In the dark of the car park she's just a smudge of colors against the grey of the pavement and the black of the shadows. The overhead lamps cast a sickly, sulfurous tinge to her pale and down-turned face as the lazy, swinging lights of an idling ambulance highlight first the blue of her uniform and then the red of her hair. She makes hardly a sound to break the quiet of night, save for the shuffling of her feet and the occasional muttered curse. The distance is closing between her and her car, and her keys have still not been found in the bottom of an enormous canvas bag she rifles through as she walks.
Despite her distraction, she doesn't break stride; not until she yanks at what she hopes is the end of her key chain and suddenly half a banana, an empty water bottle, and an open bag of crisps come tumbling out into her path.
Eyes rolling, annoyed, she bends to the ground, and that's when she feels it.
It seems to start in the pit of her stomach and spread through her veins: an icy numbing ache that almost vibrates in her bones. She shivers and her flesh rises into bumps, but when she reaches up to pull her cardigan close against the sudden breeze, she notices: there isn't any breeze. The air doesn't seem to move at all, but instead hangs thick and still around her like a heavy blanket. She's frozen and time seems to stand still. The only awareness she has is for the feeling of dread threatening to spill into her lungs and drown her.
And then just as quick it starts, it's over. The air is moving again, and her limbs are her own. Behind her a car door slams and when she gasps she realizes she's been holding her breath.
"Oh dear! So sorry – didn't mean to startle you. Going home, are you? Well, good night, Miss Pond!"
When she does find her keys and she's reaching her hand out to unlock the car door her hands are still shaking.