Gunshots were fired. The explosion of gunpowder reverberated through the trees. Rustling the timberland, the intrusion sent nesting birds into the sky and wildlife into burrows. The only two beings unable to hide raced down a slippery path, wet from the midnight showers.
“Do you know where you’re going?” I asked.
“No,” she said.
“What? You don’t know?”
I wasn’t sure if I should trust her or express my concern. But despite my question, I kept my pace. And despite her answer, she kept hers. She didn’t take a single glance behind and neither did I. We already knew who were after us. We knew what they wanted. And though we didn’t know the distance between us and the mercenaries, we could hear them loud and clear.
“Keep moving,” she said, as the trees began to thin.
Not wanting to be left behind, I stayed hot on her heels. I ignored the burning in my calves and thighs. I gave myself no excuse to stop. But then, she did–she stopped. Her shoes skidded across a muddy patch, her arms briefly flailed at her sides, before she halted at the fringe of a cliff. Unfortunately, when I discovered why she had stopped, it was too late. I skidded through the same pool of mud, my arms flailed by my sides, but momentum was against me. I tipped over the edge and lost all hope of survival. I was certain I was done for, until she yanked me to safety.
“Watch where you’re going,” she stated.
“Thanks,” I muttered. It was a close call, but she gave me no room to digest my brush with death.
“Do you see another way?” she prompted.
I took a quick look around, hoping to find another path. Alas, there was none.
“No,” I replied. And instantly, I had a dreadful inkling. I knew what she was going to say, and she said it.
“Are you insane?” I asked.
The hollers and shouts from the men stampeding after us grew louder at every second. They were getting close. And the only option, as we stood at the edge of the rocky cliff–plummeting toward the rapids below–was to jump.
“Jump,” she repeated.
This time, she didn’t wait for my response. She did what she always did best–escape from danger. As my only guide of this world leaped off without hesitation, I stood rooted to the ground. I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t her. This wasn’t my world–it wasn’t my adventure. Yet, there I was. And if I wanted to continue on, I had to jump before I took a bullet in the chest–before it’s game over.
“I can do this,” I coaxed myself. “If Alexa can do it, so can I.”
Alexa was the bravest adventurer known to men. Everyone, or at least almost everyone, knew who she was–Alexa the Great Explorer. The one who would brave snow storms and scale icy mountains, the one who would swim in dangerous waters and wrestle sea monsters, the one who would jump off airplanes and, at that very moment, off a cliff into the angry river far below. Alexa was fearless, bold, and resilient. In comparison, I was a scared child.
As I looked upon the raging water, ready to engulf me upon my descent, I took a deep breath and said a short, silent prayer. Should I survive the jump, what was next? This world has tried to kill me more than once and I wouldn’t be surprised if it finally succeeded.
Hesitating no more, I shuffled backward–ready to leap into the unknown. But as I took one foot forward, the world stopped–time stopped.
“It’s dinner time,” my mother called from the kitchen.
“Just let me finish this chapter,” I replied.
“Don’t make me come get you,” she threatened.
Dragging my reluctant self, from my bed and into the hallway, I pleaded, “Come on, just a few more pages.”
My mother peered out from the kitchen doorway with a death stare. If the mercenaries didn’t kill me, my mother would.
“Fine,” I said, bookmarking the page as I returned to reality.
“You can continue after dinner,” my mother stated.
“It’s not the same. It’s not exciting anymore.”
“Well, I’m sorry you have to eat.”
Rolling my eyes, I slumped into the dining chair with the book on my lap. All I had to do was get through sixty minutes in my world, before I could return to Alexa’s. Then, once there, I wouldn’t leave until the story ends. With such an adventure waiting–one worth embarking on–nothing and no one will stop me from finishing it.
12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)