False Security Excerpt

The following excerpt is the Prologue from False Security.
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(All content is copyrighted 2004, 2013 Angie Martin)

She ran.

Jumping over fallen branches, avoiding small craters embedded in the black forest floor, she pushed her way through the dense woods. Trees hiding in the dark recesses of night jumped out and scratched her arms with their sharp fingernails. Though the forest seemed to prevent her from moving forward, she couldn’t stop running. To stop could mean death. Or worse.

She stepped in a hole not large enough for her shoe and fire blazed in her ankle. The pain seared up her leg and she lost her footing. Her black duffel bag flew off her arm and into the dirt and leaves. Her back crashed against the damp ground and her teeth came down on her bottom lip to stop herself from crying out. She rolled to her side and her elbow raked a rock as she grabbed for her ankle.

No matter how sprained her ankle or broken her body, she needed to keep moving. She turned onto her stomach and forced herself to her knees. She gave a half-hearted attempt to stand up, but only managed to fall forward onto her hands. Her fingers lifted to her cheek and dirt smudged across her skin, mixing with the tears she tried to wipe away.

A disjointed voice stirred in her mind. The same voice had plagued her since the beginning of her journey. Go back, it tempted. You can go back right now and everything will be fine. You will never get away with this.

But she had to get away with it, despite what the voice told her. No sane person would return to hell.

She pushed herself to her knees again, but hesitated at the sound of an unseen owl. The night creatures of the forest lurked all around and she had to move fast to avoid any unpleasant encounters. She extracted a penlight from her pocket and illuminated her watch. Too late to go back. She had been gone for a few hours. They were already searching for her.

Reaching back into her pocket, she pulled out a compass and read the needle under the glow of the penlight. Facing east and still on course, she clicked off the penlight and stared into the vast forest in front of her. She ignored the steady throb in her ankle and the raw, burning pain in her back and coaxed herself to her feet. She tucked the penlight and compass back into her pocket, and used her long, black sleeves to dry the remaining tears on her face.

She closed her eyes and steadied her breathing. In the shadows of her mind, fingers danced over the ivory keys of a grand piano. The beautiful melody wrenched her soul. Her eyes flew open, erasing the picture from her head, but not the song. Raising her eyes to the sky, she said a silent prayer.

She ran.