Hearing the water as I wake causes an urge of nature to hit. I sit up, expecting to see Eve standing over me; waiting for me to wake so she can say something about how lazy and slow I am. No dice. I should be happy about that, but I can’t deny I’m disappointed.
I take care of business, grab my bag, and start running again.
The sun is low in the sky now. I’m not sure how long I slept. I’d much rather run at night anyways.
Another ten miles, another break. Another ten, another break. By the end of the next ten, my legs are telling me I have to call it quits for a while. The sun is setting, seems like a good excuse for a stop. I see the lights of an urban area off to the north of me, a city of people getting ready for bed. And here I am so close to them. They are, no doubt, hearing stories of the rebel scum Cyrus Rhodes, who has continued to evade authorities. Each message would end with a number to call if spotted.
I work some math in my head, trying to work out where I am. I’ve probably made it about 90 miles since I left Eve. That means I’ve got around 350 miles yet to go. I take a look at my GPS and see I’m right. At this pace, I should be there in no time. Maybe if I get there fast enough, I can get in and out before the SPs even find out I’m not in Canada.
I have a hard time believing I’m going to be that lucky. All the same, sitting around depresses me. I get back to my feet and start running, trying to find some music to lift my mood. I’m Gonna Be by The Proclaimers. I love this song. It feels like it should be the Runner’s anthem or something. I begin jamming out pretty strongly to it, until the words start to sink in.
I miss Eve.
The words also manage to give me some sort of strength. I will make it back to Eve; I will be the man who grows old with her, not the man who’s executed for crimes against his country.
I push harder, hoping getting to my destination faster will somehow make a difference. The length of my breaks becomes shorter and shorter. I’ve blasted through my food supplies now as well. I’m running on fumes. Luckily there are enough fresh sources of water to keep me lubricated; otherwise I’m sure I’d be dead by now.
After another few rounds of running and breaks, I come across a big lake in the middle of the wilderness. All the tree cover, masked by uninhabited land, seems like a wonderful place to take another real break. I lay down beside the water, not caring how visible I am to those who may be looking for me. I close my eyes, sleep hits, but not strongly.
When I wake, it’s still dark out, but the sky is getting brighter.
The days are melting together. I have no clue how long I’ve been out here anymore, or how long I’ve got to get to Boston. I can’t even keep track of my distances. The GPS unit has stopped working for some reason, which means I have no clue how long until I reach the drop-off point. I just keep heading east, figuring I’ve got plenty of time, no matter how slow I move. But even knowing I don’t need to rush, I push myself as fast as I feel is safe, wanting to get back to Eve as soon as I can, even if I have no idea how I’ll find her, or if I’ll be free to try.
Another day passes, running in silence; my only companion is my music. I stop as little as possible. Every break serves only as another opportunity to dream of my impending fate and wish for the life I could have if only I could turn back. There is no turning back. Not anymore.
The sun’s high in the sky now and off in the distance I see a city skyline. From what I know of this trek, I’d guess it’s Albany. That means I’m close. Really close. I turn south, wanting to keep a wide distance between me and the large population of people going in and out of the city. Another set of breaks and I find myself on another river.
I can’t risk taking bridges this close to city limits, especially in the middle of the day. The river’s too wide to cross, at least without a break.
While allowing my breathing to return to normal, I walk along the river bed, heading north. Before long, I see an old train bridge. Perfect. There’s no chance anyone will be hanging out on that. I break into a sprint. Although no one will be traveling on that bridge, it puts me out in the open, something I want to do for as short of a time as possible.
I get across the bridge with no trouble. I’m beginning to question if anyone is actually after me anymore. It’s been too silent for too long. Even more reason to move fast, I suppose. If they’ve somehow forgotten they are looking for me, I don’t want to give them time to remember.
Another twenty miles or so and I see a border checkpoint on the road I’ve been running parallel to.
Although I took this job fully intending to get to the goal, I can’t believe I’ve actually made it. Sure, Boston’s all the way on the other side of the state, but to have gotten this far is insane. I wish The Geek was here so we could celebrate together. He would be ecstatic.
No time for that kind of thinking. I head south again, wanting to keep my distance from the checkpoint. No doubt they’ve got their eyes all along the border, but even more so at the checkpoint. I put about 5 miles between me and it and decide it’s far enough to cross over. I’ve been running for too long without a break, but I know I shouldn’t stop, even for a moment, while I’m so close to the border. I push as hard as I can to keep me moving.
I make it about five more miles before I can’t run any longer. Just as I’m about to set down under a random tree for rest, I stumble upon an old abandoned shack hiding alone in the woods. There’s not much to it. In fact, I’m pretty sure the roof would cave in if there were a strong enough breeze. However, it will have to do. I need to take a break. A long one.
The inside of the shack actually manages to look worse than the outside. It’s obvious some drifter had been using this as their home for an extended period of time. The mess is disgusting; the smell is worse. No choice, I need to stay hidden. I’m in Massachusetts now and it’s going to get real exciting again, real quick.
Although I don’t want to touch anything in this mess for fear of catching some incurable disease, I recognize the need to get in a few minutes of sleep is more important than my fear of germs. I clear some space on the floor with my foot and lay down, placing my bag under my head.
The last couple days have been so quiet that I don’t feel the same edge I had been feeling. It almost feels like a normal run, except for the loneliness. No Geek, no Eve, not even a group of shady split patrons to entertain me. Instead, I’m on the floor of some old drifter’s shack.
The closest thing I have to companionship is a world eagerly awaiting my capture.
Sleep falls over me uneasily. It’s filled with dreams of concern for Eve, wondering what will happen to The Geek after I’m gone, and fearing what forms of torture the SPs have in store for me. After a couple hours of restless sleep, I decide to give up. I could really use something to eat. I dig around in the mess for some sort of edible substance.
Hiding in the corner I find some canned veggies. Better than nothing, I guess. Nearby is a can opener. At least this drifter had some form of organization to his mess. After I consume an entire can of corn, I decide to be on my way. I open the door to the shack and find it dark outside. I must have been sleeping longer than I thought. It’s disorienting. I’m already at a loss as to what day of the week it is, having the day switch into night without me knowing makes it that much more confusing.
After getting my bearings, I head east. If I remember correctly, it’s only a little over 100 miles to Boston from the border. That’s a lot to do in a day, but by end of day tomorrow, I should be at my destination, or on death row. That’s comforting. somehow.
I turn on my music and slip my headphones over my ears. Trailer Trash by Modest Mouse. Must have gotten onto the random playlist again. Oh well, not a bad tune.
My rhythm reappears quickly. Run ten miles, take a break. Three rounds and it’s once again time for a longer break. I find a nice spot in a large wooded area. In the middle of the forest is a meadow and in the center of the meadow, a set of twin maples. I settle down under them and close my eyes.
I wake to the rising sun. It feels nice to get a good nap once again. I hadn’t realized how exhausted I was. I don’t normally get such long naps in during a run.
I take off again. Another thirty miles pass and still no excitement. There is a moment where I have to go out of my way slightly to avoid another city, but I haven’t seen a single soul for days now. It’s almost as if everyone is avoiding me, going out of their way to make sure I won’t cross their path. I’m used to being out here alone, but normally there is at least some sign that other people exist, even when avoiding the more urbanized areas. I haven’t seen anyone.
I take another nap in another forest, once again waking to find the sun has gone away. I wake, run another thirty and nap. Not even the terrain is changing anymore. I begin to wonder if I’m the only person left in the world. Maybe there is no one left to deliver this pack of papers to. I guess that would mean, at the very least, that I might not die. Although life as the only person left would be pretty depressing, especially if it meant not having Eve, or even The Geek, around.
Another thirty and I should take another nap. I had kinda thought I would be in Boston by now. Of course, I’ve lost count of how many miles I’ve traveled and even how many days it’s been. I’ve lost count of everything. It’s dark. I find a hill and climb to the top. When I reach the top, I’m greeted by a fantastic sight.
Boston. It has to be. I haven’t seen anything for days, but there’s no doubt. That’s it.
And I see movement, too. There are still people alive. Of course, most of those people want me dead, but that’s a worry for another time. Right now is the perfect time to get some sleep. When I wake, I’ll be ready to take on the city and whatever it has waiting for me.
Go to Chapter Thirty-Three