Chapter 5: Escape
Rubbing her eyes, blearily, Cassie limped between branches and over fallen trees, one hand outstretched in front her, the other pressed firmly against her hip. The pain lessened substantially over the past few days (according to her count, five) but it still bothered her enough to keep her from moving comfortably. Most days she couldn't move much at all; just hiding out and reciting the names of virtually every person she'd ever known. From her parents to Aubrey's younger brother's ex girlfriend, Cassie knew that she had to either keep her mind sharp, or suffer from losing it altogether.
But, then, there were times when she had no excuse but to move. Like now.
Navigating through the darkness, Cassie groaned again, knowing that she should not have waited until her bladder almost burst to begin hunting for the bathroom in the dark. The area just below her bellybutton was aching so badly, that she was tempted to kneel over and hold her stomach. Surging forward, she found the slab of grey rock that she frequented as a toilet. The task itself was difficult; she had to find a place that was far away from her meager camp, so as not to expose herself to infections, but it also had to be somewhere that she could find relatively easily. The rock was a landmark that she sought out on her initial excursion. Hiding herself between the slab of rock and a grove of trees, Cassie wedged herself between them, and instinctively looked around before allowing herself to use the bathroom.
"I don't care if I'm alone on this stupid island…" she whispered to herself. "This is so embarrassing."
The snap of a dry twig and the rustling of a few branches to her left shook her out of her state, and she was suddenly aware of everything around her. Every sound, shadow, swaying tree; she felt herself begin to panic. With a bum leg, she couldn't help but to worry about her escape. That, and the darkness of night blinded her to any of the hiding places that she planned, or any of the obstacles that she could encounter by running around without any sense of direction.
Instead of listening for more, she tested the strength of the nearest tree, and used her arms to pull herself up to the lowest branch. With the leg that was functioning properly, she was able to push off of that branch and hoist herself higher. Alternating from using her arms (which were growing tired the higher that she climbed) and her one leg, Cassie lost count of how many branches she climbed until she got so high that she could feel the tree begin to sway under her weight. Clutching the tree trunk, she pressed her eyes closed, listening for any sounds from below. Too scared to look down, Cassie worried that the sound of the wind in her eyes would make her to oblivious to the danger that may have been below her. Upon arriving on the island (or at least waking up on it), Cassie assumed that wild animals were lurking around, waiting for prey. She almost expected to wake up to the sight of a giant leopard ready to pounce on her.
Cassie lost track of time up on the tree, and in turn grew tired. She reminded herself that there was the distinct possibility of a bear or other ferocious beast just below her, waiting for her to fall asleep. The more tired she grew, the more her mind began to imagine what awaited her below. Through the thick braches and wide leaves, she could have sworn that she saw four bears and a leopard and Rick Springsteen. Shaking her head, in order to clear it, Cassie found herself losing grip on the exterior of the tree and in an instant, pawing at the air.
Before she hit the ground, she turned in the air, but wishing immediately that she hadn't. Between branches, she watched herself nearing the ground, and the fear that gripped her chest pained her immensely.
That is, until her shoulder collided with the ground first, sending forth a strangled cry from her mouth. The tug-of-war between the fear she felt and her physical pain raged on, particularly when she heard the shuffling of dried leaves and fallen branches behind her. Too tired to turn, or even scream out again, Cassie pressed her eyes closed, anticipating the blackout that was inevitable.
I am NOT proud of myself update-wise, with this story. I wish it didn't stink so badly.
A dear friend and author always tells me that it's "quality over quantity" in regards to chapter lengths, but I'm glad to see these short chapters end. They unnerve me in ways that I can't explain.