A real life-saver
You run headlong through the night. You can hear the sounds of pursuit behind you, but you don’t dare look back. Over and over in your head you berate yourself for coming out here – the prize you’re playing for seems all but worthless now, and the price of losing has suddenly become much higher than you can afford.
Your heart is pounding in your chest – you were never that fit to begin with and the beats have started to run together into a single throb. The sounds behind you are coming closer and dawn and safety are still a long way off. Even as you frantically navigate the rocks and trees in the filtered moonlight your mind is searching for anything to give you an edge. The stones and trees make great obstacles but poor weapons, and the bag thumping against your legs is now empty of all but a few necessities that you never travel without – A sudden burst of hope adds a bit of strength to your faltering legs, as you stretch your hand into your bag, searching by touch because taking your eyes off your path means falling and falling means losing. Your fingers, slick with sweat, find what you were looking for among the lint and erasure shavings. You pull it out triumphantly and put it to a use that it both was and was not meant for – it was always meant to save your life, but not under these circumstances.
The night grows slightly less dim, as your heart manages to find a yet faster rhythm and your lungs burn. Your legs feel looser and are moving faster too, so fast that you feel as though you’re on puppet strings, an out-of-control joyride with someone else at the steering wheel. You dodge boulders and jump fallen logs and somehow your puppet-limbs stay under you, until at last the light shifts from blue to red as a sliver of sun shows over the horizon and shines through the trees. Dawn is almost at hand and you have almost gotten out with your life – the prize is long forgotten. As the sun pulls away from the edge of the world you leap the stream you had forded when you had set out at dusk. Your mad dash doesn’t stop there, continuing across the quad and to the dorms. You run up the stairs because you just can’t stop moving, and the puppet strings finally tangle, sending you face-first into a concrete edge, but you’re up in a moment because there is no pain and you can’t stop moving. You pull out the key to your door but drop it three times because your hands are shaking – in fact now that you’ve stopped moving you’re practically vibrating, the motion refusing to die.
Your roommate is woken by your graceless entrance to the room. Their first expression is relief, at seeing you back, quickly chased by concern, probably because you’re shifting your weight from foot to foot and your head is whipping back and forth taking in the whole room while your hands fly out from your bed to your pockets to your hair because you still can’t stop moving. They tumble out of bed – sleep chased off by your erratic behavior – and try to hug you, pet your hair and reassure you that you’re safe now, you made it back. You push out of the hug, arms flung out to their fullest extent. You can feel that your eyes are open too wide, and your mouth as well, less of a smile than a baring of teeth. Your roommate flinches back from your expression.
“Where are my rings, I should put them back on,” the word hurtle off your tongue at the speed of thought and into an impressive, unintelligible multi-syllable collision. You don’t wait for your roommate to respond, already tearing through your things looking for the iron rings you always wear – except tonight when you thought it was a good idea to challenge the Gentry to a game. You pull them out of the clutter, but your hands are shaking so badly that you only manage to get one of the five on, dropping the other four to the floor. You bend down to get them and after far too many tries they are all safe on your fingers. Your roommate is slightly less cautious once they see the iron sitting comfortably against your bare skin, but you still whip around to them and begin to babble again.
“Sorry sorry sorry” as you start to spin in circles on the spot, just to keep moving, bring the shaking back under control, “sorry don’t mean to scare you I’m fine really I swear I managed to get away they didn’t catch me I just can’t stop shaking right now I’ve had way too much coffee except I haven’t had any I guess the EpiPen hasn’t worn off yet I’ll be fine.”