Beating a Hasty Retreat

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Here's part 3. Sorry It's a bit late. I'm packing to move so things have been a bit manic. I'll try and do one more update before I move on Friday and then I'll be without internet for a bit so not sure when the next will be.

~

Ann-Marie's brain struggled to catch up as she sprinted towards the nearest edge of the crime scene. Her hands shook as her heart rate increased. The tape across the side of the square came closer and closer but the police around her all closed in towards her.

The distance was too large and there were too many people pursuing her. She knew she wasn't strong or fit enough to outpace this many people over this distance.

Just as she could feel someone getting close to her something shot extra energy down her legs and she sped up. Over the next few seconds she pulled away from any encroaching hands and barrelled towards the waist-height obstacle. She flung herself underneath the barrier, sliding along on her side, yet not feeling any pain from the friction.

After several metres she slowed enough to lift herself up and she headed for a darkened alleyway. She vaguely heard people yelling at her, but none of their words registered with her mind, if they had even been in English.

Relief flooded through her as she reached the shadowed hideaway of the alleyway but she kept on running. She flung her body around the next corner, barely slowing along the way. And then the next and the next, weaving her way through the city.

Minutes passed by and she still didn't slow. Realising no one chased her any more she started to look around her and figure out where she was. The hotel she'd been staying in was only a mile away so she continued joggin in that direction, keeping to the shadows as much as possible.

It surprised her that she didn't even feel slightly tired and her heart rate was the slowest it had been since seeing that strange man for the first time. The green layer over her skin seemed to be doing more than just covering it.

The city quietened around her as she covered the mile to her room and some semblance of safety. She hadn't been paying attention to the time at the party but she suspected that it was early morning already and even the people out for the night were home or on their way there.

As she neared the hotel she finally slowed down to a walk. She still felt conscious of how she looked but there were so few people to see her she didn't feel as worried.

Despite the security of the night she still felt relieved when she saw the entrance to the hotel. Not wasting any time, she jogged up the few steps and into the foyer. As she saw the young desk clerk in the reception area she realised she didn't have her ID, phone or anything else. All of them were with Mark and she had no idea where he was.

She bit her lip as she went up to the desk. The guy looked up at her and his eyes moved up and down as he took in her appearance.

"Good evening. I'm in room thirty-eight."

"Do you have ID, ma'am?" He asked in a faintly German accent.

"I've left it in my room."

"Do you have your booking number on you?"

"No, I'm afraid everything is in my room."

"Is there someone in the room who can confirm you are staying there?"

She shook her head and bit her lip. He didn't look very impressed and gave her a tired look.

"If you want to come with me to the room, I can show you some form of ID when we get there."

"I can't leave the desk, Ma'am. Let me fetch security."

"I... Uh... There's no need to do that." She shivered. The idea of more official people seeing her filled her with dread. She backed away from the desk and the clerk sat back down on his stool. Before she could figure out what to do next she heard the sounds of someone else coming through the front door. She turned to see Mark rushing up towards her.

"Mark, I'm so glad to see you." She went up to him but he just stared at her.

"What on earth are you wearing? And where have you been? I've been frantic. Some madman started attacking people. The police have been trying to find you for me."

"They can't find me. I'll explain everything but you need to give me my ID."

"Wha.."

"Please Mark, you can come with me and I'll explain everything." She took hold of his hand and encouraged him towards the night clerk. With her ID back in her possession the hotel clerk gave her the room key with no more questions.

As soon as she was in the little elevator Mark turned to her and gave her a look. She bit her lip and thought through how she was going to explain things.

"I'm sorry I ran out on you. I got so spooked by that madman. He... He gave me this green cube and well..." She motioned to her body. Mark looked her over again and rolled his eyes.

"Whatever." A moment later he reached into his pocket and pulled her phone and the small purse she carried cash in out of his pocket. "Here, you can have these back."

As she realised he didn't believe her a frown creased her forehead. She tried to think of some way she could convince him. When the elevator came to her floor and the door opened she stepped through alone.

"It was nice to meet you, Ann-Marie. I hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday here, although I'd have preferred it if you'd just admitted you didn't like spending time with me rather than running off and making up a story."

"I..." A wan smile crept onto her face as she realised there was nothing she could say. She'd be lying if she said she wanted to spend more time with him. "I'm sorry, Mark."

"Goodbye."

The door shut and carried him back the way they'd come and she turned and padded along the carpeted hallway to her room. As soon as the door was shut behind her she sunk down and put her head in her hands.

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