THURSDAY: Towards Infinity

BY BRIAN CONNELLY

Copyright is held by the author.

HE HEARD the crack of the pistol. One shot. Time to get away and quickly. The street was already clamorous with people pointing and shouting. His pursuers were already on the hunt.

A single gunshot and all these people are chasing me.

If they did catch him, he had a surprise ready, though he hoped he wouldn’t have to use it today. He planned to outlast them, wear them into the ground, all of them.

He leaned into a bend in the road without losing any speed. No need to look back. If they caught him, he would know soon enough. He had ridden this part the previous week and recalled how edgy he was then, anticipating what he was doing now. That ride had served him well as in his mind, he saw each twist, hill and turn in the road before he arrived at them.

That was his last clear, extended thought. His thoughts now came in brief bursts as the effort he was making extracted its toll. Running up the hill he looked neither back nor ahead. His focus was fixed, where his feet would land next. His entire universe contracted to that small space, the space he would next occupy. His only plan now was to move to that spot, focus on the next one and continue, towards infinity. He fought the urge to stop and surrender. He would not allow himself to imagine how good it would feel to walk, to lay down, even to allow his pursuers to catch him. Still, those very thoughts seeped into his consciousness.

He heard someone mutter “No.” It took several seconds before he realized he was the speaker. He sensed that all rational thought would soon abandon him.

Completely alone, he moved onwards. He could hear nothing — not his breathing, not his footsteps, not the sound of the people on either side of him.

Where did they come from?

They were all screaming something at him but he couldn’t make out what it was. He allowed himself a quick look over his right shoulder. Two from the pursuing pack had broken away and were rapidly gaining on him, each feeding off the energy of the other. Hungry pack predators all hunt the same way — a few take the lead and close in for the kill. That’s what they were doing now.

But solitary predators have their way of hunting too. With a final act of will he forced himself to run even faster. He could feel them closing in on him. Now for the surprise. He began to sprint. He had lured them closer to him, forcing them to use up their strength. Trapped in a no-man’s land between pack and prey, they had no chance.

No more looking back or sideways. He could make out people on the road. They’d get out of the way. Or not, he’d run right through them. Some pointed at him to turn. He did, accelerating even more. Twenty more strides and it would be over. Now 15. Suddenly he heard the roar of the crowd as he approached the tape held aloft by two people.

He fell across the finish line, the tape breaking, fluttered to either side.

He had won!

10 comments

  1. Mary Steer

    Well done, Brian! – pieces that read aloud well don’t always read well “solitary”, but I enjoyed this story on the page just as much as I did listening to it at CJ’s Cafe on a reading evening. 🙂

  2. frank

    As a lifelong runner, I appreciate a good fantasy, a moment of rare triumph for most of us runners stuck outside right side of the bell curve. As a writer, however, I have to admit that I found the story lacking a few essentials: a conflict, three acts, and a denouement.

  3. JAZZ

    I’m getting somewhat weary of the many stories here that end with a twist. Few can really pull it off and most come off not as a the surprise ending that the writer intended but more like a “duh” moment for the reader.

    I give you this quote from that famous Irish writer, Colm Toibin:
    “Ending a story is almost like putting a child to sleep — it can’t be done abruptly.

  4. Dave Moores

    Great little story Brian. For me it had a beginning, a middle and an end and, unlike others here I enjoy a twist at the end if done well, as this was. Definitely not a duh moment. Well done!

  5. Michael Joll

    I have enjoyed most of the flash fiction these past two weeks. I admire those who can pull it off. It is something I cannot do, though I have tried. I enjoy a miniature but I generally prefer a larger canvas. Thanks to all whose works appeared here over the year. I have learned much about my own deficiencies from your critiques and from reading your stories. Here’s to a great new year filled with success.

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