Darkness swallowed me as a cloud drifted over the full moon, taking my sight along with it. I didn’t stop.
I couldn’t stop.
Rocks, sticks, and God knew what else cut into the bottom of my feet as they flew over the rocky terrain. Thump, thump, thump against the dead leaves and pine needles scattered on the forest floor. I couldn’t see a thing, so I focused on the sounds around me, but even that was drowned out by my hammering heartbeat and gasping breaths.
The woods at night. Magical, alluring, still. No, not that night, that night it was a thinly veiled evil, a muted witness to my death if I were to get caught. That night, the woods were my escape, my refuge, my only chance for survival.
The clouds shifted, a silver glow washing over the mountains, casting shadows along the ground like ghosts swaying back and forth. I blinked, adjusting, and heaved myself over the boulder I would have slammed into full force. My body tumbled to the ground like a sack of potatoes, the breath knocking out of my lungs when I hit the cold, wet dirt.
I froze, my eyes shooting open.
Did he see me? Hear me?
Holding my breath, I flattened against the ground, my heart a thundering staccato. I focused on the moon above me, like a spotlight hellbent on pinpointing my location. A breeze whistled through the trees, the almost-bare branches like slashes through the moon.
Dead leaves, dead trees. Autumn in the mountains had never looked so haunting. Or been so cold.
My eyes widened in terror. I willed myself to fade into the night, into the ground—fitting, considering that’s where he wanted to put me.
I didn’t blink, didn’t breathe as seconds tick by.
Had I lost him?
A rustle of leaves had my pulse kickstarting into panic mode again.
I knew I couldn’t stay there.
I stayed, I died.