Sondra pushed through the door of the shiny chrome-and-glass building and weaved her way precariously out into the foggy night.

Had she been in a more sober state, she would have questioned the wisdom of walking through the streets of Angelus alone at night, even in the well-lit corridors of Sigma Sector, City Center. But then, she had enough recreational chemicals coursing in her blood to give her the courage of the truly drunk.

Goddamn bastard, she muttered, as she vainly searched for a taxi, bus, or anything else that could take her home. She'd arrived at the Nakatomi office party in the company of one of her office mates, who'd then proceeded to dump her for some more approachable company.

The bastard had the balls to tell me to my face I needed to "put out" more if I wanted to get home tonight. I hope he catches VD from that slut and has his dick fall off.

She giggled at the thought and stopped to examine her surroundings. The street was deserted, not a vehicle or other person in sight. She decided to head towards Weyland Avenue, where the chance of a passing taxi was higher.

In her inebriated state, it was no surprise she'd had no warning when an arm reached around her neck while another grabbed her body from behind. She inhaled to scream, but heard a hissed voice next to her ear.

"Scream and I'll cut your head off, bitch." The male voice was low and guttural, but clear in its intent. She gulped her scream back and struggled vainly in her assailant's grip.

The man dragged her off, towards the darkness of the park across the street. She had just enough time to recognize he was taking her into Memorial Park before they were swallowed by the shadows of the trees.

Branches and leaves slapped her face as her captor pushed through, still carrying her with little concern for her comfort. She was confused, her brain still muddled by intoxicants. If he wanted to mug her, why didn't he just grab her purse? Where was he taking her?

The realization of what his intentions were made her start to struggle even more, to no avail. Oh God, Oh God, her thoughts hammered in her head. All the self-defense training, all the lessons from those safety courses she'd taken vanished under the white heat of her panic.

She tried clawing her kidnapper's face, but he dodged her clumsy strike and punched her in the face, stunning her.

Finally arriving at his apparent destination, the man threw Sondra roughly to the grass. She had no time to gather herself to escape before he bore her down with his body and started pawing at her clothes.

Oh, God, no, please, this can't be happening to meeeee, her mind keened as she tried to fight her attacker off. She tried to scream, but the man had clamped his hand on her mouth, and all she managed were muffled sounds. He tore at her dress, pushing his way between her legs, fumbling at the catch on his pants.

Somebody, please help me, she screamed silently, trying to somehow push the weight off her, to make her attacker go away.

It took her a second to realize the man was no longer on her. Still sobbing, she sat up, wiping the tears from her puffy eyes as she tried to see where he was.

Her would-be rapist had chosen an isolated spot in the park, a small clearing surrounded by bushes which hid it from view. She darted her head around, trying to see where he was, wondering if this was some sort of sick twisted game he was playing.

The bushes in front of her shook, but for some reason what little light filtered in from the lights outside the clearing was unable to pierce the gloom within and gave no hint as to what was happening.

The shaking finally stopped, and Sondra stared into the darkness, trying to see what was there. She suddenly felt a presence, something that twisted her stomach and filled her mind with dread that made the terror from her interrupted rape pale in comparison.

She was afraid to move, to call any attention to herself, sure that whatever hid in those bushes would leap out and devour her if it knew she was there.

Her heart stopped. Something was watching her from within the bushes, she was sure of it. A whimper escaped her lips.

A voice, sibilant yet rough, inhuman, issued from the shadows.

"Run home, little girl. You're not what I'm hunting tonight."

Sondra started crawling away on her back, afraid to turn from the source of the voice. Finally, she staggered to her feet and started running. She didn't stop until she reached the street outside the park, where she stopped for a second, shaking.

Numb with shock, she stumbled unsteadily to the street corner, where the streetlights shone and sanity still held sway.

* * * * *

A jogger found the body three days later. It was that of a man, found crumpled on the ground underneath a bush with his pants around his ankles.

Forensic examination showed signs of possible sexual activity and his bloodstream indicated that he'd been in an agitated state at the time of death. The actual time of death was hard to determine, though, because for some strange reason the body showed signs of deterioration that couldn't be attributed to exposure to the elements.

The detective in charge of the investigation theorized the guy had been engaging in illicit sex in the park and suffered a heart attack in the middle of the act. His partner had fled the scene once she'd realized what had happened. No further leads surfaced, and the case was added to the constantly growing pile of unsolved cases in the police department's files.

The guy must have been coming and going at the same time, the detective joked, commenting on the distorted expression permanently affixed on the corpse's face. Talk about an "O" face.