She ran down the block as fast as she possibly could. She was praying that she would lose her pursuer between alleys. The streets were wet with rain, splashing as she ran through the water.
She could still hear heavy footsteps behind her, following her. The man’s ragged breaths were only getting closer. She now knew that she wasn’t going to lose him in the alley, so she decided to take a sharp turn, darting into the first door she saw.
Regin was an eighteen-year-old engineering student living in Chicago, Illinois. A native of New York, she’d only briefly visited the Windy City before starting college.
As a freshman at the University of Illinois, Regin knew little about the city she now lived in. But the little she’d learned told her Chicago could be dangerous at times. She didn’t think this statement was true until that fateful day.
Regin’s life was split between school and work. After her classes, she’d run simple errands for particular clients in the city, including picking up dry cleaning, kids from daycare, and grocery shopping.
Regin would spend long days at school only to have her evenings confine her in the city because of work. By the end of each day, she’d return to her apartment tired and worn out. But that would change soon.
The fateful night that would change Regin’s life started like any other night. She’d spent the day in and out of classes, and by evening, she was in West Town running errands.
A cold shower poured over the city as night fell, and although Regin didn’t carry an umbrella, she pushed through the downpour to finish her tasks on time. But what should’ve been a peaceful night turned out to be anything but.
Regin had worked through most of her errands when it started to rain. It was half past seven, and the rain was not letting up. Regin called her boss to inform her of the situation.
Regin’s boss sympathized with her. She agreed to move the remaining tasks to the next day. But as Regin relaxed on the bus back to her place, she received an unexpected text.
“Are you still in West Town?” the text read. It was Regin’s roommate who went ahead to ask if Regin could pass by a particular chemist in that part of the city for medicine.
Since it was still early, Regin agreed, disembarking the bus at the first stop to return to West Town. But as the bus disappeared into the concrete jungle before her, she realized she’d made a terrible mistake.
Of all the places Regin could have disembarked, she hopped off the bus at one of the worst parts of the city. Dark buildings stared down at her and puddles of water gleamed on the street as she waited for the next bus.
Her eyes darted around, registering that she was indeed in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city. What could possibly go wrong?
Regin had watched enough documentaries about dangerous streets in America. More often than not, these places never failed to live up to their reputation.
She knew she should have waited for the next bus, but something told her to venture out and look for a taxi. The sooner she’d be out of this neighborhood, the better.
Regin took her first step into the ominous street before her. Although it was some hours after sunset, the entire street was already empty.
The deeper she walked into the neighborhood, the more she regretted her decision. Knowing it was too late to turn back, she forged forward. A sinking feeling from deep inside her gut was screaming at her, but she pushed it away. She should have listened.
As Regin walked, she could hear the steady slapping of her sneakers on the asphalt. Suddenly, she heard a car rolling up behind her, and she moved over to the sidewalk to let it pass. But it didn’t.
It slowed down. She flicked her head around and noticed a large man leaning out the car window. He was mouthing words to her, but she had no intention of sticking around to hear them. She started to walk faster.
Up ahead was a parking lot and Regin breathed a sigh of relief. If she could just get into the light, she would be safe. Suddenly, the car that had been following her pulled into the lot and parked behind her.
She heard the car door slam as the man got out, but she kept her eyes on the beacon of light and edged along the building. She just had to keep walking.
The windows of the building were still lit, and she prayed that there was someone around to help her. She could hear the heavy thud of the man’s boots behind her now, and she was all too aware that they were growing louder.
With her suspicions confirmed, she started to run. A few more feet and she would reach the building. But a rough hand wrapped around her wrist.
Regin let out a terrified scream, praying that someone would hear her. The man tailed her relentlessly, undeterred by the public parking lot and exposure from the twinkling lights.
Soon he was upon her. He grabbed her wrist and picked her up swiftly from behind, slinging her over his shoulder like she weighed nothing. But Regin wasn’t going without a fight.
Regin pummelled the burly man’s back with her little fists, to no avail. He leaned over and opened his trunk, but Regin had adrenaline on her side – it was coursing through her veins.
She wasn’t going down without a fight. She squirmed in his arms and managed to wriggle from his grip. Before she even hit the ground, she was running.
Running running running, her legs pumped furiously as she made a beeline for the lights. But the man was closing in again, and Regin searched for something – anything – that she could put between herself and the furious man behind her.
He was enraged now, and every footstep hit the ground with such a force Regin swore she could feel it. She had one option left, and if that door was locked, she was done for.
Fear and awareness shot through Regin, and she ran faster than she ever had in her life. Whoever had grabbed her was fast on her heels, and she knew she couldn’t let him get to her.
The man’s footfalls thundered in Regin’s ear as she ran. Already out of breath and with her assailant gaining on her, Regin did the unthinkable.
Regin took the first corner that came into her shaky view. A glass door materialized before her eyes, and she shot for it.
Regin put her hands out in front of her and closed her eyes, hoping she wouldn’t go through the glass. But as she hit the door with her palms, it gave way, and she was inside.
Regin struggled furiously to hold the door’s handle from the inside, throwing her shoulder with all her weight against the frame and refusing to move. Her eyes locked on her pursuer through the glass.
She swallowed when he walked into view, and she saw the terrifying expression on his face. And then it happened.
“Open this door,” the pursuer demanded as he ran a hand across his lips. He spat on the tarmac and repeated his statement.
“Or what?” another voice answered, and Regin spun around to find a man dressed in a gi. “Don’t open it,” the man said calmly, placing a hand on Regin’s shoulder. But what the pursuer did next made them step back.
Randall Ephraim was looking forward to going home to be with his family, but there was just one more thing he needed to do after a long day of classes. He pulled the mats up off the floor and rolled them up before stacking them neatly in the storeroom.
He felt relaxed, as he always did after class. He loved his job. His muscles felt warm and supple as he swept the studio. Little did Randall know that this was the calm before the storm.
Sensei Randall had been teaching in West Town since 2007, when he arrived in the windy city of Chicago, illinois.
His love for karate started at the tender age of 11 when he started training with Shihan Clyde Coy. He studied under the master for 7 years and then received his black belt in 2004. But Randall had never needed to use his skills. Until now.
“He was very strong—very, very strong,” Ephraim said in an interview with WSOC. “He weighed at least 200 (pounds) and some change, under the influence— a very strong, powerful individual.”
Nevertheless, Randall took him down. As soon as the man tried to enter the Bushiken Karate Charlotte Dojo, Randall was ready for him.
Sensei Randall had just seconds to react when he saw the terrified young woman fly through the front door with a bang as she screamed for help and tried to hold the door closed.
Suddenly, he knew exactly what was happening. He saw the man’s intentions written all over his angry face. The man was not prepared for Randall, but Randall had been ready for this moment all of his life.
The pursuer lunged forward, throwing the glass door open. Regin‘s breaths were ragged and tearing into her lungs, and she was shaking with fear.
But in the space of a second, the man standing next to Regin had pushed her behind him. He met Regin’s pursuer head-on. “Go inside,” he ordered gruffly. What was happening?
Regin sprinted deeper into the building. Her heart thundered within her chest and adrenaline surged in her veins. The sound of the scuffle faded behind her as she surged into a brightly lit room.
Regin braked, her palms falling on her knees. She struggled to breathe as her sight took in several Japanese paintings hung on the wall. She looked around wide-eyed, finally realizing where she was.
Randall’s muscles slid smoothly into place. He relaxed his shoulders and delivered a devastating blow with his powerful right leg.
He hit him squarely in the chest, and the man staggered back, reeling. But the man seemed unstoppable, blinded by rage. He leaped up, and when he came at Randall again, he came in swinging.
Randall stood still and waited. The man’s fist swung uselessly past his right shoulder, and he seized the opportunity.
He used no windups and he wasted no motion, each arc of his arms was designed to roll into a single swing as he struck. The man jerked from side to side under the onslaught, with his full body weight powering his lurching body into the next blow.
Then, Randall locked the man’s head into place with his elbows, but it was unnecessary. The police arrived shortly afterward, but the work was done.
The would-be-kidnapper was carefully wheeled out of the parking lot on a stretcher, to the astonishment of onlookers. Randall stood with calm composure as they took his statement.
“There were still some kids in the dojo being picked up by parents and a couple of adult students cleaning up when a young lady came through our doors and stated that someone was trying to harm her,” Randall Ephraim stated.
“Shortly afterward, a big male entered the building… [the woman] insisted that she did not know him and [he] tried to kidnap her.”
“I then went into action defending myself and got him out of the dojo. Once outside he attempted to attack again and was dealt with accordingly,” Randall added.
The assailant has since been identified as 47-year-old August Williams, and he is a repeat offender. Hopefully, after his encounter with Sensei Randall, he’ll think twice next time.
As luck would have it, the first turn Regin took landed her in a karate studio. She’d been even luckier that the studio’s instructor had been around when she needed help. After a few questions, the police drove Regin home. Although she thanked Randall for saving her life, she knew no words could ever convey how grateful she was for his help.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.