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.