The Runner

In the morning, skeletal buildings puffed smoke from their charred innards. He ran between them, wearing yellow shorts, his shoelaces lime.

Rubble littered and buried the streets. Distant gunshots echoed.

He ran before soldiers sitting on a stationary tank, their heads rising from breakfast plates.

In the plaza, his cleats crunched blackened tourist trinkets. He shuddered.

He ran by the park, its trees leafless, their trunks black masts against an overcast canopy.

He passed the perfume shop, its scents now blended into one foul odor, glass bottles merged into twisted, ashen sculptures.

He vomited in an alley, hiding so soldiers wouldn’t see.

Endorphin high, he flew along the canal, throwing forward his numb, rubberized legs. The canal held nothing. He had ordered it drained.

“Remove the water. Burn the city,” he had ordered.

He ran on, lungs heavy with soot. Charred drapes rippled overhead. He swore they whispered his name.


This 150-word flash fiction piece was a semifinalist and finalist in Flash Fiction Friday’s anniversary contest, #Flashversary 2014. It was eventually one of three stories awarded an honorable mention by the editorial staff of Flash Fiction Online, who were the final judges of the contest.


M. J. Kelley

M. J. is an award-winning short fiction writer and author of a forthcoming nonfiction book. He loves science fiction, humor & literary fiction. He can peel a carrot with a look.


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