It was a quiet suburban avenue. A few of the children might play in the street in the daytime, but as soon as night fell curtains were drawn, doors bolted and living rooms filled with the sound of the television. Thus it was that there was no one to notice the girl when she appeared at the far end of the street.
She was running as fast as she could – but there was no real purpose behind the effort, no destination she was rushing to reach. She was, in so many ways, like a wounded animal which does not understand why it is in pain, but desperately clings to the belief that one more burst of speed might just enable it to leave that agony behind.
She was barefoot, but she didn’t take the time to wonder where she had lost her shoes – not even when she stepped on a sharp stone which dug cruelly into her flesh. She did not wonder about anything. She was feeling, not thinking – experiencing her nightmare again and again, on a constantly replaying loop of misery and despair.
Her lungs were on fire, and though her instinct screamed at her not to stop, her body was giving her no choice. She came to a sudden halt, and clutched the nearest lamppost for support.
Her breaths started to grow more regular, and her brain slowly began to engage again.
She did not know the name of the street she had stopped on, but she was confident she’d have no difficulty in finding her way from there to one of those places which – until that night – had been the anchoring points of her life.
For a moment, she considered heading for her school – where she had been happy and felt confident of herself and her small world. But that was absurd, because her school would be bolted and barred – and anyway, it could never be the same again.
The very thought of going home filled her with dread.
Perhaps she would go down to the river. The gentle lapping of the waves against the bank might relax her.
And if it did not, then she could slip softly into the water and let it gently cover her, so washing away all her cares forever.
She heard the sound of footsteps in the near distance. It had never occurred to her that she would be followed – but it would make perfect sense if she had been.
She gasped once – at the horror of it all – and then began running again.
Visit our website for more information on this title.