Chapter 5 - Decisions in the snow
I had decided that I’d rather face my death at the hands of winter, than live one more day with Shen able to touch my body.
In my dreams he came to me with claws, that he would use to rip my flesh apart and then he would sew me back together. Over and over again I could feel his gloved hands and eyes watching my body trying to knit itself whole again. He was just waiting for me to heal before he clawed me apart once again. A part of me couldn’t accept the fact that it wasn’t all just a horrible dream... a nightmare that I kept waking up from to fall into again.
Fear prickled my skin, but I was immune to it now. Fear was more powerful than any cold. I was off again in a staggering run.
Running for my life.
A small mound of rocks jutted out of the gloom up ahead. Instinctively I decided that was where I would make my stand. Maybe I could climb up on top of the rocks? Or wedge myself between them? Maybe a cave or a burrow? Some place to hide. I bounded towards it my vision tunneling.
Pushing my quivering muscles. They screamed at me. I screamed back inside, ‘just one more step’. Then another.
I lied to them. I told them - good food, long rest in front of a warm fire. I held those images and warmed myself with them. I told them everything would be all right if we reach the rocks.
My breathing was so loud that I couldn’t hear anything. It was taking too long. I stopped for a moment to try and listen sure that my pursuer was within reach. I gave up when I couldn’t hear anything over my ragged breathing, so I moved forward again.
It was so hard to move again. My body stiff. My legs kept threatening to give out on me. My joints felt as if they were going to bend sideways. Everything hurt. I couldn’t seem to catch my breath.
I looked hard, but I couldn’t see anything in the dappled dark under the trees.
A howl to my right. Closer than I believed possible. I hadn’t heard the wolf. My head snapped to my right out of reflex, and I missed the depression in my path. I stepped and the ground was not where it should be. I hit the ground face first into the snow. My shoulder found a rock. Pain radiated in waves.
I tried to get to my feet. The rocks taunting me all jagged razors under a veil of white. I tried again to stand, my shoulder stabbing in pain. Everything was tilting. I felt like I’d just gotten spun on a merry go round. I closed my eyes to keep it from spinning, but that just made it worse. I would have thrown up, but I was too dry. I gulped at the air doubled over.
It felt like I was breathing ice crystals into my lungs - little jagged pieces of cold blue glass that were slicing me open from the inside. But I dragged myself forward a step. Then another. I would die on the rock. Not here, not this close to salvation.
Another howl this time off to my left. A wolf pack. I was going to get torn apart, by wolves. I consoled myself with the thought that it would be quick. Somehow there was no escape from my fate. I was resigned to it. I was going to die, but I’d be damned if I didn’t make these bastards work for it. I was not going to go down without a fight. I was going to make them pay.