Excerpt: Woman on the Run

Woman on the Run by Lisa Marie Rice

The sky rumbled as she made her way down the corridor, and the lights flickered once. Great, she thought. Just great. She really had to hurry home now. Something in her house was leaking and she didn’t want to have to try locating the source by flashlight.

She entered the classroom, with its familiar smell of chalk dust. Mr. Big leered at her from his corner perch. She’d have to remember to tell Jim to leave it on the school steps when he finished cleaning.

The lights flickered again in the shadowed room. Heavy footsteps sounded in the corridor outside the classroom, loud in the silence of the school. Someone was striding quickly, then stopping, then walking quickly again, as if—her heart started racing—as if looking for something…or someone.

Don’t be silly, she told herself, but her heart continued its wild thumping, anyway. She pushed papers into her briefcase with shaking hands, cursing as one slipped to the floor. She could hear herself panting and made a conscious effort to slow her breathing. The footsteps stopped, then started again. Each teacher had his or her name taped to the door. If someone was looking for Sally Anderson…

Stop, start…

She grabbed her coat, trying to calm her trembling. Davis had spooked her, that was all. It was probably Jim…

…except that Jim was an old man and shuffled…

or one of the teachers…

…except that all the other teachers had gone home…

Closer, closer…

The footsteps stopped at her door and her gaze froze on the glass pane that covered the upper half of the door. She had to see who was out there, reassure herself that it was just one of the harmless citizens of Simpson and not…and not…

A face pressed against the window. A man. He reached inside his jacket to pull something out.

The lights went.

Julia whimpered and tried to think around the icy ball of fear that had formed in her mind. What could she use as a weapon? There was nothing in her purse but a pocket diary, keys and makeup. The kids’ desks were too heavy to lift, and the chairs were of lightweight plastic. Her hand brushed something hard and round. Mr. Big!

Panting wildly, she hoisted the enormous pumpkin in her arms and stood at the side of the door, ready to smash the man out there over the head. Her body tensed, going into fight and flight mode.

The knob rattled.

Julia closed her eyes and saw again the face that had been revealed in the bright neon lights of the corridor.

Overlong, straight black hair, framing a series of slabs angling harshly together to form cheeks and chin, a straight slash of a mouth, black eyes.

An unfamiliar face.

An unforgettable face.

A killer’s face.