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Kerin braced herself to receive the impact of Rohan’s body as he propelled himself forward. She tensed, crouching on the tar by the edge of the roof, conscious of the throbbing pain in her injured and swollen, left knee.
Rohan had worked her over pretty well with his superior size and strength but,  thankfully, the lightness of her body and her speed had prevented too much damage. It was not, however, an equal fight. She knew she could not keep fighting against him forever.

Rohan was up and running. His legs pumped and his head was down revealing his massively muscled shoulders. Beneath his faded, black jeans, she could see the ripples of force which he carried in his well developed body. He was - every inch of his over six foot frame - the image of a charging bull. The distance narrowed between them.

Kerin glanced quickly over the side of the roof; from the dizzying height, the cars in the street, 50 floors below, seemed like a line of ants moving up and down Lincoln Avenue - their headlamps like luminous eyes in the night. The minute red and blue of a squad car pulled up in front of the building, likely called by a complaint. Another joined it.

Looking back, Rohan's ferocious approach was a blur of movement. She tried to rise – to give even the slightest impression of resistance to his aggression but, as soon as the weight rested on the left, the knee ceded and she fell again to a crouch. She kept the gasp of pain locked in her throat. Kerin knew that, as soon as he was upon her, with the advantage of her helplessness, he would  kill her as had been his intention for so many years.

Unbidden, she recognised, in the blink of an eye, one last possibility.

She rose again, fighting the pain, to face him and stood. With a sheer force of will, feeling the cartillages grind in the knee, she locked it in place, resisting waves of nausea as the agony roiled through her body, and stood defiantly, placing her hands on her hips.

'C'mon, big boy,' came a voice of encouragement in her mind, 'bring it on.'

In her mind's eye, she saw herself – helpless and alone – standing before the racing, raging, hateful behemoth that was Rohan. She did not like that image. At the same time, Kerin could see herself: her slight frame battered to the edge of recognition; her hair, with the sweat and humidity, stuck to her face; and her clothes ragged and torn from this battle that never seemed to end. It was, summarily, an image that she grew tired of seeing – again and again. Silently, she whispered a prayer, as his mass loomed over her – onrushing as a freight train – that this would be the last time.

Rohan charged, feeling the thrill of triumph upon him. In moments, he thought, he would be able to lay hands on that supple, lean body and teach her – the bitch – what it meant to deal with 'Rohan'. Why he hated her so much, he could no longer remember but, now, the moment of his vindication was to be had. He reached out his hands to grasp her throat as she stood in defiance of him.

She disappeared.

Kerin unlocked her injured knee and, with a cry of pain, collapsed flat to the tar roofing. Rohan blinked, confused, and tried to check his forward movement. It was too late.

Rohan sailed over the parapet, his arms and legs flailing in futility for substance. A roar of hate and frustration erupted from his throat and then he was gone – falling. Kerin looked up from beneath the arms locked over her head and grinned. The smile failed quickly – she needed to know.

Suddenly, she felt rejuvenated. She got to her feet but, in her elation, the pain seemed to have subsided. She wanted to fly – to be free – but, without the knowledge and the substance of her freedom, it would not be true. Kerin felt a lightness invade her body and she raced, ignorant of the pain to the staircase – wanting only to verify the truth of her emancipation. The lightness grew. She became ethereal.

Kerin eschewed the elevator and took the stairs – there were fewer possibilities of encounters there. At the third floor, as Kerin flooded downwards, she encountered an old woman struggling upward with some sacks of groceries.

“Bloody elevators,” said the woman and paused to collect her breath. “You'd think that, in this day and age, they could give an old woman a hand and just let her ride up. No, those days are gone, I'd say - gone with courtesy and a polite, 'Morning mum', when they see you.”

Kerin passed and, with her, a pull of air. The woman shivered.

“I suppose now the heat is off.” She huffed and continued upward. “I can't understand where such a cold lot of air would come from but, I suppose, they just want to freeze us out. I pay my rent – fair and regular...,” the woman continued her litany but, by then, Kerin was in the street.

The scene was stunning.

Chapter
Part II

The body – Rohan's – had landed on a cop car. That had sent all the the bells and whistles chiming. By now, the street was flooded with flood lights, red and blue lights and any other lights that could be imagined. Kerin slipped from the front door and gaged the damage.

The collapse of the roof with the force of the heavy body, had left glass splayed across the street – the tiny, diamond-like shards, glimmering in the light of street lights and the lit cigarettes of the numerous onlookers. Everyone wanted to see the body.

The body was missing. There was no ignominious, mangled corpse pressed into the roof of the police ride – just a massive dent of destruction. Kerin looked around, confused.

“Excuse me, Miss,” said an officer, approaching and studying her appreciatively. “Are you a witness to this?” He looked confused as though doubting his own senses. “Miss?” He questioned – unsure if he was having a dejá vù. “Have we met before?”

“I...,” she began but had no time to continue. Her eyes widened, made glassy by the sudden wave of panic that surged through her chilled, sweat-soaked body.

Rohan emerged, seeming unscathed, from the darkness of an ally looking more ferocious and blood-thirsty than ever before. His movements were decided, efficient and merciless. He grabbed the cop's head and shoulder and, with a violent pull, snapped his neck. With blood and saliva trailing from his mouth, the cop slouched against Rohan's body and slid to the ground. For Rohan, however, that was only the beginning of his blood lust. There was a sickening, wet sound as an upper arm bone snapped under the force of Rohan's twisting movements and then the arm tore free and was launched, trailing a crimson stream, into the street.

Kerin broke free from her panic induced trance and ran. Not knowing where to go, she saw a door standing slightly ajar and raced across the lobby. Miraculously, the elevator was waiting, beckoning. Kerin flew into the carriage and began to press buttons. As the door slid shut, she came to a horrid realisation: it was the same building from which she had previously escaped. It always seemed to be the same building. There seemed no resolution to her escape.

A bell chimed and Kerin jumped as the door slid open on 5. The hallway, when she cautiously poked her head out, was deserted.

If only, she reflected, she could lose him in the maze of floors and random stops, she might be able to go up and then straight down – escape into the city and he would never find her again. The thought caused the faintest glimmer of hope to rise within her but, as the door slid shut, and she looked at the illuminated number, so rose also, her tension.

11. The chime sounded and, despite that she was watching the numbers slide by, fidgeting and chewing her lip, she jumped just the same. A young man, tall, with sandy, brown hair and a pleasant expression was standing there. He looked blankly into the elevator, failing to acknowledge her presence and, since the light indicated 'up', he sighed and pressed repeatedly for 'down'. Kerin continued her odyssey.

45. Kerin was waiting frantically for the last stop and to push for the lobby, hoping against hope that her flight would soon be done. For some reason, her anxiety had reached a peak; her body twitched with tension and oozed sweat which soaked her sweatshirt. She was shivering uncontrollably. The chime sounded and the door began to slide open.

It had scarcely parted from the frame when Rohan's massive fist came through the narrow space, swinging dangerously in the air. Kerin screamed. Trapped. Failing to connect with anything, the arm retracted and forced the door open; the metal groaned and creased under his force. He said only three words before grabbing her throat and dragging her bodily into the hallway.

“It ends now.”

He seemed to pause, as though some other thoughts beside killing her might have intruded upon his consciousness. That was not the case. He swung quickly. The first landed on her jaw and she spit out a tooth. The second connected with the side of her head. Kerin saw stars and then nothing at all.

It may have been the coolness of the air or the gentle drops of rain causing her skin to erupt in goose flesh but, it was the pain that brought Kerin, unwillingly, to consciousness. The opened her eyes and shivered. Above, the lowering sky reflected the lights of the city that she would likely never see again. Rohan was sitting, scarce feet away, on a ventilation shaft. His head in his hands. She wondered if he might have fallen asleep. Kerin shook her head and rose slowly to sitting, turning her head, amidst explosions of stars and wondering if there was an escape route.

“Get up,” he said simply. “We need to finish this.” He was not sleeping.

There was something in his voice that caused her to pause – was it tiredness, resignation? Perhaps, she thought, as she rolled to all fours and then to her knees, those were her same sentiments. It seemed she no longer had time to collect her thoughts.

She stood and so did he – rising many inches above her. She flinched and took a step backward.

The roar, when it came, seemed to roll out of a tormented soul, expressing the pain of centuries and aeons.

“Why have you brought me here?” he screamed at her, so close that his breath was cool on her face. She shivered again.

“I did not bring us here. You dragged me up the stairs.” She could still feel the impacts of the cement stairs, through the gauze of her unconsciousness, against her ribcage and limbs.

She had scarcely uttered the words when his leg swung out. It connected, pulled by the force of his pivot, with her left knee. She felt the knee contort, collapsing inward and heard a loud pop. With a scream of agony, she dropped into a sobbing mass on the rooftop. Her will seemed to ebb away. She felt she was losing herself - losing the battle.

“Get up and face me,” said Rohan, merciless to the end.

“You just kicked out my knee,” screamed Kerin between sobs.

“You will get up now or I will drag you to your feet. Face me!” he roared and, beneath her, the tar covered roof vibrated with the immensity of his voice. Kerin gasped, burdening the pain, and rose – relying on the feeble strength in her right to sustain her. An idea sparked in her mind – a distant possiblity.

“Rohan,” she said, attempting, despite her exhaustion, to sound strong, “we don't need to do this any more.”

She shifted her weight and tottered closer to him.

“It has been going on for so long.” Her voice cajoled, convinced. She placed her hands on the front of his leather jacket and, then, rethinking, grabbed the open, zippered edges.

Rohan sighed but there was no mistaking his eventual intentions. He was physically capable of doing anything to her. This she knew well. She looked up at him and smiled slightly while shifting her weight to the right and leaning slightly forward.

The pain in her left knee had not subsided but, with all the strength left in her hip, she brought the knee upward, concentrated and directed, and slammed it into his testicles.

Rohan reacted immediately. He swung at her – sending her reeling giddily to collapse on the rooftop ten feet away. At the same time, he collapsed, groaning and rolled to his side, his hands clasped to his injured groin.

Kerin began crawling, blindly, her leg trailing uselessly and screaming pain signals into her nervous system. She had no idea how they had arrived on the roof. No idea how to find the stairs or a fire escape. Again, the sense of impending failure condensed on her like the sweat that dripped from her forehead. Before she knew it, there was no where else to go. She rose slightly and then, reeling in agony, crouched, seeing the parapet and the precipitous drop beyond.

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