Authors: Rebecca Lorino Pond
Table of Contents
Run!!! That’s all her mind was telling her to do. “Run as fast as you possibly can and don’t stop” her brain was screaming at her. Branches and leaves scraped her face and arms as she wildly ran through the woods. Her lungs were screaming for air and were on the verge of giving out but her legs kept going as if on a treadmill that wouldn’t stop.
Avery was running in no particular direction. She knew only that she had to somehow out run the huge creatures that were quickly closing in on her. Stopping behind a large tree, she needed to stop and breathe for a moment so that the burning sensation building in her lungs would subside. Near to her from the left she heard twigs breaking as one of the creatures moved closer to where she was hiding. Taking a chance and peeking around the tree, Avery got a glimpse of what she had thought was a creature but instead looked very much like a large man. Gasping and pulling back quickly behind the tree Avery just stood there for a moment totally stunned.
What in the world did these so called men want with her? Why were they chasing her? All she knew was that when she left the bookstore where she has worked for past the five years, she had had an odd feeling that she was being followed. Her fears were confirmed when she saw shadows closing in around her as she had entered the park. She had cut through the park many times on her way home to her apartment, but never this late in the evening. She just wanted to get home quickly before the rain started and curl up with the new book she had gotten from the bookstore. She was always conscious of her surroundings at all times since she was pretty much alone a lot.
She didn’t have much family, just two old aunts that lived on the Westbank of the city of New Orleans. Her mother and father had died when she was six years old and having no other family she was sent to live with her two aunts. Her aunts were both spinsters and had no children of their own. They gladly took her in and loved her as their own. She never wanted for anything except for her parents. She adjusted to her situation and her life eventually became normal again. She was able to deal with the loss of her parents much better as she grew older.
Her aunts put her through Catholic school where she was able to excel in her grades. She eventually earned a scholarship to the University of New Orleans where she majored in English literature. After earning her Bachelor’s degree and securing a job in one of the largest bookstores in Metairie, Avery moved out of her aunts’ home and into her own apartment not far from her work. She enjoyed her position at the bookstore immensely and became friends with several regular customers who came into the store almost daily to enjoy the coffee shop. But, outside of work Avery kept herself pretty much isolated most of the time. She didn’t like going to bars or dance clubs. She had only been on Bourbon Street one time for her twenty-first birthday. An experience she would never like to repeat. Up and down the street she could see drunks throwing up, strip clubs and felt hands that seemed to come out of nowhere and squeeze her rear end. The bar scene had made her become even more self-conscious about her looks
Avery never considered herself a raving beauty but she also knew that she wasn’t ugly either. She had hazel eyes that would sparkle when she laughed and shoulder length dark brown hair that often had a mind of its own and refused to be tamed. At five foot three and slightly overweight, she never actively sought out the opposite sex. She had been on quite a few dates but was never really able to find the right guy that would just sweep her off her feet. She figured that the right one would come along one day in the future when she least expected it. Her aunts were constantly trying to set her set on blind dates with the sons of some of their friends. She knew her aunts meant well but those dates almost always never went any further than that first date. She figured was still young at twenty six years old and had plenty of time to find her soul mate.
Considering her current situation, Avery had decided to settle into her quiet life and hope for the best. She enjoyed being alone most of the time. When the need for company would arise, she would show up on her aunts’ porch and spend time with them. Other times she would go to the movies, go to the museum or just stay at the bookstore and work extra hours. There was always someone at the bookstore to talk to. She knew that bookstore inside and out. Her love of reading had her very knowledgeable in most areas of the bookstore. Her favorite thing was to recommend a book to a customer. She would feel so gratified when a customer would return to the store and thank her for her recommendation.
Most days she left work before the dark set in because she would go through the park. However, for the past few days she kept having this nagging feeling that she was being watched. Even in the middle of the day it seemed. She would stop and look around when she got one of those eerie feelings. But each time she looked, she couldn’t see anyone following her. The park usually had a good bit of people and kids during the day and into the evening. Cheers could be heard on the nearby baseball field. In the playground, there were always small children with their parents playing on the slides and swings. She felt totally safe a week ago, but not lately.
It had rained earlier in the day. When she walked out the bookstore and headed for home, it looked like it was once again threatening to storm. She figured she had enough time to make it home before the first drops would start falling. Not letting herself think twice about going through the park. She turned onto her well walked path and made her way home. Rumbles of thunder moved closer and each time they expelled their energy, bolts of lightning would light the sky. Avery figured she had better pick up her pace or she was definitely going to get wet. At that exact moment, the feeling of being watched came over her again. She stopped and surveyed the surrounding area she was in. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of a shadow that moved further behind a tree. It was about fifteen feet away from her. Swallowing back her fear, she turned back to continue on her way home. She hadn’t gone but ten steps when she saw the shadow again, this time much closer than before. Whoever it was, they were definitely following her. Then the sound of breaking sticks came from the other side of her. She glanced in that direction and saw two more shadows steadily moving closer to her. That was when that age old instinct of flight or fight took over. She would run as fast as she could and pray that she wouldn’t have to fight, but if it came down to it, she would fight with every ounce of strength she had.
Grasping her keys in her fist, she positioned one key between two of her fingers and started to run. She never thought in her wildest dreams that she would ever have to flee for her life but that was exactly what she was doing now.
Without warning a large hand shot out from around the tree and grabbed hold of her right wrist. The hand pulled her around the side of the tree and into something that felt like a wall causing her to scream loudly as she crashed into it. Looking up quickly, she realized that this “man” towered over her and was looking down at her with deep golden eyes. Again the flight or fight instincts took over at that exact moment. Luckily, Avery carried her keys in her hand at all times when walking home so that way she would have some sort of protection against an attack. It was now or never to put those keys to work.
While her right wrist was still firmly incased in his hand, she swung her left hand up and around to the right side of his face, catching him in the eye. Immediately, he let her hand let go. The man let out a stream of words in a language she had never heard before. He looked down upon her while holding his right eye. It was bleeding profusely and he continued to bark out more of the nonsense words while slowly drawing out some sort of gun from underneath his jacket. That was all that was needed in order to get her running again. Turning from her attacker, Avery started to run again and prayed that she would be able to get away. She could still hear the odd language of the man as she was running and it dawned on her that he must be speaking to someone else.
“Oh crap! There’s more than one.” She managed to whisper to herself as she pushed and clawed her way through a part of the park she had never been in before. Tree roots of the giant majestic oaks along the ground were making it hard to run at full speed, making her stumble quite a few times as she made her way through the woods.
The odd language was growing nearer and in her panicked state she managed to get one of her feet tangled up with one of the roots of the nearest oak tree, sending her sprawling head first into the wet and muddy ground. Her ankle now burned like the fires of hell when she tried to get back up. Her heart was beating so hard she was sure the man or men could hear it. Just at that moment the sound of twigs and branches snapping on the ground was surrounding her. She could hear the men talking, but had absolutely no idea what they were saying. With nowhere to run, Avery looked around quickly for some kind of hiding spot. Two feet away from her were some large azalea bushes that were growing everywhere in the park. The bushes were in full bloom despite it being February, but here in Louisiana most plants start blooming early. Crawling as quickly and quietly as she could, Avery got under the bushes just as the pursuer she had injured burst through the trees. He stopped for a moment and surveyed the area. Avery held her breath and didn’t move a muscle. She prayed that the blooming azaleas bushes would conceal her. The huge man continued to look around for several seconds, scanning every part of the area. Then he headed off to her left side disappearing again into the woods.
Avery waited for several minutes before closing her eyes and releasing the breath she was holding. She leaned forward just a bit to see if the coast was clear. But as she leaned forward something grabbed her injured ankle from behind and yanked her backwards. She was dragged through the mud until she was clear of the bushes and found herself looking straight up an extremely angry man. His eye was swollen shut and there was a long cut on his cheek where the key must have gotten him. Paralyzed with fear, Avery let out a scream that sent the birds in the trees scattering away in a chirping frenzy and caused her captor to shout unknown words at her. She watched in fear as he took out that gun again and pointed it at her. She closed her eyes in anticipation of what she feared would happen. Just then, with lightening quick reflexes, he reached for her and pulled her to her feet before she even knew what happened. The injured man standing in front of her was eyeing her with contempt and spewing words at her she couldn’t understand. All the while, she hoped and prayed that he wasn’t going to kill her. Next thing she knew she felt the backside of his hand come across her face knocking her to the ground again. Pain flooded her head. When she opened her eyes all she could see were bright twinkling lights that faded in and out. She attempted to try and roll over so that she could regain her feet and stand up. Before she had even managed to get her hands planted firmly on the ground, her attacker seized her arm and yanked her to her feet. He brought his arm back in preparation to strike her again but before he could strike her, several more large men came crashing through the bushes shouting and stopping the one eyed man in his tracks.
A man in a black and red uniform shirt with black pants tucked into black shiny boots strode up to her one eyed attacker and started shouting to him in that same odd language. The man shouted back and pointed to his eye then to her. The newcomer
was a bit taller than her attacker and obviously seemed to be the one in charge. Heated unintelligible words went back and forth for several minutes and when it was over the one eyed man gave her one last angry looked and turned to walk away.
When the two men were shouting at each other, Avery was taking small steps back to put as much distance between her and the angry injured man, but her movements were quickly noted by the new arrivals. The one in charge started towards her rapidly. This caused her to shift backwards.