Eve Harding’s world implodes one Sunday morning when she is violently assaulted and raped walking to a South London train station. As her attacker evades the Police and is left to roam the streets to stalk his next victim, Eve is forced to seek out her assailant before he strikes again. With vengeance in mind, Eve is determined to find him in time and deliver justice on her own terms. In a game of cat and mouse, who is stalking who?
Saturday 27 January 2018
I’ve never been in trouble before. Not the sort of trouble that brought me here. Freshly
painted, stark white walls surround me; their toxic scent lingers in the air. A fluorescent
glow from strip lights so dazzling they must be there to desensitise the occupants.
Everything is white or chrome, like I’m on the set of a futuristic movie. I swing my legs,
which dangle over the edge of the bed, not quite reaching the floor. I do this for a minute to
keep warm. Despite the blanket around my shoulders, I can’t help but shiver. It’s late and
they didn’t bring my jacket. I guess it’s been taken away as evidence.
The woman in front of me is standing too close, hot breath on my arm. It makes me
squirm and I fight the urge to yank my hand away from her grip. She’s holding it like I’m a
china doll, fragile and easily broken. I dislike the invasion of my personal space. It’s
something I’ve learnt to tolerate over the years. I was never a big fan of being touched,
shrinking away if someone brushed past me or stood too close on public transport. I’m not a
hugger either – no one was in the house where I grew up. After tonight, I can’t imagine I’ll
let anyone touch me again.
Her name is Doctor Joyce Hargreaves, she told me as we entered the victim
examination room. Her job, she said, was to collect evidence from me, which is why she was
wearing a paper suit, so there wouldn’t be any cross-contamination. She hasn’t picked up on
my anxiety, the tremor in my fingers; she’s too busy. Brows furrowed, eyes focused as she
peels the plastic bag away from my bloodied hand to collect scrapings from my skin and
beneath my fingernails. The tool she uses makes me nervous.
‘Is that a scalpel?’ my voice barely a whisper.
‘No, it’s a scraper. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt. This is just so I can make sure we collect
any skin cells that may be buried underneath the tips of your nails. I’m afraid I’ll have to give
them a trim in a minute too.’ She wields the scraper with care and it’s true, it doesn’t hurt.
Physically I’m okay, except my throat is on fire and the ringing in my ears is deafening, timed
perfectly with the throbbing of my face. I have a feeling I might feel worse once the
adrenaline leaves my system.
When she finishes with my hands, she pulls the fallen blanket back over my shoulders
and offers a kind smile as she pushes her glasses up her nose. I can see strands of greying
hair trying to escape by her ear, exposed beneath the coverall hat. She wears no jewellery
and her face is free of make-up. Was she on duty or has she been called out of her bed to
attend to me? Would we recognise each other in different circumstances? Probably not, I
must be one of many people that pass through this room every day.
Joyce delicately inserts each of the specimens into small tubes before labelling them
to be sent for analysis. I don’t know why? I’ve told them what happened. Soon she’ll want
to examine me thoroughly. Internally. Until there are no more swabs left to be taken.
She glances at me, knowing what is coming, what she must ask me to do. Her eyes are
full of pity. I must look a mess. Dried blood on my face and chest is beginning to flake away,
like charred skin falling into my lap. My cheek is puffy and the vision poor on my left side. I
wish I could stop shivering. They said it’s shock and provided me with a mug of hot, sweet
tea after the ambulance checked me over. They wanted to make sure the blood I am doused
in isn’t mine. It isn’t.
Thank you, Gemma Rogers and Boldwood Books.
About the author
Gemma Rogers was inspired to write gritty thrillers by a traumatic event in her own life nearly twenty years ago. Stalker is her debut novel which Boldwood will publish in September 2019 and marks the beginning of a new writing career. Gemma lives in West Sussex with her husband, two daughters and bulldog Buster.
Social Media Links
Profile on Boldwood books website: https://www.boldwoodbooks.com/contributor/gemma-rogers/
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