The funny thing about facing imminent death is that everything else suddenly snaps into perspective. Take now, for example. I gulped in deep lungfuls of cold air.
My brain was in hyper drive; I was racing for his life. I had to live through this. Nothing else mattered. As long as I could dodge the bullets and outrun whatever breed of dog were three steps behind my heels. See? That snaps things into perspective. Run faster. He needs this.
A few years ago, if somebody had told me that in two and a half years time my mum would have been dead eighteen months and six days and that I’d be running for my life... I think I would have launched at them with anything solid and sharp. But, if they had, it would’ve made things a hell of a lot easier.
I was totally lost. Still, my arms pumped by my sides, my feet crashed through damp undergrowth. A bullet whizzed past my ear. Come on. Run. I could hear the dog’s laboured breathing right behind me, the echo of their paws smashing on the twigs and the dead leaves beneath them. If you don’t run, he’s going to die faster. I burst through the trees, chest heaving. I skidded to a halt, breathless with every muscle and bone screaming in agony.
The gate loomed before me. My eyes skittered wildly. Don’t panic. Then you’ll surely die. I scanned the dark again. They were getting closer. I could hear their angry voices. No choice. My feet carried me forward, my cold hands launching the most important thing in the world into the air at the same time as my feet left
I knew I wasn’t going to make it. My chest hit the iron of the gate with such an impact the breath in my lungs vanished. Breathe! Breathe! Run! I swallowed painfully, groaned, sucked in retreating air and clambered, agonised, over the gate. Stumbling forward, I tugged the backpack from its awkward heap on the roadside before hunching my shoulders, pulling the hood further around my face and blended like a ghoul into the dark.
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