Chapter 22: Path to freedom.

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Chapter 22

~Riley’s POV~

I couldn't tell how long I’d been running but what I did know was that I was cold, my feet ached, I had scratches and bruises in places I didn’t think it possible to get scratches and bruises, a skinned knee, torn pants and I was as filthier than I’d ever been in my life.

All that, plus a gnawing hunger that had settled in my stomach hours ago and my parched throat. The more I ran, the more I was sure Kyle was laying hurt somewhere, probably feeling one hundred times worse than I was.

I’d started tearing up a few times whenever thoughts of him surfaced and had to will the tears away. I had to concentrate on getting back, make sure I didn’t take a wrong turn or I would probably miss him all together, that is, if he himself hadn’t taken another path.

By now I was half running half walking; the stitch in my side and my aching feet preventing much more exertion. I managed to sidestep a protruding root, when I heard a loud siren flood the air.

It was loud enough that I could hear it clearly, but not so loud that I had to cover my ears to shut out the sound of it. It was just another one of the many alerts I’d heard being issued from the prison since I’d started the journey and as with the others, I had no idea what this one meant. I continued on, my worry over Kyle steadily increasing the further I went without any sign of him.

It was just when I felt as if I’d just collapse from exhaustion, that I saw the silhouette of a man bounding through the trees toward me; way too big to be Kyle. I let out a squeak and spun on my heels as fast as my tired body could take me.

My heart was firmly lodged in my throat as I began running away from the quickly approaching figure, my mind racing, wondering if this was it, if this was the moment I’d get caught and hauled back to my lonely cell.

It felt like the wind had been knocked out of me when something hard and large slammed into me from behind, knocking me onto my chest. I could feel the heat coming from the man’s body and his warm breath on the back of my neck and I struggled to get up, fighting with everything I had to be freed of the foreign weight pressing me into the soil.

I screamed and kicked and tried to crawl away, stabbing my nails into the thick mud as I tried to drag myself out from under him, but the man had other ideas. I felt the a large calloused hand clamp over my mouth successfully muffling my shouts for help and  for a moment my head went light and I become dizzy from the lack of air.

I could feel my lungs burning in my chest as my nostrils fought to keep up a healthy supply of air in and out of my body, but my panic soon had me hyperventilating while I still fought to be free. I could hear the man shouting something but it felt as though large cotton balls now inhabited the space where my ears were and all I could pick up was a distant rumbling.

I bit down hard on the hand until I tasted blood and with what I imagined to be a curse, the man pulled his hand away swiftly and I gasped for air.

“Help!” I howled into the forest. Not sure who I expected to help me. This was it, the man would either crush me to death or drag me back to prison and both prospects sounded equally disturbing.

“Help!” I screamed again, using my elbows as weapons to jab them into the stranger’s flesh.

“Help!”

“Who the hell do you think’s gonna help you? Will you just shut up and calm down for a second!” the man’s voice rumbled above me and when I let in another jab; this time pretty sure I’d caught a rib or something equally sensitive, he cursed and I froze.

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