“Thank God I wore sneakers today,” I huffed to myself, trying to focus on the beating of my footsteps rather than the mob chasing me down. I could feel myself kicking up dust behind me as I entered the opposite side of the castle, which was much, much different than the luscious lavender forests I had arrived in.
I spun to the side at the last minute, my body skimming a scrawny tree that was leafless and had green skin and thorns instead. I dove my head forward and kept running, squinting my eyes at the ground. I can do this, I can do this, I thought to myself. I just need to outsmart them.
When I meant outsmart them, I did not mean trip over my shoelaces and have them catch me and rip me to pieces. No one would ever think of doing that, right?
So my feet decided to do that instead.
I got a face full of the rough, dusty ground, powdering my dark skin. I groaned as I looked down in disgust at my right shoe, gloriously untied before my eyes. Trying to get rid of my fear, I shook out my shoulders and took off, wiping off my glasses as I ran through the wind.
I glanced back over my shoulder, a mob of guards and unimaginable creatures emerging from the dust. Okay, I thought. I need a plan. I tried looking around at my surroundings, but all I could see before me was dust, dust, dust, sand, and more dust. And another tree cactus up ahead.
I wriggled my jaw, feeling the crisp breeze sting my raw skin that was opened from my fall. “Dang it,” I tried to mutter, only for it to come out as a sharp breath.
I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw a flash of blue zip by me. I adjusted my glasses mid-run and whipped my head back at the mob. Nothing seemed to have changed.
That is, until I looked in front of me. Towering before me was a midnight black wolf, snarling at me as its blue lightning strikes on its sides gleamed at me, tinting the ground below.
I yelped out in surprise and stopped dead in my tracks. The wolf lunged at me with its mouth, shooting drool on my face. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” The wolf lunged at me once more, throwing its entire body in my direction.
“Gah!” I dove to the side at the last minute, sending myself tumbling into the side. I scrambled myself to my feet and glanced back, the mob getting closer.
The wolf started strolling up to me, practically smirking. I tightened my lips and balled my fists. “Oh boy,” I muttered. “This is going to be fun.” Once the wolf took another step, I decided it was my turn to attack.
I thrust out my hand at it half-blindly as I tried shielding my face from it. I tightened my chest as my stiff hand landed down on something cold and wet, bringing whatever I hit down with me.
I heard a sharp whimper from in front of me. I opened my eyes fully and saw the wolf cowering back. I knew in that moment I needed to take my chances.
I launched myself forward, slapping the wolf in the eye as I went by. Oh gosh, please don’t come after me yet. I had collectively decided at that point that I was no longer going to look back, since every time I did, it only made things much worse.
A few minutes went by, more like an eternity for me, and my strength was beginning to run low. So much for doing cross-country all those years. The sweat beads dripping down my face refusing to blow away in the weakening wind that ran behind me as I began to decelerate. I tried to press on harder, my legs turning to lead, but they refused to move any faster. But, my feet could manage to step on my loose shoelaces every five seconds.
And if things already didn’t seem bad enough, I could hear paws and feet thudding on the ground behind me.
They won’t kill me, I thought. They can’t. This must be some sick game of Viallanne’s. She didn’t even tell me why I was to be chased by everyone! She just sent me out here to die.
I glanced up hopelessly at the bright blue sky, wishing Tessa – no – Liku or someone would just appear next to me and at least lend me a hand. As I squinted up at the sky, I noticed something shooting across it, like a jet leaving a trail of smoke or fluff behind it.
But it wasn’t exactly like that. Something was off about it. I don’t know whether if it was because I was running, if I was hallucinating, or maybe the fact that I was in an alternate dimension. All I knew was that it wasn’t fading into the sky. It was coming towards me. Fast.
But that was the least of my problems, considering the ground below me then vanished into thin air.