The crisp breeze broke against the faded black trench coat of the walking man.
I’ll make them pay.
He moved swiftly through the empty streets of Santo Paulo.
I’ll make them pay.
His cold, glassy eyes stared ahead, but looked inward. His hands, shrouded inside black leather gloves, rolled into fists. His jaw clamped so tightly his whole head felt like it might burst open.
I’ll make them all pay.
He sees her.
I’ll make them all pay—and I’ll start with her.
Lost in thought, Tracy didn’t hear the approaching footsteps. When she did, her eyes still lowered, the first thing she spied was a pair of boots—hard, black, leather. Tracy raised her pale green eyes and looked directly into the man’s face. Despite her mood, she smiled that irresistible ear-to-ear grin she always offered people.
The man’s left arm shot up from his side. His fingers wrapped around her cheeks while the palm of his hand tightly covered her mouth.
“B—!” Tracy tried to squeal.
He secured a tighter grip with his left hand and grabbed her waist with his right arm.
Tracy’s eyes widened. Time froze. Every fear she’d ever known drowned her.
He pulled her against him and lifted her off the ground. He quickly carried her panicking body off the sidewalk toward the side of a nearby house that showed no sign of life stirring inside its walls.
Tracy kicked at him furiously. Her eyes darted frantically, searching for anyone or anything. She saw no one.
He pushed Tracy to the ground and threw himself hard on top of her, knocking the wind out of her. His left hand muffled Tracy’s cry as she landed on her back. She squirmed convulsively. She tried to bite his hand, but his grip was too strong for her to open her jaw.
For the first time in a very long time, even the dull and wasted moments of Tracy’s life seemed precious. Her panicked eyes pleaded with him as she tried to wrench herself away. God, this can’t be happening! Please God, please get me out of this! I need more time with Mom, with Greg, with my friends! I promise I’ll go back to church! Don’t let this happen to me! MOMMY! PLEASE—
He pulled a long-bladed hunting knife from his coat pocket.