This story has been set to a rating of PG. Age verification is required to proceed.
Somewhere Outside Red Lodge, Montana
Kicking and screaming, I struggle to see through my tears as my fingernails dig deep into the dirt. I claw at the ground and pray for anything to hold onto. Angry hands grab at my feet, filling me with terror. I frantically kick to stay free, but their relentless pursuit seeks to prevent my escape. My heart pounds like the thunder of a hundred hooves. The tightening of my chest makes air impossible to find. Sweat and dirt cover me, crawling as fast as my small limbs will take me toward what I hope will be safety under the old house.
All my efforts are in vain. A claw-like grip takes a hold of my ankle and gives me a swift yank backwards. My dress slides up, my belly scraping along the rocks as I scream and flail, desperate for escape.
Won’t someone, anyone help me?
The mid-day sun blinds me when I’m dragged back into the light. I scramble to my feet with the desperate need to run. A fast, hard slap to the face stings as I fall to the ground stunned. My head spins and my vision blurs from more than tears. My body is lifted upward by the arms of a faceless captor. Splatters of my own blood glistening on the orange dirt is the last thing I see before I pass out.
My eyes snapped open wide, darting wildly into the starry night for any sign of danger. Sweat soaked from the struggle and still on edge, every muscle I had stood at the ready. A huff of hot air down my neck stopped my breath. With a shaky hand, I made a slow path for my gun. I was prepared for a fight, but a gentle nudge from behind brought me back to reality. Relief slipped through my lips in a deep, slow exhale. I slid my hand behind my neck and stroked the soft hair of my one true friend and constant companion over the last five years, Clover.
I dropped my head back and sighed. It was only a dream, again. Well, not just a dream, a nightmare. A memory of the worst day of my life that I relived over and over again in my sleep.