Once she'd left the company of her friends, the depression hit Ellen Slinn like a familiar blanket, draining colour away from the world and giving it the washed-out effect of the super-8 films her history teacher used to show in class.
Leaving the train at 11:17 and walking back to her parents house was just a matter of plodding; one foot in front of the other until she arrived. Not that she was drunk – far from it; she'd limited herself to one alcoholic drink in every three, interspersing them with water and fruit juice and the slim chance of seeing Laurence at one of the clubs.
She was almost surprised when the figure asked her for a light, her hand closing on the keys in her pocket the way she'd been taught in self-defence class but the stranger was only a girl. Ellie relaxed and shook her head. "Sorry," she said. "I don't smoke." She was already reaching for her purse to give the young vagrant a pound when the knife entered her stomach.