The runner ran for three hundred and sixty five days without stopping. He was naked now, the shorts and t-shirt he’d donned day one nothing but dust now on the wind behind him. He’d bared all and never given up.
He’d met a girl on his travels. She’d run beside him for a time. She was sporadic. Occasional. Sometimes she was there and sometimes she was somewhere else altogether. A dark and brooding future. A painful past. An undeterminable goal that she was determined to see through to the end. He named her The Girl.
A little ways down the road he stumbled upon two lovers, separated by far more than just the recent corpsification of the girl. She was happy. She had, after all, someone who loved her despite it all. Someone to Love the Dead. A romance that defied mortality. He was inspired by this. He ran harder. Faster.
The trail was hot. Of that there could be no doubt. But there was a definite apex of it all when he ran by Lindsay. She was something special. She outshone the sun. An accredited angel to a lost boy. She helped everyone she encountered, and The Runner too was buoyed by her eternally happy and sickeningly contagious nature.
He ran past a diner. He stopped to get some lunch. He was starved – all that running had taken it out of him. The shoes on his feet were starting to wear. This wasn’t as easy as he thought it was going to be. He had a slice of the local pie and watched as a girl with a cervix tattoo wined and dined her latest client. It was still bright out, the midday sun hovering in the sky like some defiant orb to their Date with the Night.
Some strangers came and went fleetingly. A robot leisurely jogged past, running from one thing or toward another, Alfresco knew only that he had to run. A girl named Lilly-May sprinted past briefly, hounded by an invisible something that snarled and gnashed. The Runner ran past two cops on a stake out, they barely noticed him, so intent was their focus on the warehouse opposite. A Couple of Dicks, The Runner thought. They all played a part, however brief, like some cameo extra on a movie set, barely walking past the camera but peopling the film nevertheless.
A brother and sister drove past in a beat up Chevy Camaro with an odd fixation on firearms. Hunting something dark. Paths crossed. Boundaries pushed. Sacrifices made. During the entire journey of broken rules there was only one constant. Faith and a .45, their togetherness never interrupted.
The next town over was empty, eerily so, save for little piles of clothes on the floor. The residents of this tale had evidently moved on. To escape the horrors of an empty apocalypse only to find more empty apocalypse, victims of The Flash. He bid them well, wherever they were, and quickened his pace. The snow was cold, the loneliness colder still.
One night, when the road was quiet and still, a spaceship flew low overhead all of a sudden, unexpected and exciting. The Runner managed to catch sight of The S.S. Awesome on the side of the hull before, with a screech of broken sound, it tore into the stratosphere to explore the bottomless depths of the skies. Looking after it The Runner saw the glint of The Lunar Disc up there amongst the stars. Sci-fi never felt so close to home.
He almost crashed into a pair of private investigators, so caught up with the starscape as he was, as they made their way out of a house in a hurry, chased by all manner of appliances and furnishings. The Runner narrowly dodged a candelabra as he reeled from the narrowly avoided impact, offered his apologies to an ignorant Ria & Brody, and carried on. Up ahead, Four Brothers carpooled to make the world a better place, through the only means they’d ever known; death, war, famine and pestilence. Rapture waved from the window, wondering if she too would ever be able to go on an adventure with her siblings.
There was an abundance of company keepers throughout that year, too many too remember let alone name, but he had been eternally grateful for their presence. They’d imbued him with something bigger than himself. Something better. His wonder with their worlds had kept him going, but at long last his journey reached an end.
On the three hundred and sixty fifth day he collapsed to his knees. Looked to the skies. I’m done – he said – I’m spent. The God of running looked down from the heavens and boomed ON YOUR FEET.
“Is it not enough?” cried the Runner, “Is it not over yet?”
MY SON the voice echoed ominously through the skies YOU SHALL NEVER BE DONE. THIS IS YOUR PATH. YOUR CALLING. YOUR LIFE. YOU SHALL RUN ‘TIL THE DAY YOU DIE. OR UNTIL YOU SPRAIN YOUR ANKLE REAL BAD. WHICHEVER COMES FIRST.
“No way,” – the runner was weeping now – “that sounds totally lame. Trés lame. TRÉME!”
BUT LITTLE DUDE the voice continued HOW IN THE SAM HILL AM I EVER GONNA FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GIRL? WHERE DOES HER STORY TAKE HER?
“What?” asked the Runner, confused.
OR THE FLASH MOB, OR THAT ZOMBIE ROMANCE? YOU CAN’T JUST STOP WRITING. MOST OF YOUR TALES DON’T HAVE A CONCLUSION.
“Dude,” hissed the Runner, “quit breaking character!”
AND LINDSAY – I MEAN WHAT THE HELL WAS UP WITH HER? WHAT WAS SHE?
“So we’re just dropping this whole allegory then, boss?” The runner said, exasperated.
Look, just chill,” said the runner, “sometimes things have to come to an end. Sometimes the end doesn’t actually involve The End. Sometimes it’s just a what if?”
There was a pregnant pause from the heavens.
“Yeah, what if.”
WHAT IF WHAT?
“What if it’s not the end,” the runner said, doubled over now, the exhaustion of the last year catching up to him. He sat down and wrapped his hands around his knees before continuing. “What if those journeys go on, but we’re just not there to see them.”
LIKE IF A TREE FALLS IN THE WOODS?
“Something like that.”
BUT I WANT TO HEAR IT. I WANT TO SEE THEM.
“So do I,” The Runner added, “Take this road. I want to know what’s at the other end. One day I might run it again. Go further this time. I might finish it and finally see. But for now who knows? The future isn’t documented. Yet.”
Glassy-eyed the Runner looked down the endless expanse in front of him. The tarmac was hot underneath his naked skin, and before he knew how he got there he was on his back, staring up at the sky, the sky staring down at him.
YOU OKAY? the sky thundered, concerned.
“Yeah,” The Runner replied airily as he finally closed his eyes, “just tired I guess.”
A super-mega-stratoscopic thanks to everyone who was ever involved in this incredible journey of mine; thanks to the idea suppliers when my block was truly raging, thanks to my family and friends for supporting me, to my unbelievably patient partner, and most of all a huge thank you to my readers, from the day-one regulars all the way to those whose first read was this finale. This has been an unbelievable accomplishment and I couldn’t have done it without you all. I hope you’ll all continue to follow me and my future projects at http://joeblame.com, and there will be future projects, but for now, know that this is it. This is goodbye.
This has been 365 stories in 365 days. This has been zero missed deadlines. This has been 50 categories, 1,095 tags, thousands of views. This has been the most fun I’ve ever had with my writing and the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This has been an experience I’ll never forget.
This has been Joe Blame.
This has been my year.
This has been Blame Per Diem.
~ by Joseph Blame on June 26, 2011.
Posted in Advanced Robotics, Cop Shop, Crossover, Date With the Night, Faith and a .45, Four Brothers, Frontier, Lilly-May, Lindsay, Love The Dead, Major-series, Meta, Mini-series, One Shot, Private & Paranormal, Semper Sci-Fi, The Flash, The Girl, The Journey
Tags: all change, autobiographical, eat it 4th wall, el jefe, end of an era, end of days, exhausted, eye of the storm, final countdown, goodbye, love, meta, metaphawesome, race to the finish, running