My heart is beating so hard I can feel it thumping in my chest. My head is spinning, and I can't get the voices out of my head. I'm gonna die. I'm gonna die I'm gonna die I'm gonna die. Oh please god, don't let me die. I don't want to die oh please god, don't let me die. I stumble and nearly fall several times, but keep going. Oh, I wish Barlin was here! Oh, how much I wish Barlin was here!
Somehow, that thought pushes me forward, and I quicken my pace a little. I can see the cannibals from the back coming forward too, the circle of cannibals seeming to move along with me, all the while closing in so I can't escape. But I will escape, I must escape. For those that I love that are still alive. I must keep my mother and brother alive. I know I lost the locket, but I can still see them again. I know I can still see them again.
In about ten feet I will be out of the cannibal death circle. Don't trip. I think. Oh, please don't do anything stupid like tripping! The circle is starting to merge back into a line, and now I have a whole hunting party of cannibals about two yards behind me. I keep running, but about five of the cannibals are right behind me, and are quickly gaining on me. I pick up my pace, hoping that a burst of energy will put some distance from them and myself, but, as it turns out, cannibals can run fast too.
The faster I go, the more energy I lose, and the faster the cannibals seem to catch up to me. I won't be able to out run them for long, especially with how long it would take to get to the forest. only there would I have an advantage. Trees are not one of the cannibals hunting areas, so they aren't used to climbing them.
Then, I think of the old cave that Barlin showed me a couple of months ago. It's in a large ravine close to here, one that borders the plains from the woods. We never went in the cave , it was time for dinner then, but it might keep me safe - might. Who knows? There could be a whole other cannibal hunting party in there! But it was my only chance.
Ten feet away. That's where I see it. A hole, about four feet wide and three feet up, but you can tell that it's a cave by the steep slope that's revealed just inside the mouth of it. It's a slim chance I'll be able to jump into it directly, but at least the cannibals won't be able to chase me inside. At least, not in large groups. I could probably take out one or two at a time, but not this many. Of course, If I went into the shadows of the cave, I might be able to avoid being seen jumping into the cave in the first place. The cave is pretty concealed, and these pathetic pea-brained creatures would most likely not be able to find me. They surely know about the ravine, but definitely not the cave.
I'm to the edge of the ravine before I can even aim where I jump, and without giving it a second thought, my feet come up from beneath me, and I'm leaping over the side of the ravine. With a thud, my arms land on the small two feet long ledge that separates me from my safety.
I'm only about a forearm's length on the ledge, hanging on for dear life. I have almost no upper strength, and my arms are starting to grow weaker as all of my weight hangs down from them. I had once trained with my father and Barlin on physical strength, but that didn't last very long. I couldn't lift more than thirty pounds. And for a girl my size, that was pretty impressive.
Sweat drips down from my forehead, and I kick, trying to lodge the toe of my boots onto some kind of ledge to help me stand the weight, but the two foot distance from the actual ravine wall makes that impracticable to even try, and, as it would seem, very tiring. My arms are now shaking, and are becoming less and less able to hold myself up. Hold on. I think. You have to hold on! I groan and grunt and gasp for air, but that doesn't give me any strength. I pray to god that I can pull myself up. I pray, and pray, and pray some more, and of all the miracles that could happen to me on this very day, at this very moment, I lose my grip on the ledge. Next is only but the predictable. I fall.