Id watch out dear. Warned the frail old woman. Her eyes were slanted with concern. Her creased forehead frowned at her young granddaughter, Jennys, response. Grandma, you know I make the trip back to Summer Ville by myself every Thursday evening.

I can look after myself just as well as a man.Its just its onlyDont fret grandma. Said Jenny, in a soothing tone. She slipped her manicured hands around her grandmother in a reassuring cuddle, relishing the moment. She was aware of how much her grandmother meant to her, especially after her own mother had been brutally murdered three years before.She carefully withdrew her arms and peered directly into the old womans eyes. She noticed the gleam of sadness which filled them at every parting.

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They both knew that the tedious two-hour drive on country roads to the property was much too long to be completed more than once a week. So Ill see you next week then. If you need anything, anything at all, then dont be scared to contact Mrs. Pilful.

Um and heres my new mobile number just in case.Where would I be without you? The old woman chuckled. Well, drive safely and watch out for Lumps, bumps and crazy drivers.

I know Grandma! ? The night was still as Jenny clambered into the rusty ute. Its white paint was barely visible underneath the scratches, bugs and general scum which coated the vehicle, but it served its purpose well. It was no easy feat handling the pothole ridden country roads, let alone her grandmothers overgrown driveway.She placed the key in the ignition and turned it. The ute revved and came to a stop.

The second attempt proved to be successful and she was off down the dusty track. She pulled out onto the main road with a lonely feeling in her stomach. For once, Jenny would appreciate having a companion beside her. Someone who she could chat with as she drove along the endless roads. Unfortunately, important city men werent interested in country bumpkins, no matter how attractive they were. She brushed her delicate blond hair out of her face and tucked it behind her ears with a sigh.After half an hour of driving her mind began to wander.

She often found it hard to concentrate late at night and so she decided to put the radio on. The sound flickered and buzzed between stations. It was obvious that the dusty buttons had been neglected for quite some time. With light rock music humming through the car, Jenny felt at ease.

Once again her thoughts turned to other things. She gazed out the windscreen at the withered fences and imposing barbed wire. The parched land had an eerie tint to it as the moon cast a murky shadow over the fields. Clumps of yellow grass struggled to survive amidst the cracked asphalt. Naked trees stood sombrely and did not react to the noise of the ute. A crooked signpost whizzed past her.

Suddenly, a figure loomed up out of the darkness. Jenny swerved just in time to avoid the ditch, and the figure, which was crouching on the side of the road.The sounds of her own breathing and the beating of her heart filled Jennys mind as she sat gazing ahead with relief.Her eyes glazed over. Had she really been sure that she had missed the figure? Without thinking of the possible danger she was in, Jenny kicked open the door and flung herself out of the car, desperate to reassure herself that she wasnt a murderer.Hello? she coughed.

Oh my gosh I cant believe this. Is anyone there?The streetlight fizzed, flickered and went out.Yes, Im here. A disembodied voice barked from the silence.Jenny reeled backwards with shock, bumping into the ute. She quickly turned around and faced the voice.

What the hell do you think youre doing? Who the hell are you? she belted out in the direction of the stranger. She retreated backwards as she realised who she had addressed.So sorry, said an elderly lady. I did not think anyone used this road. I didnt have a chance to get off as you came past.

Im terribly sorry to have given you a fright.Jenny was bewildered. What was an old woman doing on a road in the middle of nowhere?Oh dear, I am so sorry to have startled you like that. My mind just wandered off, Jenny babbled, and I wasnt paying attention to the road, the radio was on, and then I sawIts all right love.

I understand. Would it be too much trouble to get a lift with you?UhUm yes, sure, Jenny regained herself. Of course, anything I can do. Hop in.They got in and Jenny carefully manoeuvred the ute back into the right lane and pushed the accelerator down. Nice ute you got here. Grumbled the lady, with her head resting on the tilted headrest.

Thank you. Its pretty old though. Ah well, those V8 engines got power in em however old they may be, thats for sure. The lady commented. She crossed her legs slowly, her rather large, black shoes knocking against one another.What a strange ensemble, Jenny thought to herself.

Out of the corner of her eye she observed the womans thick black stockings, bright red blouse and hefty burgundy handbag.I just returned from a visit to my grandmother. Have you ever heard of McClear property? It used to be a huge working station in her day.

Jenny smiled at the old lady, who returned her friendliness.Oh, isnt that kind of you. I cant say that I have heard of the area though. Its lovely, I assure you.

Jenny remarked. So what were you doing out here, she inquired politely after an uncomfortable silence, I mean, with no car or anything?Oh well, you know I like walking. The old woman hesitated. Would you care for a toffee?Toffee? Yes please, they remind me of my childhood days. Jenny chortled.The woman reached into her handbag and rummaged around.

Her hand emerged with a neat little lolly. Here you go. She said, as she placed the toffee in Jennys outstretched palm.Thank you veryJenny stifled a gasp as she noticed the womans hand.

Covered with thick, black hair and riddled with fresh abraisions, this was not the wrinkled hand of an elderly lady. Jenny gagged as her gaze moved up the strangers arm. The sinewy flesh was caked with dirt and filthy hair. In a state of severe panic, Jenny forced her mind to come up with a solution.

All of a sudden, the ute veered of the road, and into a shallow ditch.Crap! Jenny said in a manner of mock frustration. I think I might have run over something an animal.

She lied I just cant think straight on the road these days. Oh, I cant stand to see hurt animals. What if its a wombat? I cant go and check I just cantWould you like me to go investigate? offered the person. Jenny was no longer sure wether it was a woman.Please do! I just couldnt bring myself to go outside. The minute the stranger had closed the door behind them, Jenny put her foot down on the accelerator as hard as she could.

The ute stalled.Help! Jenny whimpered as she struggled to stay calm. Her head throbbing with concentration, she turned the key in the ignition and put the ute into first gear. She was away!? Hello? Jenny answered her mobile phone in a shaky voice. Jenny? Its me.

Grandma! Thank goodness its you!Yes, well I was only calling to tell you to watch out.Grandma, weve already talked about thisThere is a mass murderer who is on the loose. He is in the area and is dangerousThe line went dead. Jenny looked at the phones screen, no reception. Figures, she thought.

Her grandmother was always worrying about her, she knew she would be fine. Suddenly, a debilitating thought occurred to Jenny. She pulled the ute over and reached over to the passenger side. After fumbling about on the floor, she located the handbag of the hitchhiker she had abandoned. Anxiously, she tore it open. Glaring inside she saw exactly what she had been dreading. In the bag there lay a sharpened knife, soaking handkerchief and shredded rubber gloves, all of which were encrusted with blood.

The tools of a mass murderer.

x

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