The pack of dogs wasn't far behind. I could almost feel their teeth on my heels, and I knew if I fell down, I was kibble. Each faint growl crept up my legs and spread across my body like an electric shock. The Canadian border was only a mile or two away, but it felt like a light year.
It was cold, but each breath pumped fire into my lungs.
For reasons not worth recounting, I'm legally barred from leaving the United States. When I was declared an enemy of the state, because of one of these cheeky columns insulting Supreme General Trump, I had no option but to flee.
My girlfriend stands 4 feet, 11 inches tall and was easy to overnight to Toronto. I had to drive.
I trekked across Wyoming and South Dakota. I made it halfway across North Dakota before a Freedom Patrol blocked the road and I had to flee into the plains. A kind old Sioux man picked me up on a dirt road and drove me to Big Falls, Minn. From there I hitchhiked to Birchdale and walked into Franz Jevne State Park.
That's where a private border patrol squad picked me up. Six guys dressed in fatigues with AR-15s. They had me.
"Let's kill him," a pimply-faced teenage boy growled.
"No, we'll turn him over to the Department of Fatherland Security," an older man I assumed was the commander said. "They'll deal with him. You a writer, boy? You're going to find out what your toes taste like."
I had to think fast.
"Hey guys, look! Someone is putting up an American flag, and it's an inch lower than the Minnesota flag."
"Where!?" they screamed in unison.
I broke and ran into a thicket. Once they realized my subterfuge, they started firing. The bullets zipped past me.
I ran. I ran some more.
The icy waters of the Rainy River were my salvation. The fire in my lungs turned to ice. I swam in the dark. Just when I thought I was going to drown, I reached Canada. I pulled myself ashore and lay there sucking air.
"Hey, get out of my country, you iceback," someone said.
A man's form appeared out of the darkness.
"Please ... help me," I pleaded through panicked breaths.
"I'm just messing with you," the man said. He was young and good looking. "'Iceback' was a joke. That was mean. Sorry. I'm Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I like to come down here and meet all the new folks. I presume you're a journalist?"
"Yeah," I replied. My breathing was slowing.
"Ah, I figured. Probably wrote something snarky. They hate that. Anyway, you're welcome to stay here."
"Thank you so much."
"But I'll have to warn you. I have three pieces of Canadian bacon, which we call bacon. You only get two. We call that a Canadian hate crime, haha."
"Oh, I'm just messing with you. We can split the third piece. You seem like a nice fella."