Panicked and on the Run
Updated: Apr 3, 2021
Fallen tree limbs and twigs tore at the flesh on the bottom of my bare feet.
I sprinted and maneuvered my way through the mass of towering trees. Dry leaves crunched with each step.
Voices shouted behind me and echoed through the empty forest before me.
My muscles ached with fatigue, but I pushed past the pain. I had to keep going. I didn’t know where I was or where I was going. I just knew I had to get away.
“Where did she go?” a man’s voice asked, full of frustration.
“I don’t know!” an angry woman shouted back at him. “How did you let this happen? Security is literally your one and only job!”
“Me?” he replied. “Why is this my fault? You’re the one that—”
“Shut up! We don’t have time to argue about this! This girl is literally a billion-dollar science experiment. We can’t let her get away!”
I couldn’t tell how far behind me they were. Their voices sounded like they could be a few feet from me, but when I looked back, I didn’t see them.
I stubbed my foot on a rock protruding from the ground and went flying forward.
“Agh!” a garbled grunt escaped my lips as I face-planted into the dirt.
All the air left my lungs when I hit the ground, and my heart thundered in my chest.
My body screamed in pain and begged me to just stay on the ground. However, deep down, deeper than the pain, I knew that it would be much worse if they caught me.
I scrambled to my feet.
My body felt discombobulated and awkward. It was like my limbs had been ripped from my body and then sewn back into place. But that was ridiculous. Right?
I willed myself to run faster and farther through the woods. In the distance, I could see a break in the trees and possibly a road. A small sliver of hope welled up within me and pulled me onward.
“There she is!” the woman shouted. Her voice sounded so close that I could have sworn she was right beside me. I kept running, but I glanced over my shoulder to see where the voice was coming from.
A woman in a white lab coat and black turtleneck sprinted toward me. Her long, fiery red hair flew behind her.
A man dressed in a navy-blue uniform wasn’t far behind her. His hair was cropped short, and even from a distance, I could tell he was all muscle.
A truck horn honked, and I turned to look to my left. I hadn’t realized I’d run into the road, and now a semi-truck was barreling toward me. There was no time to react.
My muscles tensed, and I squeezed my eyes shut.
The truck slammed into me and molded around my body. When I opened my eyes, I looked up, and the truck was mid-air. It flipped over me and crashed to the ground.
It felt like everything was in slow motion.
I looked down at my hands and arms, double-checking that all my limbs were still attached to my body.
I stood frozen in place.
Adrenaline pumped through my veins, and I stared at the wreckage that now littered the small two-lane road. The bumper of the truck lay at my feet. It was folded in half. One of the semi’s wheels rolled off the road into the woods.
What just happened?
“What the—” the man said.
“It worked,” the woman said, breathless.
I looked over to the clearing, and both the man and woman were staring at me.
All of us were too shocked to move.
Then, as if awakening from a slumber, the uniformed man reached toward his hip. He whipped out his gun and fired before I could react.
The loud bang of the gunshot rang in and rattled my eardrums. I looked down at my chest, where the bullet should have been. Instead, all I saw was a silver bullet resting on the ground in between my feet.
I looked up and made eye contact with the man. His dark eyes were wide with fear. Shock was written on his face.
He pulled the gun back up and aimed it at me once more.
“Jared!” the woman in the lab coat yelled. “Stop! Did you not just see her demolish a semi-truck going sixty miles an hour? What do you think a mere bullet is going to do to her?”
He held the gun ready to fire for a second longer, but then he reluctantly lowered it.
I knew I should use his hesitation as an opportunity to escape, but I stood still. My feet glued to the asphalt.
Questions swirled around my brain, and I felt like I was about to be crushed under the weight of the unknown.
What am I?
This woman had answers, but I was pretty sure she was the reason I was in this mess. What had she done to me?
“What did you do to me?” I asked, finally giving a voice to my internal thoughts.
The woman’s face softened when her gaze met mine. Her green eyes were vibrant and a stark contrast to her pale, perfect skin and red hair. She took a step forward, furthering herself from the tree line and stepping onto the road.
I took a step back.
The woman held out her hands in front of her, showing me that they were empty. It was a small peace offering.
Then, I took a deep breath and mustered up every ounce of force I could.
“What did you do to me?” I asked again.
“I saved your life,” she said.
I stared at her in confusion. I bit my lip, unsure of what to say or do next.
“What do you remember?” she asked in response to my silence.
I closed my eyes and willed myself to search my memory.
I recalled waking up on a cold, metal table and staring up at a bright, fluorescent light. People in scrubs and masks stood around me.
“I was strapped to a table,” I said hesitantly. “Y-you were there too.”
The woman nodded.
“Do you remember anything from before?” she pressed.
I scrunched my nose. Flashbulb memories of narrow hallways and claustrophobic rooms with metal doors flooded my thoughts.
I shook my head. Nothing made sense.
“You were dying,” she said slowly. She was choosing her words carefully now. “The cells in your body were shutting down due to a rare disease. So, I injected you with an experimental drug I’ve been developing through the years. It was designed to enhance and strengthen the body’s cells. It worked! Though, maybe a little too well.”
I stared at the woman in disbelief. She looked proud and acted like I should be thanking her. I couldn’t bring myself to do that, though.
I glanced back over at the wrecked semi-truck. The front windshield was shattered, and I noticed a limp hand hanging through the broken glass.
“You made me a monster,” I said, the words stuck in my throat.
“I wouldn’t say you’re a monster,” she said. “I can assure you that you are most definitely still human. Though, there may be some effects of the drug that I didn’t anticipate. But if I can just take you back to the lab, we can assess what exactly bionic medicine did to your body.”
I tightened my jaw at the mention of the lab. My memories of the lab were fuzzy and incoherent. However, I had a bad feeling associated with it. My stomach twisted at the thought of going back.
“No,” I said. My voice was low.
“What was that?” the woman asked. She took a step closer.
I held out my hand, palm out in front of me.
“Don’t come any closer,” I said. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
My palms were sweating, and heat rolled off my body. Panic was swelling up within me and threatening to overtake me. I knew if my fear won out, things would get ugly. I didn’t even know what I was capable of when I was in control. I wasn’t eager to find out what would happen if I lost control.
The woman took another step forward, and she scrunched her perfectly plucked eyebrows together.
“Are you threatening me?” she said and laughed as if the very thought of me threatening her was the funniest joke in the world.
She took another step toward me and hot energy burned in my chest.
My entire body felt like it was on fire.
I screamed and shut my eyes.
When I opened my eyes, the woman was on the ground. Her eyes were wide with shock, and a small trickle of blood flowed from her left nostril. I looked over at where the uniformed officer had been standing, and he was also on the ground.
Fear and panic and regret and worry flooded my senses.
What was I supposed to do now?
NOTE: This is a short story that I wrote for my Theories of Professional Writing class in Fall 2020. It was written for young adult audiences and is a work of fiction. This work required me to apply all of my knowledge of writing and what I've learned in my PW degree.