- THE RUNNER – PROLOGUE
So what do you do for a living? Do you love what you do? Does it make a difference in the world? I have a job. I’m a Runner. A Runner saves lives and changes history. That’s my job. I literally runs to life-changing moments and intervene and some calamitous shit that was about to go down, doesn’t. Boom. World changed. Just like that. I have saved something like one hundred and forty people and a cat. And – from what I can tell – averted at least a dozen global catastrophes, seven Government coup’s and two nuclear meltdowns.
Now you might think I’m something of hero but I am the farthest thing from it.
A wise man once said “the coward who overcomes his fear is the real hero.” I don’t have any fear, so I don’t have anything to overcome. I don’t know why, but I just don’t experience fear. I don’t possess that survival instinct that tells me not to touch the fire or have that innate sense of self preservation in my DNA that stops me from eating a live scorpion. It’s just not there and I have the scars to prove it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t just blunder through life on a lucky dime. I’m smart and I’m fit. Like Olympic athlete fit. Strong too. Not like superhuman strong but the country strength that surprises a strong man with a hundred pounds on me when he tries to best me one on one and I toss him like a rag doll. My reflexes, I am told, are in the top one percent of humanity. I’m trained in several martial disciplines as well as combat medicine and cyber security and my IQ is supposed to be up there – but I am by no means anything close to an intelligent man. This psychophysiological cocktail, coupled with my training is probably why I’m not already dead. I should be. So many times I should have been dead and gone. But I’m not. I’m here. Still.
So here’s how this works. I gets instructions from a journal I carry with me. The instructions are called “Scripts” The actions I take are called “Interventions” The places I perform theses interventions are called ‘Sites” the people I save are called ‘Clients” The lead up to each intervention is called a “Run”
Got all that? Good.
Each morning at Six am there is new, hand-written Script with a new Client, new Site, and a new Intervention that shows in my journal. I could never figure out where the Scripts come from or how they end up in my journal, they just appear there. I accepted many years ago that they were from God in some way shape or form. Or maybe the Devil. Or aliens. I gave up trying to figure it out and now I just do my job.
Some days, the Journal is blank and I’m free to do what I want. Some days I am instructed to do nothing but wait. Others days I must be at very specific places at very exact times and do very detailed things that make no sense until I actually get on the Site and perform the Intervention. Sometimes I have to do things like sprint into the path of a speeding car, or jump from the top of a building, or walk naked into a burning house. I cannot be one second late or an inch off of the Scripts instructions. If I am, someone dies. It’s as simple as that.
Six years ago I was a different man. I was full of conceit. Enamoured with my own physical strength. Reveling in the power and speed I had, I was high on the work I was doing. Proud and arrogant. Wallowing in my abilities and accomplishments, worshipping daily at the altar of my own body and talent. What a dickhead.
Six years ago to the day, I tried to cut time off my run and went ahead of the Script schedule. I was blinded by my own self belief back then. I thought I could over achieve at will. I thought I would get accolades from God or the Aliens, whoever I was working for., for going above and beyond. It was a vainglorious, pathetic attempt at getting a cosmic reacharound. All ego and conceit. Like I said, dickhead.
A twelve year old boy died that day and the memory still haunts me. I see what happened in my mind like it was yesterday. I replay every second of that day and I howl and scream at my own folly. Every single day I see that boys eyes as he died in my arms. It haunts my dreams. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen someone die but if you have the misfortune to look into their eyes as they die it will change you forever. The lights go out and they never, ever go on again. If you are the unfortunate one who caused that light to extinguish you will never be the same again. When that boys eyes died as I looked into them it changed me forever. That moment sucked out every ounce of arrogance I had. Now I have no fear and I have no ego…but I do have regret and I carry that regret with me everywhere. In everything I do. Every site I go to. Every Intervention I do, it’s alway with me. This serpentine, heavy cloak of shame that covers me is my constant companion. And he is an unforgiving prick.
So no, I’m not a hero. I’m a failure. I’m a weak, remorseful man in a strong body who let his ego cause the unnecessary death of an innocent child. Now, I’m just a man doing his job. My job is to run. That’s all I do. I run. I’m a runner. Sometimes I convince myself that the faster I run towards the danger, the faster I can run away from my mistakes. But then the dark and ugly reality hits again. My dark companion returns and reminds me that no matter what I do, who I save, where I go and how fast I run, I can never, ever, run away from what I have done.