I hated being chased. It was my worst fear. As a child I would have nightmares about it. I hated that feeling. The crawling shivers that raced their way up my spine and the sudden jolt of my heart as every sense that I had was straining to determine where my attacker was.
I should have never joined Robin Hoods band of brothers if I didn’t want to be chased. Just another of those stupid mistakes to add to the list that punctuated my life like too many commas.
My muscles strained as I fought to distance myself from the figure thrashing through the bushes after me. Sword in hand, I was careful to carry it just so in the hopefully unlikely event that I tripped and fell. Falling on one’s own sword was not a glorious way to go by any means.
My lungs strained for more air and my side spasmed with a stitch that threatened to send me to my knees. Every impulse in me was straining to keep up the run that I had been maintaining for over a mile now. Running through woods made it feel like twice that.
If I could only get to where the nearest hood outpost was, I could get some help. Fending off a man who was so huge he rivaled the bull I had raised for the fair when I was twelve was not something I wanted to attempt myself. The mask over his face made him even more imposing. There was something in me that needed to see a mans face when I fought him.
You come to feel like you truly know someone when you fight them. It’s so personal, two sweaty men constantly jabbing in and out of the others personal space as you try to be the first one to injure or incapacitate the other with your life the reward if you win, but also the consequence if you fail.
I stumbled, all of my mind wandering just trying to keep my thoughts from discouraging me. This man had longer legs than I and I could already tell that he was catching up to me. I didn’t want to lose. That end goal was enough to fuel my burning muscles and ravaged lungs. I wanted to live.
I stumbled again, then took the stumble into a slide as I reached the riverbank. The water was low and my leather jerkin made a perfect sliding surface on the muddy hill.
The crashing behind me paused for a second and the heavy breathing that smote my ears made the skin on my arms prickle. He was almost upon me. The sound of him falling to a slide behind me gave me one more burst of speed as I flew across the stones littering the riverbed. I was nimble of foot, and I was confident I could get to the other side and call out the signal. Once past the river and the annoyingly cheerful sound that it made on it’s way, I would be able to send out the signal and the merry gang would be to my assistance. This Kingsman would wish he had never set foot in Sherwood Forest.
With the other side of the river in full sight and making my tired heart beat happy for a moment, then my foot rolled off a stone and I felt myself go down in what seemed like slow motion. Time stood still as I watched my sword fly from my hand and dive into the river.
With an oomph and a painful jolting, I landed in the water and with a whooshing of all of the air from my lungs, I fought to get a breath back into them. The panic inside of me ignited into a full fire that made me sweat even though the water was cold when I felt a hand grab the back of my jerkin.
With still no breath in my lungs, I dove forward, trying to scoop my sword from the swirling water that was too close to my face. Even as I did so, I knew it was a futile moment as I felt and heard the breath of the giant behind me heat the back of my neck with his heavy breathing. It was a lost cause. I was about to die. . .
To be continued next week. I have learned better than to just let you all suffer for too long.
By God’s Grace,