She hadn’t been in the town long. No money, no family, but the influx of tourists and travelling performers eager for something resembling the faintest of home comforts provided her with an opportunity to sell the one thing she had to her name.
She usually waited in the tunnel at the entrance to The Hall by the Sea, dressed in her finest, hoping to catch the hungry eye of revellers leaving the dance hall. They were the ones with money, but so often they were in a hurry to the pub, or had made some other arrangements for the night.
An hour after the visitors left was when she normally made her money, when the smaller group of travelling performers and sideshow operators would leave the park to explore their home for the next month. They were the ones who knew how to drive a bargain, and she was in no position to turn down even their offensively meagre offerings. She couldn’t handle another night in the cold.
As the gathering of performers slugged past her, she saw Gus, an old regular. Gus was on a small rotation, frequently returning to the same sites a few times a year. He was a large man, standing at just under seven foot tall, a veritable mountain with a slight anger, burning under the surface, at being named Gus. He was no gentle giant, to be sure, Gus was a brute. Disrespectful and not prone to bedroom acts of tenderness, but his money was as good as any.
Gus must’ve known she’d be there, as he was not walking with the group but rather, making a beeline towards her.
“Let’s go” he grunted at her, grabbing her roughly by the wrist, his gigantic hands encircling her arm, making her feel doll-like and delicate.
He led her, almost dragged her back towards the park entrance, and then glanced around. Spotting the service road to the side, darkly shadowed, only to be used for deliveries to the park; he lurched towards it, almost pulling her shoulder out as he moved with such colossal steps she could hardly keep pace.
Once they’d walked a certain way down the muddy road, he let go and turned around. She was used to this kind of behaviour, as well as the public predilections of some patrons, and as soon as she caught her balance from the abrupt stop she began her usually sales banter.
She’d scarcely let out a greeting when he advanced on her, towering over her with rage in his eyes. He raised an arm, covering her mouth with his meaty paw and squeezed.
She’d been raped before and wasn’t about to let it happen again, kicking at his shins with the heel of her shoes. He didn’t react, just continued to stare, choking her tightly.
Her vision grew faint and her kicking began to wane, until she was just about able raise her foot. Slumping, her eyes went black and she fell forwards, into the vice grip and the looming darkness.