tagNovels and NovellasThe Runner Tumbles

The Runner Tumbles


"Do not walk in the way with them, hold back your foot from their paths; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood."

Chapter 1. Wilimbra, July 1991.

Caught up in the national drive for fitness, every evening after school I went for a run. I often took the track along the cliff top. Normally it had a pleasant view with the sea on one side and a clear view of the wooded hills about four kilometres inland as they rose up behind the town.

On this winter evening I had chosen wrongly. A thick mist was drifting in from the sea, and the Wilimbra Point lighthouse fog horn had begun its deep bass note, booming at regular intervals. Out to sea I heard, as if in response, the falsetto howls from the fog horn of a passing ship. In the distance I could hear the bell buoy at the entrance to the harbour; clang clang, clang clang "Stand clear, stand clear," it seemed to say.

To add to the murk, the winter darkness was closing in. I stopped running, and catching my breath for a few moments, I decided to give up and return home. "No point going on in this," I told myself.

The muffled silence that such weather brings, broken only by the fog horns and bell, had a sinister quality about it. A cold shiver ran up my spine despite the warmth my running had generated.

I had just turned to start the homeward run when a noise caught my attention. I stood, turning slowly to try and locate the sound. Nothing; "I'm imaging things," I told myself, "It's this fog getting to me."

Then it came again, a faint whisper but in the murk I couldn't locate it or judge how far away it was. I shivered again, and deciding that it was time to make a move I began to run.

I got no further than a few of metres when suddenly I was grasped from behind. I screamed but it was cut short by a hand clamped over my mouth. I was fairly fit and started to try and fight off the unseen assailant, but I quickly discovered there was more than one.

Hands grasped me and bore me down onto the wet grass. How many hands I couldn't tell; I felt the bottom of my track suit being torn off, followed by my panties. For a moment the hand that covered my mouth was removed and I screamed out, "Mummy, mummy," only to have the hand clamped over my mouth again.

Vague figures in the dark; my arms pinioned; legs dragged apart and a body over me.

"Keep still bitch and you might not get hurt," a voice said close to my ear.

There was some laughter and then something was pushing against me. He ripped my hymen apart with a lunge that sent a searing pain through me that seemed to engulf my whole body. Then he was fiercely thrusting into me.

How many I've never known; five, six? I was hysterical, barely feeling the sperm they pumped into me. After the second one I stopped struggling. I was close to passing out, so they could do what they wanted with me.

How long it went on I don't know, but it seemed like for ever, but finally it did stop, and I was alone. Bewildered, and I suppose half out of my mind, I struggled to my feet whimpering, "Mummy...mummy..." as I began to totter in what I thought was the direction of home.

Suddenly there was nothing; no ground under my feet. I was falling; darkness.

Chapter 2. Wilimbra, August 1991.

In hospital they told me that after searching all night in the fog the State Emergency people had found me lodged on a ledge part way down the cliff. All that had stopped me from falling the rest of the way had been a fragile bush clinging to the ledge against which I had rolled.

I had a broken leg, three broken ribs, and I had been badly damaged during the course of what the doctor believed had been a brutal, multiple rape. This had been realised at first because of the bruises on my arms and body; and was then was confirmed by the presence of semen in my vagina.

They told me that I was lucky to be alive, but I didn't want to be alive. Someone they called "The trauma counsellor" came to see me several times, but she was no help. It was mummy and daddy who really made me want to live again. They didn't say much, but they were there, and I was safe again.

The doctor told me I was pregnant and he performed an operation to get rid of the foetus. Soon after that they let me go home.

My body healed in time, but my mind was not so easily fixed. I wished fervently that they had caught those who raped me – let me see and confront them; but perhaps not. Seeing them might have made worse the nightmares I was enduring.

I gave up running and didn't want to return to school, but mummy and daddy eventually persuaded me to.

"Darling, what happened to you was appalling, but you mustn't let it ruin your whole life."

That was easy to say, but it was not so easy to slough off the memory of what had happened to me, like a snake shedding its skin.

I did return to school and of course the story of what had happened to me had got around. Everyone was very sympathetic – on the surface – but although I wasn't exactly treated as a pariah, people seemed to keep their distance.

"She shouldn't have been out there running on her own, and she probably led them on," were the sort of things whispered around.

All this had two main effects on me. The negative one was that I became deeply suspicious of people, especially men, whom I came to see as animals; brutes that would rape again if they had the chance.

The positive effect was that I buried myself in study. Knowledge would give me power, and one day I would be in a position to dictate the terms, and avenge the injury that had been done to me.

Chapter 3. Adelaide, 2004.

Spring, and from my office high up in the building I can see over the city to the gardens that surround it. Along King William Street I can see the people scuttling like busy ants, and the vehicles crawling like beetles, to be held up at red lights until the green light releases them from their accelerator pumping frustration.

In the gardens the spring flowers are opening. I like to enjoy them and at times I walk though the gardens, but only when there are plenty of people around.

It is spring, but ever since that evening of fog and darkness in 1991 it has been winter in my heart.

On yes, I have been very successful, remarkably so given that I am only twenty nine. That is what hard work, total commitment and application can do, plus I suppose intelligence; I'm one of the top financial advisors in Greenbaum and Norris Investment Advisory Services.

I've got what a lot of girls dream of. Recently I moved into one of the new luxury flats they are building inside the CBD. The furniture is not particularly modern; I've always liked the Scandinavian white wood furniture that was in fashion a while back.

White that is my colour, although I'm told white means the absence of colour. White furniture, white walls, white covers on my bed; the clean, pure colour of white that helps banish the darkness and defilement I feel within. The walls of my office are white, but I must endure the walnut desk with its dark leather chair since I inherited them from the previous occupant.

I am within walking distance from my flat, but in the underground car park of the flats is my Porsche. Money, clothes, expensive holidays and work that I can handle with ease, what more could a girl ask for, so why am in not content, why is there this continual dissatisfaction?

If only I had a few more friends; not men of course; we all know what they are like. That's one of the troubles with having women friends. If they haven't already got one then eventually they get a boy friend, partner or husband, and the very thought of that sickens me because I know what the men make them do. How the women tolerate this, even claiming to enjoy it, I don't know, and some of them even end up getting pregnant; it's disgusting.

When I was twenty five I met a very attractive girl who was about twenty one. She was clearly drawn to me and we became great friends until...I won't go into detail, but one night after we'd been drinking together I somehow ended up in her bed.

What she did to me, or tried to do to me, was as bad if not worse than the things men wanted to do. It was revolting; you see, I can't bear being touched. I almost had to beat her off before I could get free of her. I never saw her again after that.

When clients enter my office I never shake hands with them and I always keep the desk between me and them. I give them sound financial advice, and that's all I give them.

Sometimes a male client gets a bit too personal in his comments. I've got a short way of dealing with them and I get pleasure from seeing them red faced and wilting in the chair opposite me.

Shortly after I started with the company there was a suggestion from one of the partners that I might speed my climb up the promotional ladder if I would, as he put it, "Come across." He got the same treatment as the male clients.

I think he would have liked to get rid of me, but right from the start I'd shown them what I could do and he was prepared to put profit before his injured pride. So I've made my way up the ladder on merit and not by "Coming across."

Some people, including my parents say things like, "You've got the lot, Jackie." If I have, why do I feel this dark emptiness inside me?

A new man started with the firm. He started with the firm just over a week ago. Roger Wyatt he's called. A university graduate with God knows how many degrees in economics, business management and finance and would you believe, a major in philosophy.

Philosophy, with all it's talk about love, beauty, justice; what a lot of nonsense!

Mr. Greenbaum introduced us and he extended his hand, which I ignored.

"Doctor Wyatt has been brought in," Mr. Greenbaum said with a wide smirk on his face, "to help us expand the scope of the business."

"Doctor?" He can't be more than twenty nine or thirty, and as for expanding the business, wasn't I doing that already?"

I'll give him this, for a man he's quite good looking, but his looks don't fool me; I know what's lurking under that exterior. I've seen him looking at me like a lot of men do, and just as with the other men I'll ignore his gaze unless he starts making suggestive remarks; then I'll give him the treatment.

"Doctor Wyatt will want to be familiarised with our present system," Mr. Greenbaum said, "so perhaps you'd start by filling him in about your work, Jackie; perhaps this afternoon?"

"I've got appointments with three new clients this afternoon Mr. Greenbaum."

"Yes, I know, but I've had them transferred to Mr. James, he can deal with them."

I suppose that's what they mean by "Cutting the Indians off at the pass." I'd have to put up with Doctor Superman, the bright new star in the Greenbaum/Norris firmament.

When my secretary, Tessa, saw him she went into her simpering idiot mode like a bitch on heat, but any half decent looking man had that effect on her. I would have got rid of her long ago, but she had been more compliant than me with the eye and hand wandering partner; that meant she was secure in the job until the partner went off her and found someone else.

Doctor Superman was pleasant, I'll admit that. He invited me to call him Roger; I didn't care much for that – a bit too intimate – but I suffered it nevertheless. He had the impertinence to call me "Jackie" uninvited and I put up with that as well.

He was bright, I'll give him that, and grasped the details of quite complex financial dealings almost before I'd started to talk about them. He was with me for over two hours and when we'd finished he said, "There are probably a few other things I'll need to get back to you about, but I suppose we'll see quite a lot of each other since we are to be colleagues."

I supposed we would, and indeed we have seen a lot of each other, and that's how I started noticing the way he looks at me. I guessed that he could be fairly tough in business, but at the personal level he has quite a gentle manner. Then again, that might just be a front to trap the unwary.

I can see the danger inherent in the situation. I might not be right at the top of the heap, but I was close to it. This bright boy might endanger my position in the hierarchy; might displace me as the company's number one financial advisor, the profit making darling of Greenbaum/Norris. I'll have to watch my back.

It's just as I thought. Doctor Roger Bright Boy has hardly been with us five minutes and is already making his mark, and at my expense. Until he came along I was often consulted by the partners; now I get consulted less frequently and he's for ever ensconced with them.

My work, it's what I am; it's the way I can relate to people without them getting too close. If I ever lose...no, that's unthinkable...but just suppose I lost my job what would I have, who would I be? There are other jobs, but after I'd put so much into this one, so much of myself?

No one has suggested that I will be disposed of, but the partners are men and everyone knows that men can string a woman along until they get what they want, and then dump her. They may not have raped me physically, but there are other ways of raping. They've raped me for my intelligence...my ability, and now I am in danger of being displaced by that Doctor Wonder Boy.

I'm not blind and deaf; I know that if ever I do get the shove I won't get too much sympathy from the rest of the staff. They don't like me but I've relied on the fact that the firm needs me.

The thought of being displaced by Bright Boy started to haunt me; I even dreamt about him just like I used to dream about that night in the fog. I knew I must do something about it, but what?

Women have their own way of getting what they want out of men. They can tease them, arouse them, and when they've got what they want, drop them.

I'd been amused once by a story told by one of the men at work. He'd come across a guy who was hunting for a female backpacker. He'd met her, shivering and apparently broke and hungry in the street. He'd bought her warm clothes and taken her to a restaurant for a meal. She'd been all over him with gratitude and promises of delights to come.

Telling him she'd left a few things at the backpackers hostel they went there together. "Just wait here," she said, "I'll only be a few minutes."

He waited for an hour and she didn't return. She'd gone in through the front door of the hostel and straight out the back door. That was the last he ever saw or heard of her, despite his furious hunt.

I wondered if I could somehow lead Wonder Boy into a trap – a trap that would bring to an end his growing influence with the partners.

Once I had been helpless in the hands of men; could I reverse that situation and have a man helpless in my hands? Could I lead him, as it were, to the front door, and then leave him stranded while I slipped out the back?

It could be done; it could be easily done so long as he was attracted to me. It would take a little time and of course I knew I might have to submit to some things I'd find repugnant, but if I achieved my end...?

The season of office Christmas parties and lunches was approaching. I had my plan well thought out, but it wasn't going quite as easily as I'd hoped.

I adopted a very friendly attitude towards Roger. He is interested – attracted – I know that, but he just won't make a move. I became the compliant little helper, and I even tried to emulate some of Tessa's seductively teasing ways, but without much success because I've not had enough practice.

Several times when we were alone in my office I'd been tempted to give him the full works, but if I made a move he'd just focus on whatever work we were doing, and not being very adept at this sort of thing I'd give up.

We have a staff luncheon in the week before Christmas. The food and drink are brought in by caterers and there's lots of boozing and couples trying to slip out secretly to vacant offices. I decided to wait until then; try and get him when he's had a few and is off guard.

At the office Christmas Luncheon there was as I expected plenty of boozing and then off to the offices for a quick one.

Things didn't go quite as I planned. I hung around Roger and he was very chatty but not drunk or anywhere near it. Somehow he avoided talking about work, and this didn't suit me. He talked about art and music, his likes and dislikes, and asked what I like and dislike.

I played along as best I could and if anything it was me who was getting drunk. In the end I lost patience and interrupting him in full flow about some concert he'd been to I said, "Roger, would you come up to my office I've got some paper's I want to discuss with you."

Nobody did any work during the afternoon of the office Christmas lunch, and I was a bit concerned that he would refuse. He did look at me a little strangely but agreed.

We made out way to my office, passing a few other offices from which muffled groans and yelps could be heard, but by common consent no one interrupted on this day. I'd always found it disgusting, but as long as no one tried to inveigle me I went along with the tradition.

We passed through Tessa's office into mine. I sat on the edge of the desk and tried to look seductive.

"What are the papers," he asked.

That was my cue to turn up the heat, and a bloody awful mess I made of it. Like some third rate actress in a bedroom farce I said, "Roger darling, I thought we might do something more interesting than looking at papers."

"What...?" he gasped.

"You like me, don't you Roger?"

"Yes but..."

"Then come here and find out what I've got for you." God I felt sick.

I grabbed his hand and tried to put it over one of my breasts but he tugged it away.

"What the hell are you doing Jackie? You said..."

Lacking the finesse and experience of some practitioners of this art I lost patience and went into the final scene.

Tearing my blouse open to expose my breasts I started to scream at the top of my lungs, "Help...oh please help...I'm being raped...help me..." God it was like a bloody melodrama.

I saw Roger recoil from me but I followed up, grabbing him, pretending to try and fight him off.

I'd sprung the trap. Whatever was allowed in the offices after the lunch, rape was one thing that would not be accepted. Roger would be out on his ear. My only hope was that no one would suggest I pressed charges against him; I didn't want any questioning by the police.

It didn't come to that. If there were any charges to be laid it might well have been the other way round.

Tessa appeared in the door and I yelled, "Tessa, he tried to rape me."

Roger stood aghast, his face ashen.

"I didn't...I didn't..." he gasped.

"No he didn't," Tessa said with a satisfied smirk on her face, "I saw everything that happened. You shouldn't have left the door open."

"You liar," I screamed at her, "he was trying to..."

"No he wasn't, you were trying to make it look as if he was, and that's exactly what I'll tell the partners."

I was speechless. What I'd thought was my nice neat plan had turned round to bite me simply because that cow Tessa had sneaked up to find out what we were doing.

"It's time you got your comeuppance you cold bitch," she went on. "Nobody here likes you; you strut around as if you own the place giving your orders. You never show any appreciation of anything that's done for you; you look down your nose at the rest of us, and crawl to the partners. I'll be very please to tell them what I seen this afternoon."

Roger seemed to have recovered and took command of the situation. He led Tessa gently by the arm out of my office into hers, closing the door behind them. I staggered to my chair and dropped down into it, weeping. I was horrified at what I had done – or attempted to do. I had wanted to destroy Roger, and all I succeeded in doing was to destroy myself.

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