International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Knife Attack
stood up, doing up the buttons on her coat, and got off the bus
at her usual stop. She walked hastily along the street, without
a glance to either side, her stiletto heels tap-tapping on the shiny
paving slabs. All around her was dark and glistening, as though
the city had been cleaned especially for this moment.
turned the corner away from the High Street, and bent her head against
the weather, the rain like needles piercing her skin. Her mind was full
of what was to come. 'Oh, God,' she whispered to herself, 'Let it be
easy. Please let it work.'
Maybe because she was so pre-occupied, she missed the warning signs,
didn't see the man in the doorway, his face turned away from the road.
Whatever the reason, she was not on form that night. Suddenly a face
loomed into hers. It was too late to do anything other than make a stand.
'What the hell do you think you're doing?' Her voice was high and squeaky,
hardly the voice of authority.
'Yer bag. Gimme yer bag.' His breath was fetid, and sweet, like fermenting
apples in a compost heap.
'Not my bag. No, please. I'll give you the money. My purse'. She groped
in her bag, trying to find her purse, panicking.
'Gimme yer fuckin' bag. Slag!' He spat in her face.
Carol held tightly on to her bag, a feeling of anger rising to the surface.
Realising that he seemed to have no weapon, and was, in fact, quite
a skinny guy, she decided to call his bluff. After all, what did she
have to lose?
'How dare you! Go away! Help! Help!' She cried.
A flash of metal glinted in the gloom of the dimly-lit street. 'You
stupid bitch,' he growled.
Carol felt the knife slash across her face. A short, sharp, shocking
pain, a feeling of disbelief in her stomach. She heard his footsteps
running away, splashing in the puddles of the uneven footpath, as the
paving stones slid up to slap her in the face. She remembered the cold
underneath her, and thinking, 'my new coat, it'll get wet if I lie here.'
Then, sweet darkness.
'She's coming round,' a voice in the distance seemed to be shouting
across a void.
'Carol. Hello, Carol, are you alright?' The voice was getting closer.
the pressure of a hand on her shoulder, gently shaking her awake. But
Carol didn't want to wake up. She had a feeling that whatever had happened,
it could only get worse. Bright lights were trying to force their way
into her eyelids.
'Is she conscious? We need to speak to her.' A different voice, harsh
'Would you please wait outside.' The first voice, taking control of
'I have authority to speak to her as soon as she wakes up.'
'Well, when she wakes up, I will let you know. Now, please wait outside.'
Carol held her breath until she heard the door swing open and close
again. She was afraid to open her eyes to the reality of this situation.
If only she could stay unconscious for a little longer. She remembered
that trick she used to do when she was a kid. You could open your eyes
just a fraction, and still look as though you were asleep. It had fooled
She lay still, listening, heard the other person in the room move away
from her bedside. She decided to risk opening her eyes, and as she did
so the light almost blinded her, even through the tiny gap between her
eyelashes. She turned her head slightly, but even that small movement
was too much. Too much for the pain in her head, and too much for the
nurse not to have noticed.
She was at Carol's bedside within one blink. 'Hello, Carol. Now don't
try to move at all. You've had a nasty shock, your hands are cut and
you've had a bump on the head. You must try to rest. You are in hospital.'
'My bag; where's my bag?' Carol tried to keep her voice to a whisper,
but it sounded too loud, like someone shouting in her head.
'All your things are in a black bin liner beside your bed. Do you want
me to see if your bag is there?'
The door swung open again and before the nurse could stop him, a stockily
built figure had entered.
'I told you that you should wait outside. This is a hospital, and I
am the nurse in charge here. Now will you please leave.'
'Look. I really need to speak to Mrs. Parker. Urgently! Mrs. Parker,
DC Barnes.' He flashed a badge near to Carol's face. She shuddered.
The nurse looked at Carol questioningly. 'O.K., I'll be alright,' she
said in reply.
'Well, just a few minutes, then. And then you must leave her to rest.'
She stood by the door, like a sentry guarding a precious jewel, glaring
at the man.
'Now, Mrs. Parker, I need you to tell me what happened last night. How
did you get in this state?'
'I don't know. Some man in the shadows. Didn't see his face.'
'A man in the shadows? Let's start from the beginning.'
'I got off the bus, and was walking up the High Street. I turned the
corner, along The Avenue, and he was there, I think, in some doorway.
He had a hoodie on. I couldn't see him. My mind was on other things.'
'Did he speak to you?'
'I don't think so. Yes, he said "Give me your bag."'
'And did you?'
'No. I thought he was bluffing. He had no weapon, I thought.'
'So what did you do?'
'I called for help. Told him to go away,' Carol laughed nervously. 'How
stupid was that, eh?'
'Then what happened?'
'I can't remember. I think he cut my face.' Carol's left hand flew to
her face, where she'd felt the sharp blade slashing her.
'There's no cut on your face now, Mrs. Parker.'
'There must be.' Panic was setting in, as Carol's hand scanned both
her cheeks. There was nothing, her skin as smooth as it ever had been.
The nurse moved away from the door. 'That's enough now, DC Barnes.'
'Just a few more questions.'
'I said, enough. You will leave, now!'
'O.K., I'm going. But I will be back. This is a murder investigation.
I will need to speak to you again, Mrs. Parker, and a police officer
will be on duty outside this room at all times.' He turned and left
the room. She could see him through the glass observation window, talking
to a uniformed police woman.
Carol's head was awash with questions. 'Murder investigation? Who's
murder?' She didn't realise that she had spoken out loud.
The nurse was by her side once more. 'They found his body in a doorway,
'What do you mean?'
'He was dead.'
'Who? I heard him running away.' Carol's mind was spinning, trying to
remember. 'My bag; please can you find my bag.' She watched desperately
as the nurse rummaged in the bin liner, and felt relief wash over her
as her bag was revealed, intact, just as she'd last seen it.
'There you are.' The nurse placed the bag on the bed, carefully avoiding
the bandages on Carol's right hand. Carol relaxed into the pillows,
clutching her bag to her chest as she drifted off to sleep.
Her oblivion was short-lived. Within minutes the doubts in her dreamlike
state niggled her awake again. Her bag was still there, held tightly
in her hand. She brought it closer to her face and clumsily opened it
with her good hand. A quick peak inside, just to put her mind at rest,
but nothing prepared her for the horror that was waiting there. The
bag dropped from her hand. Carol heard something clatter on the polished
floor. She tried to raise up from her pillows to reach over the side
of the bed, but there was no strength left in her. Then she realised
that the nurse was beside her again, but this time there was fear in
'Please...' Carol began, but the nurse had already pressed the call
button. The door opened with urgency and another nurse appeared at the
'You'd better get that police woman in here,' she indicated the object
under the bed. 'Don't touch it. Just get the officer in here.' She looked
at Carol apologetically. 'I am sorry, but I have a duty if I think you
are a risk to yourself or others.'
'How pompous that sounds,' Carol thought. 'I really don't know how that
got in my bag,' she said. 'Please, help me.'
Too late. The police woman was already in the room. Taking a plastic
bag from her pocket, and donning a pair of gloves, she carefully picked
up the bloody
knife and placed it in the bag.
'It was in her handbag,' the nurse said, glancing apologetically at
'I don't know how it got in there. I've never seen it before,' stammered
Carol. 'You have to believe me.'
'Now, just calm down, Mrs. Parker. I'm going to call the DC back. He'll
want to have another chat with you.'
Carol's mind was racing. How had it come to this? The evening had started
exactly as she'd planned. Her night out with Alison as usual. Then it
had all gone wrong after she'd got off the bus. The knife in her bag;
the same knife that the man had in the street. Attacking her was not
part of the deal, and she could have sworn that he slashed her face,
before running away, but now he was dead, instead of....?
'Nurse, I need to see Tom, my husband. He'll be worrying about me.'
'Of course. I'll get the phone trolley.'
'Don't you worry about your husband, Mrs. Parker,' the police woman
interjected. 'An officer will have been to your house. We've got all
your details from your wallet. It was in your coat pocket.' She looked
at the nurse. 'Don't know how we missed your bag, though. Should have
checked the contents as soon as you came in. Wasting police time,' she
Carol was shaking inside, wondering what the police would find when
they got to the house. Before she could think the situation through
any further, the door opened again.
'Hello, Carol.' It was Tom, followed closely by DC Barnes.
Carol closed her eyes in despair.
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