My breath is coming fast and hot. The road is grit shifting over baked mud, tearing at the soles of my feet.
I hear them behind me, boots thudding – relentless. I’m unarmed, barefoot – they’ll catch me soon and they know it. Two choices, then – jungle or river.
The jungle would seem the sane prospect – plenty of cover, trees to climb, bush meat and berries to eat. I could pick off my pursuers in traps made from creepers and sharpened branches, right? Only, I’m a fisherman, not a soldier, and the jungle terrifies me – the dissonant harmony of the animals, the unsettling stink of growth and rot.
But the river … The water is blue as the sky, flat as my palm, the slightest wrinkling in the wind. I know its monsters.
I swerve left, pump my legs, kick hard at the bank, a moment of silence, then …