I will not bore you with the weather, but Goddamn was it something worth running from at the moment. My feet keep hitting the pavement with a rhythm. The rhythm of motion and of panic.
“Ride the bounce, ride the bounce,” I say.
And I do. It’s not so much running now as it is my feet hitting and rebounding. Newton’s Laws in real world use.
“Hey, where you going?” yells a girl as I pass.
I’m dumb: so I answer. She’s the type of pretty that makes guys like me stumble on our own words.
I do well enough though.
I wave my arms above my head.
“What storm?” she says.
“The one behind you!”
She answers again, but I’m too far away now. And my throat is thumping with how much air I need to not pass out on the sidewalk.
I’m in good shape. But the body has limits. And this storm took me by surprise.
I stumble down another path, turning sharp, but riding it along the curve. My feet, if I’m not careful, will hit sideways. But I make it well enough. I stumble though–the running version of a hiccup–but I’m okay.
A head sticks out of a door, an old woman. She smiles. I wave. I keep on the fuck running. I hope she has the sense to step back inside her abode.
Even if she does not know why.
Even if it won’t matter much in the long-term.
My hand cycles through a few positions for speed and wind resistance. Flat palm karate chopping the air wins the day. And still I go.
I look over my shoulder, nearly face-plant, but keep going. It confirms what I already knew. I am not, with ease anyway, going to outrun this thing.
Home is still five blocks away.
My pant slides, and I jerk it up and keep moving. I hear footsteps match mine and turn to see an equally out of breath man. He nods and pulls ahead of me.
On my left moves a girl, moving fast. I catch only the back of her tied blond hair.
“You know about the storm?” I sputter out between gulps.
We hit a busy street and we all stop in a blur of motion. She takes a second to look back as a procession of staring people in large trucks and small minivans stream on by in search of their kids at school.
“Yeah, you can see it too?”
“Yeah,” I say. “Is this your first storm?”
The final car passes, and it honks at her. She’s wearing running shorts and a sports bra and some people are pigs.
“There have been others?” she says.
“Yeah, there has been,” I run past her, making my way up the slight incline to the next sidewalk across the street. A delay and they catch up soon enough. Trailing behind me.
“How could there be one before?”
“There just was,” I answer.
“But there was nothing on the news.”
The man chimes in, but his voice is more a wheeze. I get why he chose to only talk now. “Will you stop being vague?”
“Can’t think too hard while running. This is my street up ahead. Do you need shelter?”
A pause. The man: “Ours is too far.”
The girl: “Yes, please.”
I nod and hope they see the motion on the back of my head. I don’t understand how I do it, but I will my body to go faster. How one runs faster, how one steps harder, is a question for a neurologist.
They follow me. The wind picks up, ruffling my hair. A guy standing outside looks at us in alarm, and then further feels alarmed from the flag over his house whipping so hard it takes the pole out of the ground.
I stop with a jolt that hurts my feet and I walk up to my door. A thunderbolt is loud, and I hear a car alarm agree with my sentiment. Like a knife strike, my key goes in and out and takes the door open.
I step in, and they do too. I slam the door just as the roar of racing water crashes into everything. Metal crumbles. My house shakes. A window shatters somewhere nearby.
“How did no one notice?” the girl now demands.
“Oh, they noticed. Then they all died,” I say.
I place my hand on her shoulder and she shivers. I can have that effect on people. I’ve never seen it on my face, but I know what must come across in my gaze.
“This is not the first world. Welcome to running. It’s about time someone else showed up in this multiverse.”