“Thou hast been a shelter for me,
and a strong tower from the enemy.”
and a strong tower from the enemy.”
She could hear it faintly through her loud, raspy breathing and the thunderous pounding of her feet as they hit the ground. It was coming closer and closer with her every step. She knew she was running as fast as she possibly could, and yet she felt as if she were crawling. She peered over her shoulder into the darkness, feeling the urge to freeze in a paralyzed stupor, but knew she must go on, for Fear would soon reach out its gnarled fingers and squeeze the life from her soul. She could hear the rustling steps much closer now and could feel Fear’s warm breath on her neck. The air around her began to reek with an indescribable, evil stench, threatening to intoxicate her.
She must run faster. Surely somewhere, somehow she possessed some sort of unknown inner power that could drive her beyond her failing strength. Her foot caught hold of a stone. She felt as if she hit a brick wall as she fell in slow motion to the ground. Everything seemed far away… everything but the darkness. It closed in with suppressing thickness. For a second, she entertained the idea of giving in to its heaviness, but the rustling of Fear’s steps jolted her from her comatose state. She pulled herself to her feet and groped in the darkness, trying to find her bearings.
Only as she began once again to force one foot in front of the other did she noticed the piercing pain shooting through her leg. Her steady pace turned quickly to a limping fast walk. How long must she run? When would she have a chance to catch her breathe?
Suddenly, she froze. What was that lurking in the darkness? It flittered past her again. Her hair fluttered with the breeze created by its movements. There it was again. This time, it brushed her as it passed. It must be Memory, the stalker she had heard horror stories of. She must keep going.
But before she could move an inch, Memory returned, knocking into her and ripping at her with his sharp claws. Blood poured from her chest. She could feel the breeze and knew he was coming at her again. She tried with all that was in her to duck out of the way, but Memory predicted her every maneuver and hit her again and again, each time ripping deeper and deeper into her chest. She knew she must run. She must get away before he reached her heart and ceased its beating.
She turned and, with as much strength and speed as she could muster, limped away. Blood poured from her wounds and she could feel herself fading in and out of reality. When would this stop? She felt a tiny sting in her right shoulder that soon burned as hot as fire. Another hit the middle of her back. Then another and another. The snipers of Reminder showered her with bullets. Doubt and defeat began to creep in. She wasn’t sure she could keep going. Fear’s rustlings following her… Memory’s breezes threatening her… the snipers of Reminder pelting her. There was just no way she could outrun them. Not with these overpowering wounds. There was nothing left. No strength. No speed. No power. Not even a desire to run. If she could just find a shelter of sorts where she could hide from it all and rest.
Something caught her eye... a tall, dark shadow looming before her. Unable to stay on her feet any longer, she fell to the ground. Grasping the roots and stones, she pulled herself closer and closer to the looming shadow, hoping with everything inside her that it was a place of safety and not another trap. She looked up, trying to make out its shape. A glimmer of hope ignited within her. It appeared to be a tower… a strong, high tower of stone. If she could just drag herself the last ten feet, she would be at its base.
One pull after another brought her within a mere foot. She reached out her hand, her fingers slightly brushing the wall. Just one more pull. But there was no strength left in her. She laid her head on the ground in defeat.
At that moment, she felt herself being lifted and carried. She cracked her eyes open just enough to notice she was passing through a stone doorway. She was gently being lowered and her wounds were being washed and tended. She could stay awake no longer and finally let herself drift away from everything. It was a good sleep… a healing sleep.
The joyful song of birds filled her ears as she slowly opened her eyes. She gingerly ran her fingers across her chest. The wounds had closed. All the pain she had felt the night before no longer consumed her. She turned her eyes to the window where sunlight was streaming in. Morning had broken. And with it… hope, joy, and healing.