He keeps to the trees alongside the fairways using the same thought pattern as with his run along the yards; the trees will hide him better and force the night runners to chase by scent. Hunting and tracking by scent alone is far slower than by sight. He is not sure how well the night runners can see in the dark, but it is the only measure he has. Running in the fairway will definitely allow them to chase by sight and close the distance. The moon and clear night provide enough illumination so he can steer clear of the trees. Running headlong into a tree that suddenly decides to jump out in front of him would not rank among the top of the ‘ideal situation’ list.

Flashes of memories surface of being in these trees before; trying to find his errant golf balls; memories of peaceful weekend outings with friends during the warmer months, of beer stacked in the cart and watching his ball arc off the tee and into the trees. A common occurrence whenever he was out with clubs in hand and the fault of said clubs.

Those memories quickly dissolve as he dashes through the trees. One advantage to the trees being part of the course is that the underbrush has been cleared. He reaches the end of the tree line, changes direction, crosses the tee area of the next hole, and enters another line of trees hoping the change in direction will throw off the howling night runners behind. He hears them crashing through the trees behind when the shrieks taper off for a moment.

The fear that they have drawn closer and that others will respond ahead of him drives him forward. Low- lying branches whip against his face but he is mindless to the stinging scratches. The faint reflected light allows him to see the branches at the last second and to avoid catching one in his eyes. Being momentarily blinded would spell disaster. The silver of the moonlight on the fairway next to him looks peaceful in its silence; in stark contrast to his fear-filled flight through the woods.

Emerging from the line of trees, he quickly crosses another fairway with the feeling that the night runners are closing the distance. His flight through the trees may not be allowing them to close in on him quickly, but they are nearing nonetheless. He enters the woods on the far side. He immediately senses that these are thicker than the previous tree lines. Going in far enough so he can’t be seen from the fairway, he quickly strips off his uniform jacket, tossing it as far as he can to his left. Greg then takes off at a 90 degree angle to his right. There is no breeze so using wind to help elude his pursuers is not an option. He hopes they will become confused about his scent coming from two directions and not know which way he actually went. At a minimum, he could perhaps lose a few of them.

The 90 degree turn will make the distance to the ramp a touch longer but keeping the distance from the night runners is the greater priority. Shrieks emit from the fairway behind and to the right. He sincerely hopes the night runners cannot see him running through the woods because, with the sharp turn, he just gave them an angle to cut him off. Greg glances over his shoulder and nothing can be seen of the fairway. Not even a glimpse of the moonlight shining down on it. The trees are spaced far enough apart that light filters in and their darker outlines immediately around him can still be seen. He feels winded but the fear of being caught and ripped apart pushes his feet ever closer to the airfield.

He makes another 90 degree turn to his left heading once more to the northwest and towards the ramp. Howls echo in the woods around him and he cannot be certain of their exact direction. They’re definitely behind him but he can’t tell if they are off to the side or directly behind. The trees open up onto another fairway and he is across and through an adjacent line in moments. The golf course ends with a street running across his path. A little over a half mile to go, he thinks eyeing another dark line of trees paralleling the road northward. He wants to stop and catch his breath but knows that to do so will be the end. The night runners are still crashing through the trees behind him.

A choice lies directly ahead of him. Take to the tree line along the road or cut through the open fields of the base. There are few buildings within the open fields but he will be sighted as soon as the night runners exit the trees. His lead is a short one and the feeling emerges that he will be caught in those fields prior to reaching the ramp. Tree line it is, he thinks running across the street and disappearing into the shadows.

Keeping well back from the road, Greg continues his evasion. His legs feel heavy with the exertion he has expended but the calls behind keep his adrenaline up. He knows he cannot keep this up for much longer but knowing there is only a half mile to go helps. He doesn’t know what he will do if he arrives and it turns out no one is there. Not that he had a choice in the matter. They were onto him inside the house where he had been hiding and there really wasn’t much he could do. If there’s no one there, I’ll just have to hold out as long as I can.

Greg also knows he has been extremely fortunate that night runners haven’t intercepted his course. Not that they would know where he was headed in order to do so. He feels that any who answer the yells will respond to the location of the shrieks behind him. He hears the mass behind him in the same line of trees. Their constant roars have diminished to an extent and he hopes they are becoming as winded, well, more winded than himself.

The trees end and he is immediately bathed in the radiance of the moonlight. The little amount of protection afforded by the trees vanishes. Only open fields with a scattering of buildings lie between him and the airfield proper. He sees the gray tips of aircraft tails poking above hangars in the near distance; showing silver from the light streaming down. Without hesitation, Greg dashes across the fields. He contemplates tossing his rifle to the side to pick up an extra little speed and endurance but there is a certain security it affords having it with him. Across the first field, he hears a rise in the shrieks behind. He has been spotted.

He sees the opening to the ramp ahead across another field. A glance behind shows a multitude of night runners pouring across the field; their faces glowing in the light. Each night runner gives an illusion of speed as they streak across the grassy field. Oh crap! I’m not going to make it, he thinks putting every last bit of energy into his legs. The shrieks behind sound excited. Turn and shoot or toss my rifle. Either way, I’m not going to make it to the ramp with it.

Tossing the M-16 to the side, he pumps his arms harder. His breathing is coming in gasps but his legs respond. He leaves the grassy field, crosses the street and comes out onto the ramp. Not really knowing which way to go, he continues across the ramp looking to both sides as he runs. Nothing but the dark shapes of resting aircraft catches his eye. No movement of people. Nothing that would indicate the recent landing of an aircraft. Well, I gave it my all, he thinks feeling his boots rhythmically strike the pavement. Sure wish I had kept the gun. I’ll just keep going as long as I can and go down fighting.

Bright lights stab out across the ramp from his left, blinding in their intensity and ruining any night vision he had acquired. He instinctively heads towards them knowing that the turn will give the night runners an angle to close the distance. There is a sound of movement coming from the direction of the lights; faintly heard above the roars of the horde on his heels. The light prevents him from seeing anything in that direction. As suddenly as they appeared, the lights go off leaving only bright spots in his vision. He continues running in the same direction.

“Goggles on. Open fire,” he hears someone shout.

Flashes of light appear in his vision. They’re firing. I hope not at me, he thinks and changes course to his right to get out of the line of fire.

* * *

The steel zipping through the air meets the first line of the night runners close on the heels of the soldier running towards us. The ones in front and to the side of the soldier are flung backward as if they ran full tilt into a wire stretched across the ramp. The rounds strike their chest, shoulders, head and limbs with tremendous force; some propelled backwards into the arms of the ones behind, others spinning around from the force of the bullets impacting their bodies off center.

The man running for his life angles off to the side with the first rounds fired. It is apparent he is having trouble seeing us but is angling away from the sound of the gunfire. The night runners are also having trouble identifying our exact location with the sudden extinguishment of the light. The bright light ruined their night vision, enhanced or not, and with it being turned off abruptly, they only see darkness. Some are running toward the opposite side of the aircraft while others are heading farther off onto the ramp. A few still head directly at us. There are far too many to take down before they descend upon us but we should be able to disengage in their current disorientated state.

The echo of gunfire across the ramp is a constant. Night runners continue to fall to the pavement cooled by the night air; some falling and not moving again. Others fall and try to crawl away from their pain. The lone soldier

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