Ten Years Earlier
A searing pain burned through her lungs, and her muscles ached with every step. Her heart thudded in her chest, echoing in her eardrums. The sound of a gunshot crackled through the desolate landscape, creating a ringing in her ears, followed by the echo of a woman’s screams. Mum. She felt the guilt begin to burn inside her, she had brought him here, death had come. If he knew she was here, she may as well have had a target on her back. As much as she wanted to turn back, she had to keep running from the past that haunted her. If she could just reach the Land Rover parked at the barn, it might just give her a chance to be free.
The beam of the torch barely cut through the darkness and the mist, and she found herself struggling to keep her balance on the boggy ground. Mud splattered her black skinny jeans and black leather Doc Martens. The wind tore at her, forcing the autumn leaves from their branches. The girl kept running from the storm that was chasing her, through the eerie woodland.
As she reached the clearing, hope dawned; this was her chance to escape the nightmare that had scarred her every living moment for the past three years. She turned and looked back at the farmhouse, illuminated in the darkness, and wondered if her life would have been any different, had fate changed her path. Before she had the chance to correct her footing, she stumbled forwards into the muddy ditch that she had forgotten about in the darkness and panic. Then the sound of shoes squelching through the wet ground. She lay there, like a pig going to slaughter, he had found her, she was sure of it. Maybe she just didn’t deserve the dreams of freedom to become a reality. She could only hope that death would come quickly and painlessly, but she knew he’d laugh at her as she begged for mercy, that he’d take pleasure in making her suffer.
Sometimes it feels like running away from everything is the only option. You lose yourself. The person you really were. Hiding behind the mask of someone else is your only escape from the past that haunts you. The flashbacks, the memories, the pain. The nightmares that twist into the everlasting blackness of your mind - gripping your soul, shattering it to pieces like fragments of glass.
When your hope fades. When your life is shattered by pain and hurt. When not even love can save you, it’s your turn to run. No matter the cost, it’s your time to run from everything and never look back.
So, what do you do when your past catches up to you? Do you run? Fight? Are you scared?
In those final moments when your life flashes before you, when you’re dying, are you proud? Ashamed? Disgraced?
You should never be afraid to die.
Nobody knows the truth about anyone. The girl sat next to you on the tube this morning, the one hiding behind a metro newspaper, she’s running away from everything, hiding from a life that is no longer hers. Your boss, he almost killed a man after they brutally attacked his girlfriend and left her for dead. The kid at school, who was always bullied, the one who always wore thick, long jackets even in the baking heat of a London summer, was concealing the bruises and the broken bones from those who would never understand. When people go missing, leave their families, friends, run away from everything, we mostly assume that they’ve unintentionally gone. Kidnapped. Or Murdered. But what about those people who run away and don’t want to be found? People who change their identities and start a new life. Those so desperate to escape their own personal torments and torture, a hell so unbearable, they run from their cages, break down the bars and fly free.
The girl in the file. The same deep chocolate brown eyes , the same peachy pink lips, although her cheek bones were narrower now, giving a new shape to her face. Detective Sergeant Jayne Baker ran a hand through her dark thick fringe, her chestnut brown hair sweeping out in perfect layers around her shoulders, framing her face. Her hair was longer then, it flowed in a ponytail down her back. She glanced back down at the photograph, the private school uniform, a black blazer and check skirt, a reminder of the life she had. The girl who’s friends would never understand the horror of what he’d done, a teenager with no hope, nowhere safe to run, a girl who felt so empty and so alone… no one could set her free.
She lies there, barely conscious, as life fades around her. His boot stamping into her rib cage, smashing her bones. The floor is cold, stone. She can hardly move, let alone get out of this basement. She still battles on, fighting for breath, to get up from the wet concrete floor, to flee this nightmare which has entrapped her. Her eyes burn, the spectrum flashing before her eyes as she struggles for life. Her hands are bound, there is no escape. She can smell the alcohol on his breath as he leans closer to her, pressing the knife to her neck. She feels blood and can taste the almost metallic flavour of it in her mouth. She just has the strength to scream out and he laughs. “I’m going to kill you, you silly Bitch”. A tear streams down her cheek, what did she do to deserve this? He kicks her again, and she struggles to breathe. Her vision blurs, and she can hear the blood pounding in her head. Then nothing but numbness. Coldness. It’s ending here. She’s dying here.
She had joined the police to put bastards like him away, it gave her solace knowing she could save the lives of girls like her, girls who were too young to save themselves. Fighting for justice for those who weren’t as lucky as her, those who couldn’t be saved. She glanced out of the window for a moment, taking in the view, old whitewashed palaces jostled for space among towers of glass and steel, the lifeblood of the city, the River Thames snaking through them like veins on the way to a pounding heart. In a sprawling metropolis so vast and heavily populated as the city of London, there were plenty of places to hide, but he was out there somewhere… maybe he knew, she wasn’t dead after all?