5. Attack

I stopped for lunch at an old, overgrown railway station. It would have been pretty rural even when it was in use but this was just taking the mickey. I was surrounded by cold grey hills and a dark village groaned behind the station. Crossing the gravel, I shivered and stepped inside. There were old signs of habitation but no one seemed to have claimed it as a shelter. Perhaps there weren't that many people in the area. Or; I thought worrying slightly there were too many people to fit in it around here. I looked around quickly. I'd been unable to shake off the feeling of being followed.

Sitting quietly at the ticket counter trying to eat some of the very little I had in the silence, I thought I heard a cry outside. Perfectly still, my stomach jumped into my throat. My breathing quaked and I shivered. Nothing. I had seen nothing on the way in. Could someone have been hiding? Why? I thought to myself, rising slowly, slightly; to look through the murky slit window. A young man lay on the ground in the muck. Another crouched by his side. He had dark auburn hair and must have been a little taller than me, though because of his cramped position, I could not see his face. If this was the attacker I was helpless. There was no way I could stand up to him. Unless...? I shifted and scampered quickly to the door and picked up a few of the pebbles from the path. They would have to do. Dashing back into the station, I leapt onto the chair and creaked the window open, far enough to have sufficient space to throw. But he was gone. Had he heard me? Did he know there was a terrified teen in this station? There was no way of knowing what he knew or what he'd do with the information. But if he was the attacker...? I had to take the chance that he'd left. There was no way I was going to leave that poor man outside.

Cowed, I stepped slowly closer to the beaten exit, leaving more prints on the dusty grey, wooden floor. With bated breath I stalled at the door, then walked outside. I stopped. The dark haired man looked at me, eyes wide. What I could see of his face was completely obscured by dirt, a grimy red cloth covered the rest, pulled over his nose and mouth. I gasped. Was he going to attack me too? I didn't think, just turned round and bolted back into the station. I had no plan; no means of escape or defence. I whirled to face him like a tiger. But he wasn't there. I walked to the door and looked around. Nope, he'd disappeared. My head was a whirl of questions. For one, if this man had attacked the one outside then why wasn't he going against me?

I jolted back to semi-reality and jogged around the building to where I'd seen the fallen man. He still lay there, unmoving and didn't seem to be breathing. Then it hit me. I'd seen him before. At that first village, he was the man who had tried to protect his child. I scanned my memory for any other sightings. No. So I had been followed, I thought. But why? I walked towards him; intensely aware of my surroundings. I knelt down and bent forward over the body. Listening for a breath, watching for any movement. I leant on my left arm, pebbles making dents in my hand and cried out. Pain. I was confused. My head was rolling as though someone had put it in a washing machine and banging about just as much. Each of my muscles tensed painfully, crushing me into a ball. The mans eyes snapped open. He'd, stabbed me...? A cruel smile spread over his face as the man stood up and over me. I was doubled over. I wasn't in control. I couldn't move except to shake and wretch. Helpless against the man I'd tried to aid, afraid as I was. I cried out and gasped, groping heavily forward unthinkingly. A shadow crossed me and I blacked out.

The End

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