Cliff Grady slowed down the instant he spotted flashing hazard lights, long before he got close enough to see how pretty the stranded motorist was.  He guided his car to a stop in front of her station wagon, feeling additional sympathy when he spotted two children buckled into car seats in her backseat.  Having suffered a flat tire or ten during his career as a traveling salesman, he could empathize better than most with the poor woman’s plight.

“Afternoon,” he greeted while squeezing his ample frame from the car.  While he approached, he consciously took care to avoid staring at the attractive woman for fear that it would send the wrong message about his sincere desire to help.

“Flat tire?”

“I’ve never changed one before,” the stranded motorist sighed, holding up the tire iron clumsily clutched in her left hand.

“Mind if I take a look?”

Sucking in his ample stomach, Stan knelt next to her car to examine her back wheel.  She’d managed to jack the car up properly, which would help him avoid getting his hands any dirtier than necessary, but his face wrinkled with confusion when he saw that the tire appeared to be fully inflated.  In fact, it didn’t appear to have lost any air pressure at all.  Puzzled, he straightened up and inhaled sharply when he looked through the back-seat window.  What he’d mistaken for children when he pulled over were actually lifelike dolls, strapped into the car seats.

His brain no sooner registered this information before the woman looming ominously behind him brought the tire iron down upon his head, the vicious blow knocking him to the ground alongside the car.  Ears ringing, he raised his hand in an ineffectual attempt to stave off the second blow, but to no avail.

The third blow sent him tumbling into unconsciousness.


Excruciating pain tore him back screaming from the cold abyss.  His eyes darted wildly as he struggled to adjust to the gloom of the darkened basement where he was tied to a chair, unable to comprehend where he was.  It took several moments for his panic-stricken mind to recognize the woman kneeling before him and remember what had happened back on the road.

His gaze descended to his throbbing foot, focusing upon the bloody gap where his middle toe should be.  He began to shake when he caught sight of the gore-encrusted garden clippers she held, the hinged blade squeaking as she opened and closed them to demonstrate what she’d done.

His visceral fear gave way to hot agony when she lopped off the big toe on his other foot, his pitiful cries for help transforming into a series of wretched sobs as he begged her to stop.  “Why are you doing this?” he wailed.  “I was trying to help you!”

His tormentor paused, staring at him with bemused eyes that belied her otherwise expressionless face.  She held the clippers poised in the open position over his ring finger, cocking her head to one side as if to ponder his question.  Her eventual response was accompanied by a searing explosion of pain when she hacked another appendage from his body.

“Why not?”