The sound of a twig breaking rouses me. I hold my breath and stay completely still.
I hear them whispering, maybe fifteen metres to my left. I turn my head slowly and see torchlight through the leaves. The light is getting brighter, closer.
“Maybe she’s dead already. You stuck her pretty good.”
“We need to find her. And we need to make sure.”
They are no more than ten metres from me now and walking straight towards my hiding spot.
This island must be purgatory, I think. Not for the first time.
Seven metres now. Six.
I only have one option left.
I burst from my hiding place and run.
“There!” one shouts. “Found her! She’s here!”
I run. I run as fast as I possibly can. Through the thick vines and undergrowth, deeper into the jungle. I don’t look back. Thorny creepers whip and sting my face and arms. Pain streaks hot down my side. My T-shirt clings to my skin with blood and sweat. My lungs are burning. But every fibre of my body is in overdrive, united in its one purpose: to survive.
As long as I am running, I know I can out-pace them. I just need enough space between them and me – enough time – to find a better hiding place.
I get a good head start before the ground takes a sudden uphill turn and I stumble. I clamber up the hill, my fingers clawing at the damp earth, finding purchase. I hear footsteps crashing through the underbrush behind me. I manage to get to my feet again and sprint through a clearing, further into the dense jungle, into the blackness. Away from their torchlight, away from the moonlight.
One thing I am certain of: being alone in the dark is the only way I will survive the night.