Secret Origins – Speeder

“Well, you got another one Clint,” Harold said to the younger man. “You got your work cut out for you. What is this, five?”

“Yeah.” Clint nodded. “Five. Uh, dad?”

“I’ll watch them as I can. You keep the money and food coming in.” Harold smiled at Clint. “It’s what Grandpas do.”

“Thanks,” Clint said, smiling at his father. “Besides, you live across the street.”

Harold chuckled as he left his son in the hospital room. He wondered out to the parking lot and into his car. With a smile on his face and a happy thought in his head, Harold didn’t see the tanker truck in front of him swerve a few times.

What Harold did saw the truck jack-knife and tip over. He watched as the large metal container rolled over in slow motion. The contents sloshing over the road.

Harold’s knuckles turned white as he grit his teeth and yanked the steering wheel to avoid a direct collision. The liquid on the asphalt had other plans for Harold’s truck and sent him careening into he underbelly of the tank. A miracle happened when the two vehicles didn’t explode.

Several motorists pulled both the truck driver and an unconscious Harold to safety.

Several hours later, Harold regained consciousness. He found himself in a metal tube with a loud clicking noise. A strap held his head on the narrow pad. His body felt cold, but he could see a white cloth over him.

“Where..where..where am I?” Harold mumbled his question, but the container he lay in muffled it to nothing.

One loud thunk sounded and blinding white light covered Harold’s eyes. His body stiffened, making his back arch.

“AHHHHHHHHH!!!!”

Then everything went black.

Harold Kline opened his eyes. He moved his mouth to speak, but something blocked the movement.

“Nurse!” Harold recognized that voice. “Nurse! He’s awake.”

The sound of movement and then the item in his mouth was removed.

“Mr. Kline, you’re in a hospital.” The disconnected voice floated above him. Soon a stern face came in to focus. “You’re going to feel some discomfort for a while, but it will pass.”

“Where am I?” Harold tilted his head to a side. Another figure came into view. “Clint. What happened to me, son?”

“Uh, dad?” Clint looked at the nurse, who nodded. “You were in a coma.”

“What?” Harold moved to sit up, but hands on his chest pushed him back down. “That accident wasn’t that bad.”

“Dad.” Clint stepped closer. “That was nine months ago.”

“What!” Harold stopped all moving and stared wide eyed at his son.

“See?” Clint brought a small child into view. “You met Molly the day she was born. She’s almost a year.” Clint pulled a blanket back exposing a angelic face with a pug nose.

“That..that..that’s not possible.” Harold slumped back to his bed. “What happened?”

Clint took nearly a hour to explain what happened to his father. The accident broke both of his legs. The chemical didn’t do anything they could find. The MRI machine malfunctioned and that is what threw Harold into a coma. Over the past few months, the MRI manufacturer and shipping companies have been dealing with Clint on how to compensate Harold.

“So now, you are wealthy,” Clint said. “You were already retired with a great pension.”

“Dammit, Clint!” Harold slowly worked himself to a sitting position. “It ain’t about the money. What about my house? Or my truck? Am I crippled?”

“Well,” Clint said, stepping back a little. “The house is fine. Viv and I have been looking after it. No we didn’t move in. The truck was replaced fully by the shipping company. Newest model.” When he finished this part, Clint’s jaws clicked shut.

“And?” Clint swung his feet over the edge of the bed. He spied two aluminum canes with metal wrist wraps.

“Uhhh,” Clint muttered and licked his lips. “They said your legs are healed, but you will have trouble walking. So they got you those.”

Harold narrowed his eyes at his son. His chest moved up and down in a heavy motion. Harold’s jaw flexed several times. “Get me my clothes, boy.”

“Yessir.” Clint lowered his child to a carrier and strapped her in. He moved to a dresser and pulled out the clothes he brought last week. Carrying them over to Harold, he said, “You’ve lost some weight, so I got you some new ones. Viv washed them twice, like you like.”

Grumbling, and using the bed as leverage, Harold dressed. He felt is in his legs when he put on his pants. Standing on one leg was never a problem before, but when he shifted he felt a knee flex.

Dr. Robinson stepped in as Harold finished. “Well, it seems you are ready to be discharged. We have to run some tests before, and have you schedule some follow ups-”

“I ain’t doin’ that.” Harold shifted to both his feet. “I’m walking out that door and out this damn hospital.”

“Mr. Kline,” Dr. Robinson said. “If you can walk to the door unaided, I’ll discharge you myself.”

“Humph.” Harold looked at the door.

“Dad, don’t be stupid.” Clint stepped forward extending an arm. “He’s a doctor.”

“And I’m just 67 and barely retired.” Harold shoed Clint back “I’m walking and that’s that.”

Harold took one step, and both knees faltered. Clint lunged forward and grabbed his father, keeping him from falling.

“Dad,” Clint helped him back to the bed. “Use the canes.”

“I still ain’t coming back.” Harold fit the canes on his wrists and gripped the handles. With a slow methodical walk, he cleared the door. Turning down the hall, he poked at the floor with each cane and made for the elevator. He jabbed the lobby button then tottered out the sliding glass doors.

The wind hit him in the face and he sighed.

“Dad!” Clint carried the heavy plastic seat with his child strapped in. “I just signed you out. You need to be careful.”

“Where’s my new truck?” Harold scanned the parking lot. “Keys!”

“Umm, they’re at home with the truck.”

“Fine. I’ll walk.” Harold stepped off the curb.

“Dammit, Dad.” Clint moved to grab his father. “It’s twelve miles.”

“If I can’t walk twelve miles, you might as well shoot me.”

“Dad!” Clint moved and locked eyes with his father. “What is wrong? Why are you being so stubborn?”

Harold turned his head. He coughed, hiding the croak in his voice. “I’ve worked everyday my adult life. Aside from an occasional sickness, I’ve never been laid up. Ever.” Harold turned to face Clint. Tilting his head so that he looked at the pavement, he followed with, “Now I’m I cripple. Useless. Worthless.”

“What?” Clint narrowed his eyes and leaned forward. “That is such bullshit coming out of your mouth, I don’t believe you are my own father.”

“Boy, don’t you talk to me with that language.” Harold lifted his head.

“Shut up, old man. You, of all people, are not not worthless, let alone useless.” Clint put his hands on Harold’s shoulders. “You’ve not only taught me my work ethic, you showed it to me. I got to where I am in my company because of that ethic. My wife loves the income I make and the life I have provided.”

Harold stared back not saying a word.

“Dad,” Clint said. “You are not crippled. You can still move and do things. You’ll just need some help now and then. That is where I come in. You got this. Trust me.” Clint smiled at his father. “My car’s over here. Let me drive you home.”

“Thank you son,” Harold said through a catch in his throat. “I was serious about walking. It’ll give me time to adjust to these and clear my head.”

“I’m not gonna push you,” Clint said. “Call me if you need me. I’ll come get you.” He hugged his father and went to his car.

Harold navigated to the sidewalk. He looked the length of it and sighed. Shifting his grip he started his slow, methodical walk.

Random thoughts floated in Harold’s head. The death of his wife. The accident and what happened. How he would keep his house up. What shape was his finances in. Did Clint mess something up on the paperwork for the settlement?

He turned at the end of the parking lot and headed in the direction of home. After a few minutes he noted the breeze. It felt good on his face and he smiled. The wind blew through his hair and it reminded him of his wife running her fingers over it. The breeze turned into a gust that carried an odd sound. A rapid staccato sound. The beat matching the movement of his arms.

Glancing around to find where the noise came from, Harold noticed the scenery blurred past him. His eyes widened as his mouth fell open. Snapping it shut, a bug collided with his lips. He spit, and looked down. His legs moved faster than when he ran as a child.

“What happened to me?” He didn’t answer, only picked his pace up faster. Pulling the canes up he took several steps. His knees and hips yelped, so he poked the supports back down. “Guess I still need these handles.” Chuckling he tilted his torso forward, swung his legs in a longer stride, and imitated it with his arms. He was running. “WEEEEEE!!!!”

Harold covered the zig-zag route to his house in under five minutes. As he stood on his front porch turning the key to his front door, a car pulled into the driveway across the street. Throwing his eyes over his shoulder he saw Clint get out of the car with the baby carrier.

“You were right, boy.” Harold went inside. “Now, what do I do with this?”


See Speeder in action HERE

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Special Delivery – The Race

Karl Roberts and Malcolm Forsyth exited the elevator together. Malcolm rolled to his desk while Karl walked to his. They both logged into their stations and read emails. Their fingers blurred as they responded or deleted items accordingly.

Their client lists populated on their secondary monitors.

Karl spotted the plus sign on the label for Stonewall. Tapping on the sign, the second label appeared for Barb. He noted the EMT assigned to Barb.

“Malcolm,” Karl called across the cubes that separated them. “Do you have Barb on your list?”

“Ummm,” Malcolm said, scanning his monitor. “Yup. He appears to be on mission with Stonewall. You got Stonewall?”

“Sure do,” Karl said. “Those two are notorious for causing problems and getting hurt.”

“Yeah,” Malcolm said with a heavy breath. “Let’s hope they both don’t need-”

BEEP BEEP BEEP!

The deafening sound emitted from both Malcolm and Karl’s monitors.

“You jinxed us,” Karl said exiting his workstation.

“Whatever,” Malcolm rolled his eyes as his arms circled around the wheels of his wheelchair.

Both EMTs called out their names and indicated their patients.

The doors to the rapid deployment elevator banged open, and both EMTs entered.

“Traffic conditions are building as the early morning commute picks up,” the voice said over the speakers. “Officials have been notified, and you have been given clearance for maximum capable speed.”

“Thank you, control,” Malcolm said as he tightened his gloves and spun his wheelchair around.

Karl pulled his goggles from his forehead to his eyes and shook his arms and legs.

At the ground floor, the doors flung open, and both speedsters exited. Rotating lights flashed yellow and starting blocks appeared in the flat surface.

Karl stepped into the blocks and leaned forward on his fists. Malcolm’s wheelchair folded over and the wheels widened. He crouched forward and gripped the back of his wheels.

Both gave a stiff nod. The yellow light turned to green, and both bolted from the street level pad.

“Your destinations are approximately twenty-five miles away,” the voice said over their earbuds. “Traffic patterns have not changed, but there is an accident on the secondary route involving a semi-truck.”

“Understood,” Malcolm said. His hands alternately gripped each of his wheels. The dark blur zipped through vehicles, people, and random objects in his way. Wisps of smoke blew away as he zoomed on.

Karl responded with, “Good to know.” He vaulted smaller objects, ran over vehicles, and dodged the ones that kept moving.

Both EMT’s wrist panels vibrated and chirped. A quick glance showed they were approaching the location of their patients. They slowed their pace and entered the abandoned airstrip.

Their wrist panels indicated Barb and Stonewall were three hundred yards away.

“They’re just lying there,” Malcolm said as he moved to adjust his equipment for transport. When he touched his wheels, a hand darted out and gripped his shoulder.

“Wait!”

Karl’s head inched from left to right. His eyes picked over the landscape. “Something’s not right.”

“What da ya mean,” Malcolm asked as he scanned the scene.

“There’s no foot prints,” Karl said. “None here, except mine. How did they get out there? Neither one can fly.”

Malcolm and Karl looked at the two bodies.

Karl walked forward, then turned his head towards Malcolm. “Let me check it out.” Karl zipped in the direction of the prone forms.

When his left foot contacted the ground several yards in, his brain registered a noise. The world around Karl slowed, and he looked at his foot. He saw the flames and debris flying out from the ground. The extension on his shoe dented and peeled away. Instincts kicked in and he backpedaled. The force crashed into Karl. With arms splayed and legs kicking, Karl flipped twice in the air.

Malcolm winced from the thump Karl made in the dirt next to him. Malcolm rolled over to his prone co-worker and extended a hand.

“Told you something was wrong,” Karl huffed as he jerked to a standing position. “I got hit by a trap before and they ain’t fun.”

“Depends on your point of view.”

Karl and Malcolm stared at each other. They each turned and looked in the direction the raspy voice sounded.

“From where I’m standing, that was funny.” The smile split the dark, mask covered face. Large white teeth showed in contrast of the scarred skin peeking beneath the cowl.

“Shit,” Malcolm spat. “Back-Fire!”

“Who’s he,” Karl asked.

“He makes explosives,” Malcolm answered.

“So, my reputation precedes me,” Back-Fire chuckled and took a step forward. “If you want to save Stonewall and Barb, you have to go through the maze.”

“Control,” Karl shouted. “Priority alert!” Karl’s arm blurred as he touched his ear. “Control?” He moved his finger around and in his ear. The goggles didn’t hide his wide eyes. “Where’s my earbud?” Malcolm was the only one to hear him. Malcolm checked his ear and found the earbud there missing.

Gritting his teeth, Malcolm reached for the back of his wheels. “He can’t hurt what he can’t hit!” Malcolm rolled his shoulders and thrust his hands forward. The enhanced wheelchair darted forward with a rooster tail of dust trailing behind. He cleared the distance to the gate and then touched the road.

In the next instant, he found himself at his starting place. Malcolm kept rolling his wheels. Each time he hit the road he reappeared sitting next to Karl. After six attempts he stopped.

“Roll, roll, fast as you can,” a thin man appeared next to Back-Fire. A blue t-shirt tucked into faded jeans was all he wore for a costume. That and wrap around sunglasses. “I can catch you, little gingerbread man.” The new guy let out a high pitched giggle that carried little mirth.

Back-Fire shifted in place. “The rules are simple. All you have to do is get to your patient.” With a hip cocked, he put both hands on his hips. “Like any race, only one can win. The other,” Back-Fire tilted his head to one side and a corner of his mouth tightened as he shoulder shrugged. “You can’t go directly to them. Piggy Back will reset ya.” Piggy Back, the new guy, flashed a rictus smile and let out another giggle.

Karl looked at Malcolm then back to Back-Fire. “Look, we’re-”

Back-Fire held up a finger, “On your mark.”

Malcolm locked his eyes with Karl. Next he reached back and adjusted one of the straps on his wheelchair. With his fingers he flicked the loose end so it dangled. Then looked back at Karl.

“Get set,” Back-Fire said, raising a second finger.

Piggy Back shouted, “Whoa!”

Back-Fire opened his hand and splayed his fingers. A small yellow-gold glow appeared. It exploded with a sharp crack.

Both speedsters took off and then separated in opposite directions. Their paths carried them in a large circle around the area seeded with explosives.

Karl’s legs and arm pumped. With his staggered step, he worked at not tripping or falling.

Malcolm hunched over and swung his arms in a steady pattern. Up, forward, spread fingers, rake the dirt, and start over. Several times he spotted small glowing spheres. They were tossed into the backdraft he created with his wheelchair.

Karl passed Malcolm at the top of their circle and saw what Malcolm was doing. Letting his body lurch in the natural gate, Karl also scooped chunks of dirt and the occasional glowing sphere.

After two passes, both speedsters had a dust cloud following their wakes.

“Hmmm,” Back-Fire said. “Didn’t count on that. It’ll choke em.”

Piggy Back giggled. “Choke on their own dust. Because breathing is a must.”

Back-Fire nodded.

Karl and Malcolm brought the circle tighter and tighter. Several glowing spheres followed both EMTs. Karl pointed to the figures on the ground at the center.

“We’re close enough to get them,” Karl shouted.

On the next pass, Malcolm nodded. “Zoom in on Back-Fire. I’ll come up behind you.” Karl nodded.

At the top of the circle, Karl turned for the direction of Back-Fire. The dust cyclone, along with their blurs, hid their actions.

Karl broke through the flying debris. He leaned forward and poured on the speed with his stutter step. The distance was cleared in an instant.

“Shit!” Back-Fire stepped backwards.

Piggy Back threw both of his hands forward and Karl disappeared.

The dark figure behind Karl cleared the same distance. Malcolm tucked his chin to his chest and clenched his jaws.

Piggy Back screamed like a girl and repeated his actions. Malcolm disappeared.

The rippling sound of small explosions rolled in waves across the flat expanse of the airfield.

Karl scooped up Barb. Malcolm did the same with Stonewall. They redirected for the closest exit, which was how they came in.

The last of the spheres exploded as Karl, followed by Malcolm approached. Both Piggy Back and Back-Fire fall in exaggerated slow motion as the speedy EMTs crested the gate. The two villains hit the ground as Karl and Malcolm turned down the road and disappeared.

Karl and Malcolm turned from the desk at the hospital.

“Hey, speedy,” a man said, walking towards the EMTs.

“Fisticuffs,” Karl said, shaking the hero’s gloved hand. “This is Malcolm. We just brought in Stonewall and Barb.”

“Yeah,” Fisticuffs said. “I just heard. You also took out Piggy Back and Back-Fire. How’d you do that?”

“Well,” Malcolm rubbed his chin. “Karl lost his shoe extension when he stepped into a trap.”

“Again,” Fisticuff turned and smiled at Karl. “You’ve gotta stop that.”

“Yeah,” Karl blushed.

“I guessed where the bombs were,” Malcolm continued talking. “Giving Karl a signal, we took off running. Going in opposite directions we circled around the trap area. We tossed up the bombs along with dirt and small rocks. This gave us cover, and the bombs fell into our wake.”

“Wait!” Fisticuffs held out a hand. “You two ran in circles dragging explosives?”

Karl nodded. “When we had most of them in the air, we ran at Piggy Back and Back-Fire.”

“Let me guess,” Fisticuffs switched his stance and tilted his head. “They didn’t expect that. Piggy Back panicked and teleported each of you away.”

“Just on the other side of the dust we kicked up,” Malcolm said.

“They missed the bombs,” Karl added. “We grabbed out patients and booked before they even hit the ground.”

“Yeah, we did,” Malcolm held a hand up and Karl completed a hi-five.

“Good,” Fisticuffs said. “I have something for both of you.” He reached into a pouch on his belt. Extending a hand, Fisticuffs held two gold colored plastic cards. “We’re recruiting. Be there Friday. New Employee briefing at 8:30. Breakfast buffet opens at 7:45. You two look like you could use a meal to three.” Fisticuffs turned and walked away.

Karl and Malcolm looked at the card in their hands, then each other. Their faces flushed, eyes went wide, and mouths hung open. “No way!”

Special Deliver – Malcolm (Final)

Part 1 & Part 2

“Mom ain’t here now, is she?” Malcolm stared up at the man.

“That’s not funny and you know it.” Green clad man’s chest moved in and out as he breathed. “I did what I could.”

“Which was lacking, as always.” Malcolm sneered as he slid his hands back on his arm rests.

“Just like when we were kids. You had to be the best.”

“Didn’t have to be, just was.” Malcolm leaned forward. “I worked at it. It wasn’t easy.”

“Well, ladeedah. Poor little crippled man had a hard life.”

“You put me in this chair when you did what you did.”

The green costumed man cleared the distance between them in half an eye-blink.

A blur of green punches rained down on Malcolm, as he met each one with an arm. His other hand moving to unbuckle him from the seat. The opening was but a thought, but Malcolm took it and nailed a punch to green costume’s mid section. Green clad man doubled over and staggered back several  paces.

Malcolm yanked on his arm rests. The devices extended with one end encircling his forearms, and a grip in each hand. Malcolm poked at the ground as he tottered a few steps.

“Well now,” the green man said. “You aren’t relegated strictly to that chair.”

“Never have been,” Malcolm replied. “You would know this if you hung around.” Malcolm shifted so that he had one crutch forward and one back. He splayed his legs, as best as he could.

“Do they work?” The green man pointed at Malcolm’s legs.

“I can move them, but not walk on them.” Malcolm looked at the green man in the goggles. “Everything else still functions. Thanks for not taking that from me.”

“I take it the gymnastics helped with the moving?” The green man looked at the ground around both of them and hunched his shoulders.

“You bet. In more ways then one.”

“Good.” The green man dashed to get around Malcolm.

Malcolm manipulated to intercede.

The green man juked the other direction, but Malcolm cut him off.

“I gotta get Vanguard Malcolm.”

“I gotta get Vanguard out of here Mitchell.”

“Don’t make me do this.”

“Like before? Did I make you do that, too?”

“Fuck you.”

Mitchell kicked at Malcolm. Malcolm intercepted with a crutch. Mitchell adjusted his target and swept both crutches out.

Malcolm dove for the ground, and rolled with the impact and erected himself with his crutches again.

“You’ve gotten faster,” Mitchell said. “Impressive.”

“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” Malcolm tottered forward and splayed his legs.

Mitchell sent out a punch that was nothing more than a blur.

Malcolm windmilled a leg, deflecting the punch. His other leg followed and clipped Mitchell on the side of the head. A quick flick of his crutch and Malcolm tagged Mitchell in the lower leg. Mitchell attempted a counter, but was blocked by Malcolm’s other crutch. Malcolm followed through with three more hits, two with legs and one with a crutch.

“Shit!” Mitchell staggered back, spitting blood from his mouth. “What the hell was that?”

“Thomas Flair.” Malcolm winked and smirked. “I did warn you.”

Mitchell darted forward, leading with his head.

Malcolm planted both crutches and swung both feet up.

The crack of the connection resonated in the warehouse.

Malcolm continued with his flip, pulling one crutch around with him. Mitchell went over backwards as well, completing three revolutions and landed on his face.

Malcolm leaned down and checked on his brother. He found a pulse and rolled the man over. Mitchell had a fat lip and a broken nose.

“Sorry, bro. But, duty calls.”

Malcolm moved back to his wheelchair and put his crutches back to the armrests.

A quick check on Vanguard showed he was still in the same condition. Malcolm turned for the stairs he used to get to the second floor. A few slow pumps and he was moving steady.

“Not so fast, Malcolm.”

Dam it! I forgot about the metabolism.

Malcolm turned to see Mitchell get to his feet.

“I can’t out fight you, but I can make it so you can’t get out.” Mitchell tossed a small device past Malcolm. It bounced once, then exploded. The stairs disappeared in the blink of an eye.

“Dam it, Mitchell!” Malcolm turned again and put more into his wheels. Heading for a wall, Malcolm pushed one of the side levers down five clicks and the other side to one click. Malcolm put three more pumps into his wheels, gaining speed quickly. He then slammed the release for the skids. Both hit the floor at the same time. Instead of launching directly into the air, the wheelchair canted as it left the floor. Malcolm leaned, adding to the torque to turn his wheelchair sideways, and pumped the wheels.

Both tires bit into the wall and Malcolm careened into an arc towards the first floor.

“That is impressive, Malcolm.” Mitchell kept his voice so that only he could hear. “You always did think faster than anyone I knew.”

Malcolm slammed his back into the seat, causing it to lurch to the floor and horizontal. A steady flow of arm circles  and Malcolm pushed for the opening he made earlier.

The wheelchair flew over the dock and towards the gap.

The thap-thaps were the only noise that gave Mitchell’s location away.

“I told you Malcolm, I need to get Vanguard.” Mitchell’s legs and arms were a green blur as he ran beside Malcolm.

“And I told you Mitchell, I am taking him to a hospital.” Malcolm moved a hand to grab something in the seat area.

“You are going to have to stop me, Mac.”

“I know, Mitch.” Malcolm pumped his wheels and leaned forward. “I am sorry, but this is going to hurt. A lot.”

Malcolm pushed the levers on both sides of his chair to the fullest, twelve clicks. He then slammed both hands on the release buttons. The wheelchair launched into the air. Malcolm twisted and flung his left hand out. The device he had zoomed towards Mitchell.

The device expanded into two small spheres with a thin cable connecting them. It entwined first one leg then the other. Mitchell legs stopped moving, his arms shot out behind him, and his torso crashed into the dock. The force was enough that Mitchell bounced, first over the gap, then again, and finally slid to a stop.

Malcolm’s wheelchair slammed into the ground and bounced a few times, but didn’t overturn.

“Note to self, never do that again with a patient on board.” Malcolm turned to check on his passenger. Aside from some jostling, Vanguard was still stable.

The journey to the hospital wasn’t far. Malcolm skidded to a stop in the ambulance area where attendants and doctors scrambled to get Vanguard into the ER.

***

Malcolm rolled into the deployment pad. A few technicians checked in on him and he let them know he did not need assistance.

In the elevator, Malcolm pressed the seven button and rode it in silence. At his desk, Malcolm filled out his report, leaving the interaction with Mitchell out of it.

I can’t keep doing this Mitch.

Submitting the report, Malcolm went to the break room to eat his lunch. As he finished eating, his cellphone chirped.

Mac,

Thanks for not ratting me out to the cops. I was hired to deal with Vanguard today, it wasn’t personal. I know this is something you don’t understand, or at least condone. I also hope you understand why I am how I am. Living in your shadow and all that.

Thanks again, and I hope to see you on Thanksgiving.

Mitchell.

Malcolm shook his head.

You idiot. There never was a shadow. We are twins. You are the older one by seven minutes. Dumb ass.

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.