The ice in her lungs pulled her breathing tight and cut it into gasps. For every two beats of her shoes on the ground her heart took five; the surge of adrenaline emptied her of any thought other than survival.
Cars shuffled by as she tore down the strip and waved her arms to catch their notice. No taxis, no police, no good Samaritans caught sight of her; that, or they figured she was somebody else’s problem.
Engulfed in a whirlwind of panic the woman threw herself into the open traffic, stopping short of the navy sports car that ran inches from her death. Horns blared, and she started again across the lanes.
She screamed at the passersby in a wreck of tears. “Help me! Please, somebody!” None could hear her, let alone see on the roadside obscured by shadow.
Her pursuer clicked as it closed in on her, and the woman struggled for an escape. Was she the only one who could see? Maybe she was; or maybe the drivers were smart enough to keep moving in spite of her.
She rolled over the concrete barrier dividing the street and sprinted for the next block.
Around the corner was a sandwich shop with the welcome sign blinking out for the night. She slid to a halt, slammed her fists on the glass and called out for the sole occupant carrying a tray full of pickles.
“We’re closed,” he called. Then he paused, lingered, and registered the danger painted on her expression.
“You have to call 911,” she choked. “Please, help me… It won’t stop… I can’t get away from…”
She turned again to face the clicking and was running in an instant. It seemed that nothing could save her, least of all the glass doors of a food chain. Where else could she go? Whatever it was knew every corner, every nook a person could hide.
Before she could think her feet carried her down into the subway.
“Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”
There was no turning back. The woman flew down the stairs, jumping down levels as they turned underground. One jump took her over the turnstile; if only there was a guard there to stop her, or help her, or something!
Below her feet was the grinding of steel against rail. Throwing her limbs forward she pushed toward the platform muttering “please be there, please don’t leave without me, please god…”
It was too late.
Alone on the empty platform the woman collapsed to her knees. Tears rolled down her cheeks, down the back of her throat, burning with the warmth of life she was certain would be taken from her.
The clicking found her. She did not turn to face it.
“Please… you don’t have to do this! I-I’ll do anything you want… I don’t want to die!”
Silence, followed by a winding rasp. The not-human thing reached out to her, and fought to articulate the name. “Mel-an-ie.”
The woman sat on the dirt-coated tile, curled into a ball and whimpered. “I told you… my name’s not Melanie.”
Her words did not stop the veil from falling, nor did it loosen the restraints around her arms. She continued to cry, to scream, but nobody came. Soon, Milestone City was long behind her.
To be continued…