One Page Story – Second Web

Keep Away

Julie had been running for what felt like forever; the guy who had hit her had come out of nowhere, and she was amazed that she had been able to get away from him at all. But he had taken a chunk out of her – it must have been a knife, but she wasn’t sure – and blood was pouring out of her. Surely he could follow her, no matter how fast or how far she ran … but she didn’t dare stop anywhere. What she carried was too valuable, too coveted.

She made her way to a parking lot outside of a mall. It was so late at night that the lot was deserted, and only a few lights were still on. “Damn,” she muttered, stumbling toward the mall. Surely a door somewhere would be open. If she could get into the mall, she could hide, and assess her injuries.

As though on cue, a door opened, and a little girl emerged from the mall; it was a featureless rear door, and she was holding it open for someone behind her that Julie couldn’t see. “Let’s go!” the little girl called. “We’re late!”

At first Julie thought to hide from the little girl and whatever parent or person she was waiting for, but her injury had become so debilitating that she sank helplessly to her knees. Well, she thought. It’s them or nothing. She prayed that they wouldn’t ask too many questions, and that she would be able to stay conscious.

The little girl had seen her, and was running toward her. “Hey!” she shouted. “Hey! Are you okay?” The girl skidded to a stop next to Julie, and screamed over her shoulder, “Dad! She’s bleeding! Bad!” She knelt down beside Julie and put a hand on her shoulder. “Are you okay?” she repeated. “What happened?”

Julie shook her head. “A man,” she said truthfully. “He came out of the shadows and attacked me. I – I got away, but he cut me.”

The little girl’s eyes widened. “Oh, my God!” she cried. She looked around her fearfully. “Is – Is he still here?”

I left him behind, Julie thought hopefully. “I don’t know,” she said, her voice weak as she collapsed onto the asphalt. “Please,” she whispered. “Please help me.”

“I will,” the little girl promised. She was looking at Julie’s injury with an expression of alarm. “My dad’ll call somebody.” She patted Julie’s arm. “It’ll be okay.” She frowned as Julie’s eyes closed. “Hey,” she said. “Don’t go to sleep, okay?”

Julie was trying to comply, but it was harder and harder to breathe. Her limbs felt floaty, her head stuffed with cotton. She was having trouble remembering why she was running, what she was trying so hard to protect. It was very important … wasn’t it? Her hand twitched as though she were reaching for something, but then she lay still, and her breathing stopped.

“I said not to go to sleep,” the little girl said accusatorily. Her hand moved from Julie’s shoulder to the satchel that had fallen beside her. With nimble fingers, the little girl pushed aside the cover of the satchel and reached into it. “Thanks, Julie,” she said, pulling a dagger out of the satchel and peering at it in the dim light of the parking lot. “Pretty.”

A man had come out of the mall, through the same featureless door. “Is she alive?” he asked, jogging up to Julie and the little girl.

“No,” the little girl said. She turned and looked up at the man. “You should have cut her throat.”

The man had stopped, and was bending over Julie’s lifeless body. “You try it!” he said gruffly. “She twisted away.”

The little girl came to her feet, the dagger still in her hand. “What is this, anyway?” she asked.

“The Calahuolca,” the man said, not looking at her. His attention was riveted on Julie, waiting to make sure she was dead. “It’s worth more than you can imagine.”

“Oh,” the little girl said simply. She looked from the man to the dagger and back. was dead. “It’s worth more than you can imagine.”

“Oh,” the little girl said simply. She looked from the man to the dagger and back. was dead. “It’s worth more than you can imagine.”

“Oh,” the little girl said simply. She looked from the man to the dagger and back. You try it, he had said to her. You try it. You try it.

“Okay,” she decided.

“What?” the man asked, turning toward her in time to receive the full length of the dagger blade in his neck. Blood bubbled up and out of the wound, spraying over the little girl’s hand and face and torso. She blinked her eyes against the spray, but her hand held the dagger unwaveringly, only giving way when the man’s flailing arms succeeded in pushing her bodily away from him.

He fell forward over Julie’s body, his fingers clutching desperately at his throat. In a few moments, he was dead as well.

“Sorry,” the little girl said. She bent down and pulled the satchel off of Julie’s shoulder. “Thanks,” she said again, draping the satchel over her own shoulders and putting the dagger back inside it. Her head tilted to one side as she gazed briefly at the man. “It was your idea, you know,” she told him, and then turned around and walked across the parking lot toward the trees on the far side.

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