A layer of cold washed over Eli, and he backed away from her. She didn’t follow, but she didn’t attack him either.
Anna, Ms. Jones, stood still, allowing the horde of community members to meld past her and rush toward Eli.
Eli pushed into the man with the gun. They struggled, ripping at each others skin and clothes, trying to find any leverage in their fight.
Eli was not strong or well practiced in combat, but he was not ready to just let these people have him.
A stray fist slammed into his face, a knee to the stomach, hand crushed, the butt of the rifle slams into his ribcage.
It all hurt him to the core, but the adrenaline let him fight past it, even as the blood began to flow. And, then his ears shattered.
The room grew silent, the crowd’s undulating mass held at bay. The man beneath Eli was quivering, and wet. Red blood spilled from the flooded wound inside of his stomach.
The thick liquid clung to Eli’s hand and the smell of iron was heavy in the air. He wanted to throw up, but only a short, sharp clench took over the pit of his core.
He took the moment to run. Eli pushed the man from him and slammed out of the doors, carrying to warmth of the hall into the frigid night.
The air clawed at his lungs, refreshing him from the inside out.
But, the second of reprieve was already gone. The doors, just behind Eli were crashed open as the mass of community began to flow from the building. They were once again loud and screaming.
Insults and derogatory terms were thrown at him, but Eli couldn’t focus on any of their words.
Instead, he forced his body to push past it’s limits. It had been years since Eli had done this sort of physical exertion, but the fear of death made it a non issue.
But, he found that the difficulty lie in the layout of the community.
He had never been to the center before that night and he found himself lost with only the light of the blue lanterns to light his way.
The faces of his once neighbors stared at him as ran by their effigies, standing erect along the roads. They truly stood as scarecrows, keeping him from their land.
Eli felt like he ran for hours, but the moon hung only a short distance away. He was lost and exhausted.
There was no safety to be found among the streets, so he ran into the sparse woods that existed between most of the houses.
The concealed him well enough, but he feared that the residents knew the area more than he did.
The forest protected him from the people of the community for almost a week, but Eli couldn’t find a way to true safety.
He wandered the woods, begging every branch and leaf to be quiet as he stepped on them.
The residents would search his new abode now and then, but they never entered too far, instead keeping to protecting the border.
Still, Eli had to find a down log or an outcropping of stones to keep hidden whenever someone came near him.
Twice he tried to make it to his house, the home of his late grandfather, but the first time he found a large gather of people station there, waiting for him.
The second time, Eli only discovered a large pile of charred timber and brick. They burnt his house, and place his effigy atop the rubble.
It was by the middle of the week that Eli found his stomach turning in on itself. He was not accustomed to going long moments without food or water.
The berries and plants of the forest did not resemble anything he recognized and Eli wasn’t going to risk poisoning himself.
The wooden bowls were just placed out the previous night, and Eli knew he needed to eat something, anything.
In the dead of night, Eli snuck into the yard of house just on the edge where the community and forest meet.
With low, small movements, he inched his way across the lawn, between the landscaping and to the log upon which this home placed it’s bowl.
As he neared the spot, the smell of day old meat clashed with his nose.
He reached into the bowl, feeling the large, chunks of slimy meat slipped between his fingers. A gag rose, but Eli fought it back.
There was no other option, he decided, even if the rancid smell fought him at every step.
Quickly, as if to get the act over with, Eli bit into the fistful of red. The blood and fat juices slid along his face and down his neck, soaking into the already disgusting shirt he wore.
His body attempted to retch again, but the final sweet feeling of a nourishment sitting in his stomach pushed Eli further.
He bit into the slime covered creation over and over until the bowl was clear of the matter.
He clawed at the bottom of the bowl in an attempt to salvage any remaining bits of food, but Eli found no more.
“I caught him.” A man yelled from the porch of the home Eli was stealing the meat from.
Again he was on the run, the man chasing him, and assuredly more would follow in time.
Eli wasn’t ready to die. He vowed it even when he tripped on an exposed root and slammed into the ground. His head spun from the impact and the man leapt on him, disorienting Eli even more.
But, after being drug a few feet, his sense came back to him.
With jagged finger nails, Eli clawed at the man, digging into his arms. The man yelped as thick blood flowed down from the lacerations. But, he wasn’t deterred.
The two men rolled over each other, over and over, as they struggled for dominance. Where one man’s blood stopped and another’s started was impossible to discern as their limbs entangled.
Eli’s very being fell into a primal urge to survive.
Finally, he found the other man’s throat and Eli bit into it, feeling the tough meat rip and give between his teeth.
The man let out a scream that was quickly replaced by gurgling as blood flooded his esophagus.
After taking a few minutes to capture his breath and insure others weren’t close behind, Eli stood, pushing the dead man's body from his.
He had never killed before, but he cared little at the moment for the lost of life.
Then he ran. Ran deeper and deeper into the woods. The residents would know where to look for him in no time.
There was more chance of him finding a way out with his car, or through his old house. The community had ensure that he was completely isolated.
He remembered that there were other small villages nearby, and maybe if he continued on he’d eventually find one.
That was his hope at least, as he ran for hours, pushing past the fatigue and exhaustion of his existence.
Eventually, the dim glow of a green light in the distance greeted Eli. It was far and only a pinpoint, but it was undoubtedly a sign of civilization.
So, he continued on, his own hope growing with the size of the light.
Eli stumbled into the backyard of a cottage like home. A single green light shown from the side that face the street and glowed around the edges of the home.
It was soft and comforting, promising a better time to come. He made his way to the middle of the street, hoping to flag down a passing car, to find any bit of help.
Then, he noticed something about the community.
He was surrounded by green lanterns.