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By: Jenna Dickson

Running, running, endlessly running. I do not know what I am running from, but I know that I cannot let it catch me. It is dark. The path is narrow. The skeletons of trees are spaced so evenly, as if a formation line of soldiers on a deathwatch. I know I should just stop running, try to take a moment to think, but the darkness creeps up behind me and the narrow path ahead beckons me. I cannot stop.

When I try to think about it, the panic rises up again. I do not even feel the exhaustion, just the terror. The terror that something is out there waiting to cause me harm - something is building up. I run, and a figure shadows me. The dark figure is as intangible as the fear itself, a terrible creation of all that I feel. Faceless. Forbidding. I cannot let it catch me; I cannot let what has been building up reach me and come crashing down. The trunks of the trees flash by in eerie lines of a bleak darkness that is the unknown and the solid blackness that is the bark. Out of the corner of my eye, the flashes whip past me. As I run, the tension grows. A sticky piece of it here, another there, seeming to leap out of the tree branches and affix themselves to me.

Occasionally, amongst the flashes, the figure is right along beside me. It does not try to catch up or cut me off. It simply runs parallel to my course. Hah! As if I know my course! I curse to myself somewhat hysterically as the branches start to grow braver and lash out at my shoulders and feet, careening me sideways for a moment and making me stumble. The figure continues to run alongside me – is it friend or foe? I no longer care. Suddenly, inside of myself I feel a terrible welling of fear. My chest and heart constrict with it, my muscles stiffen and resist my running stride, I want to scream but I cannot. I cannot take the tension anymore, and yet, I continue to run.

Abruptly, horribly, the path I follow begins to widen and looming up ahead in the clearing is what I had most feared. How could I have been such a fool? I was not running away from it, I had been running towards it. Or, could it be that this whole time it knew of my intent, had tricked me somehow and managed to find me before I could escape it?

The dark figure stands blocking my path. I panic, there is no escaping, and even if there was, my legs are suddenly frozen to the spot. The figure has eyes like mine, deep blue and wide in terror. It knows that I can no longer run, that I must face what I have been desperately trying to avoid. Mouth open as if to scream, but not having any breath to do so, I turn to run back the way I came. But it is already too late.

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