The Race

He ran like a madman.

Fear propelled him forward like a second pair of legs, like wings he did not know he had until they unfolded and swept him down the road. His breath came in short gasps. His forehead was beaded with sweat, the cold caused his legs to itch.

He strained to hear footsteps, but beyond the pounding of blood in his ears, it was heard to hear anything any more. Would they catch up?

He redoubled his speed. At this pace, it seemed hard to say if he could have stopped even if he wanted to.

He would have to outrun the enemy.

And so he ran

.

.

.

What seemed like a decade later, when he could no longer run without a break, when the desire for rest fought with the desire to race and won, he slowed down and then stopped. Almost too scared to look, he turned around…

.

No one.

The road was empty. Relief coursed through his system, left him weak.

None of his friends or colleagues raced down the road – or at any rate, they were certainly not close behind. In the distance, there may or may not have been the sound of pattering footsteps, but if so they were reassuringly faint and distant.

By the time time they caught up (and God forbid they should!) he would be on the run again. He was ahead. He needed to be ahead.

Belatedly, as his breath settled, he searched for his parents, but they seemed to have fallen by the wayside at some point. He could barely remember them anyway, beyond vague memories – two pairs of old fashioned spectacles, faded cotton, starched shirts, worried expressions. He did not have the luxury of time to invest in love.

For a moment, childhood memories threatened to close in – but the sound of footsteps closing in took precedence. Fear lit his eyes once more, turning them pitch black and he began to run again.

 

Tired legs carried him forward, ambition fueled them. Slowly he gained speed.

In a few moments, beyond the curve in the road, he could be seen no more.

.

.

Somewhere in the stretch of grey road behind him, a pair of old-fashioned spectacles lay wedged into the side of the road, cracked lenses glinting in the sudden moonlight.

And then darkness closed in.

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