Running

His stomach was churning, his sides burning and his legs and feet ached and throbbed in tune with his impossibly fast heart beat as the sound of his own rushing blood filled his ears. He could have sworn he had been running for years, though it had actually only been two days. But the canopy of trees around him was so thick and so large and so high it blocked out all light, creating the illusion of an endless night sky. The only thing that seems able to penetrate this second sky was the perpetual rain that poured down making the uneven ground slick and soaking him to the bone. Finally he fell to ground and stayed down, no longer able to push on.

I'll just lay here a minute. I haven't heard my hunters in a while, so it can't hurt to take a little rest right? He rolled over onto his back, eyes closed, hair askew (some sticking up at odd angels, some plastered to his face and head by blood and mud), and mouth open, inviting as many of the falling droplets entrance as he had strength to. How did I get here? What did do to deserve this? No one deserves to die like this. The man thought to himself sluggishly.

No one deserves to die running and scared and alone. The faces of his parents, his sister and two brothers, friends and girlfriend all came unbidden to his mind's eye. But that's exactly what you've been doing isn't it? A nasty little voice piped up in the back of his head to challenge him. Running! From those whom "Treat me like a child"? Running! From those who look to you to make the monsters go away? Running! From the ones who would not have left you alone?

Tears of regret mixed with the rain and blood and mud and sweat. Run! Run! RUN! All you've ever done it Run! Is it not fitting, you dying the way you lived!? RUNNING! Suddenly the voice stopped and the only thing he could hear was the sound of his own uneven breathing and sobbing and running. He couldn't even hear a-Wait, running?

He turned his head slightly to the left, his sobbing quieting and tear abating as he listened. Is tha-Is that water running? He wondered at the soft almost trickling sound. YES! Yes it is… but that's no river. His face twisted in an expression of confusion as he lifted his body from the ground. He no longer took notice of it aching and had all but forgotten his fatigue in his fit of curiosity. Curiosity killed the cat, remember? The nasty little voice whispered again.

"Doesn't matter, I'll probably die out here anyway. And it can't be as bad as what those Yahoos have planned for me." He answered, standing with the help of a nearby tree.

Walking on shaky legs in the direction of the sound he had heard he crossed a ridge and noticed a gradual decline in the ground. After a rather short walk, he found the sound was loudest in a very small clearing. It was obviously man made as there were a few stumps that look to have been cut cleanly through. Walking into the middle of the clearing he became confused as there was no water in sight. Walking back and forth from the tree line to the center, he realized the ground became hard in the middle of the clearing whereas the rain had softened it everywhere else.

"There's something under the debris. A well maybe?" He asked aloud. "It's awfully far out from anyone's home to be a well. Even that big old ruin was too close to the river to need one I would think." Head tilted and gaze fixed on the ground, he considered this new conundrum. Mumbling to himself inaudibly for a few minutes before his eyes widened.

"Storm drain." He whispered to himself.

Immediately he pounced on the center of the clearing and began digging as fast as he could through the leaves and mud and sticks until his fingers scraped the grating underneath. Staring down at his discovery in astonishment he saw that he was right, it was an old storm drain. CRACK! His head whipped around at the sound, eyes as big as saucers and body as still as stone.

"Watch where ya walk ya idit! We's close an if ee ear ya I'ma have ta track 'em again!" a voice whispered harshly from the other side of the ridge.

Suddenly he was in action, pulling the grate up as quietly as he could and sliding down into the pipe. This was his only hope. He didn't know where it would lead to, if it had been booby-trapped like some of the woods had been, or it had been blocked off somewhere and there would be no other way out. But he had to take a chance. He had to get home. And if he had any chance of making it he had to run. Lucky him, he was a veteran runner.