Drink the water. Eat the food. Keep running. Watch the rocks. Mind that sand. Run that hill. Ford that creek. Mind those bears. Crouch beneath the bushes. Run across the log. Do it now. Run faster. Run faster! Duck behind the rocks. Count your blessings. Drink the water from the bottle. Eat the berries, the red berries, eat the red berries. Skip the blue berries, they’re not blueberries. Wait here.
Breath. Keep breathing. Flare your nostrils. Quiet the air. Control that breathing, don’t hyperventilate. Sweep your eyes around. Check for pursuers. Count to ten. Find the quiet. Check again. Run.
Duck. Duck now! Get in that hole. Slide through. Get wet. Use the water. Fall slow. Splash quietly. Wade deep. Move steady; breath steadier. Hands high, hands dry. Get your neck wet. Feel the draft on it. Let it guide you like it’s pushing you. Step carefully. Use your toes. Grab the rocks. Mind the slime. Go deeper. Feel the draft strengthen. Watch for light, any light ahead. Tilt your head back and breath. Use your scalp to feel the draft. Flatten your palms on the ceiling. Flatten your face on the ceiling. Kiss the stone while you walk. Even breaths, don’t panic; do not panic.
Look down across your face. Look towards your mouth, over it. Look for light. Breath even. Breath easy. Walk slow, walk steady. Tilt your head forward while the water lowers. Don’t rush it. Eyes forward. Step up with the stones. Put your hands in front of you. Crawl up the bank. Head forward. Keep the water at your chin. Feel for ripples. Look for light. Follow the light. Move up, always up.
Stop. Listen. Take easier breaths, and listen. Move. Move now. Move faster. Kick! Don’t let them get a grip on your legs! Kick them off! Get away. Fight. Struggle. Keep struggling. Kick with your free leg! Get them off of you! Claw at their gums! Drag your nails. Harder! Peel flesh! Make them sorry! Make them let go, make them scream, whatever you do, make them let go!
Get out of that hole. Get back outside. Don’t think about what happened. Stop the bleeding. Worry later. Tourniquet now. Put weight on it. Run, limp, run. Keep moving. Get focused. Keep focused. Keep sharp. Start counting to yourself. Count as high as you can. Keep running. Picture your mother. Think of her voice. Think of her voice counting to you. Don’t count numbers, count things, memories. Keep sharp. Ignore the pain, keep moving.
Run. Walk. Crawl.
Crawl! Keep crawling. Use your arms. Drag your legs. Keep counting. Keep thinking of your mother. Think of her voice. Think of her smell. Think of her counting. Count one song. Count two stories. Count three birthdays. Keep counting. Keep using your brain. Think of her tears. Keep dragging those legs. Let the doctors worry about them later. Get free. Get away. Keep crawling. Eat later. Drink later. Everything later. Don’t listen to their song. Don’t let it take over. Keep crawling, keep counting. Grab that root. Ignore the sounds behind you. Ignore the sounds below you. Drag yourself over the rocks. Breath. Do not stop. Do not listen. Move. Keep going. Ignore that their chasing has stopped. Ignore that the pain is fading. Ignore the pleasure. Ignore the song. Ignore the silence. Keep going. Keep crawling. Grab that vine. Hoist yourself over that log. Fall off the other side. Roll down the hill. Think of one. Think of two. Think of three. Keep counting. See the lights. See the wall. See the guards. See the doctors. Picture them closer. Picture them near. Do not follow the pleasure’s voice. Focus. Don’t give up. Stay with me.
Please don’t give up. You’re so close.