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Johnny ran as fast as was physically possible. He avoided trees and jumped over rocks and fallen branches, moved purely by instinct. In other circumstances, he wouldn’t even think that he was capable of such speed and reflexes, but right now Johnny couldn’t allow himself to think about that. Right now, he could not think of anything besides running. Running away from his pursuer. Running to his salvation.
When he judged he should be at a safe enough distance, Johnny stopped and swiftly threw himself behind a large bush. He needed to analyze the situation, plan his next move and, above all, he needed to locate his pursuer. Not being able to see the one chasing him was quickly overflowing his mind with desperation, making it harder and harder to think clearly. The other one could be far away, close behind or even hiding somewhere, waiting to catch Johhny in a trap. He had to make sure that he was safe – at least for the time being – so that he could take the right decision.
Hidden behind the bush, Johnny looked for an opening between the leaves and branches from where he could look at the ground before him without exposing himself. He then began the desperate task of trying to find his pursuer.
Johnny did everything he could to look in all directions, but there was no sign of the other one. Sweat – caused both from the heat of the run and from the state of nerves that he was in – started to run across his face. His heart was beating faster and faster, to the point that it seemed like it would jump right out of his chest at any moment. He wasn’t there. The one chasing him wasn’t there. Panic began to dominate his thoughts. He was hidden. Hidden somewhere Johnny couldn’t see. Waiting for the right moment to make his move. He had him trapped like a cat playing with a mouse, having fun just watching his victim becoming more and more desperate. Maybe he was, at that exact moment, sneaking from behind him, just about to grab him. Johnny quickly turned, certain that there would be someone right at his back. But there was no one.
The silence was becoming maddening, so Johnny decided he would start running again, as fast as possible. But just when he was getting up, he saw, through the bush, something moving ahead. There he was, his pursuer, walking with a disturbing calmness. Nevertheless, Johnny felt greatly relieved and was once again capable of thinking rationally. Now, he had to decide his next move. Should he remain hidden, hoping that the pursuer didn’t see him when he passed nearby? Or would it be best to risk another run, even though the other one seemed to be far less tired than he was? Johnny’s body, after all, was still exhausted from the previous run. His legs ached and he still hadn’t fully recovered his breath. Still, he wouldn’t let that keep him from running miles and miles if it came to that. He wouldn’t give in to exhaustion until he was safe. Because if he was caught… but he interrupted that thought immediately. Being caught was not an option.
Slowly and calmly, the predator approached. Had he spotted Johnny’s hiding place? If that was the case, he was doing a very good act, because he was looking in every direction, apparently still searching. It was time to decide: remain hidden or run. Just then, Johnny noticed that the pursuer seemed to be taking another direction. Was it a trick? One way or another, Johnny decided to take that chance and get out of there. He had already planned his route: first, he would leave the protection of the bush and hide behind a large tree that was in an opposite direction to where the pursuer was going. If he succeeded getting there without being seen, he could run in that direction pretty much safely.
Johnny took a big breath and waited for the right moment when the pursuer was looking the other way. As soon as the moment came, he jumped from behind the bush and ran towards the large tree, as fast and silently as he could. He pressed his back against the trunk of the tree and, with extreme caution, turned his head to see if his movement had been noticed. The pursuer didn’t appear to have heard or seen anything and was still walking in the other direction. Johnny released his breath, full of relief. He was practically safe now, as it would be very difficult to spot him now. Before going forward, he looked one more time at his previous hiding place, behind the bush. And, there, he saw something. Right at the spot where he had spent those desperate moments, something was sparkling with the sunlight. He took a better look and realized what it was. Apparently, at some point, in the short time that he was there, his cell phone had slipped from his pocket and fallen to the grass. Without hesitation, Johnny considered his cell phone as lost. There was no way he would risk being seen in the attempt of getting it back. It was just a cell phone, after all, and a really old one too.
The pursuer was quite far now. It was time to make his triumphal escape.
He had barely taken his first step when music started to play. Music that, to his horror, Johnny recognized immediately. It was his cell phone’s ringtone. He turned to look again at the place where the phone was, still not able to believe that destiny could be so ironically cruel. There was his cell phone, blinking, vibrating and ringing at maximum volume, as if it were an alarm accusing his escape. He hoped that the other one was too far away to hear, but he knew that was a silly thought. In that silent place, the music seemed impossibly loud. And, sure enough, the pursuer had already heard. He turned to look where the music was coming from and immediately spotted Johnny, partially hidden behind the tree. And Johnny, even from far away, was able to see his predator’s expression changing from doubt to a mixture of triumph and malice. Then, the other one started running towards Johnny, who had become inevitably paralyzed.
With great effort, Johnny forced his body to start moving again and began a frenetic run. Running like he had never run before, Johnny felt a glimpse of hope. He could still be faster than his pursuer. He could still beat him. But his muscles, exhausted from all the exercise, would not let their cries be ignored without a price. A cramp paralyzed his leg, making him trip and fall to the ground. He knew he had to get up quickly, but the confusion and pain – both from the cramp and the fall – wouldn’t let him.
Few seconds later, a shadow came over Johnny. He needn’t turn his face to understand what that meant. It was all over. The pursuer had caught up to him. He tried to find some kind of comfort thinking to himself that he had played his cards well and, if he had failed, he had only bad luck do blame. Of course, as much as he believed that, it still didn’t change the fact that his pursuer was right above him now. Johnny remained facing the ground. He wouldn’t give the other one the pleasure of looking him in the eyes when he did what he was going to do.
He felt the other one’s hand in his back.
“Gotcha! You’re it!” yelled the one that until now had been the pursuer, just as he started to run away from Johnny.
Johnny got up slowly, brushed the dirt of his clothes and looked fixedly to where the other was running. The pain was almost gone now. It was time for revenge.
Credit To – Daniel Moises