"What?" I felt my heartbeat drop to my feet. As far as I could see through the windows there was nothing but complete darkness. After all, this was just a little girl's imagination running wild, I shouldn't be frightened.
And still, the look on Marina's face scared my half to death. Her dark wide eyes were darting from one pitch black window to another as she dug her nails into my palm.
"Hey," I said in the calmest voice I could manage. "There's nothing to be scared of, silly, we're completely safe here."
Marina shook her head and frowned "There's something out there."
I caressed her like a baby and put her in my lap. Her whole body was tense, ready to leap from my grip any second.
"You know, my sister always scares-" a deep pang echoed through my body. No more. Not anymore. "-used to scare me with stuff like aliens and weird creatures that lurk in the dark. And you know? They never came, because none of them were real."
Marina peeled her stare off the windows to look at my reassuring smile just when a beam of bright light pierced through the darkness.
I felt panic swallowing me and shutting down my mind. As I couldn't think straight, the only instinct was to run. I wrapped my hands around Marina and jumped out of the car. Her sharp nails were digging into the back of my neck as a stream of warm liquid trickled down my spine.
I darted into the opposite direction of the beam. That light was so blinding it filled my sight, my ears rang with white noise and my mind was nothing but a blank space with one chaotic thought echoing in it - run run run. So I did - I ran through labyrinths of cars and motorcycles, fallen trees and Marina's whispers "they're coming to take us".
I glanced back to se the beam getting closer and closer.
As I pushed myself forward, my foot slammed into something hard and slippery as I fell face down, my hands still tight around Marina. The whole world went sideways as we slammed onto the ground and rolled downhill until the water caressed us in its muddy arms and welcomed us to stay.
My heart stopped as I screamed and kicked and pulled Marina out of the cruel swamp. This place wasn't going to take anything more from me, not now, not ever.
Through my screams and Marina's crying I heard a voice shouting "Hey, stop! We're friendly, okay? We're here to help."
My mind was screaming
this place is not friendly
this place is not meant to help
my legs stopped moving
my screams died
Marina's sob turned to a whimper.
The beam's voice sighted. "Finally, I thought you were never going to stop running." Its blinding light still didn't let me see who was talking in this sweet but deep voice. "I mean, usally it's a good thing, but, come on, when somebody tells you they're trying to help you, you should stop."
I pulled Marina closer to me and wiped the mud away from her face. She kept her eyes sqweezed shut as I asked her if she's okay. She nodded and a small tear made its way through the quickly drying mud on her bronze cheeks.
The blinding light died and we were left in tremendous darkness. As soon as my eyes adjusted to the night, two tall and lean siluettes came to life. Two men, I supposed.
"We need to get you somewhere safe" said one on the right.
"And quick," added the other one in a husky voice.
My mind was burning with questions but the sound of the word 'safe' was so divine it made me want to follow anyone who held the premise of such place, even though every inch of my body was filled with doubt and distrust.
My lips were beginning to form around the first question when my head filed with cotton-like lightness and I didn't seem to remember what I needed to know.
The disembodied sweet voice which now belonged to the right silhouette sighted "You can keep your questions to yourself. We need to go."
The duo turned around and started walking forward. Mindlessly I stood up and followed them. I didn't feel the weight of Marina's body in my arms, nor did I feel the pain in my head even though something warm and sticky trickled down my forehead.
I knew I had to go.
We went on and on with nothing but wind and the sound of our own footsteps until the rising sun hit the treetops. The men stopped at an ambulance car and opened the back door.
A dozen pair of eyes starred at us.