As I said in my last post, Pirate’s Cove is now running a weekly prompt based writing contest. (Hmm where have I heard that before?) This week marks our first entry. Enjoy
Our First Fiction Tuesday winner is:
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A Pleasant Day for a Run
By James Keeling
Normally a run cleared his mind, but not today. Today it did anything but clear his mind, there was something about having to dodge gun fire that would do that to you.
Tom had decided to try the new running track that wound through Underwood Park. Although it was his first time in this area of town, he had read on the runners digest website that it was a perfect five miler. He parked his car in the lot and after stretching set out on the large loop that would take him around Granford Lake and through a very nice patch of countryside.
He rounded a bend and was surprised to see a large cloud of children completely blocking the trail ahead. All of the children appeared to be holding signs and chanting. It wasn’t until he drew nearer that he realized that they were not children. The smell was the first sign; a very strong musky perfume scent permeated the air. The second sign was the actual signs.
“Vertically Challenged Sex Workers Unite!” read one.
Another read “Legalize my Job!”
While yet another read “Organize now! Little people are people too!”
The crowd seemed to be very agitated and while they marched, they both blocked the running path and were physically accosting the local passers by. Tom decided against the direct approach and chose instead to hop a fence into the woods which bordered the trail. He would cross the small wooded area and rejoin the trail further on down.
Climbing the small fence had been easy and he set off at a jog following a small trail which wound between the trees. The trees flew by as he ran, his gaze drawn to the lake off to the left as it sparkled in the sunlight. A loud thunk caused him to pull up short and he gazed in wonder at the shaft of an arrow which protruded from a tree directly in front of and to the left of his face. He glanced to the right and could barely see a small clearing with archery targets set up. Doing his best to keep behind the trees, he snuck up closer to the clearing. A large banner was on prominent display and it read “The Granford Archery Range welcomes the Metro Association of the Blind!” A line of men, women, boys, and girls stood with bows in their hands and arrows pointed down range. He noticed with a gathering sense of doom that the arrows were pointed every which way. Many of them down range to where he stood. As he stared in shock, all of the handi-capable archers let loose with a volley and arrows arched through the air towards his position.
He ran like his life depended on it, wending between trees and ducking his head as arrows rained all about him. He saw another fence ahead and vaulted over it, coming to a stop to catch his breath.
As he stood with his hands on his knees, he felt a piercing pain in his calf. Looking down, he saw a golf ball slowly roll away from a red welt which was rapidly forming on his right leg. He looked and sure enough, he had found himself on a driving range. He looked to the left and saw the shoreline of the lake. No escape that way. Not wanting to return to the blind archers, he set off at a dead run for the far side of the driving range.
This was apparently what the golfers had been waiting for and balls fell from the heavens like hard round pieces of dimpled manna. Tom avoided the majority of the projectiles as he dodged and wove across the grass. Seeing yet another fence ahead of him he ran for it and bodily threw himself over to land in another large patch of woods.
He sat for a moment, rubbing both the angry bruise on his right shin as well as the contusion an errant golf ball had left on his hip. Tom struggled to his feet and set off once again. He was bound to meet up with the running trail sooner or later. He hoped it would be sooner.
His body pitched forward and he tasted dirty leaves, dirty branches, and dirt. Then the pain hit him. His back was on fire! At least that’s what it felt like to him. Slowly he reached his right hand over his back and tried to feel what had hit him. Maybe it was an ax. It sure felt like an ax. His fingers came back covered with red.
Blood! He was dying! Then he noticed that it didn’t really look like blood, the viscosity was all wrong.
Paint. He had been hit in the back with paint, which could only mean one thing. He scrambled to his hands and knees and turned. Sure enough a figure entirely clothed in camoflauge was peering at him from about ten yards away, a paintball gun clearly visibile.
“I’m not a target!” Tom yelled to the man, “I’m not here to play paintball! Don’t shoot!”
A gruff voice came back.
“If you’re in the zone, you’re a target! And I just tagged your ass! Now I’m gonna do it again!”
The figure raised his weapon to take aim.
Splotches of Red exploded in the forest all around him as he leapt over trees and ducked beneath low hanging branches. His passage through the paintball field was anything but silent. The noise apparently attracted the attention of other paintballers and it wasn’t long before all the colors of the rainbow were present as he sprinted across the battlefield. The large red splotch on his back was soon joined by many others. He was clipped by a bright yellow paintball on the left shoulder and a blue one impacted painfully on his right hip. The hip shot was the worst as it somehow managed to add even more pain to the already throbbing golf ball injury.
He was being openly chased now, his pursuers hooping and hollering.
“We’ve got a live one here boys! Come and get some!”
Tom managed to get enough air into his burning lungs to bellow “Where’s the range master? This just isn’t right!”
The reply came back accompanied by a hoarse laugh, “I AM the range master, and you’re fair game!”
Tom finally came to another fence, and he threw himself over it amid the hail of paintballs.
He hit the ground and rolled to his feet, bruised, battered and covered in paint. The running trail sat ten feet away.
‘Screw this’ he thought. ‘I’m getting a treadmill.”