The wind whistled coldly through the trees. As Alex lay whimpering in the dark, she screamed silently with liberation. “Freedom,” she thought. Barely alive, she clung to the remaining life that she had. She felt like a caged animal finally allowed to return to its home. The breeze felt fresh and soothing.

Snap: a branch crunched in the distance. At first she thought it could be a bird or a squirrel. However it was followed by a quick succession of movements, heavier than a bird; much heavier. Worst of all, there were more than one of them. Alex had no choice, no time to think. She had to move. She couldn’t be caught again.

She sprinted swiftly out of the forest. Her whole life of late felt like she was running, which was a fair evaluation since she had been moving for almost two days. “Damn!” She thought she would have lost them by now. But still she could hear his heavy grunting as he tore through the undergrowth. He’d never give up, never.

Yet she heard herself running. She wondered if they could see her. Surely they could hear her? Anyway, time was of the essence, and all of these thoughts only slowed her pace.

Then she saw what she’d been waiting for: a road, actual concrete. Civilisation was within her grasp. However, two fully grown men were chasing her, if not more, so she had little time to contemplate the marvel of this sight. The road seemed to drag on for miles. Alex wasn’t sure whether this was an advantage or disadvantage; there was plenty of space to roam, but then again a long open stretch of land would lead to easy detection. Her next moves had to be planned carefully.

The moonlight shone off the road. It was then that she knew that the journey ahead would be a long one.

“First things first,” she thought as she tentatively placed her foot onto the road, knowing this would be the first of many steps to true freedom – if it even really existed. She instinctively wanted to sprint down the track, but like a beacon of light the story of the hare and tortoise resonated at the back of her mind. “Slow and steady wins the race.” The only way to win this race was to use tactics. As tempting as running was, it was only going to get her caught, and she was not in a situation where she could toy with her freedom.

Time to think, evaluate the situation. Point one: she had people following her, most likely men, two or three she suspected but no more or they would have tracked her down already. Point two: there was the long open road. Point three: the remaining bushes and wildlife she could use to cover her tracks and move in and out of camouflage, but there was really too little. The scenery was too desolate for adequate camouflage. Last point: hitch-hiking – no! Alex may have been locked away for two years but she’d seen her fair share of horror films. She faintly imagined thumbing a ride and the car slowing down as she smiled with glee, thinking that she’d escaped. But her smile would be met with another smile, rather a malevolent grimace, one that had haunted her in her nightmares. No way. As you can guess, she wasn’t going for that choice.

Then an almost artificial ray of light shone down from the heavens. It illuminated a sewer pipe cover. Alex then re-evaluated this as plan B. 30 seconds had been wasted contemplating her plan with the cover in plain sight! How stupid, she thought. But even more thinking wasn’t going to help her get any further.

She moved closer to the drain cover and tried to pry it open with her quivering and bruised hands. Fortunately she was a woman, which meant small hands, and it only took a few seconds of struggling before the cover began to loosen.

Suddenly the artificial light came drastically closer. She wondered if this was what freedom was like, even heaven. Unfortunately it wasn’t heaven at all – it was a large truck, pelting down the road at the speed of a missile.

Bang! Blackness conquered, as did silence.