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First Page Fiction Competition Winner


1st Prize: £150.00 Jan Gray
2nd Prize: £100.00 Paul West
3rd Prize: £75.00 Sue Andrews

In the Shadows
by Jan Gray

Chapter One

Somewhere, down there in the midst of the crowded market square, her would-be killer was looking for her. She had no clues as to who or even why, but the bullet that had grazed against the flesh of her upper arm had been notification enough that someone meant business. She had been lucky, Catherine reflected, as she had meandered through the colourful market place only moments ago, something had caught her attention and she had changed direction, swivelling her body around at the last moment. As the bullet impacted her soft flesh and out, she had cried out watching in horrified slow motion as the woman in front of her had fallen heavily to the ground, the pavement staining  dark red under her bulbous frame, blood seeping through the bullet hole in her chest. Catherine hadn’t needed to look twice to know that the woman was dead, her open glassy eyed stare, wildly accusing. With panic building within her, running seemed to be the only option.

Finding a hiding place hadn’t been easy at first, especially as the stinging pain of her arm hampered every movement. Feeling sick with fear, the warm sticky blood had dripped down her arm under the confines of her jacket and she had desperately tried to avoid leaving a trail of blood splatter. In mass confusion, the crowd had surged forwards and backwards, pressing her up against a building almost crushing her in the process and as she had fought to get free, the crowd surged forward again and she ran toward an open doorway clambering desperately up the derelict stairwell.

Now in an abandoned room on the top floor, she risked peering out from behind the jaded net curtains that would have once adorned these windows with pride. Even from up here it was easy to see the sense of shock and disbelief etched on the faces below. The ambulance was only now pulling its way out through the crowds, no sirens, no sense of urgency and all the while a killer was out there, hunting down its prey. Tears threatened to overwhelm her; she felt so alone, so afraid and none of it made sense. The threatening text messages a few weeks ago had been terrifying but the bullet today meant the threats were serious. Who could hate her so much that they wanted her dead?

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