The slave catchers never stopped chasing us. They followed my brother and I all throughout Virginia. Miles of forests, torrential rains, and wild boars weren’t enough to make the catchers give up. Years of beatings and being used as tools for their pleasure coerced us to choose either freedom or death. While moving through the dense forest, my brother’s leg gets caught in a bear trap. I can hear the catchers yelling out. There’s not much time. I try to bust it open with a rock, but it just causes him to scream and grab his bleeding leg. They were right on us, so he hands me his machete and begs me to keep moving, to abandon him.
“You need to keep on running,” he says, pushing me away. “It’s freedom or death now.”
The yelling from the white men grows louder. I restrain my urge to cry as I run away as fast as I can. It didn’t take long for the catchers to get to him.
After a few minutes, I stopped near a large tree. All we’ve done our whole lives is suffer and run. No. More. I won’t run away. I don’t care if they kill me, as long as I kill one of them first. As long as I can make them suffer like we have.
My body gets hot as I wait atop one of the branches. It’s not from the burning of a fading sun but from my rage, my hatred of what they’ve done to me, to my family.
It’s dusk, and the sun is barely in view. I spot three white men approaching the area with caution. Sweat rolls down their foreheads as they carry guns and chains. They view me as a threat. They probably think that by killing my brother that I’ll give up and turn myself in. They couldn’t be more wrong.
“We know you’re out here boy,” yells one of the men holding a gun. “Your brother, he wanted you to live. He would’ve lived too if his leg wasn’t destroyed in that trap. Unfortunately, we had to put him down.”
I don’t move. I try to steady my breathing, so they won’t hear me. My grip tightens around the blade. Everything internally screams at me to remain quiet, to let them pass by so I can continue towards freedom. Yet, it no longer matters. My brother is dead. I’m all alone now and it’s their fault.
I steel my resolve and lean forward as the men walk underneath the tree I’m on. They twitch and shiver at every noise. The breaking of a twig under their boots. The hooting of an owl. The steady singing of the crickets. I use them to my advantage.
I grab a nut from a nearby branch and throw it in the opposite direction. A sudden calmness washes over me as they flinch in the direction of the nut, turning their backs towards me. I stand up and leap down from the tree and onto one of them. I knock him over causing him to drop his gun as I plunge my blade deep into his neck.
“Oh my god,” yells out one of the men. He fumbles his gun in his hand.
I take the opportunity to lunge at him, knocking him down a hill. He tumbles and rolls downhill, finding a large stone to smash his head against. His blood paints the rock scarlet red.
The last man standing runs away. I chase after him a short distance and tackle him to the ground. I fall into rage. My throat burns, but I ignore the pain as I sink my fists into his face. Again. Over and over, I desecrate his skull causing blood to slash across my body. The burning of my throat intensifies, and my body feels like it’s engulfed in flames. My heart races, ready to bust. Hot tears roll down my cheeks, scorching my eyes. I pound his head in until I feel bone.
I sit upon his bloodied corpse with aching hands. I look to the sky trying to breathe. I opened my aching jaw and suddenly I understood why my throat was burning. I had been screaming this whole time. I begin to hear myself cry.
Chris Martin is a U.S. Army veteran who is pursuing a career as a writer and mangaka. Follow on twitter @8FOLDBAKA