Vickie’s body lies in a heap in the alley, eyes open and staring into the darkness, blood from her neck wound forming a pool beneath her, and her face wearing the horrified look it bore during the attack. She had not heard her attacker’s taunt after he finished, nor had she noticed him standing a few feet away from her contemplating something intently.
“Where to go, where to go,” he said. “She’ll probably be found around sunrise—”
He scanned the street across from him until he saw a dark alcove set back from the street. “Perfect!” he said then crossed the street and took refuge in the alcove.
What he had not noticed were the changes occurring with Vickie. The cut across her throat began to heal itself almost as soon as he dropped her onto the pavement. The hemorrhages in her eyes from the strangulation had cleared as had the rope burns on her neck. Finally, not quite ten minutes after the attack, her body starts to tremble then jerks violently and she gasps, pulling in a large amount of air then she rolls onto her back, breathing heavily, still trembling.
“What’s happened?” she says. “Where am I?”
She sits up, looking around, shaking, now with tears running down her cheeks. Her throat is sore and her neck feels stiff. On the pavement near her, she sees a shiny object and picks it up finding that it’s the sovereign she was offered earlier. She stares at it, first with curiosity then terror as the memory of her last customer comes back to her. She slips the sovereign into one of her shoes then struggles to her feet, and leans against the wall for a few minutes, until she feels steady enough to stand on her own. Looking around, she focuses on the pool of blood near where she was lying and emits a fearful whimper. Then she notices the front of her dress and becomes more panicked. Scanning the area to be sure she’s alone, she creeps toward the entrance to the alley and, seeing no one, she moves quickly along the sidewalk toward her flat.
Across the street, her attacker is concealed in the shadows. He leans against the wall absent-mindedly whistling an indistinct tune and cleaning his fingernails with a pocket knife. When Vickie emerges from the alley, he springs to attention, staring in a combination of amazement and confusion then moves almost to the street as she heads away from him. He tracks her with his eyes until she is nearly a block away then steps from the shadows looking after her, a stunned expression on his face.
“It can’t be,” he says to himself. He is seized by a sudden fit of laughter then finishes, speaking slowly and deliberately, “After all these years, I’ve found you!”