Jane rolled her eyes and let out a heavy breath as she zipped up the backpack and brought it back to her shoulder. “Give me a break, will you? As soon as you cut me loose, I’ll be gone—out of your hair, man. You won’t ever see me again. I promise.”
She turned slightly and watched in silence while a purple dog ran across the road. Oh, lovely. Perfect timing for an acid flashback….
The air went liquid, and a kaleidoscope of various shapes and colors streamed and rippled all around her. She tried to remain lucid and focused, doing her best to keep the distraction to herself, but the men’s faces appeared to be melting and she held back her horror with great difficulty. Then, as suddenly as they’d come, the colors and distortions faded and reality phased back into place.
The dark-eyed cop fumbled for his handcuffs. “We’ll have you on your way as soon as we get you processed down at the station.”
“Excuse me?” She felt her palms go sweaty, post-traumatic flashbacks of her imprisonment and torture decades ago prompting a sudden and overwhelming sense of panic. Her lungs became heavy, her sight blurred. She fought the impulse to turn on her captor despite the gun, give in to her hunger, let her dark instincts take over. She couldn’t lose her wits, though, not now.
“Can’t have your kind wandering through like this. For all we know, you’re a felon tryin’ to lay low, and we gotta—”
She darted away as soon as he went for her wrist. No way in hell she was going to spend the night behind bars just because the local heat had a problem with her free-living lifestyle. She headed for the forest, the policemen right behind her.
“Get on the ground!”
She continued to run, unwilling to expend the energy it would take to respond. She knew that, as fast as they might be, she’d be faster. She could hear by their footfall that the gap between them grew with each step. Still, one slip and they’d be on her. One slip and they’d have her face pressed against the ground and her arms behind her back. Just one slip….
The voices now came from a good twenty yards away, and they were growing winded. “Stop now!”
She rushed through the trees, springing over erupted roots and past large rocks. Moving through the forest made her feel wild, more connected to the earth. The trees watched over her. The birds and chipmunks cheered her on. Her hair sailed in the wind. Each time her feet hit the layer of pine needles, she felt more grounded.
They were nowhere near her, their last demands for her compliance filled with frustration and defeat. She would need to stay off the main roads as much as she could, as there would be eyes watching for her in the days to come. For the moment, however, she was safe.
She slowed her pace, her empty stomach beginning once again to gnaw at her. Those officers didn’t know how lucky they were to have lost her. Had they put her in a desperate situation, there was no telling how much longer she would have been able to remain in control over herself. The berserker frenzies that took over, sometimes when she least expected them, made her a danger to anyone unfortunate enough to cross her. Killing cops, even jerks like those two, was bad karma, and she already had enough of that hovering over her head.
She stopped and turned at the sound of a terrified cry followed by gunfire. Screams echoed through the forest. A few more shots rang out. More screams. The cops, easily a half mile behind her, had crossed paths with someone or something that wasn’t intimidated by uniforms and firearms. It had to have taken them by surprise while they’d still been in pursuit. Had the timing been different, it might have been she who’d been under attack, and that was a shame. Self-defense was always the best way to go about killing prey, and she was hungry enough to eat just about anyone.
The last people she wanted to see were those two cops, but still she backtracked. She was on a mission to redeem herself, which meant she didn’t have the luxury of picking and choosing her good deeds. If they needed saving, she’d do what she could to save them. She might even get a good meal out of the feat.
If only she could be so lucky.