Runner – Part III

I’m very excited to reveal the next episode of “Runner.” (Here’s a link to Runner – Part I if you haven’t read that yet.)

Read the post below, or you can download a PDF from the link here. (The PDF will contain Parts I-III.) Enjoy!

***

Part III

I was riding in a van with Deacon and three students I had never met. My heart was beating faster than normal, and I was reminded of game days in high school. Evan had called me earlier. I asked him what we were doing, and he said, “Don’t wear flip-flops.”

Deacon pulled the van over and stopped on the side of the street.

“This is it,” he said.

I jumped out of the 7-seat van and looked around. We had stopped in front of a laundromat. The other three recruits got out too.

“Put your wallets and phones in the bag,” Deacon ordered.

He held out a drawstring bag, and we put our wallets and phones in.

“Okay brothers, your goal is to get to the subway station before time runs out. This is your initiation. Your baptism.”

Deacon looked at his phone.

“You have … 7 minutes.”

I turned and started running down the street toward the subway. A moment later I heard the frantic scrape of sneakers on concrete, and I knew the other recruits were following me. We dashed past storefronts like madmen.

One of the recruits passed me on my right. He must have run track in high school.

The van roared past us.

Ahead was a busy intersection. The track guy was a couple of yards in front of the rest of us. He sprinted over the crosswalk before the sign blinked “STOP.”

The cars were speeding through the intersection as we reached the road. Four lanes of traffic. I stumbled to a halt and stood at the curb, panting. The two other runners stopped too. A gap opened in the traffic. One of the recruits lunged forward. I followed him.

I heard the shriek of brakes to my left but didn’t look. Ahead a car ground to a stop on the crosswalk, almost hitting the runner in front of me. Still running, I jumped and slid across the hood of the car and sprinted across the rest of the road. Two of the runners were behind me now.

Past the intersection was a suburban neighborhood that separated me from the subway. Green lawns and clean sidewalks. I could see the track guy farther down the street. I knew I couldn’t chase him down.

I turned left, darted across someone’s lawn, and scrambled over the fence and into a backyard. If I cut through the suburbs, I might reach the subway first.

A boy with a green shirt was standing in the yard. He stared at me, eyes round.

The fence was higher than my shoulders. I leapt and hurled myself at the fence. My torso slapped against the fence, and I seized the top with both hands. Pain flared as splinters cut into my palms.

I pushed myself up and slung a leg over the fence. I swung my body over and half-leapt, half-fell to the ground. I landed and rolled onto my back.

I was on my feet and running before I saw the dog. The German Shepherd barked, teeth flashing, and the sound shot adrenaline into my veins. God’s homemade methamphetamine.

I saw chain-link pooled around the dog, but I didn’t stop. I ran. With each new step, I kept thinking the dog was going to bite my leg. The bite of a German Shepherd has a force of over 230 pounds, and for perspective, a human’s bite has only 90 pounds. I didn’t know the facts then, but I knew the terror.

I didn’t look back until I was in the front yard. I tried to find to get my bearings. Another suburban street. I started jogging.

I darted between two houses — cautious now. I didn’t want to meet another huge wolf-hybrid. I vaulted the back fence and entered another back yard. No kids, no dogs. I ran out into the front yard.

The subway was across the street. I hurried across the street while looked for the van. I found it a second later. Deacon was lounged against the gray 7-seater. He grinned when he saw me.

“Welcome, brother!” he said.

I walked up to him, sucking in oxygen.

“Did I win?” I asked.

He laughed. He placed his big hand on my head and looked into his eyes.

“You’re alive now,” he told me. “You did well.”

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2 Comments

  1. It’s coming along pretty good ….

    Reply
    • Thanks, man. Hopefully the rest of the story delivers. I’ve got the end in my mind, but most of the story isn’t written yet.

      Reply

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