• I couldn't stop running. I didn't want to imagine what might happen. I just had to keep running. Run until I die. Die before I stop running.

    Because, if I stopped.... If I even slowed down enough to take in a breath or two... I shuddered. No. I could not let that happen. I didn't know what to tell them. Certainly not the truth. That would get too many people in trouble. People, who I didn't necesarily like or care about... but who had the power to control me. Torture me.

    So, no. There was no way I could stop. There was no way I could let them get to me, catch me. If I ran as fast as I could, they wouldn't be able to keep up. As long as they didn't use their cars. My heart sank for a moment. They had cars. All they had to do was hop inside, start the engine, take a bite out of a doughnut, buckle up, and I was as good as dead.

    At least I had a head start. They'd have to look for a while before they found me. I'd been running for at least ten minutes. But I realized I was starting to lag. It was exhausting. I hadn't been allowed to get much excercise as of late.

    I was confined to the house. To my room. Still, everyday I would do sit-ups, push-ups, and any excercise I could think of, on a small patch of carpet next to my bed. But I knew that nothing compared to this sprinting. It was hell. Even worse than... well, no. Nothing was worse than abuse. But my lungs ached and my legs felt like I was trekking through water with an elephant on my back.

    I was just considering taking a small rest behind a dumpster when I heard them. Multiple sirens. They were definitely far away, but I knew it wouldn't take long. They would get closer and closer, until they spotted me. Then, they'd circle up around me and get out of their cars, one by one, with their tasers out.

    I used one last ounce of energy to run a little faster, to the next street corner. Then, I basically collapsed to the curb. I put my face in my hands and started sobbing. How did I ever let it get this far?

    It all started a year after I was born. My mom and dad loved me. I was their little girl. But then they got in a car crash and they died. I was actually with them, in the back of the car, but somehow I survived. Worst decision ever. At least, it would be, if I could have chosen. I was sent to an orphanage and was actually adopted quickly, because of my age, I guess. But my new "parents" were horrible. They never wanted me, so I still don't know why they took me in. Maybe they just wanted a slave or a punching bag.

    That's how they treated me. They never took good care of me. I was always a "bad kid", they said. So they treated me like an animal. But they always denied it to the authorities. They had a perfect record and weren't known as bad people, so they got me in so much trouble.

    The cops always trusted them when they complained about my "bad behavior." They acted like they were the victims. One time, a few years back, they broke a huge flower vase over my head. After I could open my eyes again, they called the police and acted all scared and said I went on a rampage and destroyed the house. They said I was dangerous and they took me to Juvie for a month, just to get me off their hands.

    I tried to tell the police officers the truth on the way to the prison. The one in the passenger seat actually looked like he believed me a little. He told me his name was Officer Callihan, and that if I needed to talk, I could call him. It's too bad I could never get the chance to make a call.

    Back to the present, I had tears streaming down my cheeks as the sirens became very loud. I started to see lights flashing down the road. I sighed. Looks like I've been found, I thought.

    A car pulled up, followed by three more. I looked up and tried to wipe my eyes, but the tears didn't stop. As they stepped out of their vehicles, I noticed that they hadn't drawn their weapons. They just kept a hand on their gun belt. One of them walked forward. It was Officer Callihan.

    "Kellie. Can you tell me what's happened?" he asked, with a stern but caring look on his face.

    "I... want to, but-- " I paused.

    "But what? You shouldn't be afraid to tell us." he responded.

    "Well, I would tell you the truth, but... those people I live with...."

    "Your parents." he offered.

    "They're not my parents." I said. "My mom and dad died. But I survived, and these people paid cash to take me to their house and make my life be hell on earth. And they'll probably kill me and call it suicide if I actually tell you what they've done to me." The tears started to leak through again.

    Another officer stepped forward. "Why would you say that? These people are model parents. You're the problem, here. That's what they've told us all along."

    "And you never knew better but to believe them! Why would you question them when they make themselves look innocent after they beat me? No one would ever take the time to listen to what I had to say. You believed their cover-up stories without batting an eye!" I tried to make them listen and maybe even figure out that I wasn't lying.

    The second officer replied, "So you're saying that right now, you could tell us a "true" story to all of the complaints we've received about you?"

    "Yes! I've been defenseless. They never let me talk to you because knew I'd try to make you understand. But I can't tell you any more. They're going to be so mad. They'll kill me, I swear. They've been threatening to ever since they got their hands on me."

    Officer Callihan spoke again, "Are you saying these people have threatened to kill you, Kellie?

    "Well, they threaten me all the time. They usually make good on them, too. Like, you know... 'If you fail to do the dishes one more time, we'll have to use the gas again.' or-"

    The officers cut me short, "They have used gasses on you? How many times?"

    I looked down. "Well, yeah. At least four times now. There was one just yesterday. I think it was a new one. It was different... It... made me feel like... I was on fire. And I couldn't breathe. I think I started screaming before I passed out, but I really can't remember all that well. The ones they used before were just the kind that make you all dizzy and have trouble breathing. It's like your throat... kind of closes up on you."

    "How do they administer these gasses? Do you have any idea what they are or where they get them from?"

    "Um... they throw me in the downstairs bathroom with the gas... and lock the door.... I don't know anything about the gas. I... I shouldn't be telling you all this. They're gonna- they're gonna- Oh my gosh. They're gonna kill me." I started to shake. Officer Callihan stepped closer and squatted down to where I was sitting.

    "They're not going to hurt you anymore. Now that we have this information, and after we can get any more, we'll be able to put a stop to this."

    "No... Don't you see? Do you think they're not going to put up a fight? Do you think they're not going to defend themselves? Do you think they're just gonna say, 'Oh.... She told them the truth.... Looks like there's nothing to do now.'? No way in hell they will. They'll do what they've always done. They'll play the victim and pretend they don't abuse me. They'll convince you that they're innocent and that I've lied, again. And after they've done that, no one will listen me ever again, because I'm already labeled as a Juvenile delinquent. And everyone knows they never tell the truth." I was glowing red with anger and hatred. Tears were streaming down my hot face.

    After a few seconds of silence, he asked me, "So, Kellie, what do you want me to do about this?" He asked it in such a ....loving voice... that I couldn't help but look at him. He was looking right into my watery eyes.

    I whispered, "I just don't want to go back there, Officer. Just don't make me go back."