Promptober 2020: Day #13

Prompt

Write a story that begins with a countdown.

Source: r/thedailyprompt

Story Stats

# of Words434
# of Drafts3
GenreGeneral (flash-fiction)
Hours1.75

Story

ANJALI

“TEN!”

We run, darting into the forest, our hands clasped together. Mine is sweating. So is hers.

“NINE!”

Dozens of us are racing through the trees. Someone—the jerk, Billy—bursts from behind an elm, crossing our path. My feet skid along the dirt, and Anjali falters into my back. I scowl at Billy, but he is already dashing off further into the woods, smirking over his shoulder. 

“EIGHT!”

I peer at Anjali. Her eyes are wide and her cheeks flushed. I tighten my grip. “Come on!”

We continue our sprint. My lungs are already burning. Anjali puffs high pitched spurts of breath behind me. 

“SEVEN!”

Everyone else was scrambling to get away, running off on their own. It’s everyone for themselves. Anjali and I are the only ones escaping together.

I refuse to abandon her.

“SIX!”

We race across a clearing, hop over a fallen log, and sprint across an old dirt road.

“Five!”

I vault over a berry bush, but the world doesn’t rise to meet me. 

I fall, bike-kicking through the air.

Anjali gasps. 

My feet touch the ground, slipping across the smooth, mud-cracked creek bed in opposite directions. My arms flail, and I lose hold of Anjali. My shoulder and head smack into the ground. The world goes black as I yell in shocked pain.

“Four.”

Hands tug my shirt near my shoulders. I open my eyes and Anjali’s deep brown ones stare back. Her long, scraggly brown air cascades toward me. 

“Up!” she shouts and heaves me to my feet. She grasps my hand. “We have to keep moving!”

“three . . .”

She runs and pulls me with her. She refuses to leave me. I smile. 

We scramble up the opposite embankment and dive through the bushes. We emerge onto a road. Anjali tugs me to the left.

“We’re almost there, Aisha,” she says.

“two . . .”

We sprint across the street to an old two-story house on the corner and hop the fence into the backyard. An ancient oak tree looms above us. A rope ladder leads up into the lush branches. Anjali scrambles up first. I follow closely.

“one . . .”

We push through the trapdoor and sprawl onto the old red and tan rug lying in the treehouse’s main area. Staring up at the splintered wood ceiling, we gasp for breath over and over again. I look at Anjali. She’s covered in sweat and her hair is a tangled mess.

“ready or not, here we come!”

“We made it,” I whisper, clutching her hand. 

She smiles and giggles erupt out of her. She looks at me, and says conspiratorially, “They’ll never find us here.”

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