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It’s amazing how my impending demise has brought clarity to everything they’ve done to me. Less than two hours ago, I barely escaped their grasp. Now that I happened to be running away from that terrible place, gunshots firing in my wake, the whir of helicopter blades above me, I really seemed to understand what the people say when they “see their life flash before their eyes.” I know: Cliché, right? But I understood. The full impact of what they did to me, my family, came hurtling towards me at full speed. My chest contracted and I could barely breathe. I began crashing my way through the underbrush, gasping for air and feeling hot tears well up in my eyes. Come on, toughen up, I thought. I couldn’t feel sorry for myself. Not here. Not now.
I took a deep, shaky breath and continued sprinting through the forest. I could remember the stories my mother used to tell me at bedtime. Of our city before they took over. There had been cobblestone streets and stained glass windows. Velvet curtains and happy families that all lived together peacefully. And then they came. They burned the towns, killed the people, poisoned our crops, and eventually overthrew us. We had nothing left. And it was all because of them. Because of science. Because of the evil minds who created this mayhem. They were mad. Not angry mad, but insane; insane for power. Power was an addiction for them, and they couldn’t seem to get enough of it.
But we were in the way. Humans. Evolution. We fought and we fought hard. We fought to take back our city from the evil minds who controlled it. But those dimwitted mad scientists just didn’t seem to get the point. Obviously. I wouldn’t be running from them and their experiments if they did. They created clones to take us down once and for all. Cue the eye roll. Ok clones… no biggie.
Don’t underestimate the power of mad scientists.
Those freaks had the nerve to dissect the brains of each and every last dictator, mad man, and all other major threats to society. So basically whenever one of us gets out of line, Ol’ Hitler just pops over to our house for a little friendly chat. Some people nowadays are just so bright and sunny.
Of course a little challenge wasn’t going to stop us now, right? If you said “right” then you definitely are correct. But we suffered major consequences for misbehaving. Which one would you pick: timeout or torture? Yeah, I thought so. But us ‘simple minded humans’ didn’t get a choice. There is no easy way out in this place. It’s die, or suffer until you die. You choose.
It was up until now that I realized that I was in pretty good shape for being a starving kid off the street. I dashed through the trees, weaving my way and trying my best to make in intricate trail, without spending too much time doing it. I was trained by my father not to make sound if suddenly surprised, so I was silent as a mouse when I lost my balance and skidded off a landing. I started to roll down the side of the hill and off a steep drop. My instincts finally kicked in and I tucked into a ball trying to cover and protect my head from damage. I tumbled and bounced along the slope, wincing as a sharp rock dug into my ribs. I finally rolled to a stop and my body uncurled from its protective ball and my legs sprawled across the ferns. I had never been good with motion sickness, so I turned to my side and retched. Gross.
I stood up, my knees wobbling, looking at my surroundings. I looked up to see a steep hill with a small precipice jutting out made from solid rock. So that must be why my ribs hurt so much. I felt them through my thin shirt and made sure that they weren’t broken. I looked around and suddenly came to a shocking and ecstatic conclusion. I was at the bottom of a hill. I was in the woods. There was water in the woods. And water flowed downhill. Water! Oh how I’ve always wanted to drink fresh water. I couldn’t remember that I ever had. The water we got from the well in the town square was dirty with pollution and disease, but we had to cross our fingers and hope that we wouldn’t get sick. Clean, fresh, crystal clear water! I smiled giddily and twirled around. But I couldn’t get sidetracked. I was still on the run. I was still in danger. And I most likely had a bounty on my head that could buy the entire city three meals a day for a year.
Those people disgust me.
I walked until I could hear the babbling of the brook. Gee, I thought I would never say that.
It was as I had hoped. Crystal clear. Pure and new. Fresh. Clean, fresh water. I rushed to the shallow water and knelt on the bank. But what if they had poisoned this innocent little stream for this very reason. So I may stumble upon it and be seduced by its clear waters. But I had endured the hardships of their rule and escaped through this treacherous forest, and I was not going to let a little theory of poison get in my way of fresh water. I cupped my hands and dipped them into the cool water and held it up to my lips to drink. My lips were chapped and the pure liquid stung them as it passed. My throat was burning from my excessive gasps from my recent stumble down the cliff-side. I sighed inwardly; a sigh of relief. Just this one sign of pureness in my life made me think there was hope in my future.
I could survive and make myself a new life out here. There were plenty of animals and plants and, sigh again, fresh water. I had learned to hunt down small rodents when my family was in our desperate times and we were starving. I do say that I make a mean Rat-A-Touille. I could certainly hunt and survive out here.
So I decided. I would live my new free life out here in the wilderness and have the company of animals who had no intentions of making me their ever-so-humble slave.
I stalked off into the trees to find some chow to roast over a fire for tonight’s meal. I stumbled upon a mighty fine rabbit, which I whacked on the top of the head with my trusty stick. I kind of felt sorry for Thumper, but hey, a girl’s gotta eat.
I sat by my fire, which I made with some kindling that I collected. My dad taught me how to make a fire on the days when they would shut off our heat. I lay down in the pile of leaves that I had collected to cushion me from the hard ground. I tried to sink into the unconsciousness of sleep but my mind was whirring. I stared into the dying embers of my fire and couldn’t help but think of how my luck might be that of the embers. Slowly dying.
I finally dozed off into a place where I could forget about my worries in my world of sleep. Consciousness came roaring back when I awoke with a start, the cold feeling of a the circle of a gun barrel pressed against my forehead.