Author : Ken McGrath

My mother often said that before I learned to walk I ran.

I ran everywhere; probably why I wasn’t so quick at learning to read. I couldn’t sit still for very long, didn’t like having my feet parked beneath a desk you see. I’d an abundance of energy, that’s why I was always darting around the place, chasing everything from footballs to girls. Heck I even chased the odd dream.

And I caught a few too, like the one thing that got me through school. Relay races, the sprint, hurdles. I did it all, although I wasn’t so good at that last one. Seems I never was great at overcoming obstacles. The one minute mile however, that was what stole my heart. A stretch of open track, pure focus and immediate results. Sheer beauty.

When I went from my teens into my twenties I kept upping the distance, ticking off boxes. 10k, 20k. Even the big one a few times.

Then when I was 29 I ran into Bernadette Walters. Beautiful, slender, ambitious Bernadette Walters who had lips that would set you weak at the knees and a shard of ice for a heart. But I found that out much too late, because after we married I ran into a wall. Work, bills, the mortgage on a tiny apartment that went too quickly from bijou to coffin-box. It was too much. I ran myself into the ground.

The pounds began to slide on and, for the first time, life ran away from me. Yet somehow in the midst of it all we conceived and along came my little Suzie, my precious girl. And for a while she brightened everything up, but it didn’t last. We quickly fell back on old habits, staying together just for our little girl.

When Suzie was three I started to run again. Tentative steps in the park at night. Some men might have cheated on their wives but I did the only thing I knew how, I put one foot in front of the other and built up laps. Every night, always coming back to the same place no matter how fast or how far I ran, life had become a circuit of cold stares and bitter, poisonous words.

We were out on Christmas Eve pretending to be a real family when the first attack came. The blast dropped from the heavens like God screaming and tore the shopping centre we were walking towards into pieces. I grabbed Suzie, turned and ran. There were screams but I didn’t look back. I just kept going. I had to make sure my girl was safe.

Weeks have passed now. The snow is melting and buds are appearing on some of the trees. From talking to other survivors I’ve learned of the hundreds of simultaneous attacks around the world. They say those first blasts were an extermination front-wave, firing pulse after pulse and reducing our cities to rubble, disrupting humanity for the coming alien invasion.

They say there’s a Resistance coming together but I don’t want to be part of it. All I do is run. I have my girl and I teach her to run too.

So long as I have legs beneath me I’ll continue to do run. It’s all I’ve known since I was born. If my daughter is to survive she’s going to have to learn to run too and maybe then I’ll have done something good with my life.

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