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The scream tore through me like a great shard of glass. I felt my eyes widen and pulse quicken, my heart thudding like a rock rattling in box. The scream came again, desperate, terrified... human. The blood drained from my face, before I was even aware of making a conscious decision my legs were pounding furiously on the uneven muddy track, my ears straining for more sounds, more clues as to where it had come from. I had no clue as to what I'd do when I got there, just that I had to get there, fast.
It was the kind of scream that made your blood run cold. It pierced the brain and ignited some primeval pathway. Adrenaline surged through my veins, fight or flight, stand or run, be a hero or a coward. As my fingers curled around the black handle of the bread knife my decision was made.
Boy, what a scream that was. It made the hair strand straight up on the back of my neck. It was the loudest most piercing scream I had ever heard. It sounded like a scream of wild panic. A scream of hysteria and disbelief, bordering on terror.
Tom lay on the ground, his face closed in a grimace, is skin pale and clammy. Every few minutes he would scream, not like one of those guys in some Tarantino movie being tortured, but worse. It had a raw quality, the realness of a person consumed by a pain that knew no end or limit. Then he would go quiet, just panting. I should have been there at his side, at least then he wouldn't have been alone in his torture. But instead I walked away, unable to bear it, leaving Sofia to talk constantly in his ears and stroke his hair until the paramedics took over. Then it was Sofia that climbed into the ambulance and disappeared in a whirl of blue light and blaring siren. I knew then I'd lost him, even if he survived. I was the one that stepped away rather than face his suffering.