by Jude Ensaff
My heart beat hard against my chest and the sound of the hounds echoed in the distance. I ran past a tree clipping my shoulder, then dodged another. Sweat trickled down my face and I felt my pulse throb in my neck. But still I ran.
‘Aint no point runnin’ he called. ‘We got you now, Marty.’
I tripped on a felled tree, landed in some thorns. My hands stung and blood dripped as I sprang up and continued my flight. I heard a rifle loading and then a gun shot. And another. Reverberating round. They seemed to be coming from every direction.
A man whooped aloud. ‘Oh yes, Marty we got ya.’
And another called. ‘We surely do.’
I spun round. A twig broke through the skin on my foot. Fresh blood seeped out.
‘I’m innocent,’ I called. ‘Wasn’t me’
‘Hear that, Hank? He’s innocent.’
Now I could hear their feet and the hounds, panting and breathing, running, closing in on me. Faster and faster.
‘I’m innocent I shrieked,’ as I ran ahead through the thick darkness.
‘That’s what they all say,’ he called.
I struggled past a cluster of branches. My legs ached with exhaustion and my breath caught in my throat. I stopped winded.
That was when I saw it. Up ahead between the trees. A light in the darkness, calling me.
I walked towards it and waited in that warmth. I knew they’d come for me but somehow I felt safe. I knew it was time.