The title of my e-book ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’ tells you what the story is about – a woman named Rosa who is stalked… except in fact Rosa isn’t even in the narrative except as a back story. Her cousin Tyche Kane is determined to find out who stalked Rosa, frightened her so much that she caught a train which crashed…

BRAVE ROSA DIES IN LITTLE GILL JUNCTION CRASH

It was revealed last night that one of the victims of the Little Gill Junction train crash was Rosa Czekov. The body of Rosa, 32, was identified from her possessions and her jewellery by her husband Luka

Tyche tries to entice the stalker into stalking her as s/he did Rosa, a dangerous idea as she finds out when she is out on a run:

She trotted on until she came to the bottom road to Oak and on an impulse took it. She had slowed, losing the impetus, disrupted by the phone call and what had been said. What was it about Rudi which made her behave like this against her better judgement?
The road was narrower and she stepped up onto the verge and ran on the grass as two cars passed. It was a mistake coming along here, it wasn’t wide enough and there were too many bends and high hedges. She ran on, wondering whether she should turn round but she was half way to Oak so she pushed on. She was tiring; she had gone further than she intended and deviating to Oak added extra miles.
There was the sound of a car behind her but glancing back it was not yet in sight. There was nowhere for her to step off the road now, the verge had petered out so she increased her stride to get to a place she could wait. The car was creeping along and she wondered whether to stop for it to pass. It was bugging her now. She glanced over her shoulder and it was in sight, and it looked like one of the two which had just passed her.
She was filled with fear; was this him? She had a spurt of energy, resisting the urge to keep looking back. It was a maroon off-roader, she didn’t know enough about cars to know what sort. And what was it with tinted windows? Rudi’s Chrysler and this beast.
It was crawling along; it could be the stalker or it could just be some creep ogling her as she ran. She couldn’t go on at this pace and she stopped. The car stopped. She turned and trotted back towards it and it went into reverse. Angry now, Tyche found some strength to run.
And then suddenly with a crash of gears it was accelerating towards her.
Oh shit!
She turned and ran seeking some escape. There was a wooden fence instead of the hedge and she ran and jumped and managed to scramble her way over, catching her foot on the top and catapulting headfirst into a field. She lay winded for a minute. The car had slowed on the other side of the fence then drove slowly away.
Tyche sat up, panting. The front of her vest was grass stained and there were marks on her knees. She was rubbing at her legs when she heard the car; it was in the field, it had come in an open gateway further up and it was bumping over the rough pasture towards her. She sprang to her feet and ran off across the field, the car was accelerating now and she had no doubt that the driver intended to run her down. She jinked sideways and ran towards a tumbledown cattle shed. She was at the limit of her stamina and strength and the car was roaring after her. She slowed and the car slowed behind her; he was playing with her, he could have knocked her over before now. She slowed more and so did he.
She suddenly leapt forward and ran as fast she could and he accelerated. She gave a flying jump and some how managed to vault the old bath which served as a water trough; she slipped as she landed and rolled away but it didn’t matter, the car had gone straight into the bath with a satisfying crash.
Exhausted though she was, she sprinted away from the shed, not knowing whether she would be pursued on foot. She knew where she was now, knew where she was going. She climbed another fence into a field of maize and made her way down a row pushing between the plants.
She was spent, only fear carrying her on. There was a noise behind her and a plume of smoke rose from the field, it had to be the car. She pressed on and came at last to another fence, climbed wearily over into the garden and made her way through the shrubs and then across the overgrown lawn. Remembering Rosa’s words, she counted along the ornamental bricks at the edge of the patio, lifted one and found the key. She went to the back door, let herself in and switched off the alarm and then with the door shut and locked behind her she sank to the floor, shattered.
She lay in a trance of exhaustion for an immeasurable amount of time. Her ears pricked. Was it him? She tensed, alert in the silence of the empty house. He had come into the house before when Rosa lived here, he had gone through her possessions, moved, hidden and replaced things. Tyche’s hands were shaking so much she could hardly turn the key in the lock but in seconds the door was open, the alarm set, and she was crouched down against the wall trying to find some extra energy or courage.
She rang Tic.
“Keogh.”
“Where are you?” she whispered.
“Eldenham. Are you alright? I can’t hear you very well. Still OK for tomorrow?”
“Yeah, looking forward to it.”
He laughed and rang off. She didn’t want to ring Rudi, tried Estelle, decided not to leave voice mail. Luka too was out of contact.  She crept down the side of the house and peeped round the front.
She could have wept with relief. Estelle’s green Ka was parked on the drive. She staggered to the front door, knocked, rang the bell then sank onto the step.

© Lois Elsden 2017

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