Rain slashed their faces and the wind tore at their coats, but she urged her mother down the road. At either side, the ditch had filled and the road was rapidly becoming a raging river. More than once the woman stopped and her chest heaved with the effort. She looked like a dog at the end of its chain, her daughter thought. The downward path had twisted and turned more times than she had counted, and the house was behind and above them, its dark eyes turned to the valley below. She felt its presence even though it was long out of sight among the enraged forest trees, and she feared she would never be free of it.
She felt the rumbling before she saw the car. Her mother stopped in her tracks, trembling with terror. Headlights, a livid yellow, ploughed through the slanting rods of rain and blinded them both. A car door slammed.
“Get in,” he barked, his bulk black and massive against the light. “I said, get in!”
Her mother whimpered, her limbs jerking to obey the command. The daughter overcame her reserve and grabbed her arm.
“No. We’re not going back.”
She said no more, didn’t wait to see the effect of her words, dragged her mother out of the beam of light and past the bulk, the car, the old life. The woman moaned and hung heavy, a dead weight, but her daughter was merciless, like her father. She knew what was coming, couldn’t avoid it, almost didn’t want to. The fist hit her mother in the face and she sunk to her knees. It was what the girl had been waiting for, dreaming of for so long. She bared her teeth in a grin of desperation and desire and pulled the pistol, his pistol, from her coat pocket. The light was in her eyes. He was just a black mass against the headlights. But at point blank range she couldn’t miss.
The sound of the detonation was lost in the first crack of thunder as the storm broke overhead.