My feet pounded the earth as I ran from the blare of sirens and the flashing of red and blue lights.
They sounded distant over the heavy rainfall, but I knew better than to glance over my shoulder to check.
The pain in my side felt white hot and I winced with every step, but I couldn’t stop. Not with them so close.
I kept running, veering off the dirt road and into the woods next to me. The forest wouldn't hide me for long, but hopefully long enough.
The trees hardly sheltered me from the rain and I continued to get soaked; my socks and sneakers were already drenched.
My run gradually slowed into a sort of quick hobble. I staggered about a half-mile until I reached a clearing.
I briefly stopped to rest. The air burned my lungs and the pain in my side was like bubbling magma.
I carefully lifted my raincoat, revealing the bullet wound just under my ribs. Blood was gushing down my side and I struggled to steady my breathing.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. I forced myself to breathe slowly--now was not the time to start hyperventilating.
I wiped some of the blood away and pulled my raincoat up higher in an attempt to let the falling rain clean out the wound.
The rain felt like acid as it fell onto my bare skin. I stifled a cry and let go of my coat. I clasped my hand over my side and staggered into the clearing.
“Where are they?” I breathed. I needed to get out of here, before... Too late.
Behind me, I heard a harsh voice shout over the rain: “Hands in the air and turn around…s-slowly.”
I sensed fear in the voice.
I put my hands in the air. I turned around to face about a dozen men all spread out, their guns aimed at me.
No one was moving and for a moment it seemed like the planet had stopped turning. Everything was silent.
I stood frozen with my hands in the air. Rain drops running down my face and stinging my eyes.
I could hear the rapid panting of the men from across the clearing. Their heartbeats harmonized with the falling rain.
I didn't know if I had enough strength to defend myself, but it didn't look like I had much of a choice.
I took a step backward and one of the men yelled, “Shoot! Shoot it! What are you waiting fo--”
Several gunshots rang out as I suddenly spread my fingers and concentrated. A wall of blue light exploded in front of me, sending all of the men sprawling.
The explosion blew me backwards and knocked me off balance. I slipped in the mud and met the ground face first.
Air was forced from my lungs. My head was on fire.
A low hum crept into my ears as I rolled onto my back. I blinked and squinted up into the rain.
The rain stung my eyes and blurred my vision; I saw nothing. Still, the sound grew louder and louder, piercing my eardrums.
Then, from directly above me a bright white light stabbed the darkness, illuminating the whole clearing like a giant floodlight.
I felt my retinas burn and my body shudder as I was thrown straight upwards. For a moment I was blinded and my vision went completely white.
Then I found myself standing on a grey metal floor. Three figures sat in chairs facing away from me.
I slowly blinked, steadying myself. My ears rang.
My whole body ached and my limbs trembled, but I managed a chuckle.
"What took you guys so long?" I asked my comrades as I Iimped over to them.