The topic/subject was run; and could be filled in anyway the writer saw fit as asides from running or run being in, a part, about or even just in the story, there were no rules asides from this. We had four entrants, you must select ONE winner, the one YOU liked best or were paid to vote for. The stories are in the spoiler boxes under the authors names.
It's the 2nd here in Australia so lets open voting for 8 days until the 10th at 11.59, which should be ample time. Good luck
Matthew Hoyer drove his brand new 1985 Ford Escort down the highway listening to Iggy Pop’s The Passengeron his tape deck. He could almost smell the ocean as he drove by downtown Los Angeles. A large semi truck merged in front of him, causing him to swerve into the fast lane, cutting off a balding man in glasses driving a red station wagon. As the driver honked his horn in frustration, Matthew popped his hand out and gave the station wagon driver the one finger salute.
Matthew was going over 80 now. He looked in his rear view mirror and laughed, “Leaving all you suckers behind.”
There was a blip in his mirror. A small smudge. Matthew licked his finger and began wiping the mirror.
Iggy Pop continued to sing through his speaker, “Oh the Passenger, He rides and he rides, He looks through his mirror, What does he see?”
Matthew looked back at the road as he passed by an orange Beetle. Looking back in his mirror he saw the smudge got bigger. Now it looked like a man. A runner.
“He rides and he rides, He sees things from under the glass, He looks through his window’s eye,”
The runner got closer. Matthew drove faster. He was pushing 90 now. Matthew kept looking into the mirror. It was definitely a man running towards him. Matthew drove faster.
“He sees the things he knows are his, He sees the bright and hollow sky, He see the stars are out tonight,”
Matthew looked in his rearview mirror. The runner man was no longer there.
‘Am I going crazy?’ he thought.
Then he looked to his right. The man was running right next to him. Matthew stared at the man, who turned his head towards Matthew, smiled and winked, before pointing up ahead of Matthew.
The Ford Escort sunk to the ocean floor. Iggy Pop continued to play.
“And all of it is yours and mine, And all of it is yours and mine, Oh, let’s ride and ride and ride.”
Matthew sat on the bank to the side of the bridge, soaking wet with blood trickling down his chin.
He looked up at the bridge barrier he smashed through. A red station wagon stopped near it. The balding man with glasses got out and yelled down at him, “Hey mister. You alright? I’ll get you help.”
Matthew laughed, “Take your time, pal." He lay backwards,
"I’m not in a hurry.”
Before the Corydon Plague struck, Troy Flanagan was a barista. It was a boring, low paid, repetitive job that kept his head just above poor but not by much. He'd roll his eyes when one of the hipster set would order a cats milk decaf with lemon or something else that was this week's cool.
But that was then. Coffee nowadays was rare, and unless you owned a cow or a goat, another rarity, there was no milk. And it was nights like this that he missed coffee and his humdrum existence. A life that was going nowhere except along.
Troy brought up his binoculars to scan the horizon for trouble. The sun was slowly sinking behind the hills making vibrant patterns in the sky, which was never a good sign.
"Anything?" Arabella Dominguez, the former Miss Puerto Rico, asked. "They often..."
"Would you like to take over?" Troy asked holding the binoculars out. "I'll happily get some sleep."
"I was just asking!" She moaned like miffed teenager.
Troy sighed, he'd love to yell at her but he also wanted to bang her, so he adjusted the strap of the binoculars for her. "Take a look yourself Ari."
She took them and paused. "Don't."
"Call me Ari. I hate it. My name is Arabella."
Troy's eyes and face returned to his days at the cafe. "What! Ever!"
Arabella scanned around when a small cloud of dust caught her eye. "What is that?"
"What's what?" Troy snarled.
"There!" Arabella handed back the binoculars. "Straight ahead, left of the..."
"I see it!" Troy adjusted the zoom. The cloud of dust focused into a small yellow VW covered in white flowers careening down the dirt road. "Oh $#!%!"
Troy grabbed her by the shoulders. "Run!"
The camp went it emergency mode as they scrambled for their lives. They had about twenty minutes maximum before all hell was going to break loose again. Commander McGurk, formerly known as Oliver McGurk the 2nd assistant manager of Copy-Lane before the plague, barked orders. "As we practised people! Let's go! This place needs to be empty in ten minutes! Move! Move! Move!"
People packed their meager belongings into vehicles and horses; children bundled into wagons as the camp quickly disassembled. Commander McGurk stood with a circle of twelve people, and held up a bag.
"Two of us stay so all of us get to run and survive another day. It's our turn since last bump out," he said as he jingled the bag. "Ten white balls, two red. Hand in, hold it and we all reveal once we've all chosen. You get a red, you stay. No fighting. No swapping. You accept your fate like an American."
They nodded and muttered sombrely as the first man reached into the bag and took a ball. The process repeated until the Commander took his. "On three. One, two, three."
The group opened their fists and Arabella and Fat Jack, once upon a time known as Marvin Jackson semi professional online poker player, revealed their fate.
"Good luck," McGurk said handing them each an M-16. "Rest of you. Let's go people! Move! Move! Move!"
Troy walked towards Arabella to say something, anything but hesitated. He smiled awkwardly and left.
"What the hell are you doing?" Arabella snapped as Troy took up a position next to her. "And where's Fat Jack?"
Troy shrugged. "He wanted to swap, and I said yes."
"Madre de dios!" Arabella said as she checked on the progress of the VW. It has close enough to see without the binoculars. It would all go down shortly. "Why?"
Troy checked his M-16. "I've never done anything heroic or noble in my life. Today, I get to do that. I also get to do it next to a pretty girl I'm trying to impress."
"You should've run when you had the chance," Arabella replied. "I don't like boys. Sorry."
Troy was crushed like a can in a pneumatic press; his fantasy of dramatically saving the day and winning the girl were just that. "I knew that."
A squeal of brakes broke the tension as the VW halted on the edge of the camp. Slowly the door opened. A large red shoe flopped out, followed by an elongated leg which brought a lanky clown out who stood up tall and creepy. He was followed by another clown. And another. And another. And another. And soon thirty five clowns had stepped out of the impossibly small vehicle; armed with an array of weapons from the silly to sinister.
"Now?" Arabella asked.
"Wait until the car door closes," Troy whispered back. "McGurk says you need them all out before engaging."
A raucous peal of laughter erupted, chilling Arabella and Troy to their souls before it ended as the car door shut and the clowns moved forward with their various honks and squeaks.
"I f^*€!ng hate clowns!" Arabella said. "Even before the Plague."
"I love you," Troy whispered as he lined up the Hobo Clown. "FIRE!"
The bullet slammed through the Hobo's throat, an explosion of confetti and blood flew from the wound. Arabella sprayed wildly and the clowns split into packs, though the midget clown caught a hefty barrage of lead. Troy aimed and blew the skull off a Pagliacci making the sad clown look even sadder. The clowns responded with a hail of juggling balls, rubber chickens and chattering teeth.
Troy grabbed Arabella by the elbow and yanked her away. "Aim for the heads, noses and throats!"
"I'm trying but there's too many of them!" Arabella screamed as the burst was dodged. Her gun clicked empty. "I'm out!"
"Here!" Troy handed her his gun as he picked up a crowbar. "We need to give the others time to run."
A fat clown bounded up spraying a blast from his seltzer bottle. Troy ducked and slammed the crowbar into the chin sending the head backwards at an angle no head should go. The blow was solid but the weird sound effect that went with it meant the clown was far from done. It grabbed its head and self corrected the damage, readjusting back to normal. The clown went to speak but was interrupted by Arabella's gun barrel into its mouth then blowing its brains out.
"Thanks!" Troy said as more clowns surrounded them like a pack of wild dogs. Arabella and Troy stood back to back circling. A clown in traditional attire leap forward only to receive a bullet to the face which blue his rainbow hair clean off. The clowns paused. They silently looked at each other, which was probably the most haunting thing about the Corydon Plague, the silences.
Eerily one began to chant the March of the Gladiators. "Do-do-dooddoo-do-do-do..." And one by one the others joined as the terrible chant became a chorus. Suddenly from out of a box held by a clown on a unicycle shot a boxing glove, knocking Arabella out cold. Troy scooped up the gun.
"Keep away from her!" He warned pointing the gun. As one, almost mockingly, the circle took a step inwards. Troy fired a shot into the shoulder of the unicycle clown knocking him backwards but he immediately shot back up; a stream of rainbow cloths shot out the wound. A large gaff hook was produced from a small bag in what otherwise would've comedic fashion. Troy pulled the trigger only to have the gun resonant an empty click. Three clowns drew guns and fired at him; only to have flags adorned with BANG! on them pop out. The clowns roared with laughter. Troy raised the crowbar.
"We'll come on!" He yelled surging forward swinging. But as he did the gaff hook lashed out, snared Arabella and pulled her into the circle. The clowns pounced on her. Troy screamed and waded in, slamming the metal bar into them but only occasionally would a blow actually register. A clown with red hair smashed a pair of cymbals over his head knocking him around before another clown threw him backwards.
Troy scrambled to his feet to see the dog pile of clowns part, and their newest member step forward. Arabella, now with a white face and bloodied red eyes shambles forward.
"No!" Troy gasp as the clowns applauded.
"Run!" Arabella croaked. "Runnndo-do-dooddoo-do-do!"
Troy turned tail to flee only to be cut off by a clown with an oversized mallet. He threw the crowbar at him but it was caught easily and tossed aside.
"Are you ready for the main event?" the clown asked as he raised the hammer. Troy couldn't help but scream as the hammer came down upon his head.
And then there silence. Eerie creepy clown silence.
Running was breathing. Even when he moved so fast it hurt, Aero Basil just kept moving faster. In the confines of his city, an unnamed urban metropolis devoid of hope and instead filled with a combination of muck, gunk and people, Aero often found himself feeling like an asthmatic trapped by a pack of smokers.
That's why he'd turned to the drugs, they helped remind Aero of a time long since past, when the skies actually showed a hint of colour, and things weren't nearly as strictly monitored as they were now. The drugs made Aero feel good, as opposed to the retched churning in his stomach he felt whenever he woke up.
Then, this very morning, Aero had woken up in the crappy, downtown apartment he was squatting in, still feeling the effects of his latest high, and... after taking a couple of minutes to wake up, he had seen God hovering above his bed.
Aero had blinked a dozen times in surprise, naturally unsure about whatever it was he was seeing. This divine being that floated above him, was unlike anything Aero could ever possibly have hoped to conceive, a transparent being that crackled blue smoke like a furnace, while hovering in the foul stinking air by his own power.
"Touch my hand, you loser." God had said, nodding down at his extended limb, his voice neutral in gender, yet powerful with emotion. The light of this being seemed to shift with his emotions, turning from electric blue to blood red, and for whatever reason the glassy substance of this being's skin hardened into something not entirely unlike granite.
Confused, and partially asleep, Aero did as he was asked, reaching his finger upwards and placing his finger to God's palm, where he immediately felt a change take over his body, and he became divine. The boy's legs started to move on their own, pulling him from bed, and the raindrops on Aero's windowstill seemed to stop in their tracks, seemingly paused entirely as this pathetic little junkie found his purpose and began to run.
Honestly, Aero had never been very good at it, physical education had been something he'd avoided like the plague during his forced police training, almost immediately his chest started to ache like some beast was trying to tear through. His feet kept knocking into each other, as mentioned Aero's breathing couldn't be more out of place, and as he made his way down the stairs of his building, he found several of his neighbours posing like the world's most mundane collection of waxworks. Yet despite moving between the seconds at speeds that would pummel any other person, Aero could hear noises, long and constant, droning and bouncing through the hallways.
Stepping out into rain drenched streets, bathed in neon lighting from the advertisements hovering far above, Aero began to run, weaving through the statues on the pavement and watching in stoned awe at the aqua blue waves of energy washing and rippling from his body.
"Craazzzy." He muttered to himself before jumping into the road and beginning to hop and clamber between the cars, never once questioning the circumstances that had given him these gifts, at one point Aero stopped by a frozen bus and caught a look at his reflection, a young black man wearing the cheapest fashion that the 22nd century had to offer. Yet while he was admiring himself, a dull echo seeemed to slide through the air, coming from a nearby shopping mall, packed to the brim with the mindless drones that seemed to frequent such places. It sounded like a drumbeat, one that the young man tapped his foot to at one point, yet, upon listening more carefully, Aero realised that what he was actually hearing was a call for help.
Never one to get involved in other people's problems, yet feeling confident with his new gifts, Aero moved into the mall at lightning speed and saw a crowd gathered motionless around a man being clubbed by the police for some unseen offence. Aero zipped up the officer with the club and popped it out of the man's hand, taking it for his own. He took a glance at the scenario, and decided to have a little fun, a smile twitching across his face, as Aero placed his hand on the police officer's chest.
"You're welcome." He said as the officer shot across the room like a bullet, slamming into a couple of bins. A loud, shocked gasp flowed from the crowd, all surprised by the strange new arrival as they watched the other police officers stumble and fall seemingly at random.
Aero looked around, noticing his return to normality.
"Are you here to save us?" Someone asked.
"Save yourselves." The oddity laughed before disappearing with a bright blue flash.
The police in this place were just one of the many, many things that made it completely awful, and as Aero returned to his mentally relaxing sprint, streaming through the nameless city he'd been in his whole life, he saw examples of pain and sadness on everyone's faces.
"Go forn yourselves." He thought. There was a goal etched into his brain, one he'd had since his parents had left him all alone. Yet Mister Basil's recounting of this plan was interrupted by yet another cry for help, this one less human than the first, and this time coming from a nearby car park.
A gang of teens, wearing hoodies and all huddled together, were dangling a stray, black cat by the tail, seemingly intent on introducing the creature to the gas lighter blazing from one of the gang member's hands. Anger flashed in Aero's eyes, shifting his blue energy into a violent shade of red. Lunging quickly into the group, Aero ripped them apart in less time than it took to blink, and when it was done, and Aero stood covered in blood and guts and holding the warm fur of a stray cat close to his chest, that Aero an to realise something. He started to wonder about the circumstances that had brought him to this point, and started to craft a theory,
Maybe it hadn't been God who'd gifted him these abilities.
Maybe it had been the Devil.
This idea seemed to infest Aero's mind, spreading through his synapses as his new friend nuzzled up, warm against his chest, and Aero Basil knew that whatever plans he'd had to leave this place, would have to be put on hold until he sorted this problem,.. whatever this problem was, and got to the truth of things.
A frustrated smile upon on his face, one made all the more disturbing upon remembering the bloody splattered on his body, Aero looked up the street... and vanished.
XLR8R (“accelerator”) is a drug that gives the user superspeed, and was developed by the criminal XL, who is also a user of the drug. It makes the user think faster which is its chief allure, often being bought by college students. Students often refer to it as In-A-Blur, because it’s an “enabler,” allowing them to think and do things “in a blur.” You may also hear it referred to as Lite-Speed, because it makes ordinary speed seem like a downer. Designed to be addictive, addicts will often use their speed to commit crimes. Many addicts committing robberies have accidentally killed their victims by striking them at superspeed while running. If caught, they are charged with manslaughter on the first offense (rather than involuntary manslaughter, since they voluntarily took the drug) and murder on subsequent offenses.
Not working the same as superspeed gained through other means, XLR8R accelerates the body’s metabolism, burning away fat at first, which is another reason that people get into the drug. Unfortunately, with its addictive properties, most go too far, and the drug starts metabolizing muscle too. Many addicts die from this, overusing the drug to the point of their bodies metabolizing everything it can until they die from massive cardiac failure; their bodies shriveled to the bones. Addicts who die like this, or who are clearly headed that way, are commonly referred to as a “jerky,” rather than “junkie,” and are said to be “overR8ed” (“overrated”). They are also called Suicide Runners, since the super speed most often leads to their death.
“OverR8,” “overR8ting” and “overR8ed” have become slang terms associated with the use of XLR8R. Also, in association with “jerky,” users are also vulgarly referred to as “jerking off.” i.e. “Man, that guy jerked himself off a long time ago.” A more accepted way of saying this is, “He overR8ed a long time ago.” When dealing with the public, please use the “overR8ed” version.
XLR8R, although often fatal, is not as terminal as LMN8 which causes most users to spontaneously combust. Users with the strength of will to use the drug in moderation are often perceived as very smart as they tend to use the drug to enhance their brainpower. However, they tend to not be able to sit still, and often talk rapidly like a person with too much caffeine in their system. Talking at superspeed is a dead giveaway, and people trying to do an intervention for a user often have to shoot them with several tranquilizers to slow them down enough to talk to them. Some users can find the right balance of using the drug and not, to give themselves superspeed for a purpose. One of these is the drug’s designer, XL, but it’s likely that he’ll overR8 at some point.
In conjunction with Fast Company, super speed harnesses are being developed for first responders to help combat this problem. Known as F.R.E.S.H., short for the First Responder Emergency Speed Harness, it will allow first responders to match speed with those under the influence of XLR8R. The harness has been tested in the field for some time now by the Fast Company sponsored superheroine Redline. For this reason, F.R.E.S.H. is also known as the Redline System. When we have a release date for this harness, an announcement will be made via press conference.