Runnin’ with the Devil
It’s my own damn fault. I won’t even deny it. I let my ego get the better of me. In my defense, though, it was a sure thing. I had won marathons. Not just competed in. Won. Seven of them over the last few years. I was making a name for myself on the running circuit and maybe I got a slightly bigger head than was deserved.
I should explain. I want to say it was the other day but I don’t really know anymore. I was warming up and stretching in preparation for my morning 5K when I felt someone come up next to me. It was this little old man. He couldn’t have been taller than five feet and was bent and twisted. He was dressed in a red tracksuit. I could have been nice, but I was just annoyed at an interruption.
I asked him if I could help him and he asked if he could run with me. I snorted and the hopeful look on his face crumbled into sadness and then a weird kind of anger. He asked again if he could join me on my run and I said something about him not being able to keep up with me. He asked if I wanted to make a bet about him being able to outpace me and I told him sure because, come on, it was a sure thing. He asked what I wanted and, jokingly, I told him I wanted the ability to run forever without getting tired. It was stupid and clearly kidding, but he nodded. So, then I asked him what he wanted and he just smiled and said that we can figure that out after. Whatever. It wasn’t going to matter.
We lined up at what we determined the starting line to be and finished stretching. Before we started, he asked if he could change. I assumed he meant clothes so I agreed. I remember my heart sinking when he stood up straight. This little old man grew two feet at least and his body swelled and expanded. The tracksuit melded to his body and became his skin, bright-red and crackling, and his thin white hair became a thick mane of pure black. Worst of all, the wrinkles disappeared, replaced by an otherworldly attractiveness. He turned to me and smiled and the strength in my muscles evaporated.
He asked if I was ready and I had to nod. On the count of three, we began to run and I went as fast as I could. He kept up, but he wasn’t outpacing me. I could tell he was surprised but we continued.
That was, I don’t know, weeks ago. All I know is that we’re still running. I’m getting tired, though, and I don’t want to stop. I think that if I do stop, there’s no end to the bad that’s coming my way.
I don’t want to look over at him.
I’m scared of what happens if I do.
Here is where I''ll post random stories that aren't, as of yet, in a larger book. Call it a free ride into the mouth of madness, yo.