Page 11 of Corrupt Kingdom

I won’t be another statistic.

My hand lifts the knob, and as I suspected, the door makes a horrible sound against the quiet of the night. It’s awful.

Like metal and wood scraping together.

I’m not sure if it’s as bad as I assume, but it hurts my ears, and it makes my heart jump out of my chest.

I don’t stop, though, and instead, I fling it open, emerging into the eerie night.

There are no lights outside, it’s nighttime now. Pitch black other than the small stars twinkling from above.

Looking up, I see more here than I have in a long time, showing that I am no longer anywhere near the city.

Where am I?

I walk, using the stars as my only light. I can’t walk fast, though; with limited visibility, I don’t want to hurt myself.

Time passes in a series of heavy breaths verging on a panic attack.

As far as I go and as many steps as I take, it doesn’t matter because there is nothing here. I push through branches, and then I see it.

As the light brightens, I see the stars reflecting off water.

But what scares me more is that it’s black all around except in the distance. In the distance, I can finally see light.

But it’s not close enough, and there is no way to swim there.

It’s too far. Standing on what must be a beach, I walk along the coast, looking up at the stars to use them for direction. At some point the beach stops, and rocks and grass replace the sand. It’s harder to walk now, especially with no visibility, so I take small measured steps. The terrain changes, and now I’m surrounded by trees and boulders.

Where the hell am I?

I keep going.

With each new step, the light from the water disappears more and more, cloaking me in darkness. At least I have the stars.

I walk for God knows how long.

But before I know it, I’m once again back on sand, staring out across the water into the vast distance at the lights on the beach.

Is it the same?

Am I just walking around in circles?

I need to mark my spot.

Pulling off my coat, I drop it on the ground, putting some rocks over it to keep it in place.

Now, without my coat, my body shivers from the cold. I start to walk in the same path I had just made. Through the beach, then the rocks, then the trees. I walk for what seems like forever, with my arms wrapped around my body to keep myself warm. In the distance, I see something, my stomach muscles tighten as I make my approach.

This confirms my fears. There is nowhere to go.

The blood in my veins pumps so hard it sounds like drums are playing.

Thud.

Thud.

My jacket.

I look up, staring at a sight that makes me shake all over and not because of the cold this time. But because there it is, yet again.

In the distance are lights, and then realization hits me like a ton of bricks.

I now know him leaving the door open was no accident. There was no reason to lock it because I have nowhere to go.

I’m stuck.

On whatever island it is I’m on.

He doesn’t need to lock any doors because it appears that there is no way off.

Maybe in the light, I’ll find something.

Or maybe . . .

My head shakes back and forth. I can’t dwell on the what-if. I need to calm myself and think.

I sit staring at the beach in front of me. It’s dark so I can’t see much, but there are enough stars in the sky to make the water visible. Each time the waves crash against the shore, little bursts of light dance in my eye as I catch the reflection of the moon.

I don’t move as I try to think of a plan.

But nothing comes to me. Not now. Not at night. And especially not on an island probably surrounded by sharks.

That’s just what I need, to escape and then be eaten by bloodthirsty sharks desperate for food. Me being lunch.

That would be just my luck.

I should go back.

Admit my fate.

But I don’t want to.

I feel I’m suffocating, but at least here I have air.

I stare off into the night sky, wondering how this happened.

Why am I here, and what does he want?

Fear dances within me. My brain’s running a mile a minute. The muscles in my heart beat so fast, I fear I’ll pass out. I need to calm down. My brain runs through all the techniques I’ve learned over the years to help my mom through her depression. This isn’t the same, but maybe it will help. The doctor once told me to have her breathe deeply, to focus on an object and forget everything else.

I watch as the waves crash against the shore.

As they break and turn to crystals against the moonlight.

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