You press your back against the chilly tile on the floor and stare at the ceiling. There’s a design there if you allow your eyes to go out of focus. It resembles…. Something you’ve seen before. But what it is, you can’t quite put your finger on.
A moment ago, you gave up.
Was it a moment ago? It might have been hours. Or minutes. Or yesterday. You don’t know anymore.
But you stopped running.
The pain in your feet was too much. The blisters between your toes long past burst and the blood stained each step.
You sat in the middle of the hall and peeled the soaked, previously white socks off your feet. And then you decided you couldn’t go on any longer.
Not like this.
You stared back the way you came and attempted to count the red spots on the floor that marked your trail. After fifteen, the lights were too dim, and you weren’t sure they even continued after that.
The darkness also hid your pursuer. But you know it’s still out there. In here. Somewhere.
Staring into the shadows, your mind played tricks on you and you eased back onto the floor to stare up instead. But the ceiling wasn’t much better. The yellow dots, they make you think of the stars.
If staring at the stars made you want to cry and scream and hide, anyway.
A chill shoots through you, goosebumps raising up and down your arms and legs. Icy tendrils snake around your neck and along your spine. Where had the breeze come from? Like someone opening a freezer door…
You make yourself sit up and inspect your surroundings. You shiver, wrapping your stiff arms around yourself and look back the way you came. It’s still complete darkness. But so is ahead of you.
The only difference you can tell is the absence of bloody footprints. All you can see is an endless stretch of white tile and blank walls on either side of you. There isn’t a door anywhere to be seen.
You don’t know how you got here.
This nightmare run began upon waking. You were on your feet, pushing yourself forward the moment your eyes opened. And you couldn’t have said why you knew you were being chased, not at first. But the sound their feet made hitting the floor behind you was clear, and you knew you had to keep going.
You don’t know where you are.
You’ve never seen this place before. You’re sure of it. Aside from the strangely familiar design on the ceiling, you can’t recall seeing anything like this. You might run towards something worse than whatever was chasing you, but you wouldn’t know until you go there.
If you ever got there.
But you can hear the footsteps getting closer.
The next time you look up at the ceiling, you tilt your head to the side and the shapes take a form your brain can name. There’s a rabbit, body poised in full sprint, pointing the way you’ve been walking.
Behind it, there’s a fox. Calm and collected and walking sedately. You don’t know what it means, but you know which one you’d rather be.
And somehow you find the strength to pull yourself to your sore, bleeding feet and move again.
But this time, you go towards the sound.
You are tired of running, and tired of not knowing what you are running from.
It was time to face it.
Even if it kills you.
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