She ran, stumbling over her bare feet, the heavy sand pulling at her, dragging her back. Heat shimmered from the depths of the coarse whiteness, though the sun was long set over the beach.

Her knees hit the surface, digging into the sharp edge of a shell, but she didn’t scream as her blood flowed from the slice in her pale flesh. Couldn’t past the pounding in her head, the pain it caused her to draw a breath. Her whole body scorched from the inside out, eating itself as fear mixed with the toxin in her veins.

The night air, humid and heavy, wrapped her lungs in a wet blanket, drowning her while she fought for breath. She felt equally powerful and fragile, the dark spinning around her as she struggled to rise. Fear won over the awe of how beautiful and fresh the sky looked, how sparkly the few stars she could see, magnified, intense, burning holes in her eyes, in her soul.

She staggered to her feet, blood trickling down her leg, the tall pier ahead shadowing the pounding of the surf. A hiding place. Surely she could crouch in the darkness and escape.

But the dark intensified her fear, made it an agony she couldn’t bear and, moments after her trembling legs carried her under the towering wooden structure she emerged on the other side, panting, chest crushing her lungs, her wilding beating heart.

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