Author's Note: This story is rated M for a reason! It contains massive amounts of senseless violence, passionate sex, and is written in all-around very bad taste. If you don't like it, you are free to leave at any time, but please make sure to take your baggage with you. Flames will be ignored and/or deleted. You have been warned.
It was cold and slick, but she struggled up the hill anyway, her breath laboring in her lungs, the rocks biting into her feet. She had left the house without her shoes; there had been no time to even slip on a pair of sandals. Her heart pounded as though it would escape from her chest, or perhaps choke her; her legs were shaking so badly that it was hard to keep them moving.
The night was dark around her. She couldn't see where she was going, only that the ground was slanting upward, so she knew that it must be up the mountain. She didn't care; she had to get away, had to escape that cabin and the horrible man inside of it.
She was only eleven, but her home had been hell for a long time now.
The rain kept pouring, and she kept moving. Time passed – she wasn't sure how long, an hour, maybe more, just struggling through the endless bushes and fallen logs. She fell only once, twisting her ankle on a slick rock, but even that did not stop her running; the limb felt heavy and swollen, but she couldn't bring herself to slow down. She was panicked, running away from a danger that was as silent and unseen as the night itself. There was no one behind her, but the demons in her head were terrifying enough to lend wings to her feet.
Finally she could go no farther. She collapsed at the base of a tree, her breath heaving, so tired that she thought she would throw up. She pressed her back against the rough, wet bark, feeling the rain drip down on her from between the thick pine trees. She closed her eyes, struggling to regain her breath, calming herself and the terror that writhed within her. Her face felt hot – she pressed the back of her hand against her cheek where the bruise still stung, a blow that had been dealt to her only a few hours before. It was only one bruise out of many, the beatings had been going on for a long time now, ever since her mother had died a few years ago. At first her step-father had tried to be patient, only pinching her and grabbing her hair when he was drunk or angry. But then his control had slipped, and she now knew him more for his violent nature than for the man who had once loved her mother. She couldn't even imagine what their relationship must have been like.
She curled up into a tighter ball, an attempt to protect herself from the memories. She had to run away, but she knew she couldn't go any farther, couldn't survive outside of her step-father's home. She was only eleven – what could a child do?
Abruptly a sound reached her ears. She flinched, her heart leaping to her throat again, and pressed herself even closer to the tree. She looked around, her eyes wide and sightless in the dark. Where had it come from? There were mountain lions and wolves this high up in the mountains, but she was sure they wouldn't make any noise if they planned on attacking her. She would probably already be dead. Had her step-father followed her? The idea was ludicrous, she had run for so long, but it chilled her all the same.
There it was again – a crunch and rustle, like something moving through the underbrush, a slight pause and then another twig snapping. A bear, maybe? She hoped not; she would be absolutely helpless against an animal so large.
There was a silence, one that stretched for a long time until she thought that perhaps the intruder had left, maybe a deer scared off by her smell… but then suddenly a shape moved in the shadows directly next to her, and she leapt back, a muffled scream ripping from her throat.
A hand landed on her shoulder out of the darkness.
She turned and stared upward with wide eyes, struggling to control her breathing. The figure moved closer and suddenly she could make him out; it was a man, or a boy, she couldn't be sure of the age in the dark, only that his long black hair was slick with rain and his white shirt had the grungy look of a hiker.
His green eyes smiled down at her, strangely visible in the dark, and immediately she felt her chest loosen. Her breathing became easier. Somehow, though she wasn't sure why, she suddenly felt like she was safe.
"What is a little thing like you doing all the way out here?" he asked quietly, his voice rough and deep. She shivered, though she wasn't sure why.
She opened her mouth to speak, but suddenly no words would come out. She didn't know what to say. She thought back to her step-father, to the warm cabin in the woods where she had been struggling with her homework before his drunken rage had set in. How could she tell a stranger about what had really brought her this deep into the forest? How could she tell him that she didn't want to go home?
She couldn't hide forever, though. Her father would come looking for her in the morning, as he always did, and then there would be worse punishment.
"I got lost," she whispered, her throat closing on the lie; she felt choked.
The young man just smiled and took her hand, gently pulling her to her feet. Suddenly she wobbled and let out a small cry; she had forgotten her twisted ankle from her fall in the woods, and it seemed that the brief rest had brought the pain back full force. She staggered, but already his arms were around her knees and picking her up, lifting her high into the air to nestle her against his strong chest. She hated being touched or carried, but somehow she felt even safer being held than when she had been sitting on the ground.
"Let's get you home," the man's voice again was soft and warm, deep and soothing. He started walking, and suddenly exhaustion hit her, making her head swoon against his shoulder.
The last thing she remembered, other than the fresh smell of his shirt, was a glimpse at the ground and the sight of the man's feet.
He wasn't wearing any shoes.