Racing down an overgrown forest path, Cassandra Weaver kept one hand in front of her, trying to shield herself from branches, and the other clutched a medium-sized burlap sack. Branches grabbed at her dark brown, almost black hair as she tripped as the path started a sudden descent. Her breath was ragged, and she gasped at the air painfully. In the distance she could hear the roar of an engine. Cassandra continued to glance over her shoulder nervously.
Earlier in the day she had followed her nemesis Alister Draven into a decrepit and overgrown temple. She had disguised herself as one of the men working for him. Inside the temple she had watched as he disarmed traps with apparent ease, almost as if he had done it before. He led his men into a large chamber that was nearly empty except for colossal statues guarding the four corners of the room. The center of the room held a pedestal with a crystal skull perched atop it. Something that resembled a chicken foot or a dragon’s hand held it aloft. It was hard to tell since it was so old and worn. Before Draven could yell, a man had run to the center of the room and snatched the crystal skull from its pedestal. The man held it aloft and bowed to the cheers of the other men. It was then that the man holding the skull cried out in pain. He hadn’t seen the spikes shoot up from the floor. One embedded itself into his leg. A spike shot up and through him, exiting out of the top of his head. He fell to the ground with a look of horror etched on his face. The skull had rolled directly to Cassandra, who snatched it from the floor and fled.
“AFTER HIM!” Draven barked out at his lackeys. There was a moment of indecision before Cassandra heard footsteps chasing after her. She pulled a burlap sack out of her leg bag and put the skull into it. She felt the temple shaking under her feet and knew that it was caving in. Cassandra sighed in dismay why all the temples self-destructed after the main artifact was removed. Who knows what other priceless artifacts the temple might have held. There had been more than just one room. Cassandra hopped into one of the Hummers that Draven’s crew had driven up in. She reached for the keys in the ignition, but they weren’t there. She looked under the sun visor but no love there either. The sound of shouting grew closer and Cassandra abandoned her search for keys and ran towards a path in the forest. She had walked it before and her camp was just on the other side of the river, but it was more than an hour’s walk from where she was.
“There!” She heard a voice yell, then the roar of one of the Hummer’s engines starting up. She knew they had seen her and were now in pursuit, but they could not slip between trees like she could. They also could not drive at top speed unless they wanted to crash into a tree or two.
She paused for a moment to catch her breath. She knew she didn’t have a moment to lose. ‘Think Cassandra,’ she thought as she looked around the jungle path that she had been running down. Spotting vines clinging to and hanging from nearly every tree, she clicked her tongue, signaling that she had devised a brilliant plan. She tucked the burlap sack down the front of her shirt as she began yanking vines off the trees. She heard the roar of the engine and splintering wood of trees and logs as the Hummer was speeding down the path. She hoped that this last ditch idea would work.
With an unnatural speed, Cassandra began tying the vines she had yanked down across the path. She was thankful that the trees were not very thick. They were supple young trees that had enough give but were also slender enough to tie vines around. She tied more and more vines around trees as she continued to pull, yank, and tie. The Hummer crested the small hill and she could now see the people inside. ‘Goons,’ She thought and spat out the blood that had pooled in her mouth. She had taken a good blow to the head from a falling rock as she ran from the temple. Just like every other time, the decrepit temple’s primary purpose seemed to be to protect the treasure she now had in her possession. The temple fell down around them the moment one of the Draven’s goons snatched the treasure from its pedestal. She snarled at the goons as they leveled their automatic assault rifles at her.
“Come get me!” She screamed at them as she turned to run. She heard the clatter of the guns clacking off as they began spraying bullets into the forest after her. Turning, Cassandra took about ten steps before she felt that all too familiar screaming hot pain in her back. She stumbled, fell to the ground, picked herself up, and continued sprinting away. She heard the roar of the engine and then angry shouts as the engine was abruptly silenced. As she had predicted, the goons jumped back into the Hummer, floored it, tripped her trap, and were probably now sitting dumbfounded in the disabled Hummer. Cassandra had tied vines across the path, making the goons think that was the actual trap, but when they gunned the engine to force the Hummer to speed after her was when they ran into the actual trap. The trap was a tree she had bent and tied sideways with vines. When the goons snapped the vines, the tree slung in front of them and smashed the entire front end of their Hummer and the radiator.
Cassandra continued to run until she could hear nothing aside from the sounds of the forest as twilight fell. They could not track her in the dark. She awkwardly stumbled around in the dark with her hands outstretched as she felt her way through the trees and hoped she was still on the correct path. She pushed on even though the pain in her back was screaming at her to stop, or slow down, or to sit for a moment. Cassandra would not and could not stop. She had to get back to the city, or at least to a hotel. She reached backward with a hand and tentatively touched her back. She regretted it immediately as white-hot blinding pain shot up her back to her neck and down her legs.
“Just have to make it out of the forest,” She moaned to herself as she took a couple more shaking steps before she collapsed on the ground.