Jenny was sitting in the car, while Mark inspected the damage with the pen torch from the glove box. It was getting cold, and she had decided to use the giant panda to keep warm. With Jenny being quite short in stature, and the panda being quite large, it was working exceedingly well.
"I want one of these," she called to Mark. "Not a toy. A real one. And I want it tomorrow. It can sleep in our bed and keep me warm all night."
"Whatever you say, darling," grunted Mark from outside the car. He was inspecting the damage with a pen light from the glove box. Jenny rolled her eyes at her friend the panda.
"Leave it, babe. The damage is done, you're not going to be able to fix it while we're stuck out here. Come in here and keep me company. Jenny's bored."
"Jenny's always bored," said Mark, the trace of a smile creeping into his voice.
"I'm a high-maintenance woman," said Jenny. "You were warned. Don't pretend you weren't warned." She considered the panda with a critical eye. "Actually, I've changed my mind. I want a grizzly bear. Panda's are for wimps." She threw it into the backseat and peered out the window to where Mark stood in among the trees. "Maaaaaaaark..."
"Come out here a minute," he said. "There's something I want you to look at."
"This better be good," mumbled Jenny, climbing out into the cold night air with a shiver. She gathered her blonde hair into a ponytail and went to stand beside Mark. "Well?"
"Have a look at the tyre," said Mark, shining the pen light down at it.
Jenny glanced down. "It's a tyre," she said, "and it's flat." She looked at him and pulled a face. "I'm not good at these things, babe, you know I'm not. Why don't we skip ahead and you just tell me what I'm supposed to have noticed."
Mark laughed. "Sure, we can do it that way." They crouched down together by the deflated wheel. Mark pointed at something on top of it that gleamed in the torchlight. "You see that?" he said.
"Uh-huh," said Jenny. She watched as Mark reached out and took hold of the thing, the tugged. He was a strong guy, she knew, but it took him a few seconds to work it loose. It turned out to be a small steel nail that stood in the palm of his hand like a miniature steeple. He let her observe it for a moment before speaking.
"There's a whole bunch of them. At least two in this tyre and six in the other front. There's a couple in the backs as well, but they didn't burst."
A cold sensation like a ball of slime moved through Jenny's chest. "You mean someone... someone put these out here deliberately? Set a trap? That's sick. They could have killed us."
Mark shrugged. "Some people have a twisted sense of humour."
Jenny huffed. "Some people are bloody freaks."
"We ought to try and clear the rest of them off the road. Else the next people who come along are going to run right into them."
"Sure," said Jenny. "It can be my good deed for the day." She followed Mark through the trees to the road once more, even though part of her wanted keenly to return to the car and her nice warm panda. Wanted to return there and lock the doors and not emerge until daylight. She contented herself with watching Mark as he swept the road methodically with the light from the pen torch. He was a big guy, short but powerfully built with cropped dark hair and the shadow of stubble on his chin. He would keep her safe. She believed in Mark.
From behind her on the road she suddenly became aware of a noise. She might have been hearing it for a while, but it was only now that her mind decided to make her aware of it. It was a quiet sound, but getting louder. It was the sound of footsteps, running footsteps, coming their way