She was maybe ten feet from the top of the hill before her scooter gave out a sickening whir and died, finally, after five more feet. What was surely only the first of her many emotions to come was, surprisingly, relief. The rotary buzz of the scooter had died along with it. That thing that she’d assumed to be silence had turned out to be just the low drone of her machine. She wondered, briefly, at the sound of nothing. Now, no longer cowed, the stillness of this night crept toward her. Overhead lamps on either side split the street between unwell glows, and she’d been scooting their interstice right down the middle. Late at night after she got off work she had a tendency to do this, to scoot the dashed median. Whether she did so because she feared the streetside shrubs or the sidewalks beyond them was unclear—particularly to her, who had up till now not given the matter much thought. Cars rarely made their way through here at this hour. On nights when the mood struck her she’d slalom the dashes—whether for fun or to flaunt her indiscretion, again unclear. She’d been mid-slalom this night, diagonal across the space between two white lines, when the thing slowed. A frantic yank left had gotten the wheels and little else directed forward by its time of death. So there she sat, post-yank, center of the street, wondering.
What she felt next was a gentle tug backward.