At first she just felt cold. Her fingers flexed slightly and she felt her chest seize up violently. She was face down in some sort of grass, as she forced her aching body to roll onto her side. Huge coughing racked her body and she spit up what felt like gallons of water. After a few minutes the coughing spasms ended, her lungs raw from the experience, Ally Marshall rolled over onto her back, staring into the black sun overhead.
She was shivering and soaked to the bone, the sun still not casting as much heat as it should have been, but she was to hurt and to tired to try to even warm herself. Her dress was covered in blood and mud, tattered nearly beyond recognition. Her face and lip still ached, though the numbness in her hands had dulled the throbbing from her ripped fingernails. The last thing she remembered was falling into the tide of the river, those creatures, creatures like her father had been, coming after her. Ally dug the palms of her hands into the wet, grassy earth and pushed herself up. The river was calmer here, forking around a lazy corner, and she realized that she must have washed ashore.
Ally gingerly sat upright, her back side still sore, feeling the throbbing in her head, and shifted the scraps of her dress to cover herself as best as possible. She sat there for several minutes, letting some of the rawness leave her aching lungs and tracing the bruises and cuts on her face, arms, and ribs. Eventually though, Ally knew she had to do something. She stared emptily at the flow of the river, wondering what choices she had. Alone, hurt, and scared, she didn't have any family left. All she was left with was her. Hot, wet tears trickled down her face, leaving the echoes of salt at the corners of her mouth, and Ally cried. Her raw lungs began to ache again and she laid back down in the muddy grass and cried. For a long time Ally just laid there, and wondered if she hadn't been better off dying at the hands of that criminal with her family, or letting those creatures kill her, or better yet drowning in that damn river.
It was a long time before Ally moved again, she wasn't even sure if she had blackened out again or not. Her eyes were red and puffy, and despite the numbness in her limbs, much of the soreness had flown back into her bones. Ally attempted to pull herself upright, wincing with each movement. She felt her bare feet squish into the wet grass and she took a few shaky steps forward, stopping to hold herself up at a tree. Her dress hung limply at her side, still wet from her experience in the river. She hung onto the tree, letting the last bout of vertigo wash away and sucking deep breaths into her ragged lungs.
Eventually she settled down, the tears having dried on her face, and she looked up at the dead sun overhead. So many things in the last 24 hours had gone wrong. Her whole life was seemingly over. She only had one option, to make for the nearest town, Desperation. At least the Sheriff or Marshall would be there. She could tell them what had happened to her family, about the bandit, she could find someone to help her. Ally looked down the river bank and though the shrubs and trees and chose to follow the riverbank, it would be longer, but without shoes or any kind of protection, it should be safer. It would trail around to the trading port and maybe she could even find a boat or a ride to help her. It was better than walking through the wild barefoot. Ally set off then, the cold sun above her, and headed towards her last hope, towards Desperation.
End of Line.