Monday, January 12, 2009

The fall

Max ran from the jetty, the feeling of dread filling him, spurring him forward to safety. No matter how quickly he ran, he couldn't go fast enough. His chest burned as he fought for air. He didn't dare look back. It could be fatal. The street had grown quiet. Even the cars had disappeared for the night. He wished he had listened to Mae and come home when she told him. He wanted to stop, to draw a big breath. The thing behind was gaining ground, he could feel it closing in. He fought back tears, refusing to give in to his terror. 

Up ahead, he could see Pa's shop. The sign that Pa kept on the footpath was still out. He was nearly home. His feet pounded across the bitumen road, his legs heavy from running so hard. He could feel his legs turning to jelly, could feel himself slowing. As he mounted the footpath, his left foot slammed into the curb. His world turned into a tumbling blur.  The world finally stopped spinning and he lay sprawled on the footpath, his breathing coming in rasps. 

He had to look, to see if it was still behind him. He rolled himself over and pushed himself from the ground and looked back down the street, his heartbeat pounding like a warrior's drum. Autumn leaves tumbled past him and continued along the empty street. It took a few moments for it to register. The street was empty. Whoever was chasing him was gone but the image of the tall lanky man still lurked in his head, causing his heart to quicken. 

Max pushed himself up and could see Pa out on the footpath, the sign in his hands. He was closing the shop.  Max relaxed at the sight of him and slowly the pain seeped from his wounds to his brain. He was still dazed from the fall. His knees burned and the heels of his hands stung. He could feel the warm trickle of something dripping down both of his shins.  He looked down and saw both legs were bloodied and glistening, a patch of skin folded back like a tent flap on his right knee. Max winced at the sight of it. A loud bang startled him and he looked up to see Pa running toward him. 
"What the dickens have you done to yourself?" he yelled, leaping over the sign he had dropped.

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