The ring of metal was like ice against the back of my neck. It froze me in place and instantly commanded power over every muscle and every nerve, intensifying my every sense. The room fell silent but for the gentle breathing of the person behind me and my increasingly hyperactive pulse.

There was a change in the pressure applied as if to signal that I move forward now. I started with a cautious lean to ensure I understood correctly. When the pressure was repeated I took a step towards the back of the room. For a fleeting moment I prayed that there would be someone outside the window as it came into view on the wall to my left, but all that the outside world held was sparse forest and the long track that curved around towards the road.

The cold metal steered me to the window and then forced me downwards. I complied and carefully lowered myself to a kneel. The track was just visible over the windowsill. I was so tauntingly close to freedom but held powerless by a small metallic prison guard still icy against my skin and raising the hairs on my neck and arms. The breathing of its handler contrasting with the silence; remaining slow and steady.

Several long minutes passed in front of the window. The tall trees swayed in the strong wind, a rabbit grazed on the front lawn just before the treeline, and a spider encased a tiny fly in its web in a corner of the window pane.

A figure appeared at the far end of the track, moving towards the building. Their pace was faster than a walk but not quite a jog. I felt my hands sweat and my pulse hasten further. The figure was now only fifty meters from where I knelt, their identity concealed by a large coat with the hood up to shield them from the wind.

At 20 meters my soul turned to lead. She saw me. She ran towards the window. She was crying, almost screaming. Tears obscured my vision. There was a sneer behind me, the pressure against my neck was relieved, and with a deafening crack I fell to the floor, my shoulder and chest warming rapidly but strangely without pain.

The sound of heeled shoes against the cold tiled floor echoed throughout the room as the last breath left my body.


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