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Nothing makes much sense now- the heat and fear and spite envelop me like a wet cocoon, sickeningly sweet.

I hear drums in the distance.  They are close now.

My left arm raises out of instinct and I stare at my bare flesh, as if the watch they had stolen would somehow appear if I stared long enough.  It does not.

The moon chides me with its silence as I wash the grime from my forehead.  I have to do something.

I start to rise and a twig goes off in in the quietness like an atom bomb, blowing away the heat and fear and spite roughshod from my flesh.  I am an animal now, bursting through the underbrush chasing the fear because it keeps me alive.  To lose that would be everything after losing far too much.

I hear shouts.  There is no stealth now- no jaguar stalking its prey- only bloodlust and crashing and screams splitting the night air.  These are hunters intent on the hunt.

Individuality is my only strength- their communal nature keeps them roughly linked as they briefly pause to monitor my movements.  I run where I can, never stopping, clawing my way through brambles and thorns and God knows what.  The earth is sloping now and I am birthed out into a rocky beach on a river I’ve never seen.  No matter.  I dive in and begin to swim toward the far shore, enveloped once again.

A spear lands five feet to the right of me, knifing effortlessly through the water.  I have caught my fear now and it chokes me.

Almost there now.  I hear a splash behind me and excited screams.  They have found their prey.

My feet strike the rocky bottom and I trudge through the water, my fear somehow succumbing to sheer exhaustion.

I turn and look back, and see seven men standing on the far shore.

I think to myself but there were eigh- an arm snakes around my throat and drags me to the ground.  I reach up and began to claw, poking, scratching and punching at anything I can find.  He twists me violently and my arm, seeking balance, stumbles across a sharp rock.  Instinct reigns and I grab it, thrusting it again and again into my accuser’s unseen face.  He releases after three blows and falls back.  I turn and continue to bash the rock against his skull fourteen more times.

I look up.  The seven men are still there, watching, waiting.

I’ve killed one of them now.  They will never stop.  But they pause for a moment, both to honor their friend and let me drink in the kill, his blood glowing black in the moonlight.

The rock and my fear tumble from me and I stare at their silhouettes, praying their eyes meet mine.  I scream at them and nothing all at once.

I turn and dart into the woods.  I hear their splashes as I disappear into the darkness.  They do not scream.