The Broken World – Run
Avaescent ran through the dark and the rain.
Lightning curled into the clouds above him, sparking white through the twisting canopy and allowing droplets carried by howling winds to paint his flesh. The flashing light did not harry him, the dark hiding nothing from his vision – he knew that he should not have been able to see so clearly, and yet every branch, bramble, and blade of grass was known to him.
His footfalls moved around knotted roots and thorny weeds, his feet finding solid ground to step off of among the mossy growth that coated the forest floor. Dull eyes tracked him, animal eyes that fled into the dark as he passed. He could smell their wet fur over the ambient scent of wet cedar and soaked lavender, almost taste their stench on the air.
Thunder rumbled around him, a constant thrum that shook the ground even without lightning to warn of its coming.
I need higher ground, Avaescent thought. I need to know where I’m going, if there are any cities I can flee to.
He kept moving, expecting his body to tire, his lungs to force him to stop or his legs to burn with exhaustion, but fatigue never overtook him. It felt good to run, to move, and he found himself laughing with the wind, flinging himself down small hills, catching branches and swinging further than he might have thought possible.
I’m stronger than I should be, he thought, frowning with the realization. Faster, stronger… what am I?
He paused, breathing heavy until he brought it under control. Every inhalation filled his nostrils with the comfort of cedar. He looked back the way he had come. He didn’t know how long he’d been running, didn’t know how much ground he’d covered, but it felt like some time had passed.
Where is the sun? he thought, his breathing calm, licking the water from his lips and trying to see past the canopy overhead. Lightning flashed and he shielded his eyes, seeing dark roiling clouds surging overhead but no sign of light past them.
I need a clearing, he thought, closing his eyes and letting a long heavy breath slither out of his throat. He looked at the woods around him, the trees and rocks. I also need to know how fast I’m moving if I’m going to have any idea how much distance I’ve covered. Speed is distance over time, and my speed has been steady, so…
Marking one rock and another some distance away, he paused. He realized he needed some unit of measurement and looked down at his own feet, wiggling his toes in the sopping earth. Putting one foot in front of the other, he counted the distance between markers.
Three feet to a meter, say, he frowned, glaring and wishing he had something more accurate. One hundred meters between here and there. Ready, set… he took a breath, opened his eyes and ran.
He moved as fast as he could, reaching out to grab the tree he’d designated as his stopping point.
Five seconds, he thought, grinning. About a hundred meters in maybe five seconds. He shook his head, tried it again and got the same result. His heart was steady, breathing calm.
He did not know how he knew this shouldn’t be possible, but he did and he had done it anyway. He glanced in the direction he had been moving, climbed the tree he’d used to stop himself. The climb was easy, the gnarled branches thick and strong, and he reached the top of the tall tree in moments.
A sense of crippling isolation met him past the leaves and branches.
Alright, new story time. This is the first part of Avaescent and the Broken World, which will update every Tuesday and Wednesday until the story ends. The cover art comes from Pixabay, and you can find it and other art like it by clicking here. You can read the first part by clicking here, the previous part by clicking here, or the next part by clicking here when the next part goes live. Good reading, and if you like it leave a comment or spread it around. Writer likes readers and comments.