38 RUN, AGAIN!
“Run! Run!” Teplan exclaimed as he grabbed Terah’s hand.
The face of the forest ahead of them illuminated with shadows produced by the truck’s headlights. The engine roared at full strength.
“They’re gaining on us — we need to get into the forest!” Teplan said shakily. “Run! Run! Run!” His heart pounded so loudly he wasn’t even sure Terah heard him over its beating. Thoughts of the dying river and the angry men chasing them flashed in his head. Their legs had never moved so quickly, suddenly swerving around saplings and leaping over logs.
“We need to hide!” Terah said.
The truck was quickly gaining on them. Suddenly, larger trees flew past them as they penetrated deeper into the forest and ran over dead leaves and sticks. Their eyes worked on high alert as they fought to negotiate the trees and shadows. Teplan’s silhouette guided Terah as she traced his path through the forest.
“They can’t see us through the trees for now. Let’s go left and climb a tree,” she said as she grabbed his hand from behind.
Without hesitation, they banked left. The truck’s engine screeched to a stop at the edge of the forest, sending out a loud scraping noise as tires skidded over tall grass and shrubs.
As they ran, their eyes darted from tree to tree to find a place to climb — all the branches were about ten feet in the air.
Truck doors slammed shut.
“What are we going to do Teplan — these branches are too high!”
Looking back, Teplan saw two men entering the forest, but not towards them.
“I’m going to boost you up into this tree. Grab the first branch and climb as quietly as you can to the top.”
He must have a plan for himself. There was no time to ask.
Teplan interlocked his fingers, put them between his knees and motioned for her to step up. Her running shoe jumped into Teplan’s hands and all in one motion he hoisted her up while she stretched her arms as high as they could go until a branch skimmed her wrist, and she clasped on and scampered up into the tree.
She moved herself close to the trunk to give Teplan space.
The men powered their way into the forest crushing sticks and leaves with every swift footfall that pounded into the ground.
Teplan backed up a few steps.
Just like at school. Just like at school.
He ran toward the tree and pushed one foot off the trunk, launching himself upward as he has done in the gym dunking a basketball. His arms stretched as high as they could. The ground fell away from his feet as the branch zoomed closer. Bark grazed his fingertips and his body fell back to earth. Landing hard on his feet, he went into a crouch position, and did not move.
The noise from the two men running immediately stopped. Everything went quiet.
Teplan could hear his own heavy breath.
Terah stayed perfectly still.
The crunching leaves and the breaking sticks started again, but this time headed straight for them.