I was putting distance between us with each step, the numbers growing faint until I barely heard ten. They had to be a good distance away, but I didn’t think it would be enough.
Already, thin branches had grabbed at my hair and ripped individual strands from my head. My feet had stumbled over stones on the ground and roots that were growing too high up.
Every so often, thick patches of bushes would block my way, causing me to turn left or right to avoid them.
I was engulfed in darkness, the moon and stars hidden above the canopy of trees, and eventually the forest around me grew silent. I could only hear my heavy breathing. But I didn’t stop. Didn’t turn to see if I could hear footsteps behind me, didn’t slow down to give myself even a second to catch my breath. I just kept going without concern for where I would end up, as long as it was away from them.
For a moment I believed that I’d somehow outrun them, but when a tree blocked my path and I had to dodge to avoid it, a hand slapped at my arm causing me to scream.
I turned again and ran in a different direction with deep laughter booming from where I had been.
I was being corralled, but still I kept running, even when my body wanted to give out.