by Colleen Sutherland
He'd been running for hours it seemed, and maybe in circles. He'd escaped from the bus that was supposed to take him to prison, slid right out the emergency door at a stop somewhere out in the country. Easy, he'd thought. Damn fool guards can't guard worth a damn. They even forgot to cuff me. Then the cop cars came out of nowhere along with the damned dogs. Dogs scared him, always had. He slipped into a ditch full of water and waded, hoping he would throw off his scent, but they kept coming after him. That was bad enough but then there were more cops, more dogs, coming from the other direction. He slipped off the road into the darkness of a marsh.
Cold and wet, he kept moving on and on through the dark night in the only direction he could go, thorny bushes on all sides. He came out of the marsh once, but more dogs came at him from the north, too. At least he thought they were dogs. The yapping might have been coyotes, or maybe even wolves though he didn't think there were wolves in this state. He was a city boy, what would he know? He went back into the swamp and kept moving on through the nightmare horrors of nature. It began to rain. He cursed and struggled on. He knew he would fall if he didn't find a place to rest soon.
With a start, he woke up as he slammed into the side of a building and fell to his knees. He reached out to see what it was. He could feel the wood siding. That could mean it was a house. He felt his way until he came to a door. He tried it. Unlocked. He listened to the night sounds. An owl hooted. He had to find shelter. He had to find a place to sleep.
He slipped inside and listened, afraid there would be a dog. As good a place as any to hide out if there weren't any dogs. He hated dogs. There might be people, but he could handle that with his big hands and a knife. There were always knives in a kitchen. He'd used them before but knives were too bloody. A gun was neater and faster. Strangling was even better, no sound, no blood.
He reached beside the door to see if there was a light switch. There was but could he use it? Would the cops notice? They might think it was the owners up late. He didn't have much choice. He flicked the switch. By the light from a single bulb overhead he could see he was in a kitchen, an old fashioned one with painted wainscoting and cupboards that reached to the ceiling. He hurried to the cupboard drawers and pulled them out spilling contents on the floor until he found a butcher's knife. Now he was ready. He had a weapon.