Part 12: The Counting Ceremony
What was first a feeling of being watched escalated into pure fear. Andrew could sense something following him. A branch snapped behind him. He took off, sneakers slipping as he struggled to keep a lead. Something was chasing him now and gaining with every step. He didn't dare turn around, afraid that whatever it was would tackle him down to the ground. Instead he barreled blindly through the forest, regardless of the stitch ripping painfully up his side the faster he went.
He slowed as he neared the crest of a hill but delighted when he could see the low stone wall just beyond it. His feet stumbled to keep up with his momentum as he ran downhill. If I can just get to the wall, he told himself, I'll be okay. I just gotta get to the wall! He didn't know why he felt this way but he didn't have any time to think about it.
Andrew tried to jump the wall but slipped in his haste, his knee banging against it as he tumbled forward. His arms flailed, trying to protect his head as he ducked into a roll. He landed hard on his back, the air rushing out of his lungs. For a few moments he couldn't get a good breath. His throat was tight and burned from running. He couldn't get enough air and hyperventilated. He stared up at the trees above him. Whatever it was, it wasn't vaulting over the wall.
He stayed down until he could breathe without gasping. He pulled himself carefully up, peering just over the top of the wall, ready to duck back down if it attacked.