Thursday, June 17, 2010


The sky is brown and bright and hot and a thousand gnats buzz around the runner's face as she looks up from the shadows of the empty classroom across the courtyard. There were trees here once, four months ago, but then things got hot and people got angry and now the trees are dead and the runner can see all the way across the flat, dead grass to the door that serves as her finish line. She used to run real track. She could fly, man.

Coach gave her this advice: "It's about 70 meters, and you'll have 8 seconds from the time the gun goes off. After that, it's no promises. I'll tell the starter to try to cover you. The baton is on the desk through the door; you have to break the biohazard glass."

They - they - sit inside unless the courtyard motion alarm goes off. It's cooler there, and that's the route the senseful unwary would take. They don't waste energy. They sit still.

She touches the edges of the window where the glass is broken, and then steps up into the frame, crouching, as close to a real starting position as she can get.

Her earpiece buzzes with static. Break, break. It's a regular thing.

Then the shot goes off, and she runs.

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