Sam is running away from the border patrol. Will he make it in the middle of the night?
Sam's coat ground against the rough bark as he slid down at a slow pace. The tall tree stood with a proud but bent presence. His ears rang with the sounds of a thousand crickets. Blood rushed through his tense veins and was in great shock. It was no surprise as he was on the run for almost two hours.
This was his fifth stop. He still could not take a long enough break to catch his breath. He had no choice as they chased him with great vigor, these notorious guards from the National Defense Unit. They knew no mercy and were ruthless against outsiders such as him. Sam also faced another problem. His country of origin was on a travel ban list. This gave his pursuers the freedom to use whatever means necessary.
They pushed him hard as they tracked his movements across the foggy, cold, wet and daunting forest. The guards used the aid of their trusty police dogs and military tracking experience. It also did not help Sam that he reeked like a pig. He had not bathed or had the opportunity to dry clean himself in more than three days. This made the job that much easier for the hounds. He tried to counter their efforts by rubbing some mud and leaf mold all over his clothes. Unfortunately, it did no work at all.
"Just a minute, I've to catch my breath!" he mumbled as he looked at his dirty, dry and freezing hands. Sam blew hot air on them to somewhat warm them up. His stomach growled to no end and wiggled inside his abdomen. His body was low on food and water. He hated the fact that there was nothing edible on him and only had a tiny bit of vodka in his flask. He opened it and drank the rest. It burned his throat but also warmed him up. He smiled a little as he remembered how he borrowed it from a local shop in the first place. It was a good idea back then, as he had to counter his thin clothing. But now, he regretted it as it made him more hungry.
He pulled his somewhat torn sleeves up and tried to figure out what to do with his wounds. He fell on his forearms back at the village, while he tried to escape. They would rip open every time he would do something with his hands.
Sam growled like an old man. "What a mess, If only I had some gauze on me!" he spoke, while he tried to check himself. It was dark and difficult to see. "They must be infected by now." he noted as he thought of all the possible bacterial scenarios. His unorthodox practices and incompetence were to blame. He also felt the urge to scratch his arms. He did his best to not to do that with his soiled fingernails, so instead he rubbed his forearms together. Then he pulled down his brown sleeves. He heard some bizarre movements in the bushes, as he was doing that.
"Are they that close?" he wondered when an owl flapped his wings in the air. The bird started to hoot into the night. What sounded as human footsteps drew close. Sam was anxious and agitated. "They can't be this close, that's impossible!" he worried, as he tightened his muscles. He prepared for the final push. He mastered his remaining energy and willpower, or whatever else he had in his pockets. The sounds surrounded him before he could jump. He was trapped and did not know what to do. He begun to pray for his miserable life, family and everything he held dear. Then the sounds of marching men stopped. Instead, distinct sounds of squeaks and snorts hit his ears. They reminded him of something else, rather than a pack of vicious dogs and angry, armed men.
"They must be hedgehogs!" he deducted as he listened to these little animals. They moved their little feet fast between the piles of leaves. Sam lowered his panic and raised his head up to peek around. There was nothing to see at first. This moment would forever burn into his mind, as he looked at this vast and empty forest. He wondered if he was ever to escape this place alive and not be murdered by his pursuers. He did not felt it yet, but some of his infections were already causing him minor problems.
Sam looked checked several times, just to make sure he was safe. How wrong he was. They were much closer than he thought. The leader of the pack reached the small ridge he left behind half a mile ago. That was the place, where he got his last bruises and hurt his left ankle.
The dog at the front started to bark as loud as it could. It brought the attention of his master's and reassured them that they were close to Sam. Closer than they hoped for, as the chase was moderate and easy to follow.
Sam suddenly changed his mind and was on the verge of giving up. He wanted to throw himself to them. He would have said yes to anyone who offered him a quick bullet. He might have even considered a slow torture, in exchange of some food. In this darkest of hour, he reached into his jacket. He pulled out his pocket watch he got from his wife, Emma.
"I can't give up just yet!" he spoke as he remembered why he embarked on this journey and how he managed to survive this far. Living this far was something that most could never thought to achieve. He somehow forced his body to act and tried to get away as fast as he could.
"Over my dead body!" he argued in the night as he crawled through the dead bushes and pushed every branch out of his way. Freedom and the warmth of his family kept him going. Sam was a seasoned man and had plenty of experience. Life taught him good lessons. He never stopped believing in himself and never let go of that belief. However, he prayed to everything he could name, just to be sure.
He cared for very step as he passed through the woods. He did not know how far he was from the main road he supposed to cross. His coat was stuck on a thorny bush as he reached the dirt path.
"For god's sake let me go, I've made it!" he cheered as he tried to get loose. The road led up to a small stone bridge over a now dry and empty riverbed. "This is the place, but where the hell are those stupid agents?" he questioned in his frustration. "I can't stop here, I need to move on!" he encouraged, while he made a lot of noise in the mud. The slim path was in bad condition, filled with tire marks that sank deep into the ground. Some could even trap a large animal.
He struggled to reach the riverside, but made it in one piece. It was then, when he spotted two people across the bridge. Their hands were in their pockets and waited for him to show up. It was a bizarre scene. They acted as if Sam was late from an important meeting of some kind...