Two weeks before graduation beautiful high school senior Courtney Atkinson is brutally beaten, raped and left for dead by two escaped convicts.
Track star Chris Walker was spotted by one of the assailants as he witnessed the assault and then fled.
What did he see? What does he know? Why is the mayor-Courtney's uncle-subsequently kidnapped? And what does Chris do about all of this?
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Writer Scott Frank
FROM CHAPTER 1 CHRIS DIDN'T FEEL as if he could run anymore. It had been at least ten minutes since he fled from that alley behind the 7-Eleven store. He didn't think that he had ever run this fast, not even in the state sprint championships. And, for good reason. This time, he was running for his life. His strides were long. He could feel his feet hitting the ground, one after the other, in a rapid succession. While he had not really been looking back as he ran-any good runner knows that doing such a thing slows you down, if only a little bit-there was no way that he was going to reduce his speed to see if there was anything or anyone following him. At least he couldn't hear any movement or noises. That must be a good sign. Why did he have to go there tonight. Why did he have to witness that spectacle. A body. She appeared tall. But who could tell for sure. Her body was contorted, for lack of a better word. Maybe twisted or bent was a more suitable description, though how does one convey the form of a human body in such a fashion? She also seemed somewhat familiar. She might have been blonde, except that it was quite dark, not much light at all back there to see clearly. But, then again, who could tell. Who could be sure. Maybe I should have stayed and tried to help, Chris thought to himself as he ran, but it looked like such a hopeless situation. And what could I do? She looked mangled. That was the word that best represents what he had seen. And the blood. Gads, there seemed to be quite a lot of it flowing around her head to where it couldn't have been anything other than pure mayhem that occurred in that alley. And then, while trying to get closer for a better view after he had heard a voice, he kicked that damned red and white Campbell's soup can and a man turned and looked, spotting him. He thought he had seen at least two men. At the time one of them did see him, though. He knew it. For suddenly there was a shout for him to stop. "Hey, you, stop!" What were they, fools! Stop. No way. Then and there Chris turned and made his swift exit from the mouth of the alleyway around the corner of the store and down Minaret Street, the way he'd come. He started running. Full steam ahead. I am a high school track star, a champion, he thought to himself, as he launched into full stride (Warp Factor 10, he used to say to himself when he was competing), but this is where I earn my real varsity letter, outrunning these guys. However, being that he was a sprinter, these past ten minutes at a break-neck pace that one would normally only use for up to the 800-meter run had started taking their toll. He was feeling the effects of total and complete exhaustion-sweat starting to consume his entire body, long deep breaths that started to hurt-but still he went on, not knowing whether or not he was being followed. His legs were beginning to feel like rubber, but they kept moving forward, one in front of the other, taking him farther and farther from the alley. It was as if they were on automatic. He had taken a few turns now and again just in case there was a tail and he was currently running alongside Highway 41, in an open field of grass and weeds, to the southeast of the shopping center. There wasn't much lighting, just enough to allow him to miss dangerous holes and mounds-the kinds of things that twist ankles and ruin running careers-though they occasionally broke his pace. His breathing was quite heavy, his mouth was attempting to suck in oxygen but his body didn't seem to want to expend the effort to do so. He forced himself. He kept running. Running for his life. Another few minutes scurrying under the freeway and he was nearing the place he decided to go where he felt he would be safe. The club. All content (c) 2001-2012 Scott D. Welch. All Rights Reserved.