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  • Rachel Roussell

To be a hunted rabbit...

Sarah's eyes craved colour, her ears needed sound, and even the toxic taste of stagnant water would have quenched her parched throat. Tears were the only moisture that touched her lips. The air was cold and damp and her body ached all over. Date and time was unknown to her. She knew she was alive because she could feel her damp clothes stuck to her skin and she could feel the mud behind her finger nails from where she had tried to scrape away at her suffocating surroundings.

Sarah was existing in a black hole like an animal, a human size rabbit hole deep in a wintery pine forest.

The smell of the wet pine cones kept Sarah company in her darkest moments. Sleep was the only thing that kept her sanity because when she was asleep, she felt no pain. Sarah Conner was being held captive by a crazy, deranged mercenary. 'Sarah can you hear me?' There was a man's voice and a bright light shone onto Sarah's eyelids. She could feel a gust of fresh air hit her gaunt cheeks. It wasn't the voice of the mercenary and the man's torch light made the human rabbit hole glow like a golden cave and momentarily it took the edge off the coldness. 'What? Who's there?' Sarah's words were muffled. Her eyes were struggling to open, and she was too far beyond herself with exhaustion to panic so she reached out to the voice. 'Water water.' She whispered as her senses started to come alive again. 'Sarah, my name is PC Tom Parker, you are safe now.' He said, not sounding convincing, not to Sarah because no one was safe anymore. 'I have come to take you home Sarah.' The word 'home' ignited her thoughts. Home; a warm bed, a cup of tea and slice of toast, just those simple things meant so much to her now. 'I want to go home.' Her words crumbled into crying. The police man carried Sarah outside into the fresh air. She was free from her fear ridden burrow and she was standing among the trees from where the scented pine cones fell. Sarah looked up, she felt like she could see nature in great detail and she wanted to drink in those images. She hadn't seen the light of day for weeks and when she looked at the canopy of trees that hung over them, never had a leaf looked so delicate and valuable. She looked around the ground, a rock wasn't just an object, it was a smooth and jagged heavy shape of mottled greys. A spider wasn't just a scary thing with eight legs, it was a living creature clever enough to know direction and spin a web. Sarah held out her hand to catch a rain drop. The rain wasn't an inconvenience like it had been so many times before. It was the water of life, and it could have rained all day for the rest of the year as far as Sarah was concerned. She felt the rain drops on her face and the leaves, moss and pine needles under her feet. A sharp twig snapped under foot, and she flinched as she felt the reminder of pain. There was a sudden movement in the thicket ahead of them, it was a rabbit, and the sight of a running rabbit seemed so poignant right then. Like the rabbit, Sarah had found freedom and she wanted to be that rabbit. She wanted to run but her legs weren't capable of taking her anywhere. Sarah watched the rabbit weave through the long grass and jump over twisted tree roots. It stopped, looked around, its ears pricked up and listened for danger. It saw Sarah, a potential threat? So it ran for its life.

The police man supported Sarah as they walked through the trees. The branches scratching her sore legs and their leaves brushing her sensitive skin. His car was parked in a narrow wooded track and she was so relieved when she saw it. At last there was a glimpse of hope and the cold fresh air had cleared her mind and reality was back again.

Getting into the car was difficult, she had stiffened and it was hard to lower herself down. The police man helped her and wrapped a blanket around her shivering body. Sarah drank a bottle of water like an over heated dog, desperate and spilling it everywhere. 'Thank you.' Was all she could muster. Sarah looked out of the window, the rain had stopped and the contrast of colours between the aqua blue sky, the strengthening sun and the green trees was intense. Birds fled from the trees and it was a warning sign that came too late. As the car got close to the edge of the forest the bright light from the sun was blinding. 'Sarah, get down!' 'Why?' She was confused and she instantly felt panic and fear again. Time stood still; there was no noise and no movements. Their car had hit a tree, rammed off the road by the mercenary's truck. PC Tom Parker had no more words of comfort for Sarah. 'Run Sarah!' Were his final words as his body laid trapped by twisted metal and broken glass. The mercenary was slumped over his steering wheel and Sarah scrambled out of the car.

Her legs that were once heavy found the power and speed of the rabbit. She ran and didn't look back, her feet barely touching the ground as she avoided broken branches, tree roots and boggy puddles. Her heart was pounding and the only thing she could smell was fear. Sarah's blurred vision focused on a house in the distance and she was spurred on by the sound of a gun shot from behind. No doubt PC Tom Parker was no more.

She approached the wooden house, someone's home, and as Sarah entered it an over whelming smell hit her. Death was in the room, a man on the floor with dead eyes staring at the ceiling. There was a rifle above the stone fire place and she reached up to grab it. Sarah had become a hunted rabbit, but now she was a rabbit with a gun and she wasn't going to run anymore.

She prayed it was loaded, it was, so she turned and as her hunter entered the room she didn't hesitate to pull the trigger.

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