All the streets in the neighborhood are covered with fall leaves. The trees are almost bare, with leaves here and there. Alex walks down the street as the wind blows her long brown hair across her face. She pulls her hair behind her ear and keeps walking down the street. With every step, she crushes the leaves, making a crinkling sound beneath her feet. Her gray eyes wander around, as if she was looking for someone who might be following her. Her skin glows through the bright red, orange and yellow colors around her. Her face is covered in fear like she saw something she wasn’t supposed to. Her eyes show pain and sorrow.
As Alex walks, a gush of wind, lifts up an orange leaf higher than the rest. The leaf soars through the air, behind Alex. A man comes out from behind a tree. His blonde hair is spiked up in the front and his blue eyes are wide open. He’s around his thirties and is wearing black pants with a navy blue T-shirt and a black jacket on top. The smile on his face is wide and big, creating wrinkles around his mouth. He begins to walk forward and the wind blows the orange leaf onto his face. The man viciously takes the leaf of his face and throws it away from him. He takes a step forward and a bigger gush of wind blows the leaves around him. Alex turns around and the moment she saw his face, she starts to sprint down the street. Not a single time does she glance back at that man, she just keeps running. The man behind her isn’t running after her, he’s walking casually down the street, although the grin on his face gave away that he won’t have to do much to catch her. Alex keeps running, her long strides put her far ahead of the man behind her.
Right when Alex reaches the next block another man comes from behind a tree. Alex, not even thinking twice, turns around and ran the way she came from. She runs across someone’s lawn and into their backyard. The two men begin to run to catch up to her. Using their hands to signal each other, they decide to split up to trap her in the backyard. She knows she won’t be able to run much longer and the woods in the backyard is the only option where she can stop for rest.
She runs through the woods dodging trees, jumping over logs and stepping over small streams. Once she thinks she is deep enough in the woods, her back slides down along a trunk of a tree. As she sits down gasping for air, she put her hair in a ponytail.
* * * * *
“Where do you think she went?” One of the men asks the other.
“Not sure, but we’re going to split up. You stay here and try to find her in this neighborhood, she couldn’t have gone far. I’ll go into the woods.”
“What do I do if I find her?”
“Take her back to where the rest are, I’ll know if you’ve found her,” the man replies and ran into the woods. The other man ran away looking for her in the neighborhood.
The man runs into the woods in search for the girl. He keeps running further into the woods and then slows down immediately. Part of Alex’s sweatshirt is showing from behind the tree. It looks like he’s slowly trying to sneak up on a rabbit that’s way faster than he is. He finally reaches the tree and jumps in front of it grabbing part of the sweatshirt. His eyes show his astonishment but his expression shows anger. He kicks the tree and swears. The sweater is on the ground, covered with a thin layer of dirt, but the girl is nowhere to be found.
* * * * *
Alex finally makes it to the edge of the woods. The road in front of her isn’t busy but there are enough cars to hitch a ride. She immediately sticks out her thumb side ways. All the cars zoomed right past her. Her thumb is still sticking out but none of the cars care to stop. Alex gave up and put her thumb down. She decides to go into the woods on the other side of the road. She looks both ways and crosses the street. She was about to go into the woods when a truck behind her honks at her. She turns around and saw the truck come to a stop. The driver rolls down his window and looks at Alex.
“Hey there, looks like you’re lost. Now I don’t want you to be wanderin’ here alone, so why don’t you hop on in the trunk?” He says in his southern accent.
Alex goes towards the truck and was about to climb in when she hears something from the other side of the road. She pauses and tries to make out the figure coming out of the woods. She immediately climbs into the truck and slams on the rear window.
“Go, go, go! Step on the gas! Hurry up!” She screams at the man and he seems to be shocked.
“All right then, you don’t have to be so pushy.” He turns and faces the front. The key in the slot turns and the engine starts.
Alex turns back and looks at the woods and there he is. He steps out and stares right into her dull eyes. His eyes are wide open. She looks back at the window. Alex is starting to get impatient. The driver is stepping on the gas but the car isn’t going anywhere.
“What’s taking so long! Hurry up!” Alex pounds her fist on the window.
The driver takes out the keys puts them back in and turns them. The man on the other side of the road waited for the cars to pass by and ran towards her. He reaches the back of the truck with his hand and right then and there the truck moves straight ahead. He lost his grip and starts to sprint after it but the truck is way too fast. He quickly looks at the license plate before it goes too far to see. Repeating the numbers and letters in his head he memorizes it.
* * * * *
“So what’s your name, darlin’?” His hand is sticking out the window flicking a cigarette.
“My name is… is Megan,” she lies, “what’s yours?” Her back is against the side of the truck and her knees are tucked into her chest.
“My name’s Max.” He looks at her through the rear view mirror. “So what was all that screamin’ about?”
“Oh… uhh… well did you see the man that ran after the car, he was um… holding a knife,” she lies again.
“That’s weird, I saw the man but he ain’t holdin’ a knife.”
“You probably couldn’t see it.” She looks at her feet hoping that he’ll buy it.
“So where is it you got to go, and where’s your papa? ”
“To the nearest stop.” Alex hopes he won’t remember that other question.
“Oh, well that’s great, we’ll be there in about five minutes.”
* * * * *
Alex jumps out of the back of the truck and gets off the road. She bends down and ties her shoe laces and looks up at the truck and waves.
“Goodbye and goodluck, darlin’,” he steps on the gas and leaves.
“I’ll be needing it.” Alex whispers to her self.
* * * * *
Alex looks around, deciding which way she should go. There’s a McDonalds to her right and a gas station to her left and some grocery stores all around her. Her stomach growls and she looks towards her right. She walks over to McDonalds and opens the door. Alex goes to the register.
“How much is the cheapest sandwich?” The lady behind the counter groans.
“That would be the cheeseburger for a dollar.” The lady says while chewing some gum.
Alex reaches into her pocket and pulls out three quarters. She looks up at the lady and looks back at her three quarters.
“Here, just take the cheeseburger.” She hands Alex the burger and takes the money from her hand.
Alex rushes to a table and sits down. She rips open the cover and starts to gnaw down the whole cheeseburger in a matter of seconds. On the way out she throws away the wrapper in a trash can and walks to the nearest bus stop and sits on the bench along with another man.
“Um, do you know when the bus arrives?” Alex looks up at the sky and notices that the sun will set in a couple of hours.
“In about 20 minutes but aren’t you too young to ride a bus all alone?” the man says, looking at his expensive watch. His hair is neatly combed and his suit doesn’t seemed to have any wrinkles. All this and the briefcase suggests he’s a rich man with an important and wealthy job.
“Oh, my parents… they let me be independent.” She tries to look normal hoping he can’t tell she’s lying.
They sit there awkwardly for another 20 minutes.
* * * * *
Once the bus arrives Alex gets on first and realizes she doesn’t have a coin. The wealthy man behind her slips her a coin and she puts it in the slot. She sits in the middle next to a door and the man sits in the front. He turns around and she mouths the words “Thank you”. She settles in, making herself comfortable. As soon as the bus driver shuts the doors and starts to move, Alex looks out the window and jumps in her seat. He’s here! The man thats been chasing her is here! He just stood there with his arms by his side looking right into her eyes, with a blank face. The bus moves ahead and the man slowly disappears.
* * * * *
Alex is the last one left on the bus. The man she waited with left a couple stops earlier. The bus starts to slow down. There’s a screeching noise before it stops. She gets out through the middle doors and the doors shut behind her and the bus slowly leaves.
The color left from the sunset is tinting the sky, just enough to be able to see. Alex walks over to the bench and decides she’s going to need as much rest as possible, if she’s going to be running her whole life. She sits down. Her hand reaches into her right pocket and she pulls out a neatly folded paper. She unfolds it with great care and stares at it with hope. The paper contains a picture of a nice cozy house with lush green grass surrounding it. In the middle there's a younger version of her with two older people on either side of her.
Alex neatly folds the picture back up and puts it in her pocket. She pulls her legs up onto the bench and lies down. Her legs are tucked into her chest and her arms are wrapped around them. She shuts her eyes and falls asleep.
* * * * *
Alex pulls her legs over the bench and sits up. She takes out her ponytail and combs her hair with her hands and puts it back up. She stretches her arms over head and stands up. It’s late in the morning and Alex has no idea where to go. She looks around and finds a newspaper on the bench next to where she was sleeping. She grabs it and reads a couple of headings but stops when she reaches one that reads Three People Mysteriously Killed. Alex continues to read the rest of the article.
“A truck driver, a Mcdonalds cashier and a wealthy man all killed. According to
officials they have no connections. ”
The newspaper falls to the ground. Alex knew why they died. They all did have connections and it was her.
“I… I killed them.” She talks to her self. “Oh my god I killed them. What is wrong with me?”
She falls down to her knees. She doesn’t cry though. She gets back up looking stronger than ever. The bus is coming in from the right and Alex bends down to see if there are any coins under the bench. She sees some shining objects. Her hand quickly grabs at all the things shining until she couldn’t see anything else. She clutches the objects in her hand and gets up. She opens her palm. There’s five coins and three other metal scraps. The bus comes to a stop right in front of her. The doors swing open and she gets on. She inserts one of the coins into the slots and walks over to the first seat. The bus stays there for awhile before moving again.
“Do you know how I can get to Maine?” Alex asks the bus driver. The driver just stares at her in awe. He looks at a map with the bus routes.
“You would take this bus...let see…and get off on the last stop and get onto the bus there and ask the driver the same thing, he’ll be able to help.” The driver puts back the sheet and starts to drive.
* * * * *
After about an hour, Alex gets off at the last stop and gets onto the next bus. She does exactly what the previous driver said to her. The bus driver tells her the directions to Maine and Alex listens closely. But before she can go anywhere else she has to stay on the bus for five stops.
* * * * *
Alex gets off the fourth bus and stretches her legs and arms. It’s almost pitch black outside and she decides she should rest on the bench and get on the bus tomorrow. Ever since she got to Maine she’s been asking the bus drivers more specific directions. She digs through her pocket and pulls out the last coin she has left. The last bus driver told her she would need to get onto two more buses to get to her destination.
She bends down and looks under the bench to see if she can find another coin but it’s too dark to see. She sits back up on the bench.
Her eyelids get heavier and she lies down and falls asleep.
* * * * *
Alex wakes up and waits about half an hour for the next bus to arrive. She gets on and slips the coin into the slot and sits down in the front. There are five other people in the back and the floors are really dirty. The windows aren’t clean and the seats stink.
Alex remembers that she has to get off the bus on the third stop and get on the last bus and stay on it to the last stop. Alex waits and once the bus gets to the third stop she gets off and goes to sit on the bench. Alex finds a newspaper next to her. She scrolls through the headings when something catches her eye.
“Four bus drivers inexplicably killed in their buses.” Alex is shocked. She tosses the paper away from her. She hears the next bus arriving and immediately gets up and shakes her legs and arms, hoping she could forget what she just read.
The bus stops and before Alex gets on she feels this tingling sensation on the back of her neck. She looks both ways and there he was right there standing with his hands in his pockets and with new shades. He’s too far away to catch up. She quickly gets on the bus and remembers that she doesn’t have a coin.
“I...I don’t have any change.” Alex stares at the driver.
“I’m sorry you can’t ride without a coin.”
“Please, I’m begging you both my parents were killed by this man who is now after me and I don’t have a fucking coin.”
A lady from the back walks up and slips the coin into the slot. Alex stares at her.
“No problem, it’s just a few cents.”
Alex sits down in the front and the lady goes back to her seat. The doors shut and Alex looks out the window. This time she was expecting it. There he is with his hands in his pockets and a grin on his face. Alex glares back not showing any sign of fear or weakness. The bus begins to move and Alex is still focused on the man until she couldn’t see him anymore.
* * * * *
Everyone is off the bus except for Alex and the lady that gave her the coin. The bus stops and the lady gets up to get off.
“I’m sorry.” The lady says.
Alex looks out the window and the area looks familiar to her. She has to wait for another ten minutes before she can finally stop running.
* * * * *
The bus stops. Alex gets off and stretches her arms and legs. The doors shut and the bus begins to move. Alex knows she’s only two miles away from where she wants to go and she wants to get there as soon as possible, so she begins to run.
* * * * *
It takes her about 15 minutes to get to the house. The same house that was in the picture. The grass has gotten much taller and the house looks abandoned. Alex breathes heavily. Her back is bent over and her hands are on her knees. As she’s trying to catch her breath, she pulls out the picture. She holds it up next to the actual house and begins to cry. She quickly wipes away the tears and starts walking through the grass. The grass is as high as her waist. She brushes the grass with her hands as she’s walking towards the house.
Once she reaches the house she climbs the steps and opens the door.