Read It and Write a Review

I’m done with the first draft of my serial narrative, “Runner.” I started writing it about a year ago, and now it’s about 8,500 words long.

Thank you much for your support. It is so wonderful to have devoted readers.

With your help, I’m going to push my story to the next level. I want to know what parts you liked. If you give me some feedback, I’ll send you an annotated version of my novella. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated.

This PDF is the updated version of “Runner.” (As I wrote it, I went back and tweaked a few things.)

Runner – Parts 1-19

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Runner – The End

This is the last chapter of my serial novella, “Runner.” Thank you so much for your support!

Here’s a link to Runner – Part I if you haven’t read that yet.

***

Part 19

I walked with Angel to the bus stop. The town had lost half its population with the departure of students, and it felt deserted.

“I’ll miss this town,” Angel said. “But now I won’t have to drive 45 minutes to Chipotle.”

I laughed. “You’re gonna go on a fast food binge?”

“Chipotle isn’t fast food!”

“You know what I mean.”

The bus stopped at the curb. Angel handed her suitcase to the driver and he stowed it inside. We were left standing together.

I had thought about this moment for a long time. But I was nowhere close to figuring it out — Angel was an enigma to me. She was a mentor and friend. And I couldn’t deny I was attracted to her too.

“I hope the audition goes well,” I said.

“Thanks. Me too.”

We embraced briefly.

“Good-bye, blondie.”

She got onto the bus, the driver started the engine, and the bus drove away. I watched. I imagined myself chasing the bas and catching it. But I didn’t have any words to say if I caught it so I stood still.

The waning sun stained the sky with streaks of gold, and its last rays hurt my eyes. I had no reason to stay in this town. It had been stripped of importance for me, reduced to an empty house. I had come here for an education, and when the school closed I stayed for my friends. Now they were gone too, and all I had left were memories superimposed on empty streets and vacant buildings.

I smiled. I turned and started walking back to my dorm room, my hands shoved into my pockets. Sometimes memories are enough.

Runner – Part 18

This is the second to last chapter of my serial narrative, “Runner.” I will be posting the finale on July 18.

Here’s a link to Runner – Part I if you haven’t read that yet.

***

Part 18

Angel slammed the door open when she reached the top of the stairs. I heard the two Hatters shout at us. We shoved past knots of people and headed for the door. The party continued around us.

Angel and I burst out of the front door and had almost reached the street before the bouncers on the porch reacted. The two Hatters from the basement shouted at us and tried to chase us. But we were too fast. Our pursuers soon stumbled to a halt, red-faced and barking expletives.

I started to slow down, but Angel grabbed my wrist and pulled me along.

“We need to get off this street before the police get here,” she said.

“What? Why are the police coming here?” I said.

“I had Evan call them.”

We cut through an alley and onto another street. I heard police sirens howling in the direction of Travis’s house. We looked at each other and suddenly we were laughing — we had walked into the dragon’s den and survived. Together, we jogged back to the House.

The town had finally calmed down. The police arrested Travis and two of his housemates for possessing of cocaine and methamphetamine. So far, none of them had said anything, but the police knew they were part of a larger organization.

Shake disappeared as soon as he was released from the hospital. I don’t think anybody knows where he went.

Paulo left the town early in case the Hatter tried something. We had one last, big party at the House before Paulo left. Deacon bought some pizzas at Pizza Express in Cadiz.

Evan said, “This is finals week. Right now.”

It was a good night. At one point, Deacon raised his can of Arnold Palmer and asked for our attention. He smiled at us.

“I’m glad we have this time together before we say good-bye. I will miss all of you. But this is truth: A seed must die before it can produce a harvest. The New Athens club will end, but this is just the beginning.”

Deacon raised his can of Arnold Palmer. We raised our plastic cups, glasses, and beer bottles.

“Run free,” he said.

“Run free!” we cried.

Runner – Part 17

This is Part 17 of my serial narrative, “Runner.” Here’s a link to Runner – Part I if you haven’t read that yet.

***

Part 17

I followed Angel across the lawn and up to the front door. I was carrying a 6-pack of beer that Angel had bought earlier. Three guys were sitting on the porch. One of them stood and pointed at me, “Scram freshman. We’ve already got a bad ratio.”

Angel said, “If you don’t let in my cousin, we’re both leaving.”

Before they could respond, I said, “You guys want any beers?”

“Give them to me,” the leader said.

We walked into the house. The Friday night party had already started, the music pounded into the walls, and bottles littered the tops of tables. Angel grabbed my arm and breathed into my ear, “We split up.”

I walked into the raucous clamor alone. Paulo had shown me a picture of Travis. I was supposed to pose as a druggie looking for a score, just one of Shake’s crowd that needed a new supplier.

I recognized a few people, but I didn’t know them. I finally spotted the target in a side room. He was sitting on a couch and smoking a fat cigar. I walked by the room twice, getting up my nerve. Finally, I wandered into the room and sat down. He ignored me.

“Hey, you’re Travis, right?”

He looked at me for a moment. “Do I know you?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “I’m a friend of Shake. He skipped town or something. Can you help me out?”

I pulled out some bills that the other had fronted me. Travis stared at the cash then looked up at me.

“Wait here.”

He got up and left. After a minute, Travis stepped back into the door frame.

“Come on,” he said and beckoned.

I followed him. He walked to a closed door that led to the basement, He went down first. I looked around when I got to the bottom of the stairs. A washer and dryer, some cardboard boxes, a ceremonial mask. Travis was standing by an empty workbench.

He didn’t speak.

Two guys came down the stairs. I figured these two were Hatter enforcers. I felt the cold rush of adrenaline dumping into my system. I was trapped.

“Who are you?” Travis said.

“I don’t understand,” I said.

“Who are you?” Travis demanded. “Shake isn’t a friend of mine. I want to know why you know about me.”

“I already told you. Shake talked about you.”

Travis gestured, and the two guys grabbed me. Travis stepped closer. “What’s your name, punk?”

The noise from upstairs became noticeably louder — someone had opened the door. Someone started walking down the stairs. The two Hatters loosened their grip on me but didn’t release me.

I craned my neck to look over my shoulder. It was Angel. She was holding a red cup and looking perplexed.

“Is the bathroom down here?” she asked.

All three of them stared at her for a moment.

“Sorry babe, no bathroom down here,” Travis said. “How about you run back upstairs?”

“The bathroom isn’t down here?” she said.

He walked around me to escort her back upstairs. Angel kicked Travis in the stomach and slammed her knee into the head as he bent over. He crumpled to the concrete floor like a boneless animal.

I had been waiting for her to do something. I yanked free before the two Hatters could recover.

“Run!” I yelled.

Angel turned around and bounded up the stairs. I followed her.

Runner: a serial narrative – Part I

I’ve been working on a new project called “Runner” for about 2 months. The story is about entering adulthood. It’s an adventure and also a love story.

I’ll be posting more episodes in the future.

Read the post, or you can download a PDF from the link below. Enjoy!

Runner – Part 1

***

Prologue

I’m going to tell you a story.

In ancient times, the Athenians fought the invading Persians at the town of Marathon. The Athenians sent a courier named Phidippides to ask Sparta for reinforcements. He ran 150 miles to Sparta and back. Together, the Greeks defeated the larger Persian army and, according to legend, sent Phidippides back to Athens to announce the victory. He ran another 40 miles. Phidippides reached the city, cried “We have won!” then collapsed and died.

The story of Phidippides might not be true. To me, it’s a parable: this is how you should live. Most of our generation seems content to live vicariously, experiencing events through a liquid crystal monitor. We’re digital natives. Most of us have forgotten how to die for a cause. We are losing something …

Part I

I shot the basketball from beyond the 3-point line, and the ball dropped through the rim and jerked the net. I felt the gaze of the coaches.

“Okay boys, let’s wrap it up!” a coach yelled.

I followed the rest of the young men over to the cluster of coaches.

The assistant coach addressed us: “First off, thanks for coming out, I know you’re all busy with starting school. We’ll get in touch if we want you on the team.”

I walked back to the locker room. I noticed a cluster of students near the bleachers. They had watched the tryout like sport scouts, talking out of the sides of their mouths and occasionally typing something into their phones.

The cluster broke apart. One of them walked over to me. He was small and wiry, and he wore basketball shorts.

“I’m Evan,” he said. “You looked good out there.”

“Thanks.”

Evan followed me as I walked to the locker room.

“Do you think you’ll make the team?” he asked.

“Maybe,” I said.

I wasn’t going to make the team. Nothing separated me from the other players at the tryout.

“I want you to join my group if you don’t make the team,” he said.

“Are you recruiting for an intermural team?” I asked.

“No,” Evan said. “Listen, I know you have a void in your life. You played ball in high school, right? This can fill it. Give it a chance.”

Evan handed me a notecard. He turned and walked away. I watched him go.
The paper said:

The Pathfinders — parkour, free running
[phone number redacted]

I called the number.

Runner – Part II