Humming electricity surged through the air overhead. It lent a charge to my soul that made my heart race faster than I’d known possible. My lungs and legs burned. My hands left bloody prints on the dirt each time I stumbled, scrambled for purchase, and continued in my frenzied escape. The panting of my pursuer was lost under the rush of wind in my ears, the pounding in my chest, and the ragged sucking gasps coming from my own mouth.
It would catch me. I knew it with a certainty that should have allowed me enough calm to stop and meet my fate. But, I could not fight it, and I wasn’t ready to die, so flight was the only option. And flee I did. And flee I continued to do.
The path dropped down a cascading layer of cobbled rocks, which add a beauty to the mountain trail during the day despite the havoc they cause in strides and joints and are deathly treacherous in the dark. The moon, full of course, shared just enough light that I could correct my course before slipping to my doom, but I still found myself in the dirt again. My hands had gone numb and I no longer felt the damage I was causing them as I pushed myself forward into a renewed sprint.
It would rend flesh from bone. I wondered if I’d still be alive as it shredded my skin and its jaws pulled chunks from me. I didn’t want to ponder what that would feel like, but the thoughts came unbidden and I was powerless to stop the flow of images and shuddering sensations.
Branches lashed against my arms and face, filling my nose with the smell of iron and salt laced pine. The leaves rustled, unheard, in a gentle breeze running the length of the valley. The colder air filtered down from the higher elevations to replace the heat of the day. The coolness was welcome as it pressed against my flushed skin and provided a temporary sense of relief. Then a branch snapped behind me sent another pulse of adrenaline coursing through me and my body returned to its state of fire.
It would kill me. It would. It will. It must. And it would almost be a relief to my tired mind and flagging body if it were to happen quickly, painlessly. Except, life still holds so much more than the unknown of death. There are mountains to climb. There are rivers to cross. There are lips to kiss. And, what adventure is there in death? Who knows. Who wants to find out when there is still so much known adventure in the here and now.
It would catch me. If I stop. If I let it. But, maybe, if I keep racing, if I keep going, if I keep refusing to give in to fear and the certainty of it, I’ll stay forever beyond its grasp…