She raced through the trees, feet beating against the forest floor, breath ripping through her burning lungs, but He was inescapable, and she was losing energy.
Branches tore at her clothing, her hair. Roots and stones caught her feet, and she stumbled often. Dark clouds covered the moon and stars, leaving an empty blackness above her. She could see nothing in front of her, nothing behind her, nothing. But she could hear; the blood-chilling howls of His hounds as they hunted her; His pounding footsteps coming closer and closer. She was losing her lead.
‘Just run,’ she told herself. She had to run until her legs ached, until her feet bled, and keep running. Run until fatigue crippled her whole body, until she could not possibly continue. Then all that would be left for her was a prayer to the gods for a swift death before He could find her.
An involuntary shudder ran up her spine as she thought of Him, and how He had taken her companions, of what He had done to them as she watched helplessly. She attempted to shut the echoes of their screams out of her thoughts as she ran, feeling cold wetness on her cheeks as the air chilled her silent tears.
Her vision blurred and she tripped over a fallen branch, her ankle making a sickly popping sound, her body twisting violently with the force of her momentum as she fell to the ground. Biting her tongue to keep from shrieking in pain, she looked wildly about for a place to hide, adrenaline coursing through her. She could not quell the thought that the sacrifice of her companions had been for nothing. They had tried to protect her, had hidden her, but she had stayed too long, unable to tear her eyes away from their writhing forms. He had seen her before He had finished with them, and she had run.
But now it was all wasted, she was injured, and He was here.
A dark figure in robes walked towards her through the tall, swaying trees. His feet trod softly on moss and time seemed to slow as His steps brought Him closer to her. The air thickened, as though the darkness had become tangible and was determined to suffocate her.
“Did you think I would not find you?” He sneered, letting out a high cruel laugh. “You are mine.”
Coldness crept into her bones, a darkness invaded her mind and she knew she had lost. Dread filled her as His consciousness crept through her thoughts. And then she knew nothing but overwhelming agony, nothing but burning and freezing, throbbing and aching. Nothing but Him.
Her tortured screams filled the grove. She shrieked with every new pain until her throat bled, until her voice would let her make sound no longer.
But worse of all, His laugh. Cold and constant, it engulfed her entire being until a new thought, through the pain, took her mind.
All memory of who she was outside the pain was gone from her. Her entire existence was agony. All she wanted was death.
“Let me die,” she rasped, begging through bloody lips, the effort of it exhausting.
She knew He would not, but she fought Him. Desperately, she struggled against His will to release her own spirit from the battered body that trapped it in hell.
A voice began screaming, and it occurred to her that it was not her own. Its inhuman screech cried in one long, ragged note as she finally let go:
‘I win,’ she thought, and she was gone, leaving Him with only an empty shell.
Emma mehegan can be contacted at