Note: This was written for my fiction writing workshop at my college. I thought I'd post it here as well. Enjoy. (Critique is much needed so please, don't forget to review).
Eva leapt over the creek and hissed in pain as she landed awkwardly on her left ankle. After stumbling into a tree she righted herself and continued on through the foliage, with only one thought on her mind. She had to survive; she couldn't be like the others. She had to be the one to make it through and tell the world what had happened to them over the past twenty-four hours if that's even how long it had been. She hated not knowing how long she had been missing. The fact that she was even here scared her, but she couldn't let the fear and anger get the best of her.
"Focus," Eva scolded herself out loud as she stumbled over a root that she should have seen. "You're almost there." Her voice came out raspy from dehydration and she could feel it in her sluggish movements.
She could hear the roar of the waterfall ahead of her and couldn't help but flash back to the last time she had been there; when her oldest brother had fallen to his death. She pushed that hated memory from her head and moved on. If she couldn't keep her mind on the finish line, then she wasn't going to survive. It had been ten years since her last time in the woods—when her brother died—but she still knew them. She had grown up in these woods.
As the sun rose higher in the sky and shone through the trees, she stripped off the windbreaker and tied it around her waist. Her heart jumped in her chest and she knew she needed water, but she pushed herself even further. She had to do it even if she felt like she couldn't. Right now, everything looked bad for her and she knew it. That knowledge only brought the fear back to the surface.
"Eva!" She jerked to a stop as her name came through the radio tucked into her pocket. "You know you can't get away from us; it's only a matter of time before you give up and we catch you."
"Oh yea?" She didn't bother to push the transmit button; they probably imagined her response already. "That isn't likely."
"No one has ever escaped us."
"Well, I'll be the first." Eva reached for the radio and pressed transmit. "How's the park ranger doing?" She didn't have his name. "I hope I didn't hurt him too badly."
Even though it was a radio transmission, she could hear the fury in his voice. So, the park ranger wasn't okay. If she based her assumptions not on her remarkable aim, but on her pursuer's voice, then the park ranger was dead. Good. She cleared her throat and tried to portray herself as someone who wasn't even phased by the news, even though she would rather find a place to hide and wait for the rescuers she knew weren't coming.
"I'm sorry to hear that he's dead, but he deserved it. No girl likes having a gun aimed at her by a deranged sociopath." At the outraged hiss that came through the radio she laughed. "Oh? Did I say that out loud?"
She turned the radio off and shoved it back into her pocket. After a quick look around her to get her bearings, she started off in the direction of the waterfall. Once she crossed that river she would be in the home stretch. She was almost there and she could already feel in her bones the satisfaction of being the only one to ever get away; though she wasn't sure if she would get away.
Trees. They were everywhere. The last thing Eva was able to remember was walking into her apartment and then darkness. Now, all she could see was trees and vegetation. The only sound she could hear was that of a birds cry. She was dressed in clothes that she couldn't remember putting on; a windbreaker over a long sleeved thermal shirt and jeans, with hiking boots and wool socks over her feet. She hadn't pulled these clothes—minus the jeans and shirt—out of her closet in ten years, and it had been the same amount of time since she was last in a forest for something that wasn't work related. There was panic in her movements as she jerked to her feet and looked around.
There were two other women there with her, both dressed similarly; both were brunette's like her, though Eva appeared to be the shortest. She knelt down beside the one nearest her and pressed her fingers to the woman's neck. The vein pulsed against her fingers and she pulled them away. Well at least one was alive. She quickly checked the other woman's and relaxed slightly at the pulse.
"Wake up," Eva shook both woman. "Come on, wake up!"
The woman closest to Eva stirred and then slowly opened her eyes. "What? Ugh."
"How are you feeling?" As soon as the words left her mouth, Eva felt like an idiot. Was that all she could come up with? She noticed the woman move away from her. "Eva Kallas," she said introducing herself at the mere flash of panic in the woman's eyes. "I'm not going to hurt you."
"Chloe Shea," there was still panic in her voice. "Where...where are we?"
"That's a question I can't answer. I thought it better that I wait so we could go together." Eva didn't add that everything looked a tad familiar to her, but that was only based off of the type of tree and vegetation, not any landmarks. She was trying not to panic and she couldn't let Chloe see that.
Chloe looked over at the third woman, "Is she alive?"
"Yes, but I don't know how badly injured she is; it looks like she was struck with something hard." Eva shifted uncomfortably and tried to think. Where was she before this? "Do you know how you ended up here? I only remember walking into my apartment and then darkness."
"I don't know!" Chloe was panicking again. "Where the hell are we?"
"Just out of curiosity, where are you from?" If Eva could find out where they were from and what time it was, maybe she could figure out where they were.
"Plymouth, New Hampshire."
Eva frowned, "Boston."
Whoever had kidnapped them wasn't concentrating on one set area and seeing as how it was midmorning—according to the sun—Eva had been unconscious for several hours, the whole night. They could be anywhere.
"We have to get moving."
"What? Why?" Chloe's eyes widened. "Can't we just stay here?" They had different colored eyes as well; Chloe's blue and hers, hazel.
"Whoever kidnapped us, brought us here to the middle of nowhere. Call me crazy or say I watch too many criminal shows, but I don't think they brought us here to hold us for ransom."
"You think they're going to kill us?" The third woman spoke then.
"You're awake," Chloe said after taking a deep breath to calm herself. "And I doubt that Eva thinks that."
Eva moved uncomfortably, "Actually…I do think they're going to kill us."
She had barely finished her statement when there was a single sound, like a car backfiring; a sound Eva would recognize even in her sleep. She pushed Chloe to the ground, and covered her, as bullets passed by overhead. The third woman was killed instantly.
"Run!" Eva hissed in Chloe's ear. "Don't look back, just pick a direction and run."
The second the bullets let up, Eva shifted to her feet and took off in what she hoped was north. She could hear Chloe behind her, but didn't look back. They had to put distance between them and the shooter or there was no hope. After an hour, they seemed to be getting nowhere. Everything looked similar to Eva, but she couldn't really be sure about anything. Her knees and hands were raw from tripping over roots and Chloe's weren't any better. If anything, Chloe looked worse off, with a gash on her forehead from where she had fallen and struck a tree.
"We have to stop," Chloe managed to say between gasping breaths. "I can't run anymore."
"Okay," Eva decided as she turned to look at Chloe. "Just for a few minutes. Then we have to keep going. Maybe not at a run, but we have to move fast."
Chloe glared at her. "You don't even know where we are! How can we keep going if we have no idea where to go!"
"I know where we are." Eva wasn't looking at Chloe when she spoke, but at a tree a few feet from them. "I can't believe the irony." Her voice was tinged with shock.
Eva pointed at the tree directly behind Chloe. "My older brother and I would come here to hike on weekends and during the spring and summer breaks from school. The last time we came, we carved our names into that tree." She smiled at the memory. Then her smile disappeared. "We're only six miles from the ranger station…but to get there we have to get across the river." The fear was back as well as the memory of her older brother.
"Which isn't going to happen."
Both women jerked around and looked at the man in a green park ranger's jacket. They both would have relaxed if not for the gun he had aimed at them. Eva moved to the left slightly and placed herself between Chloe and the park ranger. When she caught sight of the smirk on the man's face she stepped forward and tilted her head to the left.
"Put the gun away and fight me, hand to hand," she hoped he would take her challenge. He looked stronger than her and crazed. Not someone she would want to fight, but she would fight him if only to give Chloe enough time to get away.
"And why should I?"
"Why else? More sport. You're hunting us aren't you? Isn't part of hunting to fight your prey?" She prayed that she had profiled the situation correctly and that her anger and fear weren't in her voice.
When he put the gun away, Eva smirked. Perfect. She readied herself and let him make the first move. He came at her, his left hand closed in a fist and his right foot slashing out at her left side. She was shocked at how easily she was able to dodge him and how easy it was to knock him away and steal the gun from his holster.
"Chloe, run!" Eva directed over her shoulder and then smiled at the fury in the park ranger's eyes. "I should have mentioned that I don't like playing by the rules." She pulled the trigger and watched as he fell. Anger meshed with triumph, which wasn't what she thought she should be feeling.
When she turned around she was stunned. Time seemed to slow as Eva took a step towards Chloe. Chloe was dead; an arrow through the heart. Her training took over—Eva raised the gun and moved in a slow circle. She couldn't see anyone there. Dammit. A split second later, a cry of pain passed her lips as an arrow pierced her right arm. She stumbled back, but thankfully didn't fall. Her arm throbbed and she tried to take a breath, but she couldn't. The pain was too much. As the blood ran down her arm, she could hear laughter. Laughter that spurred her into action. She snagged the radio from the park ranger and ran. She turned the pain into adrenaline.
The waterfall roared in front of her as she stood at the southern side. There was no other way to get across but to walk. She could feel it, the anxiety eating away at her. The panic. The memory of her brother falling to his death as he did the very same thing she was contemplating. She looked back and saw the man in the tree, her lone pursuer. He had been there for ten minutes, not doing anything; he only watched her. She stepped forward and took another step and another. An arrow passed her shoulder, the same shoulder that had a gaping wound where the previous arrow had been. She ran and didn't look back even as she slipped across the smooth surface of the rocks, even as the panic wore away at her.
"You can't win!" He called after her.
Eva said nothing, though she wanted to shout at him and continued across. Her gaze never wavered from the other bank. She didn't need to look down, she already had the image of the falls imbedded in her memory from when her brother fell. The minute she reached the other bank she sank to the ground and took a few deep gasping breaths. Then she was back on her feet and on her way through the trees. Three miles left until she reached the ranger station and what she was hoped was safety.
She hadn't gone very far when she felt a pain in her ankle and then she was on the ground, her arms braced to stop her head from impact against the ground. She slammed her hand against the ground and then shifted so she was sitting against a tree. So close. Three miles until the ranger station and now she had a sprained ankle? For all she knew it could be broken. She could hear his laughter as he got closer. This was the end for her. She felt that way, that she wouldn't be leaving the woods. She would die there, like her brother. No. She wouldn't let that happen. She was going to kill him and then she would leave.
"So close and yet so far."
"I'm not going to be easy to kill," she told him as she waved the gun in his direction.
"I wouldn't want that." He knelt beside her and pressed a hand to her injured ankle which caused a hiss of pain to escape her lips. "It looks broken. My lucky day."
Eva raised the gun and pressed it to his forehead as he placed a knife against her sternum. "Quite the predicament."
"You don't have any bullets left," he told her and she knew he was right.
"It was worth a shot. Not many would chance a knife against a gun." She smiled. "I had something witty planned when you surrendered."
"Oh? Civilian arrest," he seemed to mock it.
"For a serial killer you aren't very organized. Didn't you research us before you kidnapped us for your hunt?" She hoped that she wasn't taking this too far. There was only so much sarcasm a person could use in a situation like this.
"My brother, the park ranger that you killed, did all the research. He only told me that you would be our best. I should have asked what he meant, but I liked the secrecy." There was anger in his voice. "Care to tell me what I should know?"
She laughed, suddenly amused. "Will you tell me why you're killing?"
"My family has been doing this for generations," he shrugged it off as it were a normal family practice. "I find it fun, more of a sport than football or baseball."
"You're a family of sociopaths." Annoyance reigned.
There was a glimmer of rage in his eyes. "Your turn."
She shifted to face him completely and kept her right hand out of his line of view. She would only have one shot at this. She wasn't out for the count. She pushed down the anger and let the pain from her shoulder and ankle filter into her voice.
"I'm an FBI agent." She struck as her words registered in his mind. The arrowhead that had been in her shoulder, now was imbedded in his throat. She was still afraid, she noted as she watched the life drain from him.
Once she was sure he was dead, Eva pushed herself to her feet—the tree nearest her used as a crutch. She could make the three miles even if she had to crawl. She would do anything to get out of those woods.
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