She saw it from the corner of her eye, a glimmer so faint it might
have been a trick of shadow. And then she was hit.
She was turning toward him when the steel claw struck her
square across the bridge of her nose, rending skin and shattering
bone. Shock, disbelief - could this be happening to her? She kept
turning even as her chin flew back and the gashes in her nose
welled dark with blood. The rake slipped from her fingers and
skittered across the floor. Her throat closed. She could not scream.
He swung a second time and the blunt end caught her temple,
slamming her into the red tool chest and scattering nuts and bolts
across the cement. As she raised a hand to shield her eyes, the
third blow splintered two knuckles and crushed the second joint of
her ring finger, dissolving her watch in a web of cracks. Cradling her
battered head, she slid to her knees, then fell face-first onto the floor.
She tried to crawl but her fingers lost their grip on the cool cement
and the weapon plunged into the back of her skull.
With that blow her universe imploded. She had no thoughts,
none at all. No pain. Pain belongs to survivors. Her last sight that
brilliant Saturday in May was motes of dust playing tag in the band
of light six inches from her nose, where the garage door stopped
short of the concrete.
Her killer gazed at her a long moment, then turned and left
through the utility room door.