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The Runner

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I had always heard stories of the back trail being haunted, but being me I didn’t think twice. I was a runner, and a great one at that; seven minute miles and barely having to catch my breath. The one downfall; my speed, I could never sprint; I had just learned to pace myself well.

The small town was starting to get dark at the time; 8:30p.m. Tiny sprinkles of white crystal-like snow swirled down heavily causing the air to dance. As my feet hit the pavement with the familiar tap, tap, tap snow clung to my bare calves and melted causing cold drops to trickle down my tingling legs. The usual low humming of passing cars ceased as I took a sharp left turn onto the paved path. Stars were my only lights, resulting in my vision being askew, only able to see shadows and shapes. My breathing usually quiet seemed to stand out; breathe in, breath out, breath in, breath out. A cool wind started softly blowing through my hair and across my skin. The uneasy feeling of goose bumps rising on my arms and legs caused the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up and a shiver that crawled up and down my spine. I paused in my run to rub my calves cold from wearing shorts. As I began my run again the wind picked up howling. The once delicate soft white snow turned into a deadly enemy. My face stung as the intricate flakes of ice cut small slashes in every direction across the bridge of my pink nose and my cheeks. Soon I realized trickles of hot sticky blood slid down my face, onto my lips, and down my neck. I wanted to stop, but my feet kept moving, not allowing me to even hesitate in my pace, In fact my run sped up. Shadows of mangled trees and rough bushes flew by as my tore-up converse covered feet pushed on. Uneasiness filled my body and mind, leaving me empty and hopeless with a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. A shooting pain began in my right rib. The pain seemed alive, hands gripping opposite ribs and yanking, taking their time to tear every muscle. My blue-gray eyes glazed over as I tried to scream out from the pain. To my surprise the pain grew, and grew, but my mouth seemed glued shut. I couldn’t scream, and I couldn’t stop. Warm tears trailed down my cheeks and nose dripping off my sore face. My jaw clenched as the rusty razor like ice cut more, and more of my face, now working its way down to my neck and arms. What once was the slight tinge of blood on my lips had dried in the wind causing my lips to crack and bleed adding to my flowing blood. Blood began slowly filling my mouth causing me to gag. I couldn’t swallow, I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t stop. Pain rippled through my body as I fought to breathe. I gripped myself, clawing at me so hard my knuckles turned white, trying to somehow stop the pain, but fear had the best of me. The black trees seemed to reach their rugged arms out towards me creaking in the wind. Rough bushes suffocated by spindly blackberry vines swayed in the wind. “Please stop!” I screeched in my head, willingly looking at my faster than usual feet. “Please!” Only a raspy low laugh replied. “Stop, I believe!” At that the laugh stopped and so did the wind. I wasn’t quite sure what I believed, but I knew I did. I hoped for the best as these things began to stop, but boy was I wrong. Seemed as soon as the wind became quiet I lost balance, sliding across an icy patch of black endless pavement. With a crack that would haunt me for years my already blood covered face smacked against the cold hard pavement.

My body seemed to be contorted in a grotesque way that could only mean one thing; I was broken. Blood splattered the dark pavement and my breath came and went in shuttering gasps. Darker pools began spreading over the ground I seemed to be stuck on. It seemed as if 300 pounds were pushing down on my chest as I watched myself becoming soaked in my own blood. Sadly, I closed my eyes, something I should have never done. My eye lids stayed shut, impossible to open and my mind went blank.

The faint sound of a whirring siren clouded my head. Still my eye lids wouldn’t open, but I searched for a way to wake up from this horrible nightmare, for me to be able to hear the siren loud and clear, for me to be to be able to open my eyes, for me to be able to swallow, for me to be able to scream, and for me to be able to stop.



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