Trixie Willett, Grade 9, Pacific Lutheran College -
As I ran, I could feel sticky beads of sweat trickle down my forehead. My hair was a tangled mess, and my palms clammy and numb. The night sky loomed ahead of me, foggy and featureless. Not a single star in the sky, nor a stirring animal in hindsight. The forest was usually a peaceful place, bestowing its secrets to any fortunate soul. Unfortunately, tonight was the opposite. Its usual warm glow was outcast and replaced by a sullen void, which helped form melancholy goosebumps on my skin.
The moonlight shone and reverberated off nearby fauna, but I knew it was taunting me. Taunting me in a gruesome, twisted way. I started sprinting as soon as I heard it approaching. It made a shuffling noise, occasionally ramping up to the sound of a loud thud and deep, dry wheezing.
Gnarled tree roots protruded from the ground, and their trees grew thickly and out of control. I wish I wasn’t alone. I wish that I had someone near me, helping me escape from reality. A grim feeling washed over me, like a wave of doubt. I knew I had to stay calm, calm like many others were before they accepted their fate. I’m a fighter, they said, I’m a survivor, they said. I had to duck a low hanging branch that grabbed at me with its earthy claws. My fate was bound to me by string, a sort string that unravelled for kilometres. A fate that could outrun me any day, anytime, anywhere.
I could feel it getting closer.
I felt myself turn my head around to see it, but nothing was there, only a blur of the past and evergreen forest. Tears stung my eyes, forcing me to snap my eyelids shut and trust myself, just like they told me to. After the stinging sensation had faded, I opened my eyes and felt my heart leap to my throat. I was a survivor though, right? I could get through these unclear and malicious times, and prove to everyone that I can do this, even if they can’t or won’t be by my side.
Footsteps behind me. Were they footsteps? Or was it my insanity creeping closer, just like they said it was?
My breath was now shallow, and I was trying to draw in as many, painless breaths as I could, but the jagged-glass like substance lodged in my lungs forced me to become light-headed. I knew it was catching up. I knew even if I kept trying, it was useless. Useless because my destiny was sealed and posted into the dark abyss before us. The dark abyss that we would never see, not in our wildest dreams. Until we do.
It touched me, and now I was going to become one of the dead. The dead that tried recklessly, but died breathlessly. After a stabbing and jerking pain in my lungs, litres of burning bile turned into my own, crimson blood, I was taken. Taken like 217,000 others. They… were wrong.