Jessica stopped running, her chest was burning and it felt like her legs would collapse any second. She leaned against a tree, gasping for breath. They were still out here somewhere, looking for her. She tried to slow her breathing, by taking long, slow breaths but it felt like she wasn’t getting enough air. Her mouth was dry, so very very dry, but there was nothing to drink. Somewhere to her left she could hear something moving, she couldn’t get going again, not now. She crouched down, trying to hide her body behind the thick trunk of the tree. Jessica managed to slow her breathing a little, but she couldn’t hear anything else.
When she had counted to three hundred without hearing anything she stood again, her legs felt stiff and cold, she stretched slowly, trying to get the blood back into them. She didn’t know if she could continue running, but she knew she needed to move. She scanned the trees around her and started walking. She didn’t know how far she would have to go, she just knew she couldn’t stop.
It had been a normal day before all this started. She had met up with Bobby and Rick and they had all decided to go up to the mountains. It was a sunny day out and they didn’t want to waste it. Originally there were supposed to be more coming, but Johnny was too hungover, Ashley had given herself food poisoning somehow and Joanne had decided it would be better for her to sit around the pool in her apartment. Everything was fine until Bobby had grabbed her arm tightly, she hadn’t noticed how they had been directing where to go, how they led her away from the paths. She had tried to laugh it off, make a joke of it, but his eyes were flat, dead. Rick was suddenly behind her, grabbing at her too. She couldn’t remember much of what happened afterwards, it was too fast. She had managed to get away somehow before they did anything. She heard them yelling after her, shouting that they were only messing, that it was a joke, that she should come back. Jessica kept running.
The only thing that reassured her out of the entire thing was that she knew they weren’t great outdoorsmen. She wasn’t exactly a pioneer woman herself, but she knew they’d have a hard time tracking her. For the moment she wasn’t concerned with thinking, just moving. The further she got from them the better off she would be. Besides, the mountains were usually swarming with people, she’d run into someone who could help sooner or later.
Jessica sat on an overturned log, she needed a break, she was more stumbling than walking. She knew she was probably a bit dehydrated, she had dropped the bottle of water she had brought in the struggle, and her phone was dead. That was the worst of it all, she had forgotten to charge it the night before and Bobby claimed his car charger was broken. She shook her head, she was such an idiot. She had always gotten a weird vibe off the two of them. She had thought that Rick had balanced Bobby out a bit, brought down his creep factor. Apparently he just got better at hiding it. When they were younger Bobby would always stare at her, she didn’t want to make a big deal of it though, so she just made sure they were never alone together for very long. She should have just pulled out when everyone else did, or gone to Joanne’s place to drink and splash around in the pool. She had felt a little trepidation when she found out it was just the three of them, but she had shaken it off, dismissing it as just a little anxiety from when Bobby was weird.
It was getting dark, clouds hard started rolling in and it looked like it was going to rain. She had found a stream a short while ago and started following it. Her throat and mouth were dry and the temptation of the stream was almost maddening, but she didn’t know how to make sure the water was clean, she couldn’t make a fire and even if she could she had no pot to boil it in. She was dehydrated, but if the water made her sick she knew it could kill her. For now the risk wasn’t worth it.
Darkness was falling and it was getting colder, it was still relatively warm but she was wearing only shorts and a t-shirt. Jessica finally sat down on an over turned log. She couldn’t keep going in the dark like this, already her legs and arms had scratches and cuts, it would be far too easy for her to twist or break her ankle. She hadn’t heard any sounds of pursuit in a long, long time, but she hadn’t seen any signs of people either. She had spent a good hour of the day debating whether or not she should leave some kind of marker or signal behind her as she went, but the fear of Bobby and Rick finding it was too great. She had no idea if they were even still on the mountain, but it would be easy for them to tell someone that they decided to stay camping so they could keep looking for her. No one would question it, after all why would they?
She was so tired now, she kept dozing off slightly before her head would jerk up again. She needed to sleep but she was afraid that they would find her, if she was awake she’d have some fighting chance, but if they caught her unaware she was doomed.
She woke sometime in the morning, the light streaming through the trees. Her body felt cold and stiff, her muscles ached. Slowly she started moving and stretching, warming up her muscles. She had a long day ahead of her, she needed to get moving. Ignoring her growling stomach she started to walk again, she would get out of this. She had to, there was no other option.
Jessica froze, up ahead she could hear voices, the stream was too loud to make them out properly, but she could definitely hear men. Could Bobby and Rick have gotten in front of her? Had she gotten all turned around? Slowly she moved closer. She could see them through the trees, a group of twenty something’s, laughing and joking around a small fire. Her heart started beating faster and tears starting flowing as she stumbled out of the bushes, she was finally safe.