Her lungs burn with each raggedly drawn breath, screaming for release, but she can’t stop now. Can’t slow down. Can’t look back.
Only she does look back–only briefly, but long enough to see the shadow of her pursuer as it gains on her, inch by inch. Her head snaps back around and she will her legs to move faster, her lungs to hold on a bit longer.
Ahead, a small pier stretches out over a murky lake. The wood of the pier is rotten and fraying at the edges, but when her feet slam onto the structure, it continues to hold. Her bare feet slap against the wood, echoing across the still water and into the trees beyond. She’s close to the end of the pier, just a few more steps…
Without hesitation, she launches herself off the end of the pier–behind, something grabs futilely at her streaming hair, but only get away with a couple of loose strands. A foot or two out from the pier, the water opens to engulf her body, plunging her into murky darkness.
The cold nips at her extremities, tries to get in her mouth, but she forces it away and surfaces with a couple of strong kicks. Her lungs gasp desperately for air when her head breaks free of the clinging water, and she can’t help but turn to look back at the pier–
Empty. The pursuer is gone. Vanished. As mysterious and quickly as it appeared.
In the back of her head, she knows that it will be back. Knows this–whatever this is–is not over. But at least now she has a defense…for whatever it’s worth.
A shiver courses down her spine that has nothing to do with the cold.