the gate. Every step I
took echoed behind me. My breath
quickened as I tried to think. Was I destined
to die tonight?
Frantically, I swiveled my gaze around the
desolate street, trying to find a stone or a
rod to protect myself with. But I found
nothing. I quickened my pace. He did too.
With each step I took, I sensed the gap
between us sprint toward abridgment.
He was close.
I could feel his hand reaching out to grab
me. With a terrified wheeze, I spun around
to face him. But I was alone.
Hugging myself, I turned around and
continued to walk. Although I had no idea
where to go, I knew staying in one place
was not the best I could do. I needed to
find a place to rest my head for the night.
“Raheem,” I whispered amidst the dryness
of my throat.
“Victoria, please what is going on?”
Raheem’s voice wobbled with emotions.
“I’m at Lance Avenue,” I said. “I think
someone is following me.”
“poo! Head towards St. Peter’s Junction.
Whatever you do, don’t let them get you.
Just hang in there, okay? Help is coming.
Victoria? Victoria? Hello? Are you with me?”
“I’m still alive,” I said.
“Do you know how to run?” he asked.
Was there a place in soccer for one who
didn’t know how to run?
Ending the call, I stuffed my phone in my
front pocket and lunged down the street. My
traveling bag threatened to slow down my
pace. I tossed it to the ground and made a
mental note to return for it if I lived through
Although I didn’t hear footsteps hammering
the ground behind me, I had a feeling he
was still after me. What did he want from
I’d heard stories of what became of people
who were misguided enough to roam the
streets at night. I’d rather die than be
physically assaulted by one of these night
roomers. My chest rose and fell as I
reflected on my line of thoughts. I didn’t
want to die. True, we would all die
someday. But I didn’t want to die like this.
With every step I took, pain shot up my legs,
and around my whole body. Moments of
running and heavy breathing forced me to
slow down. Every fiber of my being
screamed at me to pick up pace, but my
exhaustion didn’t give me a chance.
Doubled over, I gripped my knees with both
hands and fought to breathe again.
I refused to let this be the death of me.
With my racing heart now halfway quelled, I
straightened my spine and darted toward a
road-bend. At this point I wouldn’t be
surprised if I’d outrun my pursuer. But the
sound of approaching footsteps proved me
My heart slammed against my chest as I
spun to face him.
“Well well well,” a bald man said, swinging
his muscular arms.
“What have we got here?” a second man
They grinned at me as I took a few shaky
steps back. They breathed heavily, no doubt
more exhausted than I was. The smirks on
their faces revealed what they thought of
me — an exhausted little girl who would not
survive another race. I’d be honored to
prove them wrong. This time, I’d be sure to
Trusting my heels, I shuffled backward and
braced myself for the next lap. But I froze
as my back bumped into a hard surface I
knew was a chest. I spun around to face
two men smirking at me.
“Nowhere to run now, k—y k—y,” the third
man said. He reeked of smoke and beer, as
did the others.
The fourth man emptied a bottle of beer into
his throat. With a smug smile, he smashed
the bottle into the ground. The crash,
exaggerated by my fear, aimed to crumble
what was left of my hope.
Giving up was easy. But I wanted a task
more challenging. I’d hope. Raheem would
be here in no time. If I could engage these
men in a conversation, then I would be
buying him time. Things would work out.
“That was a very exciting race,” I said.
“Let’s do it again, see if I don’t outrun you
The men exchanged gazes that spelt they
were having no part in my game. Although
they said nothing, anyone could see they
conversed with their eyes. The fourth
nodded at the others and stepped in toward
I took a step back, crashing into one of the
men. He shoved me forward and into the
arms of the fourth man. Meaty arms
wrapped around me, squeezing so hard I
feared I’d break. He pulled me disgustingly
close, letting his stubbles haunt my already
I winced. Not in pain, but in disgust. A
thunderous laughter erupted from the depth
of his stomach. Whimpering, I squeezed my
eyes shut. I would not defile my eyes with
the sight of him.
“Why out on the streets, doll?” he asked.
“Did your mother not tell you that the
owners of the night roam the streets once
I sobbed. “Please, just let me go. Please.”
The men barked in laughter. I swallowed a
lump in my throat as I felt a firm hand tug
at my hair, yanking my head backwards.
Laughter continued to boom around me.
“Why should we let you go?” the man behind
me taunted. “You’re a bad girl, aren’t you?
That’s the only reason you’re here at this
time of the night.”
He leaned in towards me, his dirty breath
scraping my ear. The roar of an engine
swelled my heart with hope. I pried my eyes
open, and amidst the blinding headlights of
a car, I caught sight of Raheem stepping
out of the shadows.
“Raheem!” I screamed out, my voice laced
with excitement and fear.
Raheem strolled toward us, unarmed and
seemingly vulnerable. He stood there, a few
steps away, his face simmering with rage.
His lone figure exhumed my fears. He
looked so lean and fragile. I couldn’t even
see him hurting a fly. But here he stood,
fists clenched, standing in the face of death
for a girl he barely even knew. Why had I
dragged him into this hopeless situation?
“Let her go,” he said. His voice, low and
agonized, broke me into more panic.
The men burst into savage laughter. I locked
eyes with Raheem as the fourth man tossed
me into the arms of another. The man
stepped forward, pulling me with him. He
wrapped his fingers around my neck, forcing
me to relieve the scene with my
“Get him,” the man ordered.
“Raheem!” I screamed, fighting to break
free, but my captor held me in a death grip.
One of the men launched himself at
Raheem. I saw a few moves, and then a
painful moan. The man’s body collapsed in a
heap on the ground. And my Raheem, he
stood there, unscathed.
His eerie calm sent a shudder flooding my
spine. The other men breezed in toward him.
With my right foot, I stumped on my captor’s
foot. He whimpered at the unexpected pain.
Barely allowing a flicker of hesitation, I
jabbed my elbow into his torso and slipped
out of his grasp.
I’d barely even taken one step away when
he grabbed at my arm and yanked me to
himself. I lowered my mouth to his hand and
clamped down on it, drawing blood. While he
winced in pain, I darted to Raheem’s side,
finding safety behind him. My chest
pounded hard against his back.
Beatup, the other three men lay on the
ground. They scrambled to their feet and
stood beside the fourth man, ignoring the
pain Raheem had inflicted on them like it
The fourth man clenched his right fist and
crushed it into his open palm. “You should
never have done that.”
My grip on Raheem tightened. I could feel a
bitter taste spread around the back of my
throat. “Raheem please let’s get out of
He played deaf to my pleas. My heart
thumped even faster. Shoulders squared, he
stood unmoving. I pulled at him and tugged
at his arm, but he didn’t budge. What was
wrong with him? Did he have a suicide wish?
“Raheem please.” I moved around him to
meet his gaze, but he trained his eyes on
the thugs the whole time, not even taking a
moment to acknowledge me.
Fists clenched, he half-whispered, “Go take
cover in the car. Stay put and don’t come
I would not run and hide like some coward.
How could he even ask that of me? “I am
not leaving your side.”
“Just trust me and do as I say. I will handle
this.” He placed a firm hand on my shoulder
and tilted me sideways.
The men charged at Raheem. Gracefully,
yet firmly, he shoved me out of harm’s way.
He whirled around to parry the first strike,
but it hit him in the chest. I could almost
feel the impact on my very own chest.
A spine-tingling fight unfolded before my
eyes. I watched Raheem present a whole
new part of him I could never have
He moved with the grace of a dancer,
sending and deflecting blows so fluently, my
jaws dropped. His adroitness cast away my
fears. With him, no harm could come my
way. Or so I hoped.
One of the men flipped open a butterfly
knife. Blood drained from my face at the
sight of it.
“Raheem!” I pushed my voice to its limit till
my throat went dry.
The man swiped at Raheem. Time stood
still, throwing me into an abyss of suspense.
I watched the blade split the air in two as it
sailed toward Raheem. I heard a grunt I
recognized to be his. The man had found
flesh. He chucked and moved in to take
Swift as lightening, my hero sidestepped,
narrowly missing the stab. I released the
breath I’d been holding. Grabbing the knife
from the man, Raheem plunged it deep into
his thigh and shoved him backward.
The man stumbled limply and hit the ground
like a bag of rice. His frantic hands
squeezed his bloodied leg. I returned my
focus to Raheem.
He was fighting for me.
I couldn’t imagine anyone risking his life for
me. But Raheem did without a second
thought. I would be forever be indebted to
him. He had found a place in my heart.
A realization hit me as I watched the scene
before me. There was one fewer of the
thugs. Dazed, I turned to scan the road
when a perceptively heavy object slammed
into my head from behind. The pain of a
thousand and one headaches crowded in on
With the smell of blood fresh in my nostrils, I
collapsed into a heap on the ground. I heard
Raheem scream out my name. Heavy
eyelids slid over my teary eyes. I could still
hear the sound of fight in the background.
Blows landing. Men grunting. And amidst
everything, I could still hear Raheem’s
But like every other sound, it slithered from
within earshot. Now I could only hear my
I could feel my blood slowing in my veins.
Like sand slipping from between a person’s
fingers, I felt my life slip away from my
And then there was nothing.
To be continued..