The girl ran as fast as her feet would carry her over the uneven ground. She knew that her unseen assailant was not far behind. She knew that looking back would cause her to slow down, but she wanted to see how much of a lead she had on the Bad Man.
Was it a man? She couldn’t be sure.
Her eyes were still trying to adjust to the dim light and she had trouble seeing the next step in front of her. She tripped when she came to a wide set of stairs. Hitting her chin on the cold stone, she became stunned. But she didn’t have the luxury of time. She couldn’t just stop to feel embarrassed at the thought of falling up the stairs.
She half crawled, half ran up the stone staircase. As she caught sight of the top, she felt a familiar, firm grasp on her ankle. She screamed. Her one free foot was kicking wildly as her scraped hands clawed for that top step, which now seemed so far away. The Bad Man was dragging her back down the stairs on her stomach.
Her screams and cries would be heard only by her attacker. A rush of adrenaline gave her the strength to twist onto her back. The Bad Man was caught off guard by the girl’s sudden assertiveness and lost his grip on her leg. The girl used his confusion to her greatest advantage and kicked him hard in the chest. The Bad Man flew backwards, landing hard on his back at the bottom of the stairs.
Part of her wanted to go to him and continue hurting him as payback for what he had done to her thus far. But she knew better. She knew that her best chance of survival was to put as much distance between the two of them as possible. She had to get back above ground. She had to feel the sunlight on her face once again. She had to live.
Her breathing was labored as she reached the top of the stairs, but her small victory gave her newfound strength. She broke once again into a sprint, not looking back to see if he had gotten back to his feet. Her body ached, but she pushed through the pain. The lacerations on her face stung as the cold, underground air washed over her. She could hear her attacker behind her again, and fear took over.
The girl didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know why she had been taken or why she was being attacked. None of it made any sense. She was beginning to lose hope. What would happen when her mother found out she was dead? How would her friends react? Would she ever even be found?
She heard him getting closer and tears ran down her cheeks. The sounds he made frightened her even more, as if that were possible. Was he/it actually growling? She had been questioning the thing’s humanity. She was now becoming more and more certain that this Bad Man was no man at all. Whatever it was, she was also certain that it would catch up to her eventually. It was only a matter of time.
Crying out for help would do her no good, not in this place. As she ran, she realized that it was getting darker. The thought that she may be heading in the wrong direction filled her with dread. What little hope she had of survival was dwindling. But she kept running.
Now the only sound she could hear was her own gasping for breath. What had happened to the growls? What had happened to the heavy footfalls of the thing chasing her? She risked a look back as she continued to move forward. Nothing.
The shadowy figure had disappeared. The Bad Man was gone.
She turned completely around to scan the area behind her. She still saw nothing. She had no idea what she should do now. Should she continue running in the direction she was going? Should she backtrack and pray that she could find an exit that she had somehow missed?
She turned back in the direction she had been traveling in all this time and continued forward. In the darkness, she ran into a wall and fell back. Landing hard on the ground, she reached up to massage her bruised forehead. She couldn’t believe she had run into a wall. Though she had been having trouble adjusting to the darkness, she didn’t remember seeing a wall in front of her.
Then, a cold realization swept over her. She hadn’t run into a wall at all. It was him. Somehow the Bad Man had gotten in front of her. Silently, he reached down for her. The girl’s screams were silenced as he placed his claw-like hand over her mouth. Squeezing her face, he lifted her to her feet, then off her feet.
She dangled in the air, unable to scream, unable to cry out. She could only hope that the tears streaming down her face would cause him to lose his grip. But luck, it would seem, was not on her side.
He carried her off into the darkness. He didn’t know her name. He didn’t care. To him, she was a means to an end. She was just another of his nameless, faceless victims. On the surface, her absence would eventually become apparent, but she would never be found.