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A freezing sensation gripped my body as an invisible force of water pulled me farther and farther down. All I could see was pitch-black abyss in all directions. My body was in shock; I could hardly move. My mind couldn’t process exactly where I was. All I knew was that it was cold, and that I couldn’t breathe. My lungs gasped for breath but my mouth didn’t respond. The feeling of not being able to breathe was worse than I had ever thought it would be. It was like being locked in a tiny box from which there is no escape, only death. With the little strength I had, I swam as fast as I could to the top only to be met with a solid wall of ice. I pushed with all of my strength, but it wouldn’t budge. Where had I fallen in? Where is the hole leading to safety and dry land? My clothes, soaked up with water were only weighing me down. Cold like I had never felt before had made every part of my body go numb, like being stuck inside a freezer. I felt light-headed and wondered how long I could hold my breath. As I frantically swam just below the ice searching for the hole, terrible thoughts entered my head. What if I don’t make it out of here? What if I die underwater? I tried pushing these thoughts away, but they just kept creeping back. I wanted to just stop and let my lungs run out of oxygen, but I had to escape. I couldn’t feel my hands, my feet, my legs, or my body. The only thing keeping me alive was pure adrenaline and the little air I had left. I knew that I would die, but I just couldn’t accept it. I kept trying to escape but with little hope. My lungs were screaming for air and my heart felt like it was going to explode. Finally, I took a breath, and my lungs filled with water. That was it; I was going to drown. All I saw was darkness coming closer and closer. I turned over and saw light; it was another hole. I tried to swim but couldn’t. Suddenly, everything went black.
My eyes opened, and I saw a bright light. Immediately, I vomited up what seemed like a gallon of water. I felt weak and exhausted. Harsh, winter winds whipped at me, as I lay exposed on the ice in my soaked clothes. Slowly, I tried to stand, but my legs buckled under me, and I fell over. My whole body was shaking in the intense cold. I was too weak to move. My hands were turning blue. Was I dead? Suddenly it hit me. How had I gotten out of the water? The last I remembered I was drifting towards death. Hadn’t I drowned? Right next to me was a hole in the ice, but this hole was expertly carved. No, this wasn’t where I had fallen in. Two huge, leather boots struck the ice right in front of my face making me jump. My eyes followed the boots up to see a gruff looking face with a tangled gray beard. A fishing pole and ice carver lay strewn around him. With one hand, he snatched my collar and hoisted me up. He was a strong as a bear.
“Well, you’re definitely not a fish,” he spat in my face. His breath smelled like rotten meat. “Caught ya on my line I did,” he announced proudly as he picked up his carver. “Had to carve an extra big hole to fit ya through. What the heck were you doing down there anyways?” he asked.
“I fell,” I stuttered, not knowing what else to say. I couldn’t even think of an answer myself.
“What are ya, stupid?” he growled. “Anyone with a brain would have known better than to step on thin ice.” He looked down at me with his beady little eyes. I could tell he was thinking of something. “Why you wearing them funny clothes?”
I looked down at my clothes and I saw the words ‘Juvenile Correctional Facility’ written across my neon jumpsuit. My memory hit me in the face like a blow from a hammer. I had to get out of there before it was too late.
“Sir, I have to go,” I said calmly with a little fear in my voice. I tugged at his hands to let me go but his grip was like iron. In the distance I could hear the faint, unmistakable sound of police sirens drawing nearer and nearer. I frantically ripped away and began sprinting as fast as I could across the endless ice. My body was still numb and my clothes were soaking wet. My hair was completely frozen into tiny icicles. Ice cracked beneath my sneakers as I ran away. There was no chance I was going back to that stupid prison, no chance at all. I didn’t belong there.
I neared the edge of the lake and just kept running. I had no idea of where I was going except that I was going away from there. The roads were icy as I made my way through an empty street, hoping that I was going unseen. A cop car turned the corner and came straight at me. I ran and dove behind a bush hoping he hadn’t seen me. I closed my eyes and held my breath as I heard the car pass right by me. My heart was beating like a metronome set on high. Once I knew it was gone, I dashed out in the opposite direction.
My feet crunched on the hard, snowy ground as I tried to catch my breath. The countryside was barren with nothing to stop the wind. The freezing cold made it hard for me to think straight but I needed to think up a plan. I would have to make my way through the town in order to hitch a ride somewhere and get a coat. I needed to cover up my clothes. Then again, the cops would probably be crawling all over the place searching for me. If I ran outside the town, there would be no shelter and I would die. I had to go through. It was a risk I had to take.
The cold winds were relentless. They stung my face and brought tears to my eyes. Why was I here? I hadn’t done anything wrong. But they wouldn’t listen, not when there was a dead body involved. I didn’t do it though; I would never kill someone. They said that all of the DNA stuff was a perfect match, but I couldn’t remember anything. Nothing came to my mind when they arrested me. That was the scariest part.
My mind went into a flashback. The T.V. news that one of my teachers had been murdered left me with my mouth agape at the breakfast table. How could anyone do such a thing? Soon, investigators turned the school upside down in search of the culprit. Everyone was horrified about what had just happened. The cars pulled up to my house. Policemen barged in and handcuffed me. They did a search on my room before taking me away. I was terrified and confused. They told me that I had killed my teacher and that I was going to jail. I couldn’t believe them; I never killed him. I told them that I was only fourteen but they said that there were places for kids like me. I imagined myself in that prison, feeling alone and scared. I remembered back to that night, when those other kids and I broke out. I was the only one that made it. I could still remember their cries of help once they were caught. My thoughts were quickly interrupted as I tripped on a hidden log and fell face first into the snow. The snow stung my face like a swarm of bees as I tried to pull myself up.
Cars honked, and people bustled around while I sprinted through the small but crowded town. Cold air tore at my face and chilled my bones, but I still ran. My fingers had gone completely numb and my clothes were frozen stiff. How long until I died out here? Where would I go? My plans were so caught up in escaping I hadn’t even wondered about what would happen after that. I was going to die out here. Escaping jail wasn’t worth dying for. But I hadn’t done anything wrong, and I couldn’t stop then, not after all I had been through. No, I wasn’t going back to prison; I had decided that.
Fear of being caught ripped at my inside, and I was too tired and cold to run any farther. I tried to stop and catch my breath, slipped and fell over on by back. Pain shot through me as I tried to stand up. The sidewalk was covered in a sheet of ice so that if I took even one wrong step I would be in a world of pain. I continued running carefully, always looking at the ground, like running through an obstacle course. Somehow, I knew they would catch me. They always did. How far behind me are they? I wondered. They must not be that far? In the distance I heard the police sirens getting closer. That noise was like the sound of death approaching. People, bundled up in heavy winter coats, stared at me as I dashed by them in my juvenile facility clothes. I heard the hum of them talking to one another and I knew they were talking about me. “Hey, get that kid!” somebody shouted. This wasn’t good; I had to run double time. All of a sudden, a large man tackled me hard from behind. I caught my breath just as I tripped on a crack and rammed the side of my head against a brick wall. I collapsed on the ground, my head throbbing. A strong hand snatched my leg and pulled me towards him.
“You’re not getting away kid!” He sneered at me. He was just a pedestrian. “Somebody call the police!” I heard somebody yell.
With my other leg, I kicked the man square in the nose. I wasn’t about to let some guy put be back behind bars. He let go of me and swore. I jumped to my feet and ran. A searing pain shot through my head and blurred my vision. Warm blood dripped down my neck and onto my shoulder. I tried to ignore it, but it hurt so badly, and I was so cold. I dashed around a corner and froze. I looked on in complete terror and shock. I had hoped never to see them again.
I filled with disbelief as I looked at about five men aiming their weapons straight at me. I just couldn’t believe it. Instinctively, I spun around and tried to get away. Countless volts of electricity struck me in the back. I immediately dropped to the ground. My whole body was wracked in pain. I had been hit with a tazer before, but it is a feeling that you can never get used to. I stood up and again I was hit with electric shocks. “Get on the ground! Get on the ground!” Everything went by in slow motion. Several men jumped on me and pressed my face against the freezing, salt-covered pavement. Screams filled the air. “He’s getting up!” CRACK! Something hit me on the head. I collapsed. I could feel blood trickling out of my mouth. Handcuffs dug into my wrists making me wince. Sirens blazed in my ears with flashes of blue and red out of the corner of my eye and I could hear sound of a walkie-talkie announcing, “Yep, we got him.” This was the end, I thought. I was going back.