Day forty-five of my 365 Day Writing Project.
After another night of trying to write through exhaustion, I see a real need to find time to write during daylight hours. Even if only for a short span of time, writing when I can keep my ideas fresh and eyes open will be far more productive than what I have been doing lately. Late night after late night takes a toll when one must get up early and work all day. It cannot be sustained for long periods. If only a day here and there, I need to fit in some days when I’m not burning the midnight oil. I think it is a manageable goal, but we’ll see how it shakes out.
In the meantime, here is a raw, unedited snippet from the latest chapter:
“Do you think we’re safe here?” She looked out the window as the train slowed down.
“I think the more we keep moving and changing course, the less chance there is that someone can follow us. C’mon, and stay close.” Ben started walking toward the front to the door. Skylar zipped up her coat and grabbed her bag, joining him by the door. Waiting for it to open she whispered to him, looking past him over his shoulder.
“Isn’t this a bad idea? Getting up in front of everyone so they know we are getting off here? If someone is following us –“
“Then we’ll see them get off here, and we can try to lose them before we get back on the train later,” Ben said quietly near her ear. “Just stay close, no matter what.” He looked over his shoulder, making Skylar even more nervous. Her heart pounded, causing her to swallow hard. They waited.
With a loud “ppsshhhhhhhh” the doors opened. In an instant Ben stepped off with Skylar on his heels. The cold air met them quickly, causing Skylar to catch her breath. The platform was empty but for the few people exiting the train. As if to outrun the cold, everyone charged in different directions with their heads down. Ben took quick, long strides to a staircase and headed down, with Skylar doing her best to keep up with him. At the bottom was a parking lot dimly illuminated by sparse street lamps. Instead of heading into the parking lot, Ben cut sharply to the left into the shadows of the platform looming overhead. He skulked along the concrete wall, looking back over his shoulder. Skylar stayed close, afraid to look behind them.
“Damn!” Ben whispered, turning back forward and stepping faster.
“Someone’s there?” asked Skylar, short of breath and quickening her step to stay with him.
“Stay close – follow me, and be ready,” said Ben urgently. At the end of the concrete wall he turned left and started to run. Skylar’s heart leapt into her throat as she took off after him, unbelieving that this was happening.
They ran a short distance before they had to scramble up a steep embankment on all fours. When they reached the top they were at the tracks. The train was pulling away and they ran across the tracks behind it as it left the station. Reaching the other side of the tracks, Skylar looked over her shoulder. She could hear a man grunting as he scrambled up the embankment after them. Too dark to focus, she could make out a figure emerging by the tracks. Immediately the adrenaline in her body lit up like a wildfire from core to fingertips. She took off at a full sprint behind Ben, running across a mowed field covered in a thin blanket of fresh snow. Entering some woods, darkness consumed them. Her senses flared. She could hear the sound of snapping twigs in front of her. She followed the sounds and what little she could see of Ben’s footprints in the shallow snow and dead leaves.
Suddenly, she came out in a back yard with a swing set. Skylar could see Ben now, running up to the house and squatting down to wait for her by some shrubs. She stumbled as she neared him, slipping on the snowy grass. She dropped down on her knees by him, grabbing onto his arm to catch herself.
“Stay down,” Ben said, panting, his breath puffing gray clouds that disappeared into the black night like small specters. “Maybe we lost him.” He gripped her arm. With pupils dilated wide and darting to and fro, he looked manic. In an instant, he yanked her arm to pull her to a stand and said, “GO!” pushing her hard in the opposite direction.
Out of the corner of her eye, Skylar caught a glimpse of the man emerging from the woods. She took off toward the front of the house. Her feet scrambled to find traction on the snow-covered lawn without much success. Seeing a paved driveway before her, she took a big leap to reach it. As her feet met solid ground covered by a thin sheet of ice, she slipped. Her feet went immediately out from under her. Skylar knew she was going down and it was going to hurt. As she contorted to try to get her feet under herself and reached out with her arms to brace for the landing, she felt a strong hand slip under her arm and catch her, giving her just enough time to right herself. Stopping still with her legs bent and arms out to each side like a surfer riding a wave, Skylar was stunned that she was still standing.
“C’mon! Out to the street,” Ben said, his voice urgent but low enough to be nothing more than a loud whisper. Skylar picked up running again, this time more carefully, down the slippery driveway to the street. Ben reached out a hand to her and she willingly took it, needing all the support and balance she could get as her feet slipped in all directions. Suddenly, they heard a loud “Ooof” behind them. Skylar turned to look over her shoulder and saw the man lying flat on his back in the driveway. The black ice had taken him down, hard.