Outside, it stormed. Rain fell hard on the house and the iron sheet roof of the shed next door. Micah was awake when she heard the voice again.
Run, it said, as a bolt from the clouds lit the horizon. Thunder followed. The clock in the hall struck one in the morning.
Her boozey veil was lifting, but the headache kept her pinned to the bed. She squinted against it and tried to keep reading, but in no time, her eyes forced themselves shut.
They opened again in time to stop the book from falling on her face. It was late. She was delirious.
Run, it repeated. She turned off the lamp and curled under her blanket, only just aware of the new resolve burning in her belly. Solid and foreign, unfamiliar.
In the morning, she snuck out before sunrise and ran. Past the house with the broken fence. Over the still highway and down five blocks into the empty school The air was crisp and damp, filled with the sound of her shoes hitting the pavement and then soft lawn.
The grass was a treasure on her feet. They were already aching, confined within her slab-soled Chuck Taylors, the closest thing to running shoes she owned.
She ran across the football field, out the other side and back onto the sidewalk, passing street after street before turning down a long alley with two tracks worn in the grass.
The birds were silent. A wind picked up. The pounding in her chest drowned out her footsteps as she passed panel after panel of corrugated fence; the wall between her and the world.
Up ahead, a hobo mattress lay propped up against a pile of old boxes. Anyone could be hiding there. Her heartbeat tightened into fear; the hood of her jacket became hands on her back. She remembered grandma’s warnings about bad men taking children away if they ran off by themselves. She remembered the story in the paper last week about a girl’s body found in a secluded alley. What was she doing here, alone, in this neighbourhood?
“She asked for it,” they would say, as they pull her, pale and broken, from beneath a sheet of cardboard.
But the voice spoke again: Run.
Excerpt from my Nanowrimo 2017 WIP, “Sleeper”.