Insistent, the voice in her head growled harshly, while London’s feet struggled to keep the pace barefoot through the darkened forest.
She knew if she stopped, it would find her, catch her. So she ran, stumbling over rocks and roots, catching her pajamas here and there on brambles, branches tearing at her wild hair. Scratches littered the skin that was visible, dots of blood beading on the surface.
She knew she was leaving a trail a mile wide for it to follow, but couldn’t seem to help herself, the panic so thick on her tongue she could barely swallow.
Water, if only she could reach the water. Maybe she could throw it off her scent… Buy some precious time.
Downhill…yes! Go downhill! That’s where the water would be, right?
She swerved to the right, almost wiping herself out as she twisted in the leaves and angled down, grabbing a sapling to propel herself down faster.
There! A glint of silver in the moonlight!
London bit back a cry as she crashed through the tree line to the edge of the river, not wanting to give it any more hints as to where she might be.
First, though, to throw it off…
Luckily, the river here was low enough she could cross without too much danger to herself. Plenty of rocks and handholds on the other side to get herself out, and she was on the far bank, and scrambling up the next hill on her hands & knees, pausing to wipe her bloody hands on saplings.
Once at the top of the hill, however…she slowly worked her way back down the hill, using those same hand and knee marks, backwards, until she reached the river’s edge, and gently eased her way back into the water, only to start floating downstream.
….There….let that thing…try to find her now.
The water was frigid, but London didn’t even care. It would wash away the mud and blood, and the stink of fear,that had been clinging to her. She slowly ducked down into the water, wetting her whole self, lifting back up only far enough to get her head out of the water so she could see while she treaded her way downstream.
Suddenly, behind her, she heard the forest explode with angry snarls and breaking noises.
It was coming. Fast. It was going to SEE HER.
A deafening roar split the night as it caught sight of her and started pounding into the water, heading RIGHT FOR HER!!
London made a small strangling sound at the back of her throat and turned quickly downstream, pushing herself through the icy waters. She had to get around that next bend! Ducking under the water, she swam as hard as she could, but she had to surface quickly, it was just too cold! She couldn’t do this much longer…she had to surface…
She had to…surface…
“Hunh…? Whu…I’m up…”
“”Yeah, sleepyhead, it’s about time you surfaced. Get up. Time for school.”