Panicking, I try to hit her in the face with my other hand, but she catches that arm too. She clearly knows how to fight—and she’s also obviously stronger than me.

My right arm is screaming in pain, but I try to kick at her. I can’t lose this fight. This is my best chance at escape.

My feet make contact with her legs, but I’m not wearing shoes and I do more damage to my toes than to her shins.

“Drop the knife, Nora, or I will break your arm,” she hisses, and I know that she’s telling the truth. My shoulder feels like it’s about to pop out of its socket, and my vision darkens as waves of pain radiate down my arm.

I hold out for one more second, and then my fingers release the knife. It falls to the floor with a loud thunk.

Beth immediately lets me go and bends down to pick it up.

I back away, breathing harshly, tears of pain and frustration burning in my eyes. I don’t know what she’s going to do to me now, and I don’t want to find out.

I am fast on my feet and in good shape. I can hear Beth chasing after me, calling my name, but I doubt she’s ever done track before.

I run out of the house and down to the beach. Rocks, twigs, and gravel dig into my feet, but I barely feel them.

I don’t know where I’m running, but I can’t let Beth catch me. I can’t be locked up in the room or worse.

Fuck, she’s a good runner too. I put on a burst of speed, ignoring the pain in my feet.

“Nora, don’t be an idiot! There’s nowhere to go!”

I know that’s true, but I can’t be a passive victim any longer. I can’t sit meekly in that house, eat Beth’s food, and wait for Julian to return.

I can’t allow him to hurt me again and then make my body crave him.

My leg muscles are screaming, and my lungs are straining for air. I divorce myself from the discomfort, pretend I’m in a race with the finish line only a hundred yards away.

It feels like I’m running forever. When I glance back, I see that Beth is falling further and further behind.

My pace eases a little bit. I can’t sustain that speed much longer. Without thinking too much, I head for the rocky side of the island, where I can clamber up the rocks and disappear in the heavily wooded area above them.

It takes me another ten minutes to get there. By then, I can no longer see Beth behind me.

I slow down and climb up the rocks. Now that I’m out of immediate danger, I can feel the cuts and bruises on my bare feet.

It’s a slow and torturous climb. My legs are quivering from unaccustomed exertion, and I can feel a post-adrenaline slump coming on. Nevertheless, I manage to get myself up the rocky hill and into the woods.

Tropical vegetation, lush and thick, is all around me, hiding me from view. I go deeper into the brush, seeking a good spot to collapse in exhaustion. It wouldn’t be easy to find me here. From what I remember during my earlier exploration, this forest covers a large portion of this side of the island.

I should be safe here for now.

As the darkness begins to fall, I take shelter under a large tree, where the underbrush is particularly impenetrable. I clear a little patch of ground for myself, making sure I’m not near any ant hills or anything else that could bite me. Then I lie down, ignoring the throbbing pain in my lacerated feet.

Not for the first time in my life, I’m grateful to my dad for taking me camping when I was a child. Thanks to his tutelage, I’m comfortable with nature in all its glory. Bugs, snakes, lizards—none of these bother me. I know I should be careful around certain species, but I don’t fear them as a whole.

I’m far more scared of the snakes who brought me to this island.

Now that I’m away from Beth, I can think a little more clearly.

That lean, toned body of hers is clearly not from doing light cardio and yoga in the gym. She’s strong—probably as strong as some men—and definitely much stronger than me.

She also seems to have had some kind of special training. Martial arts, maybe? I clearly made a mistake trying to take her prisoner. I should’ve slipped that knife into her back when she wasn’t looking.

It’s not too late, though. I can still sneak back into the house and surprise her there. I need access to that internet, and I need it now, before Julian returns.

I don’t know what he’ll do to me for attacking Beth—and I certainly don’t want to find out.

A strange sensation wakes me up the next morning. It feels almost like—

I jump up, trying to shake off the long-legged spider that’s leisurely strolling up my arm.

The spider flies off, and I frantically brush at my face, hair, and body, trying to get rid of any other potential creepy-crawlies.

Okay, so I’m not exactly afraid of spiders, but I really, really don’t like them on me.

This is definitely not the most pleasant way to wake up.

My heart rate gradually returns to normal, and I take stock of my situation. I’m thirsty, and my entire body aches from sleeping on the hard ground. I also feel grimy, and my feet hurt. Lifting up one leg, I peer at the sole of the foot. I’m pretty sure there’s dried blood on there.

My stomach is rumbling with hunger. I didn’t have dinner last night, and I’m absolutely starving.

On the plus side, Beth hasn’t found me yet.

I’m not really sure what I’m going to do next. Perhaps make my way back to the house and try to ambush Beth there again?