The smell. That’s what I remember most. It was fresh earth, wet from the rain. The grass was blindingly neon green, the way it always is after a big storm. The ground was soft and I was getting water splashed in my face as I tore by the branches in my path. Now that I look back on it, that is all I can remember; not the blood curdling screams behind me or the small springs turned red with blood and bodies.
My heart was in my throat and I thought that if I tried to open my mouth to scream it would just fall out. But I didn’t scream. I couldn’t if I wanted to survive. As I ran, the sound of my movement and the jolt of each foot hitting the ground was what I held onto. All of a sudden a big blur stepped out from behind a tree and we collided. As I landed on top of him I felt the skin on my forehead tear as my head slammed into something hard. There was immediately blood everywhere. It was pouring down into my eyes and giving the world a red tint. It was as if it was taunting me, reminding me that this is a place of murder. I tried to scramble away from what I ran into, but I knew. I knew this was death. I locked eyes with him. His eyes were large and light brown, so much lighter than his dark skin. He looked just as horrified as I was. We stood there, our knees slightly bent and our arms up ready to attack. The seconds ticked by and it was excruciating. A scream erupted behind us, so close, and our heads snapped around. We looked back at each other and in a split second, he was gone. He was running. Another scream. I ran again. I tried to stop the bleeding so I wouldn’t leave a trail, but at this point I didn’t have a choice. I began to choke on the air and I realized it was the spirits of those burning slowly behind me; their skin melting off of them and seeping into the ground.
I don’t know how I survived. Some people say there is a greater being that lives in the sky and protects us. Some say certain objects bring you good fortune. I didn’t know what to believe but mystical beings sounded too good to be true to have existed in the woods that day. I don’t know how I survived and I don’t know why. I think about those light brown eyes every single day and I wonder if it was his scream that I heard as I held myself in the woods that night, trembling and alive and alone.