1. Delving Deeper

We ran through the thicket as dusk came down upon us. I knew him before I met him.  His story. His reputation. His intellectual prowess no one could contend with. The arrogant flip of his collar before he sized you up. Before he spewed the verbal equivalent of your entire being.

He’d flare his nostrils slightly. Just so, and stare. Not at you, into you. Down your spine as the edge of his lip twitched purposefully with undisguised disdain.

Athletics were not his forte, though his lean frame managed the terrain effortlessly.  Physical obstacles dare not stop him – they were just another equation he could see written on his frontal lobe. His eyes absorbed the fog and pierced the subdued forest.

Suddenly, he dropped below the ground line. Not a moment later, a wool clad arm shot up and pulled me down to matching depth. His eyes dilated, his breaths shallow.

His high cheekbones glistened subtly as he brought a solitary finger to his lips, bidding silence. He needn’t have bade. Terror gripped my soul. I reserve the word “sociopath” for truly f*cked up candidates. A sociopath was hunting us.

My tall companion slid down a narrow gully, dragging me with him.  Half frozen water splashed quietly, causing me to check my peripherals for signs of being found.  I saw no one, and continued to follow willingly for want of safe haven. We found a slight bend in the crevice that bowed at one end, with a willowy pad above and a dry spot below.

We clawed through the muck and, again, with only the simple point of a finger, he directed me into the hole first.  I studied his features as he followed me into our new shelter.  His intense gaze. Bright gray-green eyes with a hint of blue. Lips pursed while deep in thought. It occured to me he’s not used to running away from a problem. He’s a confrontation whore.  It should be his middle name.

There’s barely enough room for the both of us to hide. I meld into the dirt wall and watch him crouch down and clasp his hands.  He bites the tips of his thumbs and rocks back and forth slightly, planning our next move.  I imagine this is how he surveys crime scenes.  Mentally scanning the data, filtering the information, collecting the evidence.

I jump unexpectedly when we hear a howling.  His split second reaction is to grab my shoulders at arm’s length and steady me.  He dipped his chin slightly and raised an eyebrow askance.  I nod quickly, I’m fine.  When we hear it again, he squints and looks up at the sky.  It’s almost pitch black and the moon is beginning to show, though it’s difficult to see through the fog that’s starting to accumulate.

The second howl morphed into a shriek, and slowly revealed itself to be a laugh emanating from a certain pursuing maniac.  This finally prompted a break in our silence.  He looked back down at me and said, “We’ll wait for John to trace us in the morning.” I was hoping for something more…intelligent.  Especially from him. There was a minute desperate quiver in his usual monotone. But I knew better. Emotions are his last resort to eliciting the intended response he’d expected to receive.