I stopped, gripping the damp brick wall to steady myself, and hitched in another shallow breath. It felt like I was breathing through water. Kinda sounded like it, too. I took another breath, then a third. My head was starting to spin faster, worse than when I was running. I needed...I needed to sit. To lie down. To rest. I needed to...
I flinched at the sounds coming from the darkness behind me. Howling. Growling. Slobbering. I needed to run. If I was close enough to hear the dogs drooling, I'd rested too long. I needed to move again. I glanced up at the sky as I set off. I didn't have a watch, I didn't know how long until morning, but the sky was black. Clear enough to see the stars, but there was no sign of the moon. Was that good or bad? I'd only seen the night sky a few times in my life. I'd never seen it when I was alone.
My feet pounded against the packed earth, skittered over loose stones and nearly sent me sprawling when my toe snagged against the start of the tarmac. There was a road beneath me. That meant I was back at the front of the building. I forced myself to keep running. Pounding on the gates would do me no good. Trying to climb over the fence would be worse. It was my own fault for getting back late. The doors would be locked until morning. I just had to live until then.
My throat was tight and dry, my heart rattling against my ribs. I could almost hear it. I stopped again, leaning over until my shoulders almost reached my knees, trying to shift the build up of acid in my stomach and take in as much oxygen as I could. I wasn't going to make it. I knew the rules and I hadn't met them. I had to deal with the consequences.
Another howl, slicing through the air like lightning. I jumped. It was so close. It was too close. I started running again. If only there were trees to climb. I could hide in the leaves and wait out the night. But there were no trees. Nothing but scorched earth and the factory and the creatures that stalked through the night. All I could do was run. I wasn't going to make it.