Nowhere To Run
by Bradygirl

The woods are lovely dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep.
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
- Robert Frost

The monster was back. He had found her.

The cold north wind sliced through her like a shivering scream howling in the night. Ripping through the foliage, she struggled to find her way out of the park. Every rasping breath rang in her ears like a loud roar. She checked over her shoulder to make sure he wasn't following her this time. He wasn't. She slowed her pace a bit.

As the dew descended with the shadows, brown chunks of hair stuck to her face and swirled wildly around her head. She scratched them away so she could see. The scissors grabbed from her apartment glinted silver in the moonlight. She clutched them as if her very life depended on their killer blades.

The lush vegetation in the park was thick, and the goo sucked at her boots. She could smell her own horror in every step. Stopping, she whirled around and checked her bearings. The canopy of trees high above which usually brought comfort, now formed a cage like an ominous looking black satin sheet. No stars lit the sky for fear the monster would see them as well. She knew she was completely alone. And she knew it was all her fault. The trembling sky echoed her fear and hid obscured by clouds. It was hidden just as she had been hidden so long ago.

She started out again, pushing back the panic that was welling up inside of her. How had he found her? How had the monster found her after all these years?

Up ahead a light shone brightly as if it was a beacon showing her the way home. She followed its brilliance out of the forest. It was almost as if fate had brought her to the emergency room side of University Hospital. She jogged faster toward the light. She had to tell someone what had happened. She had to tell someone before another innocent life was lost

The eyes that had known few men were blood shot, bruised and blank. Craig wrapped a towel around her shoulders.

"You did everything you could, Ali," he whispered. "He didn't realize it wasn't you. It's not your fault."

Ali wanted to believe him. But for some reason, she couldn't. Carrie Brady Reed had died because she had been selfish. Austin's wife had died because she couldn't give up on Mike.

Slowly she sipped the hot chocolate Craig brought her. It was the type with the mini marshmallows. A slight smile lit her face, the first smile she had cracked in four days. Somehow she felt the smile was selfish and her face returned to its normal blank stare.

Craig and Nancy watched her from the nurses station.

"What happened to her Craig?" Nancy asked.

"I don't know, really. She's been gone for four days. She was babbling something about Carrie and her father."

"Her father? I thought her father was dead." Nancy shook her head and took pity on the nurse.

"Apparently not. He was just released from prison last week."

Nancy shot him a surprised look. "I guess being in prison is just about as dead as you can get."

"Ali helped put him there." Craig whispered in Nancy's direction. "Her mother never really forgave her. From what I've been able to ascertain, Claire is still very much in love with him. She only divorced him as to not tarnish her public image. When Ali put him away, Claire became abusive. Ali's entire life has been one nightmare after another."

"That poor girl. No wonder she attached herself to Mike like a roll of Scotch tape."

The door behind Ali slammed like a gunshot, and she flinched.

"What should we do?" Nancy asked. "Have the police caught her father?"

"So far, no. She can't prove he did anything wrong. His word against hers, but Ali's holding something back. I can feel it. Something else is wrong. Maybe you can pull it out of her." Craig kissed his wife on the cheek.

"If not me, then maybe Mike.

Ali fingered a pile of letters in her hand. Every week since she had met Mike, she had written one. Most still retained the faint smell of Poison, her favorite perfume, but many were dull and faded. How long had she actually loved Mike? she wondered. It seemed like she hadn't really begun until he came along. He was her savior, the one light in a dark world. But even he had his dark side. He wouldn't accept their love and his selfishness had caused Carrie Reed to die.

It wasn't suppose to happen that way.

A lump caught in her throat and she wiped hurriedly at her tears when she saw Nancy approaching.

The pain was everywhere. Carrie clutched the pulsing wound in her stomach and gasped for air. She tried to sit up, but the pain wouldn't let her. As she brought her hand back, she found it wet with blood.

"Ali," she croaked, "What have you done?"

Lying a few feet away was the body of a man. He had tried to help her. Ali had been too wild in her psychotic fantasies. Way beyond any help the man could have given her. Carrie didn't know who he was, but he paid his life to save her own. She offered up a quick prayer for his soul. It was the least she could do.

Again she struggled coming to an upright position. Her left arm hung limp and useless dangling like a broken wind chime. With her other arm she slid herself toward the phone. Little by little she edged closer. The floor was thick with dust and grime that stuck to the blood on her hand. She tried not to focus on it and used all her strength to get herself to the phone on the other side of the room. She wasn't going to die before she let the world know that this had been the work of Ali McIntyre. Ali wasn't going to play the helpless victim ever again.

Carrie suddenly felt weak, drained. She wanted to lie down and fold herself into a glorious dream, but she knew she had to fight. If she didn't, Ali won. And if Mike didn't come around Carrie was afraid that he would be next. No one would ever suspect the slim nurse had planned and attacked her in such a methodical way. It almost felt like the scissors she had plunged into her stomach time and time again were still there.

Blood trailed across the floor in a long red streak. She didn't have much time left, and the phone was still so far away.

Nancy started to sit down next to Ali but noticed the blood stained scissors in her hand. Once, twice, three times she clipped them open and closed just staring at the shiny surface like a tiny magic mirror. That's when the humming began. At first only gibberish, then the gibberish became recognizable.

"Hurry up, it's time for bed. Daddy's home and Carrie's dead." Her voice sing-songed like a lullaby over and over.

Nancy started to sit down but halted halfway and hurriedly retreated back to Craig at the nurses station.

Mike sat at his desk and checked through his mail. Just the ordinary every day stuff. Direct mail, offers to attend medical conventions and another letter from Ali. He didn't even bother to open it. He just threw it directly into the trash can. God, he was tired of this. This *had* to stop. Carrie had warned him that Ali's obsession had gotten out of hand, but he hadn't believed her. He was beginning to think she was right.

He had pushed aside the mail to focus on the budget when Nancy and Craig stormed into his office. The look in Craig's eye was one of wild fury.

"You have got to do something about Ali," he spat out.

"She's gone loo-loo, Mike." Nancy looked genuinely concerned. "She's singing a horrible lullaby about Carrie being dead."

That got his attention.

"I didn't believe her," Mike said absently. "She tried to tell me but I didn't believe her."

Craig wheeled Mike around to face him.

"You didn't believe her because you didn't *want* to believe her," Craig said in a bitter tone. "Now, I've never been one of Carrie's bigger fans but by not believing her, you put her life in jeopardy!"

"What are you saying? Ali hurt Carrie?" Mike felt like he was about to faint.

"Mike, she has a pair of bloody scissors in her hands." Nancy's concern grew by the minute.

"We've got to find her," Mike said before running toward the door.

Craig put a hand out and stopped him. "Woah, Carrie could be one of a million places in this town. We wouldn't know where to look first."

"No, but Ali would."

The cover Craig had draped over Ali's shoulders laid lifeless on the floor. He picked up the thin material finding a lone hand print of blood marked the blanket.

"Where is she?" Craig yelled spinning around in a circle.

Mike ran to the nurses station where Judy was on the phone. "Ali. Where's Ali?"

Judy held her hand over the receiver and whispered. "She just left. Out the main doors." Ignoring them, she returned to her conversation.

Mike, Nancy and Craig huddled together. Out of the corner of his eye, Mike could see Ali running through the parking lot.

"There she is!" Mike said loudly enough for the entire floor to hear him. "Nancy, you stay here. Call Roman. Come on Craig, let's go."

Together the two unlikely heroes sprinted out the emergency room doors and headed into the woods. Within seconds their figures disappeared into the dark green shadows.

_

Part 2

Ali ran through the forest as if death were on her heels. She didn't know exactly why she was running, only that she had to. She had to get away. Away from the hospital. Away from Mike, Craig and Nancy and their constant knowing glances. She could tell. They knew. They knew about her awful secret. She couldn't stay there and wait for them to let the world know what kind of woman she really was.

Limbs scratched her face as she clawed her way through the forest once again. This time going back in the direction she had come. Every step brought her nearer to the isolated cabin. Every breath pounded like a hammer in her head. She could literally feel the blood as it throbbed in her skull just asking her to ease its anguish. The chill of the evening made each breath visible as clouds of condensation melted into a transparent trail behind her.

The closer she came to the cabin the harder her heart pounded and the quicker her breaths came. She tried not to notice the growing horror inside but it would not be quieted.

The monster was back. She could feel it. She knew it as certainly as she knew Carrie Reed had to pay for what she had done to her. And once the monster was vanquished, she could go on living a normal life with Mike by her side. The thought made her smile. No more Carrie for him to worry about and he'd come running to her for comfort. It was the perfect plan.

The only thing she had to do now was stop the monster before he hurt anyone else.

Ali was adrift on a sea of uncertainty with conflicting emotions . On one hand she was a nurse paid to help people. On the other hand she was a scared child searching for the protection her parents hand never given her.

It had been so many years since she'd seen him - the monster from her dreams. The monster with the face of her father. But now he was back. Back to continue the terror. To continue her suffering. She knew he would return one day. She only hoped it would be years from now.

Ali seriously didn't know if she could go through this again.. Sure she was an adult capable of taking care of herself. But inside, the shy, insecure girl who searched for love didn't know if she was willing to go through it all over again.

_

"Do you see her?" Mike yelled to Craig who was keeping pace beside him.

"No. She could be anywhere in the park. Up ahead this path splits in four directions. We're never going to find her by ourselves."

"Maybe we won't have to if Nancy can get a hold of Roman in time."

"I hope she can. Roman could be anywhere what with Sami on the run again. I can't imagine what he must be going through. One daughter is a fugitive from justice and now the other is missing and probably dead."

Craig and Mike stopped at the crossroads where the path split in four different directions.

"Don't say that!" Mike snapped. "Don't ever say that! I won't accept the possibility until I see it with my own eyes."

For once, Craig Wesley didn't have a sarcastic come back. He too hoped Carrie was alright and safe. Although the two had never been friends, he admired her spunk. Even for all his concern, in the back of his mind, he couldn't help but wonder how this all would effect his chances at Chief of Staff.

Part 3

Johann Starck watched as the woman in the next room slid across the floor in a never ending search for escape. He applauded her for her perseverance. He liked that in a woman. The others had not gotten as far as she, and if she did indeed succeed - she would be tested again because only the worthy among them could be queen - his queen. He knew it was medieval, but he enjoyed the thought of a woman ruling by his side.

Not a soul in Salem knew of him, but that would soon be remedied. He would establish himself as a independently wealthy investor and start his own company. It would all be terribly legitimate in a very boorish sort of way, but underneath it all - underneath it all would be his quest for ultimate power.

Johann couldn't help but laugh. So deliciously simple. So terribly ironic. Salem was chosen specifically for his base of operations. Strange things seemed to happen in that town and one more strange occurrence in a land of uncommon manifestations would go unnoticed by most. That was what he found so ironic - a town use to the unnatural and sometimes even supernatural. Soon they would all see just exactly how supernatural he could be.

She was closer now, so close he could almost taste her victory. He liked this one. He liked Carrie Reed. She had spunk, her own internal power, and that power would be used wisely, especially after he transformed her into his bride. She may never be the same noble Carrie but she would still be happy. And she would be his.

Johann contemplated on exactly how he would accomplish the transformation. First he had to give her a new identity to go with her new spirit, a spirit he himself had already created. Mind control was far and away the most simplistic of his tools.

Again he laughed his joyous, booming laugh. Ali McIntyre had been so easily manipulated. So easily fooled into believing she had actually plunged those scissors into Carrie. And Carrie too believed Ali to be her slayer. It was not so. Ali was never actually in the room. It had all been smoke and mirrors and a very technical computer program.

His eyes slid to the man on the floor. Derek, poor foolish Derek. He thought he could save her. This one was special, he had said. Well, for once, the man was correct. Carrie Brady Reed was indeed the one, and Derek would pay again and again for his betrayal.

Johann flipped his cell phone open and placed a call to his second in command, Miss Castle. She was in her late thirties and grown up, just as he had, in the New World Order their parents created together. The Starck's and the Castle's knew one day their lessons would pay off. Sad that they wouldn't be alive to see their families ultimate victory finally accomplished.

"Miss Castle? Set up the chamber," said Johann in his low monotone some thought to be sexy, especially Miss Castle, who had longed to be Johann's queen one day.

"Why? We haven't used that old thing in ages." Miss Castle held the phone not far from her ear and eyed the large piece of equipment that would hold a single human being and torture them for hours.

"Derek has become a bother. He tried to save the subject. I stopped him."

"Is he dead?"

"I assume so. He hasn't moved in three hours." Johann paused and then continued. "We will take whatever steps are necessary to revive him and remind Mr. Rayge just how important our cause is. And we will keep reminding him until he bends to our will. I will not have one of our own turn to the other side."

"Yes, Mr. Starck. I'll set it up immediately. When should I expect you?" Miss Castle threw the switch which booted up the ancient contraption.

"Within the hour. By then Mrs. Reed will have accomplished her goal." Again he laughed. He knew Mike Horton and Craig Wesley were very near now. "And by the time Dr. Horton and Dr. Wesley find this place - we'll all be long gone."

Part 4

Austin sat in his apartment and brooded. On any given Monday, Austin Reed normally could be found burning the midnight oil at Titan trying to rediscover what he loved about his career and forget about how his foolishness had effected all of their lives. He couldn't believe Sami lied to him. He believed in her so completely, so totally, that he
pushed away his wife, his friends, his family - everyone in order to prove Sami's innocence.

Tonight he discovered the truth - she was a cold hearted liar. He accidentally uncovered just how desperate Sami had become. She played on his love of Will again and again. And he fell right into her trap. Hell, he'd made it easy for her. He'd actually run blindly into her trap with both eyes open. Why had he refused to see the evil in her?

The truth was: Lucas never hit Will. It was a shock that had him against the wall as if an assailant had thrown an uppercut to his stomach. All oxygen completely left his body and he struggled just to breathe. The truth itself came from Sami's own lips, but he still couldn't believe it was real.

"How dare you do this to me," Lucas had shouted.

"I'll dare all I damn well please. You will never get near Will again, and I don't care if I have to trump up another child abuse charge to do it."

"They wouldn't believe you."

"They did the last time. And they will again. I'll make damn sure of that!" Sami grabbed Will from Lucas' arms and
stomped to the door.

"I'm a good father, Sami," he pleaded. "I never hit Will."

"We both know that. Now see if you can prove it." With that, Sami slammed the door taking Will and Lucas' heart with
her.

Austin watched as Lucas fell to his knees on the floor sobbing. Nicole was there with him. And even though he knew
they had married each other for money, Nicole seemed to genuinely care for his step brother.

"Don't worry. They'll never believe a criminal like her." Nicole said, trying to soothe him.

"They did once. They will again. Sami's right. It's her word against mine. And I couldn't prove I didn't hit Will the first
time. How will I be able to prove I didn't hit him now?"

"We'll find a way to prove it, honey. Just watch, something will turn up. You'll see."

Austin struggled with coming out and revealing his presence that night, but he couldn't. Not yet. He needed time to
think. Which was why he was sitting at his computer at nearly midnight. He had to get his mind off it all.

He couldn't turn to Carrie for support. He had thrown her out weeks ago. And Billie, well, he didn't want to burden her
with this. No he had to go it alone. For the first time in his adult life, Austin Reed had no one to turn to but himself.

_

"Hold on there, buddy," Craig said in defense of himself. "I never said she was actually dead. Only that she might be."

"She might be?" Mike sneered. "She's alive, dammit! And I don't want you or Nancy or anyone else saying otherwise.
Got it?"

Craig held his hands up in surrender. "Yeah, I got it. Crystal clear."

Quickly, Mike brought his mind back on track and concentrated on all four paths. They had a four in one chance of
finding her. The odds were better with Craig along. A fifty-fifty chance of finding her before she did anything else to
Carrie.

"You take this one, I'll take that and we'll meet back here in one hour." Mike flipped open his cell phone and dialed an
all too familiar number.

"Who are you calling now?" Craig wondered out loud. The look on Mike's face said it all. "Austin?"

Mike nodded, and Craig took off running down the left most path. After he was a good distance away, he looked back
with a foul expression on his face.

"Buddy, that was a big mistake. If you and Carrie want to be together, calling her ex to come and be the knight in
shining armor isn't the best plan."

Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a white streak. Upon closer inspection, he found it to be a torn piece of
clothing. He decided to follow the bread crumbs she'd left for him.

"Ali," he yelled into the forest. "Come out, come out, where ever you are."

_

The doors to the Salem Inn automatically opened and Austin walked through. No one was at the reception desk
except a lone security guard. The hotel was dead at this time of night. He wondered why his mother wanted to see
him here. She'd said it was urgent. The call itself was vague, unlike his mother's usual tone which is what convinced
him to leave Titan and come traipsing down to the Salem Inn in the middle of the god-forsaken night.

He hurried through the lobby his head bent down in thought. Curiously, he glanced at the reception desk. The security
guard was taking special interest in him. The look on his face was almost a mocking one. Did everyone know his
business, he wondered? They all treated him like he was the bad guy, when in fact the opposite was true. He'd done
what he had to do. Right now it may have seemed foolish but then - then it was the only thing to do.

The elevator doors opened and he escaped the watchful eye of the guard. He took the lift to the third floor and
checked the doors for the correct room number. 3102. 3104. 3106. There it was, 3110.

It was dark as midnight inside the suite. He groped for the light but stopped short when his cell phone rang.

"Austin Reed," he said crisply in the middle of the darkened room.

"Austin, it's Mike."

Immediately all the nerves in his entire body tensed. Just the mention of Mike's name set off an alarm in his body.

"Austin? You there?"

"Yeah, I'm here."

"We need your help."

Mike quickly explained the situation and hung up. Austin couldn't believe Mike would want his help much less ask for
it. That man was always astonishing him. Then a sound across the room drew his attention.

"Mom?"

"No, not Mom. It's me, Ali."

"But I thought..." Austin decided against telling her he knew what she'd done to Carrie.

"What are you doing here, Ali?"

"Oh, I don't know," she said slowly, then withdrew the electro-shock device from her purse.

"Enacting the element of surprise?" With that, she plunged the device into his neck and Austin hit the ground like a
sack of potatoes.

part 5

Carrie winced and leaned back to rest for a bit. Only a few more feet to go and she'd be at the phone. The blood was
everywhere now mixed with a fine coating of sweat. It drenched her shirt, covered her hands and smeared a path
across the floor. With one hand shakily holding her stomach and the other inching her forward, she continued in her
quest to reach the phone. Little by little she slid forward. The muscles in her arms cried out in fatigue. This was worse
than any workout she'd ever endured. Never again would she complain about jogging being too strenuous. She had
heard about runners hitting "the wall," but never knew what they meant by the term. Today, she completely
understood and was about to find "the wall" for herself.

Just as the phone came into arms reach someone came in the door. She turned to see who her savior was.

"Mike?" she croaked, as she strained to see through tear soaked eyes.

"Yes," he said, in a pitch a bit too low to be Mike's. "You're going to be just fine."

He reached down and scooped her off the floor. She noticed that his hair was a bit more brown than normal. More of
a dirty ash blond.

"Did you color your hair?" she asked in exhaustion, fingering the short strands at his neck.

"No, my love," he said, again in a timber too low to be Mike's.

She pulled back and looked at his face. She had to be certain. The face wasn't familiar.

"You're not Mike!" she screamed, and fought with all her strength to escape.

_

Miss Angelique Castle stood in the forest wearing clothing very similar to what Ali had been wearing. Her shirt was
slightly blood stained and her hair long and dark like the young nurse's. She waited until Dr. Wesley was within range
and began running.

_

Craig fingered the piece of white cloth as he traversed his way down the dark woodland path. He couldn't figure out
what Ali's deal was. Mike didn't love her, yet she was assured again and again that he did. No matter what the poor
sap said to her, Ali believed it to mean they still had a chance at love. If that wasn't psychotic, he didn't know what
was.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a slight movement. White shirt, long brown hair. It had to be Ali. Quickly, he
stepped up his pace and chased after her. Within minutes he was upon her.

"Got you!" he said in victory. "Do you know what you've done?"

The woman screamed and turned to face him. She was very similar in shape, but it wasn't Ali. He stood back in
surprise.

"Please, don't hurt me," she pleaded. "Let me go! Don't hurt me again!" Her screams grew louder and louder as her
arms flailed about in terror.

"Hold it, calm down. I'm not going to hurt you, I'm a doctor." Craig tried in vein to convince the woman that he wasn't
a threat but to no avail.

_

Mike ran down a path with which he was most familiar. It was one he used regularly to take nightly jogs. Never before
had the night seemed so ominous or forbidding. He had to find Carrie. She was the only real meaning in his life now,
besides his son, Jeremy. They had to save her.

As the forest folded in on him, he came upon a light in the distance. A light he'd never seen before. It called to him
and he was helpless but to follow. The beacon led him to a small cabin hidden in the middle of the park in a most
unexpected location, buried in the side of a hill. It was perfectly camouflaged. Without the light to guide him, he never
would have found this place.

When Mike opened the door, the bottom fell out of his stomach. There was so much blood. A puddle of it pooled near
the doorway and the rest formed a horrifying streak across the floor. If this was Carrie's blood, she was surely on
death's door.

He carefully searched each room of the small cabin but found nothing. She wasn't there. How could she have gotten
out without help? Maybe someone had found her or maybe - maybe Craig was right and she was dead.

TBC

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