His feet pounded on the ground sending waves of muddy water trailing behind him. There was no real threat that he feared, no physical, substantial being that was chasing him. It was something unseen by the rest of the world. He feared it as much as a tangible beast chasing him and his feet could move no faster than in those moments. He had to escape it.
All around him he could feel the ground shaking, trembling under the monster’s might and sending a flurry of wildlife running towards safer ground. Could they see it or did they just sense its looming presence? The light was dimming on the horizon and the rain was falling steadily, obscuring any visible escape route. If he stayed in the woods he would never escape but if he left them he would be a glowing target for that creature to latch onto. It was always in the woods where he first saw them, towering, lumbering, and shifting black masses that didn’t even move the leaves as they tore through the dense forest. Nothing moved, nothing broke and nothing noted its weight except for the ground that it walked on. They were guardians, protectors of some secret hidden land of magenta toned skies and milky white flowers. None were permitted to enter and even fewer were allowed to glimpse the entrance to this utopia. To smell that wafting sweetness and be bathed in its shimmering light was to forfeit your very existence to those guardians in that lurked in the dark.
He turned his head quickly, almost losing his balance, and saw its silky black tendrils snaking their way through the branches. They were searching for him. Even if he hid, even if he climbed awkwardly up the bare tree trunks, they would find him. There was not a single hollow tree or muddy hill that the beast could not reach. His heart was pounding in his throat, forcing his vision to pulse and throb between lucidity and blurs of fallen trees. He kept running. Branches blocked his way with tangled snares of vines and thorns that grabbed at his bare arms, shredding the delicate flesh that hung to the his bones. There was no time for his gasps of pain or his urge to stop and tend to the bleeding wounds. If he stopped, he would be caught, if he got caught, he would die and he had already spent the better part of his lifetime trying avoid just that.
Before long he came to a small creek that divided the musty forest floor into sections. The water ran fast, being fuelled by the downpour and made the idea of crossing it a treacherous one, but there was little else he could do. He recalled the faint glimpse of light he saw earlier that evening, peeking through the blackberry brambles, illuminating everything around it with a power that seemed disproportionate with its small size. There was a noise, like the fluttering of soft, dusty wings and a low droning buzz, it made him want to sleep right then and there, under the leafy canopy; and he might of if there hadnt come a monumentally loud thundering only a moment later. Sleep would have been lovely after such a long walk, but the second his eyes tore away from the veritable paradise ahead of him and focused on /it/, an overwhelming sense of dread filled him from head to toe. He had to run. He imagined it was much like how rabbits felt when they were being chased by a half-starved wolf who hadnt had a filling meal since the spring before. It was like prey being chased by a predator. Before it even moved, before it showed its towering size, he knew that he had found something very important. Why else would it have been hidden away so carefully? Why else would it be protected by something so monstrous and merciless?
As his feet slid into the icy cold water, the current lapping at his sides like an overzealous pet, all thought left him. The sun was starting to rise and the rain still hadnt let up. All he could feel was fear and cold. Another half a mile, perhaps, and he would be out of the woods and just maybe someone would drive down that one lane dirt road and see him in his distressed state. Maybe he could be rescued. Step after drudging step he moved across the stream, focusing only on his goal ahead, and before he could reach ahead of him to grab a low hanging vine and pull himself from the freezing water, he felt something akin to rough gauze and molasses curl its way around his throat and lift him into the air, sucking the very life out of his body before he could even process that he had been caught.
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