Run! She willed power into her legs. God, run! Come on, run! Her bare feet thudded over the forest floor. Her breath sounded ragged in her ears. Heart pounding. Blood pumping. Throat raw. Oh God. The sounds of the men – whatever they were – closing in on her. Whooping, cheering. What would they do? She flew through branches. Chest screaming. Lights - up ahead. Just get there. Get to people. But what if -? Just run!
The glitter of dark water. She pushed on up a slope, out of the woods. Feet hit concrete. Buildings, buildings, no lights. Where was everyone? She focussed on the one building still lit up.
Behind her, growls revved, low and menacing.
Terror bubbled up. Hysteria was close. She fought it down. Just focus, get to the lights. Safety. No good. Her legs were slowing down. Deadened with exertion.
Snickers iced the air around her, nipping at her earlobes.
“Help me! Someone! Please!”
The snickers exploded into high-pitched laughter. Animals? It couldn’t be.
Eyes wide, she snatched looks at the line of houses. God, someone, see me. But there was no change. Every building stayed blank.
Her feet spattered over the road, echoing in the empty streets. But whatever chased her made no noise as it – they? – stalked her. Just the laughter, now pruned back, carried to her ears by the wind. Or was it the wind itself? Laughing, howling at her?
Fear blanched her body, propelled her forward. Wind got up, as if attacking. Her clothes, rags, half ripped from her frame were blasted back. She was close. So close. She battled the wind itself, her hair in tatters, eyes narrowed in the gale, skirt stuck to her legs. They were numb with cold, scratched and clawed. Dried blood painted her skin like battle paint.
She fought on.
Finally, she reached the light. The growls behind her roared up, deafening. The wind spiralled, almost lancing her face and body. She tried the door. Locked. Shielded by an iron grill. That was weird.
She rattled the grill. Thumped it with her fist. “Help me. Please! Quick! Oh God, please help me!” Her voice barely carried over the roaring wind.
Any second they’d be up on her. Behind her. Shredding what was left of her clothes. And God knows what else. But there was nowhere else to run. Even if there was, she had no more energy. She shook the door, half heartedly.
“Please.” It was a whisper.
She sank to the ground at the steps of the building, knees scraping the concrete. Bleeding.
The laughter, the air laced with evil, clouding over her. Suffocating. Drenching her in its poison. A tongue, it felt like this, licked her own lips, from the bottom to the top. Moving the skin. She clamped her mouth shut against the movement. Screamed. Her gaze darted about. Who was doing this to her? Nothing. There was nobody out there.She pressed her back against the iron grill, brought her knees to her chest. It gave her some
feeling of safety, for one part of her to be free from assault. Freezing fingers slithered up her legs. She shook at the invisible touch, managing to keep the screams inside her. The fingers tightened on her knee caps..