“I don’t think it’s supposed to look like that…” she whimpered quietly to herself. She stared at her foot which was twisted at an unnatural angle and rapidly purpling. The pain hadn’t fully hit her yet. She was still running on adrenaline. She pushed herself up off the ground, leaning on the wall behind her for support. She gingerly placed her toes on the ground and winced as she felt a jolt of pain shoot through her freshly broken ankle. She didn’t have time to keep babying it. She had to run. She had already lost a few of those incredibly precious seconds of lead she had on her pursuer. A broken ankle would matter very little if she was dead.
She brushed her hair out of her eyes, streaking more dirt across her face as she did, and set off again desperately searching for a way out. If she had been able to think about it, everything would have hurt. The past ten minutes had felt like a lifetime. How had things gone so horribly wrong? She was just trying to get some answers and now? She was going to die.
She ran blindly through that giant maze of a building, or what was left of it, bumping into things, cursing at each locked door she encountered, being terrified each time she had to round a corner. Her heart was pounding up out of her chest and into her mouth even before she fell down the stairs and truly injured herself. Now her brain was doing everything it could to figure out a way to escape. It had no synapses to spare in processing what was going on with her physically. Fight or flight had kicked in and every ounce of her energy was put into moving her body forward. Away.
She didn’t think she could stand to look back. She didn’t want to know. A wave of dread rolled through her body and threatened to make her blackout. She felt queasy and the room started spinning. Her leg wobbled underneath her and she tripped. She caught herself on a table to the left of her and pushed off of it, not slowing down to balance herself. She overspun and veered bumping into the opposite wall of the hallway but she kept moving. She shook her head, trying to clear it. To make sense of what was happening and formulate a plan but it was like there was not enough oxygen in the room. Her brain was no longer a part of the equation. She was merely an animal. A trapped animal. Her senses were heightened. Logic was a thing of the past. All that was left was her and an instinct for survival. That’s when she heard the sound. It was closer than she thought. Terror flooded her veins and her body screamed displeasure as she willed it forward even faster. It was dark and impossible to navigate this unknown terrain at this speed but what choice did she have?
Rounding another corner, she made a right down a new corridor. This one sloped down at an odd angle but she could swear she heard voices just ahead of her. If she could just push through, maybe she could get to them and get help. She loped awkwardly, her body beginning to falter under the pressures she had been putting it under. There! Just ahead! There was a door on the right that had light coming from underneath it. She saw a shadow move through the lit area. There must be people there. If someone, anyone would help her, she might actually survive.
She made a dash for it and wrenched on the doorknob. It didn’t open. She tried again, pulling harder this time. It wouldn’t’ budge. She pounded on the door, screaming at the top of her lungs. “Let me in! Please! I need help!” Looking over her shoulder she couldn’t see if anything was coming towards her in the dark but something told her that the gap was becoming even smaller. A few more seconds and she wouldn’t be able to turn and run. She had a fraction of a second to decide whether to continue banging on the door and hope that someone answered or if she should go back to where she had just came from and keep running. Her ankle twinged and she realized her choices had already been stripped from her. She couldn’t keep running.
She banged against the door harder and faster, the desperation in her voice painfully apparent to anyone who could hear her. “Please! You have to let me in! Don’t leave me out here! I’m going to die!” She begged horribly. There was a noise, bumping and shuffling coming from the other side of the door. A shadow was standing in the pool of light eking out from underneath the door. She felt the knob jiggle in her hand as someone unlocked it from the inside. Just then, there was a warmth on the back of her neck. Something was right behind her. She heard its breathing. The door swung inward and she stumbled forward onto the ground. She felt herself being dragged into the room but she couldn’t see anything. She had landed face first and hit her nose on the ground. She was blinded by the pain. All she could do was listen. It sounded like there were the quiet footsteps of people milling about. People! She wasn’t alone anymore. She felt something wet on her uninjured ankle. Whatever it was that was chasing her was in here, too. She sobbed, terrified “Help me. Please, help…” She could feel that she was in a room full of people but no one seemed to be reacting. It was like they couldn’t hear her, or they didn’t care. She felt the wetness slide up her body to her waist. There was a sickly feeling as she was dragged across the ground. Her hands raked and clawed at the concrete beneath her trying to grab ahold of something, anything to stop her from being pulled away from the safety of others. A sweet, tangy taste filled her mouth. She realized her broken nose was bleeding. If only she could just get through to the people around her. If she could make them hear her. She had never felt more scared or more alone than being in this crowded room. She bellowed at the top of her lungs “HELP ME!!!” but all that came out was a hiss of air. The wetness had spread up to her armpits. She couldn’t move her body. She was paralyzed. Suddenly, everything stopped. Including her heart.