As I hastened deeper into the dense forest, what was left of daylight morphed into dark shadows. On one hand, this scared the hell out of me; on the other, it could be used to my advantage to disappear within the foliage. I willed myself not to look back, instead focusing on the uneven track ahead. I knew it would be Gary who would come. And if he caught me, I wouldn’t make it back with him. This place would be my final destination; buried in a grave that might never be found or scavenged by forest creatures that would scatter my bones amongst the debris of the forest floor. This was an even scarier thought and adrenaline spurred me forward pushing my body beyond extremes. Never much of a runner, the speed I was moving surprised even me. The possibility of death can do that.
Pounding feet sounded behind me and I broke my resolve of not looking back. I glanced over my shoulder, almost tripping, but saw no one. My ears picked up the sound of obscenities. Yes, it’s Gary and he’s gaining ground. My lungs gasped for air. Get off the trail, now. My eyes searched for a place to hide. The pathway rose up a small incline. I flew over the top and down the other side, where the path veered off to the right. To the left, an old game trail barely visible meandered through the trees.
I slowed and glanced around me. The near darkness provided deep shadows in the trees. A tangle of fallen trees and branches on my left looked like a good spot to hide in. Branches scratched my face and caught in my hair as I pulled myself over the decaying trunks. I tumbled face first into a hollow under a log, filling my mouth with dirt and leaves. The smell of musty, rotting debris churned my stomach. The taste of bile rose into my throat.
Gary charged over the top of the incline and came to a dead stop. Damn. I hoped he would miss the game trail and keep going.
“Alright, bitch. Come back now and I’ll let you live. If I have to chase you, you’re dead! Got it?”
Let me live? Sure you will. Oh God ... I feel like a trapped animal. Terrified he would hear my raspy breathing; I tried to control my gasps. There was nothing I could do about the pounding of my heart.