As soon as she felt the warm night air, she yanked away from its grip and spun towards it. She wouldn't go down without a fight. She was no match for the creature, but that didn't mean she had to lay down and die. They stood for a moment like that, staring at each other, wondering what the other would do.
She didn't dare take her eyes off the creature. Her mind frantically searched for an escape. Though, the fact that she wasn't dead already was a little comforting. They had taken the others straight away. Her stomach turned. Taken and eaten them. But...maybe they were full. Then why had it dragged her off the bus?
She took a step back. It just watched her. Feeling braver, she took another step back, then another, faster. Did it want to chase her? What would it do? She stopped moving. It made no move towards her. Her body screamed at her to turn and run.
And that's exactly what she did.
Somewhere in the distance a whistle blew. October kept a steady jog around the field. She could run for hours, clearing her head, getting away from it all. But steady jogs weren't her thing. She liked the dashes- didn't matter how far- 30, 40, 50. She had shattered the high school record, running a 40 yard dash in 3.2 seconds. After hearing how the coaches and students talked about it, she downplayed it. 'The watch must have jammed' or 'maybe you clicked it too early'. The next few times she ran it, she ran slower.
During tryouts and competitions, she always made sure she won, but just barely. Had she pushed herself, she would have been done several seconds before any of the other students came close to the finish line.
Then, people started talking about how she would come in first all the time. It worried her. Her fake green eyes would look back at her in the mirror after practice, almost taunting her. A metaphor for having to cover up her true self with something that was more...accepted. And that's what she had to be. No one would accept her the way she was, especially not in junior high. It was all about fitting in.
So, the next race, she made herself lose. She continued to lose just enough to continue their winning streak but not make her look like a freak. She stayed on the track team until high school, when fitting in started to take a mental toll on her. She realized that she would never be accepted for who she was, but only for who she pretended to be.
Her heart raced in her chest. She was thankful that she had taken out her contacts. Through the darkness, she was able to duck under branches, dive past trees, and evade holes and roots in the ground. She ran, holding nothing back. She didn't know how far she had run, or how fast, she just stayed on a steady path towards more trees.
Finally, she slowed her speed down to a jog. She didn't want to stop moving, but she began to tire. The adrenaline was wearing off. She leaned up against a tree to catch her breath.
She looked up in the sky. Had they followed? She saw nothing but stars. No winged beasts overhead following her every move. No hawks about to swoop down on their prey.
How far was she away from the bus? Was she heading towards town...or away from it? The bus driver had gotten them hopelessly lost. There was no way to know if he was taking them closer to town or further back into the forest.
A twig cracked. Her heart flipped in her chest. Were one of those...things...here? She tried to calm down, to tell herself that it was just an animal, some night animal roaming the woods. Either way, she didn't want to stay. She pushed off the tree, ready to flee, but something grabbed onto the back of her shirt. She let out a scream, turning, pulling away. The branch tore from her shirt and swung back to its natural spot on the tree.
She let out a breath of relief. She needed to get out of here. An unnatural cry, animalistic, echoed overhead. October looked up into the sky. Two creatures were flying overhead. She took off in a dead sprint, pushing her body to it's maximum speed. There was a loud crunch behind her. A gush of wind blew past her. One of the creatures! They were flying into the trees after her! She stopped and changed directions. The sounds followed her.
So she had been right! They were just toying with her, wanting more of an active prey. And here was was, tiring herself out. But she couldn't stop and let them get her. Her best chance was to outlast them, as if that was possible.
She would try.
There was another swoop of air. She felt herself lose her footing and she fell to the ground. She braced herself from rolling on the ground. A searing pain shot up her injured palm. She wasted no time getting up, but the creatures were already upon her, pining her down to the ground.
"No! Leave me alone!" she heaved, exhausted from sprinting. The first grabbed ahold of her and pulled her up. It held her tight to its chest. She was instantly aware of a dropping sensation. Her body felt heavier. And then she was in the air.
They were flying! Oh god, they were FLYING!
She screamed, but didn't dare to push away from the creature and plummet to the Earth. Trees moved below them, stars above. As hard as she tried to escape, she had failed. There was nothing she could do now. She had lost.