By JENNY BARDWELL
The man sat alone in the corner of the empty room. His back was pressed violently against the wall, as if he were trying to push himself through the layer of plaster and into the freedom of the night air. He was hunched over his knees, rocking back and forth and muttering furiously to himself. They were coming for him. They were coming. He could hear their ragged footsteps scraping against the rough pavement, moving faster, faster. He could hear their muzzles rip his scent from the air, sensing his fear, mocking his cowardliness, as they advanced, closer, closer.
He now knew them well, for they had been watching him his entire life. He had been so blind. He had sat in his forlorn state of ignorance as they observed and studied his every breath, sticking their filthy fingers into every crack of his life, learning, learning.
He thought he could outrun them. He had forced himself to believe he could outrun them. He had choked up words of triumph with every footstep, running to the disgraceful rhythm of his hope.
“I can escape. I can escape.” He had managed to convince himself, but not them. Their rate remained constant, their powerful beat deep and unrelenting, while his pace slowly deteriorated. He had crawled on his stomach, like a worm, squirming pathetically into the barren room. He was ready to give up the fight, to abandon the run, but he was still afraid. Terror had always clung fiercely to him, blurring his vision and muffling his voice. He hated it. It was all that he was.
They were here now. He could sense their swift, calculated — no, their frustratingly casual movements, as they strolled through the door. They did not even feel the need to try anymore. They were that confident in their victory.
The door was creaking open. Their shadowy figures marched forward slowly. Their hands were outstretched, as they loomed over him, reaching, reaching. The man closed his eyes, but they did not disappear. They still lunged at him. He slammed his head against the wall, screaming. He was trapped, cornered, worn, defeated. He was lost.
The man sat alone in the corner of the dark room, screaming at the beasts.