Your heart beats so hard against your ribs, you want to soothe the ache away. But that would mean stopping and stopping would mean… you push the thought from your mind. Instead, you continue pushing your feet forward – one leg in front of the other and then again… and again. You whisper to yourself that you can make it, that you can go on. But you don’t think you can. You can hardly breathe. The air burns your lungs like battery acid. You choke on blood, spit and your fear. Footsteps sound loudly behind you as you run through the pitch-black forest. The night was darker than it was ten minutes ago as if the stars and the moon fled whatever awaited you.
The wind howls around you and for two seconds you falter. What if this was a trap? What if you were running exactly where they wanted you? Who werethey? Your heart continues to pound its way out of your chest as it dawns that you might not survive the night.
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
The voice that echoes in the wind is so soft and soothing that you want to believe it. Yet, you cannot erase the images of your friends’ bodies gutted on the white tile of the apartment you shared. You know that would’ve been your fate too if you hadn’t stayed for those three drinks after work or if you hadn’t been able to unglue your feet from the bloodstained floor quickly enough to run. You try to focus on taking careful strides. Falling wouldn’t do you any good now. But, you don’t fall. You collide with an object you hadn’t seen as you ran. You stagger back from the impact of the collision but as you try to move it reaches out and grabs your hand. You make out the shape of a man as your eyes adjust to the darkness. He shrugs off the black, hooded coat he wears.
“Hello,” he says softly. You try to yank your hand away but despite being tall and thin, he is stronger than you.
“Stop running. I don’t want to hurt you.”
This comes from behind you – the voice you were running from all along. You look into the dark eyes of the man who holds you immobile and cannot help the shudder that creeps up your spine. He grins. You can barely make out his teeth in the darkness but his grin seems animal-like, wolfish but more dangerous, more depraved.
“Salvation is that way,” he says gesturing to the path from which you came.
Then, he plunges a knife into your frantically beating heart.
© Rilzy Adams, 2014