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Terror gripped him like an iron claw. There was nothing hecould do but run - run long and hard, but it seemed the longerhe ran, the closer It got.
His lungs completelydeprived of air, he had to stop. He bent over, hands grippinghis knees so tightly his knuckles turned white. Small cloudsleapt from his lips, performing a distorted ballet in the air.Exhaustion was beginning to work its way into his limbs. Hecouldn't feel his legs, they were just two logs strapped tohis body, slowing his escape.
He concentrated hard onthe white ground spreading out in front of him, a pale desertever expanding. The snow that had covered the land like aterrible, constricting blanket for so long seemed to beletting up, but that was impossible. The scientists, theexperts, had predicted at least another four years, insistedanother four years. Four. This was what nuclear winter wasreally like.
He brushed snow from his back and headbefore righting himself and continuing onward, rushing blindlythrough the whiteness.
A horrible roar ripped throughthe night, a knife slicing through whatever silence stillexisted. Shivers crawled up and down his spine. Never had heheard anything so terrifying, so awful like the sound of athousand tortured screams echoing in the dark. The roar madeIt sound so much closer than It was, he insisted. Even thoughhe had no idea of Its distance, he told himself It was milesaway. It would never catch him.
His bright orange eyesdarted from side to side. Where was It? Not near, he stillinsisted, he still hoped. He had a vague idea where It mightbe coming from, Its monstrous feet ripping up the ground likea tiller going across the dirt. If he could figure out anapproximation, It must know exactly where he was. He wasscared again. He couldn't run now, whether from exhaustion orfear, he didn't know. He was frozen to the whiteground.
It took him every last ounce of strengthto finally get his legs moving again, like a beat-up car whoseengine refuses to turn. His legs pumping as fast as theycould, he tore across the snow, fear driving him faster andfaster. For days he ran, weeks, months it seemed. Until hecould go no farther. He collapsed on the wonderful softnessbelow and lay, immersed in the white coolness.
He couldsee the thick columns of steam pouring from Its nostrils. Thesteam rose high above the buildings, signaling Its closeproximity. He could hear and feel Its feet pounding the earthas It ran, always after him. Closer and closer It came, feetpounding louder and louder. Closer. CLOSER.
Hiseyes rolled to the stars. He was hoping for a quick, painlessdeath. How many stars were up there?
He rememberedyears ago, lying in the grass on a cool summer evening,watching the heavenly shapes twinkle far above. The sweetsmell of the grass was wonderful. He remembered warm daysspent playing in the sun, chasing dragonflies, or the dogperhaps. Fun. But then came the explosion. His parents weregone. Most everyone was gone. It was a miracle he hadsurvived, but he hadn't survived unscathed. His eyes went froma misty blue to bright orange. He sometimes had trouble seeingin the sun, but he could see clearly at night. He had livedalone all these years, surrounded by white until Itcame.
Now he could no longer see the stars. Its shadowcompletely covered him, sending him into a dark abyss. Itreached him and everything went black.