The rain fell harder and wetter as he dodged through traffic. Cars blared middle fingers at him and spewed mud-water all over him.
He wanted to yell curses at the drivers.
He wanted to throw rocks and sticks at them.
But most of all, he wanted to be somewhere warm and dry.
He wanted to go home.
A warm, cleansing shower.
Dry, clean clothes.
And bed. Wonderful blissful bed.
I would sleep for days. I don’t know how many. Doesn’t matter how many. It would just feel so good to be still. To have no need to run anymore.
To be safe.
He made it to the shoulder on the other side of the street and stumbled down into the drainage ditch. He crawled up and out of the ditch and entered the forest.
Lightning struck a nearby tree, cracking off the whole top half. The broken tree plummeted towards Ambrose’s head.
He got out of the way in time, but just barely.
He tried to run, but his dizziness and generalized exhaustion conspired to make him clumsy. He stubbed his feet on almost nonexistent rocks and tripped over low-level tree stumps and high-level tree roots.
Ambrose slowed to a zombie-like shuffle.
He stopped thinking.
Just focused on moving.
The traffic noise behind him dwindled to a mumble.
But the thunder kept on creating a ruckus.
The lightning kept on flashing.
And the rain did not let up.
Ambrose staggered up a long, tree-packed hill. He didn’t stop to consider if there was a way around it. He just mucked his way upwards all the way to the top.
Only then did he stop to think about his next move.
I can’t keep running and I don’t know where I am. Home could be just around the corner or it could be twelve thousand miles away.
A particularly vivid lightning flash revealed the long curved road at the bottom of the hill.
The road was empty and silent.
But someone is bound to show up eventually.
Maybe an ally.
Maybe an enemy.
But I must take a chance.
He glanced back and his vertigo nearly tossed him down the hill.
There’s something wrong with me. He turned forward and scrabbled down the hill with a new understanding of what he really needed.
I need to find Elsie. She’ll know what’s wrong with me. She’ll be able to fix me.
By the time he reached the bottom of the hill, he could feel a car coming. The ground vibrated with the car’s approach.
He didn’t stop to consider the possible outcomes.
He stepped out onto the road.
A Volvo with only one functioning headlight crashed into him.
He fell to the ground and lost consciousness.