A Jog in the Dark – Very Short Story

The tempo was high and her breath stable. The wind chilled comfortably on her sweaty skin and filled her lungs with energy. It was almost nightfall and the park was virtually empty, saved for one or two couples on the wayside.

Her focus was ahead, towards a bench by the swing set that formed in the distance. Almost there, she thought as she picked up the paste. When she reached it, she had energy to spare and her chest swelled with pride. She decided to continue for another mile.

The street ahead was dark and she could only see a glimpse of light sparkle by the path. She glanced backwards and hesitated, considering turning back. But she still had energy in her legs and they wanted to continue moving.

The thickness of the darkness surprised her, forcing her to rely on the feel, and her memory, to keep her on the track. She tensed with the extra effort to stay on the road and she could feel how exhaustion crept into her lungs.

She stopped and leaned against a tree. She wheezed as the body tried to recuperate. While looking around she found only one source of light ahead of her. Just a little more, she thought. Then I can go home.

She made ready to run again when the wind suddenly whisk by her, and she start back against the tree. Something soft caressed her leg. Her eyes flashed and a chill went down her spine as the feeling lingered.  The leaves remained still and all was quiet. The only thing she could hear was her own breath and heartbeat.

With her back pressed against the tree, she dart her head back and forth. Something touched her shoulder and a scream developed in her throat, she dashed aimlessly in the other direction, forgetting where the road began and ended.

She could feel the grass under her shoes and she had lost all sense of direction. But, she found several lights in the distance and she ran towards them. If she was right she should be heading back towards the bench by the swing set.

As she rushed in the grass, avoiding bushes and branches snapping on her face, she noticed one of the lights disappearing. Then another and another.

The chain of lights disappeared, one after the other, until the light in front of her vanished.

She stopped in her tracks and gasped. Her lips trembled and tears welled in her eyes. As she looked around, disoriented, she saw salvation. A lone light shone in the distance. She didn’t care where it led because it was her only hope. She dried her tears took a deep breath and rallied. “I’m not gonna die,” she said aloud and sprinted towards the light.

Somehow, the trees and the bushes were all gone, only the open field remained.

She did not remember any open fields in the park.

With her eyes focused ahead she suddenly saw a glimmer of light reflected on metal before her. Unable to stop in time, she crashed into whatever was in front of her.

She fell over it and she could feel the softness of a human body on the ground. Before she could rolled over, a pain stung at her thigh and she rose on staggering legs. As she placed her hand on her hurting leg, she could feel the wet thickness of blood coursing down her leg.

“Who are you?!” she shouted. “What do you want with me?” not able to control her tears any longer.

In response the, “thing” in front of her, breath unnaturally deep, with a rasp in its voice, like something was stuck in its throat. She sobbed and tried to get up the best she could. She limped away from it, but still towards the light.

The light grew closer and she could hear breathing at her neck. She coughed and spluttered as her body was at its limit. At the border of the light she fell on the asphalt, and as she turned around a knife was swung at her. A screech escaped her while she protected her face with her arms.

“Hey, hey!” a man’s voice said. “Whats going on?”

She resisted his touch, but she recognised the man’s eyes that glowered at her. The pain was gone and she was neither exhausted, nor sweaty.

The Man rubbed his eyes and murmured. “It was just a dream, honey. Go back to sleep,” before he crawled back under the blanket.

Her eyes flickered at the man laying in bed next her, “who… what—?” she stammered. As reality slowly sunk in, her heart beat slowed. Feeling foolish she lay back on her pillow, but she did not dare to close her eyes.

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