“Keep running!” Gabe said, pushing at my back. “Don’t stop!”
I didn’t take my eyes off the scenery in front of me, not wanting to lose my footing and fall. Running through the woods in the dark was dangerous, I had to trust that Gabe was sticking close and we wouldn’t get separated. At this point, we weren’t even trying to be quiet, crashing through the underbrush and snapping twigs as we went. If someone was following us, we certainly couldn’t hear them.
After a few minutes of running almost flat out, I felt a hand wrap around my wrist and had to stifle a scream. We weren’t trying to be quiet, but I didn’t need to make extra noise. Gabe pulled me up beside him and whispered in my ear.
“I think we need to go this way,” he tugged on my arm to indicate the direction he meant. “The cabin should be over here, not far. We can hide there until morning.”
“Won’t they know to look for us there?”
“No, it’s abandoned. Unless you know about the cabin specifically, it’s hard to find.”
We started off again at a slower pace, trying to be quieter, listening this time to see if anyone was out there. We’d been making our way up the mountain through the woods for at least an hour at this point, trying to get away from Victor’s men.
In reality, I’d been trying to get away from Victor’s men for the last year, and I thought I finally had until they showed up at the lodge tonight. Gabe had taken one look at my face and known something was wrong, but he didn’t know the whole the story. That didn’t stop him from getting me out of there as quickly as possible though. We made it to my car only to find all four tires slashed. At that point, we headed into the woods.
Gabe had worked at the lodge in high school, so he knew these woods. Or so I hoped. We just needed to find somewhere to stay until morning when we could make our way off the mountain in the light, or possibly to a ranger station.
We made it to the abandoned cabin right as the rain started to fall, slowly at first but harder as we circled the cabin looking for a way in. Finally, Gabe decided to just break a window and reach through and unlock the door. Using his sweatshirt he managed to muffle the sound some, but it still seemed to echo across the mountain. Or maybe that was just my rising paranoia.
Inside it was musty smelling and everything was coated in a layer of dust, clearly no one had been here in years. That was a good sign. There was a fireplace but that was out of the question, the smoke would be too visible. Instead we found some questionable blankets and huddled on the sagging couch, trying to get warm. And I was trying very hard to ignore the idea that there were probably mice living in the furniture, at best.
We managed to doze off eventually, exhausted by the trek through the woods and the letdown from the adrenaline. A crash of thunder that rattled the windows startled both us from sleep some time later, causing my heart to pound in fear. It took a few minutes for me realize what had woken me and that it was just the rain, now a storm, and not someone breaking down the door.
Standing up to stretch, I wandered around the cabin peering out the windows trying to see out into the storm. Turning to look out the kitchen window, I saw a sight that made my blood run cold. A single handprint in the fog on the outside of the window.
“Gabe,” I screamed. “They found us!” Turning back towards him, trying to think of anyway out of this, I saw Gabe walk towards the door of the cabin. “Don’t,” I said, “they’re out there!”
“I know,” was all Gabe said as he opened the door and let in Victor’s men.
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