Funded! This project was successfully funded on April 9, 2012.

Update #3

The first 1300 words!

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Pamela’s smile would have been perfectly lovely if it hadn’t had just a small touch of vacancy.  She looked, perhaps, ten percent vacuous.  Most men were willing to ignore that as a favor to her clear complexion, curvy figure, and the long auburn hair that always looked attractively messed up.  They themselves did not realize that when she laughed at their jokes, it didn’t seem to mean as much.  Pam had been married for three years now, to a man who didn’t make a lot of jokes, and they were happy.  She was at her office, turning that slightly-daft smile on her co-worker Alice and saying, “Oh right, you do that… karate stuff, right?”

“Jujitsu,” Alice said, patiently.  Her parents couldn’t keep it straight either, kept thinking she did aikido.

“Why would I want to do that?”Alice blinked once, hard, then tried again.  “It’s a self-defense class, Pam.  You won’t even have to learn any Japanese, I promise.  Just some stuff to keep you safe in case, you know, the worst happens.”

Pam shrugged.  “That hardly seems likely, does it?”

“Pam, we’re real estate agents.”Pam kept smiling, but somehow its vapidity seemed greater.  “Yes…?”

Alice sighed.  “Think about this from some evil sex-freak’s point of view, just for a minute, okay?”

The crinkle that formed between Pam’s eyebrows was adorable.  Alice pressed on.  “If you’re a rapist, what is it you want?”

“Um, Alice, I’m not sure I get…”

“You want to be alone, with a woman, in an isolated place.  Right?”

“…I guess.”  The smile was fading. 

“Now think.  Who goes into empty houses with strangers all the time as part of their job?”

Pam’s smile was completely gone.  “I always have my phone with me,” she said.  “The office always knows where I am.”

“And that’s a great start, but c’mon.  Haven’t you ever gotten a bad vibe, Pam?  A guy who just made you feel creepy, who was looking at you more than the closet space or floor plan or vault ceilings?  Christ knows I have.  From a pervert’s point of view, it’s perfect.  He sees you or me on a billboard, calls the number, says he wants a house on a quiet street, makes an appointment for when it’s deserted… if he’s half-bright, picks a house in the middle of nowhere that’s already for sale…”

“Okay, quit it.”

“You know I’m right.”

“How can you stand to think that way?”

“Pam, we know this happens,” Alice said flatly.

“You don’t have to dwell on it though.”  Pam was looking down at her desk, and then she frowned and put a hand over her mouth.  “God, I just said the dumbest thing ever, didn’t I?”

“Little bit,” Alice said, but she blunted it with a wry smile.  It was just as pretty as Pam’s and, moreover, looked intelligent.  She put her hand on Pam’s arm and said, “It’s one Saturday afternoon.  A lot of it’s… simple stuff, like not letting him trail you down the basement steps.”

Pam had started picking idly at a fingernail.  It was glossy and painted a deep, brownish red.  “I’ll think about it,” she said.

“Okay.”  Alice kept up the smile as she backed away.

# # #

Two hours later, a man seized grabbed Alice by her lapel and dragged it down, hard.  She crouched a little in reply, sinking her weight to keep him from jerking her forward, off balance.  Her left hand hooked out and off, breaking his grip while she scrabbled at his sleeve to get control of his forearm.  He responded by simply stepping in, hard and close, and checking her like a hockey player.  He was taller and heavier, and she had no choice but to stagger back.  His left hand had taken a decisive grip at her right elbow, but she’d gotten a piece of his jacket on that side, a connection that let her feel it as he pulled.  She went along partway, but stepped her left foot back and tried to drop her elbow towards her hip, tried to settle and block him.  He pulled inward, then out, but he couldn’t shift her posture with only one hand on one arm.  He glared, then grabbed her wrist, shaking and squeezing to try and get free of her grasp.  His eyes dipped to his chest for just a moment and she took the chance.

“AIIIEEGH!” she shouted and lunged forward as hard as she could, slamming her right shoulder into his and clawing at the back of his armpit with her free left hand.  She latched on, plowed forward and got her hip past, she was a half-step beyond him.  Her right thigh snaked between and she tried to bear down through him while swinging her leg clear through.  If she’d taken a little more of his balance… if she’d had a little more mass to press… if she’d been two inches farther forward, or if she’d been stronger, then she would have knocked his leg out from under him, turning his torso into the empty space where its support had been.  She almost had him, almost threw him with a fierce osoto gari.

But he was heavier, and stronger, and taller, and the counter to osoto gari is another osoto gari.  Their positions were parallel, hip by hip, facing opposite directions, clinging close, each trying to bend forward and force the other back, each trying to lift an entangled leg behind and avoid having it swept uselessly forward.  For a moment they stalled, like elk with locked antlers, and then he hopped ahead with his free foot, leaning in, another hop, using his height and his mass, she fought it but not for very long.  It was strength against strength and he was stronger.  A final hop and she popped into the air, twisting and falling to her back.  She slapped hard, feeling the familiar impact on her palm and shoulder and hip.

“Good,” he grunted, both arms around her head and her right shoulder, pressing her into the ground.  She fought to drop her arm, to turn and get her elbow to her knee, but the human arm rapidly loses strength once the shoulder opens more than ninety degrees.  He had her bicep pressed against her cheek, leaving the arm useless and her head contained.

For a moment, she was distracted by a faint odor of cologne from his chest.  The name of the aroma escaped her, it was blending with his sweat and the scent of laundry detergent from his clothes…

With a grunt, Alice compressed, rolling her entire body into a spiral, contorting her hip to bring her knee to her own forehead and… she did it!  She got her leg looped over him, grabbing his face with the back of her knee and exploding open, all the coiled strength of her clenched torso unwinding to peel him off and away…

She heard the sharp sound of a clap and relaxed.  The man, whose name was Karl, rolled back and sat up, breathing heavily. 

“You almost had that sweep,” he gasped.

“If you weren’t so damn fat,” she panted back, giving him a flushed and feral grin.

He stood and reached out for her, but she was already on her feet as well.

“I can’t help the way God made me,” Karl said.  His own grin was nearly as pretty as hers.  He had a delicate, almost effeminate face with sparkly green eyes.  She could joke about him being fat because, in actual fact, his proportions were perfect. 

“What’m I supposed to do, huh?  It’s like having a semi pass a compact on the freeway,” she grumbled, but she couldn’t stop grinning.

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