Tampa Runner – On Your Mark – Chapter 1

“I hope the rednecks don’t show up and ruin everything.” Kyle maintained running at his current pace. It was fast, but no so fast as to be unbelievable. Being on one of his normal routes, anyone that noticed him put it out of their mind as a common fixture. Even in his dark-blue spandex pants, day glow green shirt and form fitted cap. The dark sunglasses fit within the Florida sunshine keeping the glare at bay and random debris out of his eyes. Running dresses as if it were winter was an odd sight in the Florida summer.

A glance at his wrist tracker showed his current speed. In this rural area, he felt safe from prying eyes, so he increased his pace. His legs and arms blurred as he pumped them faster. The readout on his tracker blinked twelve, twenty-seven, then jumped to forty-two. He reserved these speeds for night runs when it was cooler and less traffic. Summer reduced the traffic in most areas in the daytime and all but eliminated it back here. He leaned forward and went faster.

Fifty-three blocks flowed past his eyes and his tracker displayed twenty-two. This route had a turn coming up, and he slowed as he would approach a long road of houses. Getting spotted would lead to him being outed as a Meta-Human and then Dosed by the police. A peek at his tracker showed his pace slowed to a paltry eight.

The loud growl of the engine reached Kyle’s ears, followed by the hum of fast tires on pavement. Kyle shook his head and sighed. “Alvin and Horace. Just when I was having a good time, too.”

The shadow of the large pickup truck reached Kyle before it showed in his peripheral vision. As Kyle had run this route before, he had worn a path in the grass on the side of the road. This path allowed the truck to pull alongside Kyle.

“Kyle!” A sandy haired young man yelled from the open passenger window. “When are you going to get a clue and stop all that running?” Both passenger and driver chuckled at their joke.
“Horace. Alvin.” Kyle nodded to each of the truck’s occupants. This won’t end well.

“I’m Race and he’s Al.” The sandy-haired passenger banged a hand on the outside of the door. “You should remember that.” The truck inched closer to the edge of the asphalt but didn’t leave the ledge. Kyle maintained his pace, but slid his eyes to the truck and its decreasing distance from him.
“Sign!” Kyle stepped off the path for two quick strides, avoiding the yellow diamond shaped sign indicating a side road.

Horace yanked his head, shoulder, and arm back through the window. The force of his movement was such that he slid across the bench seat and nudged against Alvin, the driver. With one hand, Alvin shoved Horace back to the window shouting an expletive that the wind snatched away.
Kyle zagged back to his path. In a blur of motion, Kyle snatched the side-view mirror from the door mount and tossed it into the high grass.

Horace leaned back out the window. “You think that’s funny! I could have been decapitated.”

“I can dream can’t I?” Kyle smirked as he maintained his running speed.
“By the way.” Horace glanced forward, scanning for other obstacles. “We got a job with Maser Shipping. Making nineteen an hour. What’re you making at Dave’s Warehouse? Ten? Eleven?” Horace laughed and leaned out again. “Time to get a real job.”

“Watch out!” Kyle zigged-zagged around a collection of mailboxes. Horace leaned inside the cab of the truck. On his way back to the path, Kyle took the antennae from the truck and held onto it.

Horace leaned out again. “You know, if you would hit the gym instead of all this cardio, you might bulk up. The ladies love the muscles.” Horace flexed his arm. “Oh, that’s right. You don’t have a lady. Not since Sarah. When was that? Fifth? No, sixth grade.” More laughter.

Kyle turned his head towards the window. The dark shades hid the rage that seethed behind them.

The smack in the face brought his attention to the front. Kyle found himself trapped between the truck and tall bushes. Sticking one hand up to shield his face, Kyle picked his pace up faster. Horace had already rolled up his window. The view of Horace laughing and pointing came through the foliage gaps as he kept running.

Kyle took this opportunity to leave a message for his two antagonists. Using the thin branches and copious leaves as cover, he took the antennae and scratched across the point of the truck. His hand blurred as the branches cover the motion.

Breaking free of the bushes, Kyle tossed the improvised stylus to the side. His turn was in one block and the pickup truck sped away.

Taking the turn, Kyle wondered what would happen when Horace and Alvin pulled into some place that had people looking at them, which always seem to happen, and saw the word douche in capital letters etched into their paint job.

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