PROLOGUE


A/N: Hey everyone! So I started writing this story when I was 16, and have only recently been going back over it and editing it, and thought I'd share it with you all. Please let me know what you think :)


She sprinted down the narrow corridor, her breath escaping in ragged pants as she felt like the walls were closing in around her. Her lungs burned in protest, but she pushed on. She had to. Her sneakers squeaked in protest as she flew around a corner and flattened herself against a wall, breathing heavily. She hoped the darkness would conceal her…but she could never be sure. There was no such thing as a second chance.

Footsteps, slower than hers but still pacing indefinitely in her direction. The young woman pressed a hand over her own mouth, terrified that her pursuer would hear her breathing. The monotonous sound gradually faded as her enemy moved away, and the young woman dared to breathe a sigh of relief. Pausing only momentarily, she slid a sweaty hand into her pocket and fumbled around, before flipping open her mobile phone.

"Can you still hear me? Guys."

"Loud and clear, Savannah." The reply was crackly, but it was the best she had. "What's going on?"

The young woman, Savannah, gulped and leaned forward ever so slightly. Her face was thrown into sudden light. Strawberry blonde hair fell past her shoulders in a tangled braid. Her features were almost out of proportion, small and delicate as though they belonged to a child. Somewhat odd on a woman in her early twenties.

"No sign of him. I think I'm safe."

"Don't ever assume," scolded her male contact, his voice sharp and harsh, "Focus on what you have to do."

Savannah exhaled deeply and tilted her head back so it rested lightly against the wall. Why was it her that always had to come? She knew it would be selfish of her to wish her responsibility onto another…but it would be a lie if she said she'd never wondered what it would be like for someone else to bear her heavy burden. Yet she carried on because they all had their roles. She had to do her part, as the others did theirs. She felt so isolated, that their voices weren't enough to connect her to them.

"Be careful."

She was always careful, and that voice made her frown in concentration. Savannah wasn't the type who made reckless decisions. She planned her every move…and if things went wrong, she got the hell out of there. Savannah turned the corner, her heart hammering in her chest. It was like the horror movies she'd watched as a kid, when one of the minor characters wanders off.

Savannah had always been good at picking out who'd die in horror movies. They were always the ones who panicked and ran off by themselves, or else thought they were macho. She could tell because the focus suddenly turned upon them, even though they were minor, even though the audience would question why they mattered in this moment. In fiction, it was always so easy to tell who was going to die.

This wasn't fiction, though. This was real life and Savannah had the awful feeling that she was going the same way as those people from the movies…but she turned her mind against the matter. Sometimes, she had way too big an imagination; that was why she had been picked to do this, after all. It made her smile wryly, to think how often imagination and reality collided in this bizarre world of theirs.

She had to convince herself that it was okay. She had the others with her every step of the way. All she had to do was pull out her mobile and she could talk to them. Even hearing their voices was enough to calm her down sometimes. But not always. She often joked she'd age prematurely because of all the stress in this job. She took a deep breath, trying to stop her hands from shaking.

"What happened?" demanded the male voice from Savannah's mobile. Before she could reply, however, another voice chimed in.

"I don't know…something must have crashed. I'm checking it out right now." The second voice was younger, that of a teenage boy.

Savannah's heart was hammering an even faster tempo. By the urgency in her comrades' tones, this wasn't a typical dilemma. Something had gone wrong and this scared Savannah. She had always been taught to expect the unexpected…but she hated hearing the trepidation in their voices.

"It's okay, Savannah." The first voice was soothing now, trying to calm her down. "Just a systems malfunction. We haven't got you on visual anymore. We'll sort it out."

Savannah hoped so. She knew what happened right after things went wrong, and she closed her eyes and grimaced. If she was right, this wasn't going to be pleasant. Right on cue, the teenage boy shouted, "Shift!"

Savannah screwed her eyes shut and her stomach lurched as her world turned upside down. This wasn't anything unusual to her, but it didn't stop her from feeling dizzy and sick when it happened. When the nauseous feeling passed her by, she opened her eyes. She'd Shifted from a hospital ward to the middle of a shopping centre after hours. The place was deserted and Savannah suddenly felt nervous. The others seemed to be thinking along the same lines.

"Something's wrong," the man muttered and Savannah felt her skin crawling. The sensation was nothing new to her; it happened every time they were around. The silence around her was terrifying. She wished there would just be some noise, recognition of something alive.

"They've found her!"cried the teenage boy and then the man's voice joined in the cacophony of distressed noise, "Savannah, run!"

She didn't need to look around her as she once might have done. That sort of procrastination, even by a few seconds, might get her killed. Instead Savannah just broke into a run again, feeling that this was never going to end. Every time there was a Shift, she found herself being chased. The footsteps of her pursuer were faster this time – he was running too.

Savannah's breath was ragged and there was a stitch in her side, but there was no way she was slowing down. Her sneakers barely skimmed the ground as she moved at the fastest pace possible. Fear drove her, and she needed it to. Without fear, she wouldn't be able to move quickly enough to avoid her enemies.

"Left!"

Savannah listened to the boy and bit her lip as she found herself running straight at the window of a shop. She was moving too fast to stop and so Savannah just had time to throw her arms in front of her face as she slammed into the glass and it shattered into tiny shards. She landed heavily on the ground, feeling as though the wind had been knocked out of her. By now her concern had swelled into terror. Her arms were covered with lots of wicked cuts, but there was no time to be worried about that right now. Her pursuer was closing in, stepping through onto the cracked glass as Savannah staggered to her feet, disorientated.

"Which one?" she asked shrilly.

There was silence and Savannah pressed the mobile closer to her ear as the boy whispered the answer.

"Shane."

Savannah was too frightened to curse. Every muscle in her slender body tensed as she processed the single syllable. Shane…shit, why did it have to be him? He was the most lethal when it came to chases. She should have known it would be him. She was suddenly the prey, and he was a most efficient predator. With her chances of survival growing slimmer by the second, she took another deep breath, forced herself to concentrate.

The shop was dark and Savannah could barely see where she was going. Her only hope lay in a dim bulb that flickered randomly over the other side. Shoving through racks of clothes, wondering foolishly for a moment if she could cocoon herself in them, Savannah headed towards it. Behind her, she could hear Shane's footsteps. Slow, in no hurry. He knew he had her right where he wanted her.

There was a video camera on the wall, blinking red due to the movement. Savannah stumbled to a halt despite the imminent threat behind her – because there was nowhere to go. There was no door, no exit point. She was trapped. Her attention turned to the video camera as it turned in her direction. Her comrades must have regained visual and Savannah felt a tiny flicker of hope, so small she barely even knew it was there.

"Get me out!" she screamed at the camera, her voice piercing, "Get me out!"

There was no reply from the phone. Despite Savannah's desperate attempts to push buttons and make it work, it was obviously dead. She knew what had happened now. They had taken over. Her friends couldn't save her now.

Resigning herself to her fate, Savannah turned and watched in apprehension as Shane approached her. He was a young man in his late teens with a shock of curly hair and a vindictive smile. He reached into his jacket and pulled out what looked suspiciously like a throwing knife from the folds of denim.

Shane sauntered forward, and Savannah's eyes sparked with fear…then the light flickered and died completely, pitching them into inescapable darkness.