Marcus came and went from the forest, eating very little and sleeping under hedges, as he waited for his sister to make an effort to escape her handlers. If and when she did, he wanted to be there to help her make it.
As for me, my most important questions were answered now. All that was left was the decision to stay or leave. It struck me a little ironic that ultimately, my fate was in my own hands after all. I knew the truth. It was my choice.
For a few days, I went back to living my life as normally as possible. It was so easy, it frightened me. It became apparent that refusing to make a change would harden me to my own knowledge of truth. Already I had less fear of the wolves and more tolerance of their deceit and violence. This, above all, spurred me to make the leap. I was terrified the truth would be sandblasted from my mind as it had been from the concrete walls of the alley.
On my way home from work, I bought a can of spray paint and few little things Marcus had recommended (seeds.) I went home and packed a few things in an old backpack. Then I sat down and wrote a letter to the only relative who might believe my story, a young cousin, and put it in the out-going mail.
After it was dark, I went out to the alley. For a while, I stood quietly in the shadows, listening. I heard the sound of sirens and traffic, a child crying and the angry voice of an adult. I listened more intently, listened for footsteps or breathing. I neither saw nor heard anything out of the ordinary so I started to take out the can of paint.
Suddenly running footsteps and sobbing breath stopped me. With my heart pounding, I stepped into the deepest shadows of the alley and pulled my hoodie low over my face.
A human form came running around the corner, panting in terror. The figure ran right past me and out the other end of the alley, into the street lights. I heard a voice shout,
“There she is!” And the sound of pursuit fading into the distance. This event set my pulse racing and shocked me out of my expectations of a slow and easy exit.
I decided to go back to the safety of my apartment and wait until the next day. But halfway up the stairwell, something inside told me it was now or never. I turned around, ran back into the alley, and without a moment’s hesitation, I took out the paint and left my message:
“The Danger Lies in What You Believe.”
Then I ran for my car as though the Wolves were already after me. It was like waking from a childhood nightmare; all I could think of was getting away from the monster under my bed.
My car started without any trouble, but as I drove around the corner onto the main street, I passed the same figure, still running frantically. I heard sirens a few blocks behind me, and resisted the urge to step on the gas pedal. How could I know if this running person was a common criminal or a slave pursuing freedom as I was?
As I passed the running figure I looked into the rearview mirror.
It was Kara!