Got a new Terribleminds flash fic for you. I had to cheat a little and only randomize the second word of the title (so that it would also fit for the A to Z letter M).
There’s a guy in town who has no legs below the knees. He rolls around in his wheelchair, happy as anyone. Happier even. If you ever ask him about it, he’ll point to the shirt he always wears. In bright neon letters, it says ‘I SURVIVED MONSTER’S RUN.’
* * *
I got to the race a little late. Barely had enough time to pin my number on; not nearly enough to look over the info packet. Over at the starting line, I could see just how nervous the other runners were. They all looked worn. Physically fit, but mentally beaten up, that’s how I’d describe it. I thought maybe I’d bring some levity to what should be a fun event, and found a spot between an especially nervous pair.
“Beautiful day for a run!”
The woman on my left frowned as deeply as I smiled.
“First time, huh? Think you’ll survive just because you’re fresh-faced?”
The man to my right echoed the sentiment.
“Yep. Skinny legs like that, you’re going to die.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. Who gets that riled up over a 10K race? I decided to change topics.
“So, who do they get to be the monsters in this run? I did the zombie run last year. The make-up was great, but they weren’t runners. Only the slowest people, children and whatnot, got caught.”
The two just stared at me. A couple of others in earshot glanced over, too.
The woman placed a hand on my shoulder.
“You really don’t know? Did they brainwash you into this?”
“Know what? Nobody did anything to me. I signed up, just like everyone else.”
“My hometown sent me as the best runner. If I survive, the town does too.”
The guy on my other side looked like he was going to cry.
“They kidnapped my family.”
“Guys, stop. I get it. You’re in character? I didn’t realize that was part of the game.”
“The Monster’s Run is no game. Why do you think it’s called a 10K?”
“Because we go for ten kilometers?”
The man pointed to something set a ways back from the runners.
“No. They go for ten thousand bites before being sated.”
I hadn’t looked too hard at the gate before. A black arch as tall as a house, with thick slabs of stone for doors. I thought it was just a prop. I couldn’t read the red lettering from here, but the sight sent a chill down my back. I stood there, looking at the racers, then back at the arch. Something in the back of my mind clicked, but I didn’t want to believe it.
“You don’t mean… You can’t be saying…”
The woman gave me a pitying look, then crouched down to prepare for the race.
“Let’s hope you’re faster than you look.”
I was still standing around like an idiot when the first gun went off. All of the other racers were off like scared rabbits. The noise of all those sneakers on pavement sent whatever was behind the doors into a frenzy. I scrambled after the others when I heard the chorus of shrieks and howls.
Then the second gun went off. The monster doors slowly crept open. Like the still-unbelieving fool I was, I looked back. Tentacles, claws, and bright glowing eyes stretched out. The creatures were horrible beyond description. They couldn’t wait for the gate to be opened. They pushed one another and rammed the opening doors until they cracked the stone right open.
I ran faster than I’ve ever gone in my life. This was no fun run with people in monster suits pretending to chase us for laughs. This was life or death with the real thing.
* * *
At that, he’ll lean back in his wheelchair and smile. With a tug at his shirt, he’ll even give you some parting wisdom.
“I made it all the way to the front of the pack! The beasts only took my legs before the signal was called that ten thousand bites had been reached. Gotta say, a thing like that, it changes your whole outlook. Enjoy life, and always, always do your research.”