She was running. I could see that even as far away as I was.
Cassidy Bell ran, paper white legs churning in the morning sun. Her red hair was bound as usual in a tight ponytail, allowed to flow behind her. But her face... Something about her face was red, and not from running, not an erratic hair...
She screamed again, screamed my name.
A man stumbled out of the woods behind her. He crouched down low like an animal about to spring, a red hoodie tight against his skin. In the cool morning air, steam rose from the man’s mouth with each breath. The knife in his hand shone with the reflection of the sunrise behind me.
I yelled the yell of the hero, “Hey,” and ran toward them.
I got ten feet when I could see it was no use. The man was closer to her than I was. He would reach her. The way she favored her right leg, he would reach her very soon.
I picked up the speed and cursed my habits. Years of smoking and drinking and general sloth had caused me to atrophy. I had never been fast, I am large and made more for long treks carrying heavy loads, or picking up heavy loads and throwing them, but when I move few can stop me.
He was on her. She fell and I hear him cackle. The same mad, gleeful cackle that I heard on the phone. This is the man that called the library. He threatened her and is making good on that.
Then, the man dropped the knife and falls on his back clutching his groin.
Cassidy Bell jumped to her feet, bouncing back and forth from one leg to the other. She was pretending. There’s nothing wrong with her legs.
She braced, rocked on her heel and planted another kick square in the man’s junk, then another to his face, then one to the ribs. Her leg, pale and lovely with muscular calves and thighs, pounded like a piston on her would be attacker’s body.
To his credit, the man in the hoodie does not attempt to fight back. He covers his face with his arms and curls into a ball.
Cassidy continued to kick him. I let her go a bit before stopping her.
“Who is he?” I asked.
“Some dick,” she said. I had to hold her shoulders before she started in on him again.
I look around for the knife and spot it by the bushes.
“Keep him still,” I said, “Fella, you move and she’s gonna start kickin the shit outta you again.”
I hear him grumble something, chortle it really, but I bet he does not have much breath to answer me.
I retrieve the knife. Long blade, thin and handcrafted. I do not have much knowledge about making such things, but between Junior Ranger camp every summer til I dropped out and my dad pointing out weapon making techniques at every gun show he dragged me to, I know my way around.
I turn it over in my hand trying not to touch it more than I have to. Who knows what nastiness this knife has been up to? Almost could feel it stain my fingers. Of course, its owner clearly did not have much in the way of brains.
“Hey, Red Riding Hood, how come you were chasing my coworker through the forest?” I asked.
“We just coworkers now?” Cassidy said, “Thought we might go into crime fighting.”
I looked up at her and she shrugged her shoulders.
“I was gonna let you be the brains,” she said.
I shook my head, “Do you have your cell on you?”
Her turn to shake her head, “Dropped it when Hood here started chasing me.”
“Still looking for an answer to that, Red,” I said.
Cassidy felt the need to punctuate my question with a kick to the man’s solar plexus. He let out a spirit of air and raised his middle finger at us while still hiding his face.
“Stop kickin the son of a bitch until we get some answers,” I said.
“Evan, he jumped out with a knife and chased me through the woods. I’m gonna kick the little shit all the way to jail if they let me.”
She had a point, “Okay, okay. Let’s just see what we can do.”
“My phone works,” Hood said. I could see a light coming from around his face. I jumped on him and punched randomly at his ribs hoping he would drop his hands. He did not, but I reached in and grabbed the bluetooth headset from his ear.
I held it up to my own ear, reluctant to stick the little piece of plastic in my head. I could hear the rumble of an engine and then a curse from a deep, rich voice. Then the line went silent.
My turn to kick, “Who’d you call?!”
I raised the headset back to my ear. Something was wrong. I could still hear the rumble of the engine. “Oh, shit,” I said, and a giant pickup truck came tearing out of the woods and onto the running track. Without slowing, the truck began to race towards us.