The Chase

I was being hunted. The individual trees had morphed together, their details no longer discernible, as my legs furiously pumped beneath me. Oxygen had become scarce, the air in my lungs no longer supplying enough to feed my furiously beating heart. The world had become entirely too silent, and, yet, also seemed entirely too loud, my laboured breathing heightened in a sea of trees where a pin drop could be heard.
Cries of pain, of unending anguish met my ears, and I knew that it was soon my time. I was the last. I had thought I could make it, could escape the fate that no one wanted, but everyone was bound to endure. Perhaps I was kidding myself.
The ground no longer moved as quickly beneath me, legs becoming unwilling, tense with pain, heavy with bone-weary exhaustion. I wanted to stop. I was tired of this constant fight that had no winner; that only seemed to leave behind a trail of bodies limp in their defeat. The ground which had seemed so full of obstacles when I had begun to run, so full of potential hurdles, now seemed like the perfect cushion for my weary head. I longed to sink into the moss-covered floor, where the salty tang of my sweat would cool under the dying sun, the bloodied stumps of my toes could stretch into the soft dirt, and my eyes could finally, close, peaceful forevermore.
‘Run!’ a voice screamed at me, piercing in its intensity, before it was cut off abruptly, foreboding in its silence. I longed to scream back, screech my fear, my exhaustion, my heart which no longer held any hope. Was there any point, any hope in fighting, when the outcome had already seemed pre-decided? Already, my legs had begun to slow even further, their movement no longer furious, the details on the trees now, concerningly stark.
The leaves crunched, the force by which they were crushed hinting at a body that was much larger, much bigger than my own. At once, the seemingly limp muscles of my body became alert, legs seeming to find an extra reserve as they pumped furiously. It was here, in this moment, that I finally tasted true fear. Hearting pumping wildly, almost beating out of my chest in its intensity, palms dripping with an unending sweat in an otherwise cool evening, breath rattling in my chest, the tang of fear was palpable throughout my entire body. Black dots appeared in my vision, blurring the world around me, the ground seeming to move beneath my feet. As the sound of leaves being crushed behind me met my ears, a hand closed around my shoulder, a painful promise hinted in its caress. I had been caught. Hopelessness, painful in its intensity coated my insides, as my wretched body sagged in the unrelenting grip. Panting breath touched the edge of my ear, as I heard the words that I had been dreading to hear.
‘Tag, you’re it’

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