Flash Fiction: The Running Man (908 words)


The Running Man

The forest isn’t magical exactly but there is something strange in it.

At first it looked like an ordinary forest. There was nothing especially peculiar about it. The trees reached for the sky with their freedom loving branches and the forest floor was filled with tiny splinters and small branches. It looked like a normal forest filled with beech trees with light of the sun falling down between the leaves creating that special atmosphere. There were squirrels, small jays, fairies and even a few deers. There were insects buzzing and birds squeaking and you could almost see the nymphs running amongst the trees laughing and looking for a spring to quench their thirst.

It wasn’t my first time here. I liked running through it. There was something about the atmosphere that made me run faster and think less than anywhere else and I liked the sensation. It gave me energy.

That day my tempo was good, the sounds of the forest were giving me renewed calm along with the regular sound of my shoes hitting the forest path. I was counting in my head, counting to hundred and then counting down from hundred again – a thing I, for some reason, often did when I ran.

I don’t anymore.

I was running up a steep hill when I first saw a glimpse of something. At first I thought it was a deer but it lingered and it was too dark to be a deer. Then I thought it was just a shade but when I saw it floating in between the trees beside the path up a head I knew it was not. It reminded me of the cape Darth Vadar wore or a hovering Grim Reaper. I didn’t see any scythe but the thing looked ominous.

I didn’t mind though and continued running. When I was up on top of the hill and started to descend again it seemed to strafe further away. I started counting in my head again but the being kept creeping up on me again and again and it started to make me uneasy. What did it want? What was it?

It started to affect my running. I slowed down, trying to keep track of the it amongst the leaves. Then when I started ascending up another steep hill I lost all my mojo and stopped. It wasn’t a decision I made consciously it just happens sometimes when you run. The body seems to make the decision and the brain goes along with it before you have the time to consciously realise what’s happening.

I miss that.

The being came at me. It hovered slightly over the ground like a monster from a bad horror movie and I stood there completely still with the chirping of birds and the song of sirens echoing through the forest.

I didn’t see any sign of the being itself, if the black sheet like thing wasn’t actually its body but it kept me in a form of trance. I just stood there staring at it feeling as if my mind was outside of my body.  I saw us standing there up against each other. In my minds eye I saw the fairies and the butterflies chase each other. I even caught a glimpse of a nymph hiding behind a tree, curiously staring at us.

Then the thing raised its arm and a bone finger pointed at me. “It’s not your time” it said, “but sometime when the sky is red, the leaves are bloody and the winds have changed a man in a top hat with a cane will come for you”. The being spoke quickly, harshly as if it was in a hurry. Then it lowered its finger again and sighed. It was a sigh of the wind brushing through the trees, the sigh of a thousand cicadas that all stop playing their song at the same time, the sound of the last beat of the clock.

Then I was inside my own body again and the being disappeared between the bushes with words of goodbye on its lips.

“Beware of devils in angel’s disguise” it said, “beauty is only skin deep”.

I looked around at the treasures of the forests. A fairy was sitting on a yellow butterfly waving its hands happily. A bee was swarming over a red flower and a small chipmunk sat in a tree holding its precious peanut between its two paws. The leaves were blowing slowly in the wind, the sun casting its rays between the trees creating the beautiful light I loved so much.

A nymph laughed in the distance.

I started to run again, a warm feeling flowing over me and I keep running. I keep running. I can’t stop. I can’t ever stop. This forest isn’t magical but there is something strange here, something peculiar. It’s just a feeling. The feeling that the beautiful fairies have thousand sharp teeth and that the bees are really wasps ready to attack and the chipmunks are all being spied on by vicious vipers. And the nymphs? The nymphs are succubus’ just biding their time.

I run. And the forest looks beautiful. I run. And I know he is right. Beauty is only skin deep.

I run. I can’t stop but I keep an eye out for a man in a top hat, carrying a cane but the leaves are still green and the sky is clear blue.

It’s a beautiful day.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. I love this, and really interesting how you use photography to deepen and enhance meaning. Thank you!


    1. Eygló Daða says:

      Thank you! I actually had another image in mind when I wrote this story but when I was finished I thought it was a nice touch to put up one of mine. It isn’t quite as magical as the image I looked at while writing this though! 🙂


  2. You have a subtle way with darkness that lies just under a lovely surface of sweet cream…(the words constantly tempt, so alluringly, then…once the bait has been taken…the victim is landed like a helpless fish, flailing and flopping on the dock); I love reading your short stories…


    1. Eygló Daða says:

      Thank you Kip! It means a LOT to hear that! 🙂


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