PURSUIT - NAOMI JOHNSON
The night enveloped me as I ran. Ran hard. Harder still after I glanced back and caught the beam of headlights flashing in the distance behind me. Ran as though in a dream, one of the scary ones where you try desperately to scream, because if you scream maybe help will come, but in the dream you cannot scream, cannot cry out. My throat is blocked, it’s all I can do just to breathe. Must run. Must not stop. I’m so tired. I can’t think. Feet torn and bruised. But fear won’t let me stop running.
I saw the dim outline of a distant house as a light burned then winked out, gone like the flutter of bat wings, and I was abandoned to the night. The darkness was safety from the headlights behind me. But the darkness had eyes of its own, too, that I could not see, but could feel like hot demon breath on my neck. Somewhere on the wind I heard over my own panting an owl call out, questioning my identity. Bad omen. Owls are bad omens.
I staggered on against the night while thick, scudding clouds eclipsed the lightsof heaven. The road was cold, infinite space. The road was a bottomless cave with its monstrous maw agape, salivating, ready to swallow me. The sound of an engine closing behind me spurred my fear. With no warning, a shard of light sliced across the blackness before me, a surgeon’s scalpel cutting into the flesh of night. Probably a car, and that meant the highway was up ahead. If I made it to the highway, I might get away.
Just as quickly the light was gone and the darkness knit itself back together. Behind me, the engine purred like a cat on the prowl, growing louder as it neared its prey. Still I ran, fell over unseen snares, rose again, ran. Sobbed for breath, dared to look back once more. The headlights were closing in. I fell again, scrambled once more to my feet. My knees rebelled and at last I cried out, sobbing. Knew that if I stopped they would catch me. If I stopped I would feel the bruises and flowing blood from the cuts gathered on my wild flight. If I stopped my life was over. If I stopped –
I stopped, pressed backward by the shock of lights before me, blinding me. I shielded my eyes and felt myself falling, felt the road press its cold grit into my skin. And then the lights were all around me, flashing red and white victory. I wanted to be strong, to have courage, but I felt tears course my cheeks, salting the scratches there. The vehicle behind me stopped and ejected my tormentors. They were yelling, “Get down get down hands on your head get down hands on your head.”
I did and felt steel bite into my wrists. Hands grabbed me and stood me up and I staggered back against my enemies, pushed myself into them, made them wrestle me down again. I grabbed at their clothing, searching, searching, as the air filled with hot curses.
“Son of a bitching maniac killed sixteen that we know of. We ought to shoot him now.”
“Keep your head, Davis,” said a stern baritone. “He’s too famous. We’d never get away with it.”
“Should fucking shoot the monster right now.” There was muttered agreement from more than one voice.
They should have done that, but they didn’t. They hurt me some and made sure I bumped my head getting into the back of a cruiser, but they didn’t shoot me. In my right hand was a key to the cuffs and I used it. Leaned forward, raising my hands slowly, and spoke softly to the two men in the front seat.
“You two will make eighteen.”
BIO: Naomi Johnson is still in shock over being able to write to such a limited word count, and thanks Christopher Grant for the opportunity. Her longer stories have appeared here at A Twist of Noir, as well as at CrimeFactory and Southern Cross Review. She recently made her first sale of a story to Encounters magazine.
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