Runner – Part 7

This is Part 7 of my serial narrative, “Runner.” Disclaimer: this post has some language.

You can enter the adventure two ways:

  1. Download a PDF from the link here. The PDF will contain Parts 1-7. Or …
  2. Read the post below. (Here’s a link to Runner – Part I if you haven’t read that yet.

***

Part VII

I continued my parkour sessions with Ava. Sometimes we met in the park, sometimes we didn’t. Other Pathfinders joined us on rare occasions, but most of the time it was only Ava and me. After a Friday session, we walked back toward the House. Ava stopped at a convenience store.

“I’m going to buy some wine,” she said.

I stayed outside. The night was alive: Students were drawn to the convenience store like bugs attracted to a light. These kinds of places catered to the college crowd — making a killer profit on junk food, energy drinks, cigarettes, and booze.

Angel came out with a bottle of wine in a brown paper bag.

“It’s Moscato,” she said. “It’s sweet. I think you’ll like it.”

On our way back to the House, we passed frat houses with students holding beer bottles and red plastic cups. I could hear the sound of the music but stripped of any vocals or melody. Only raw bass.

Two young men lounged outside a frat house. They were wearing flat-brim baseball caps.

“Hey baby, you’re looking good,” one of them said. “Wanna come inside and party with us?”

Angel ignored them. The two frat boys moved to block our way.

“Come on,” he said. “Wanna come inside and party? You can bring blondie if you want.”

Angel shook her head. “Not interested.”

The alpha male smiled, wide and slow. “You know who we are? We’re Mad Hatters!”

“Well, my name isn’t Alice,” she told them.

He frowned and put his hand on her arm. Angel yanked her arm way and said, “Don’t touch me again.”

The alpha male leaned forward and whispered something to her.

Angel smashed the wine bottle against his head. I swear she hit him in sync with the bass drop from the party.

His friend lunged toward Angel, but I stepped between them. The Hatter swung a fist at me, I jerked away, and his forearm bounced off the side of my head. I shoved him hard with both arms.

“Back down, asshole,” Ava said.

We both looked at her. She was still holding the bottle, the wine was bleeding out and soaking the paper bag. “You better take care of your friend,” she said. “He had a nasty fall.”

The first Hatter was lying curled up on the ground, moaning. His friend cursed us.

Angel jogged away from the frat house and I followed. She led me down several side streets and tossed the cracked bottle in a dumpster. Finally, we slowed to a walk. I glanced over and saw Angel was shaking, her arms and clenched hands trembling like a guitar string releasing its last note. Her face was blank. I wanted to say something, but I didn’t know what.

Eventually she said, “Such a waste of good wine.”

I walked with Angel to the House and said good-bye. The night was dark and cold, but I didn’t mind walking back to my dorm alone. I wore the darkness and solitude like an old leather jacket.

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