Anger flowed within my veins, and it felt like liquid lava that burned ever so slightly as I jogged down an seemingly abandoned sidewalk. It left me feeling overly warm, rather than the icy chill that should rise goosebumps all over my pale skin. My huffs of breath, crystallized into white puffs into the November air.
In front of me my small black furred friend ran ahead, his long black tail wagging rapidly, and his winded pants echo in the still air. He tugged slightly on the mangled grey leash as we reached a large leafy bush, signaling that he was coming to a stop. His pink tongue lolled from his parted lips showing his elongated fangs as he marked the bush his, only to proceed a moment later.
I didn’t mind the pause, I just needed to let my anger fade, and to get some space from my mother. Lately neither of us could enjoy each others presence. Her constant reprimanding me on every action I take is just too much for me to handle. Especially given that we were informed that my father has been a confirmed MIA from his squad in Afghanistan a few months ago, completely disappearing without a trace along the enemy lines. The worry was gnawing at our insides with every day that passes. A relentless feeling that wouldn’t let up no matter how hard I tried to accept it.
It’s been months since we were told the news and my hope for his heroic return was diminishing almost faster than my patience towards my mother. To be honest I don’t even remember what half of our arguments are about anymore, only that they are over small things that lead back to my fathers disappearance, in some god forsaken way.
My dogs loud gruff bark brings me back to my senses. I quickly stop my mindless run, feeling my heartbeat escalating briefly. For a moment I can’t draw in a breath as adrenaline rushes through me at the notice of the rapidly darkening sky.
I feel a set of eyes suddenly looking upon me, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand on edge.
“Jax? What is it boy?” I ask him in a soft voice, knowing very well he can’t answer. He whirls around and bares his pearly white teeth, letting out a low growl towards something that is located behind me. His eyes glittered with a warning.
Fear was paralyzing me and drained all the pointless anger that I held before. For a moment I felt as though I couldn’t bring myself to turn around and look at who, or what was standing behind me. But something inside told me to do it, the feeling was a compelling urge.
Slowly I turn around, expecting the worst, as my hear pounded in my throat. That’s when I saw him. His eyes were a dull grey that held an almost lunatic glint. A thin smile showed on his scraggly and crooked teeth. Crows feet deepened the skin around his eyes in small folds. His head held raven black hair that blended with the night sky, as well as a few small strands of white that stood out like the stars that glimmered tonight.
As our eyes made contact, I knew he wasn’t a simple bystander taking an evening stroll. The way he grinned at me, it was almost as if he wanted me. Something like greed and possibly even lust lingered behind his eyes. Another snarl escapes from Jax as the man took a small step closer his fists closed tightly around something.
It appeared to be a bag of some sort, a bag that seemed large enough to smother someone if that's what he desired. He wanted to hurt me.
I let out a gasp, the fear at the thought sending adrenaline through me. In one fluid motion I feel myself turn around.
Suddenly I’m sprinting my feet crunching on the icy ground, with various bushes by my side scratching at my flesh and street lights illuminating my path. Jax was at my side as we run as quickly as we can, ignoring the cold that tried to reach the marrow of our bones. I have to get away! My voice screams within my skull. My fingers sweat as I clutch the leash with all my force. We have to keep going! I screech desperately, my muscles beginning tense.
The fear was rising in my throat in a deranged whimper. Only the few lampposts that inhabited the long bare street illuminated my path.I tried to scream for someone to help, but my voice was trapped in my throat, unable to expel the sounds.
So I continued, unable to stop for even a moment, regardless of my exhaustion. I could hear Jax winded pants beside me. We wouldn’t last much longer, but the thought of what that man planned to do with me compelled me to continue forward in pursuit towards safety.
My muscles were beginning to burn with fire. Momentarily I stumble as my knees briefly collapse, but I quickly regain my balance. My lungs were gasping for oxygen that I couldn’t provide.
That's when I hear the rhythmical thumping of music, and I can instantly tell where it was coming from. Multicolored lights flashed in the windows of a large grey house that was at least 100 yards away.
A sense of hysteria pushed me further towards the house, it made my muscles fight against the pain. On the outside of the house I see a boy standing, his face staring up to the sky, as he looked at the stars. His face had appeared relaxed and at peace.
It only took me a moment to recognize him. His eyes were a deep emerald green, so deep that they reflected the light of the stars above. He squinted slightly as he looked up, as if concentrated on the sight.
“Ashton!” I gasp to him breathless, he didn’t look like he recognized me at first. Of course I wouldn’t imagine he would, we had only one class together and we only talk in awkward brief sentences that only relate back to a math problem, or the occasional need for a pencil. His attention snaps to me, his eyes squint as he tries to decipher who I am, then his eyes flash with recognition.
“Mia right? Why are you -” he starts but I cut him off, mid sentence still nearly breathless.
“He... I... Chasing me...” I try still struggling to inhale. Ashton’s eyes widen and he places a hand on my shoulder in an attempt to calm me down.
“Hey, it’s okay, just breathe.” He says in a calm, slightly worried voice his eyes searching my face. I nod slowly, but panic was still controlling me.
That’s when I see him. The man appeared in the corner of my eye. A shudder runs down my back, “Help me please!” I cry to him, tears welling in my eyes. His gaze looks over, and suddenly he’s frantic.
“We need to call the police!” He grabs my wrist as he turns towards the house, then stops cursing softly. “Dammit. They don’t have a phone anymore.” He hisses to himself.
Regardless of the fear cannot help but to take notice to his touch to my bare skin, it makes me look at his fingers that are clasped around my hand for a moment. Jax barks at my side, pulling me from my thoughts, the sound of his bark was rough and low to my frozen ears.
“Come on my house is that way, we have to run!” He says his voice husky with fear.
My legs barely respond to my brain begging them too move faster and push through the pain. Inside I feared my heart would burst from panic. Small beads of sweat perspires onto my forehead.
I could hear the loud deranged steps of the man pursuing us. What did he want with me? My head inquired with terror. For a moment the image of his dark smile pops into my head, it makes me stumble briefly. Jax yelps as my hand harshly tugged his leash downward. I feel myself falling into the frozen pavement.
It only takes a moment for my hands and knees to connect with the icy ground. Pain crawls up my arms like I was electrocuted, it sent shock throughout my body. I bite my lip as to not scream out from the ache that now inhabited my fingers.
“Mia!” His words were but a whisper to my ears, I felt my body begin to shut down. I couldn’t move anymore, the pain and panic were taking over. Ashton’s thin lips moved as he shouted to me, trying to pick me up, but I could no longer respond. I was too far gone. Lost in my own head.
There gets to be a point in which your body just gives up, it no longer is fighting to get away, it just gives into the horror that consumes your mind. I was at this point. No longer would my eyes see straight, as Ashton’s face is in front of me. Or at least that’s what I guessed, considering all that I could see was an array of blurs.
My eyes began to droop closed. STOP! You cannot give up! From somewhere deep inside, my conscience spoke. It’s words were fuel to my veins.
I pulled myself from my trance. It took only a moment for my sight and hearing to return to normal.
“Mia! Get up! Hurry! Please!” Ashton’s voice sounded hoarse and gritty, as if he’d been screaming as loud as he could. My gaze slides up to him. Hope fills his emerald eyes. He reaches out inches from mine, to grab my stiff fingers. Our fingers almost brush as suddenly I feel a new presence lurking behind me. I open my mouth to scream, when suddenly large warm arms are around me. They squeeze my chest, no longer enabling me to breathe. I hear Jax snarl and lunge, his sharp teeth making contact with the mans leg.
“Ahh! Damn dog!” He cries out and shakes him off, following with a thud and then a whine.
“Jax!” I scream, anger now filling my chest. His whine seems distant. Nobody harms my dog. I quickly lean down and sink my teeth into the mans hand, he screeches and squeezes me tighter. I gasp, I feel my body grow weaker, the anger not enough to keep me moving. I feel a hand blur past my face as I see Ashton, his face contorted with an insufferable amount of anger.
A crunch sounds from behind me, and something warm sprays the back of my neck. Suddenly the air scented of metal, and I shudder; blood. His grasp on my chest loosens as he drops me. My feet hit the ground and I’m prepared to run.
“Jerry! What the hell took you so long?!” The man shouted, his voice slightly more high pitched- due to him attempting to stop the bleeding.
I look up trying to figure out who he was talking too. That’s when I saw him, he melted from the darkness of the shadows. His face held a long scar that ran up his cheek and over the bridge of his nose. His eyes appeared to be black, so dark that I swore I could see my own shaking reflection. The fear returned, how could we escape from two? I shake my head panic arising in my throat.
“You stay away from us.” Ashton’s voice lacks confidence, but he manages to say the words regardless. Jerry laughs gruffly. There was an angry glint in his eyes, a glint so noticeable I could have swore making eye contact with him would kill me.
“Grab the dog Dylan.” He mutters in a dark toned voice.
“Why? That’s just more to carry!” Dylan groans, still pinching the bridge of his slightly bent nose.
“Because your DNA is all over that dogs mouth, and when the police find it they’ll be able to track us down.” Jerry retorts, the anger making the veins in his neck bulge out. Wait- more to carry? Realization began to dawn on me. I remembered the bag, and the glint in Dylan’s eyes. They were going to kidnap us! All of the missing teenagers cases on the news suddenly popped in my head. How their pictures remained for only a few weeks before all was lost and they were presumed dead. That’s what would happen to us. They would take us away to somewhere secluded, torture us in the slowest most painful way possible and then kill us, only to hide our bodies at the bottom of a lake or perhaps bury us deep in the forest. I feel myself unable to breathe as I picture this.
That’s when I imagine my moms tear stained cheeks on live tv as she pleads for my life, not knowing what will have been done too me. We have to get away! My brain was in a frenzy, as thoughts whirled through it.
I look at Ashton frantically, and our gaze meets briefly. His eyes hold the same knowledge that mine do. Slowly I slide my gaze to Jax whom was slowly standing up, with a pained whimper.
Just as I was forming a plan to grab the leash, Jerry snatches it up, ignoring the snarling that comes from Jax. I swallow, that wasn’t the plan; that’s when Ashton shoves Jerry, using all his force and making him stumble backwards and to drop the leash. I lunge forwards to grab it, but that’s when a hand clamps over my mouth.
There was a thick sickly sweet scent that washed over my nose and mouth. I shriek into the cloth, unable to stop myself from taking another breath.
Within my skull, my brain rapidly began to grow sluggish as it attempts to figure out what has drenched the cloth. My eyelids are growing heavy as I’m forced to take small strangled breaths.
“Get the dog. The police are coming.” His voice was oddly calm as he spoke softly. I could hear the wailing sirens in a distance echoing like pained screams Maybe someone called the police... My thoughts were groggy. I blink my body growing weaker as I still try to struggle from his iron grasp. Suddenly I’m whirled away by the darkness swallowing me, taking away the sweet scent and my only motivation to flee. While leaving me with icy chills that rapidly run down my back raising goosebumps on my flesh yet again.