The black ice threw off her harried stride, forcing the walker into short sliding steps, splitting her concentration between foot placement and proximal awareness of the unseen man behind her.
One distant amber and opposite side streetlamp cast just enough light to assist her navigation of the valley path between snowbanks, the inner bank pristine, the outer grimy from automobile exhaust. Well warn old tenements, the cocoons of the oblivious, lined both sides of the street. The escaping inner lights formed glowing rectangular eyes but little else, their muted radiance feeble against the smothering blackness of out of doors.
Sound signalled the quickened pace of the suspicious follower, closing to less than ten metres behind. Ashley felt her throat tighten and dry as adrenaline spiked through her circulation. Cold melted away and sweat teased sheltered skin. One gloved hand clutched tight at her shoulder bag while the other served as an outrigger, adding balance. Curiosity cricked her attention backward, but she resisted for fear of a fatal step and snapped face forward.
Faster and slide your feet for balance, she self-coached. At five metres separation, Ashley neared the bare branch canopy of twin ancient sugar maples, near enough for the root systems to crack and uplift the sidewalk concrete, affording better traction but creating foot-catching obstacles.
Oh God, Oh God…here he comes. Three metres, hurried steps, hand clenching tight at the bag, feet searching for sound placement and purchase. She pushed again against a look back and a signal of recognition to her pursuer. Unblemished black ice resumed ahead, past the end of the broken concrete, further into the realm of night. A fleeting thought of her mother telling her never to walk deserted streets somehow found its way through her sensory alerts, too late to save her from the close encounter.
Two metres, increased speed for both, hers harried little steps, his long and striving. Her tights covered legs and Ugged feet pumped out helplessness, wool skirt swooshing from the dainty prey like movement. One metre became a step, became anticipatory awareness of the feared first reach and contact.
Years of training took over, feet stop sliding, body centre of gravity lowering, hands grasping the overreaching limb, pulling hard, forward, and downward, rolling him over her arched back, twisting him on the fly into a face fall, hands behind his back, cuffed.
“Team two, Jenkins Street serial suspect in cuffs and ready for delivery. Where the hell did my backup go? You guys on a piss break or what? You were supposed to be on him when he moved on me. Get your fucking arses over here! Gawd, you guys are so buying the beer tonight!”