First of a series of Sunday excerpts from the thriller COLD FEAR, by Brandon Webb and John David Mann, this passage is the prologue that opens the book.

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A deserted city street. The distant ruckus of drunken revelers, laughter, Christmas carol fragments. Under the faint glow of street lights a flurry of snowflakes drifts to the frigid cobblestone surface, then swirls aside as a girl sprints past. 

Bare feet. No coat. Mid-twenties.

She darts through an intersection. Then another. Street names she can’t pronounce. On a wild guess she takes a left at the next corner and runs another block before stopping, bent over, hands on knees, breathing like a trapped animal. There’s nothing but the silence of the snow and her own rapid panting. She looks around, frantic.

Has she gone too far? 

Takes off running again. Squinting at the street signs, pleading for them to make sense. Fighting back the urge to stop and scan the darkness behind her. The sound of her feet slapping the slick street surface drums against her ears . . . images explode through her mind—

the mines . . . the Englishman . . . the lake house—