Something Lost

The following is a piece of flash fiction written as part of a course I’m currently taking at the University of Guelph. (Online, of course.) This has not been professionally edited.

He sprinted. 

Down the empty streets. Across the abandoned square. Through the lobbies of the buildings devoid of life. 

He sprinted. Gasping. Lunging. Reaching. 

“WHERE ARE YOU?!” He cried in his most desperate voice—the tenor tilted with terror. “WHERE ARE YOU?!”

He dared not look behind him. He didn’t have to. He felt it coming. Beneath the heat of the low sun and the sting of the dry air he felt it nipping at his shadow. Tugging at his collar. Clipping his heels. 

“Come on!” He shouted to the emptiness. His feet pushed faster. Lungs blew harder. He looked around the corner of a grey-bricked building. “Don’t go!” 

Then it hit him. Hard and fast and from the side of his body he wasn’t watching—it levelled him. Thick, gelatinous heat crawled up his legs. He screamed. Loud. 

The boy fluttered out into the road. 

“WAIT!” He called for it with an outstretched hand and eyes that screamed louder than his struggling voice. “Please, wait…”

He pulled at the road. The scorching concrete sizzled into his flesh, burning hotter than the sludge sliding up his back. 

The child turned to him. A toy soldier was lifted and swung through the air. The sounds of make-believe dribbled from his lips. The boy didn’t so much as glance at the man. 

And so the man screamed. “I NEED YOU! P-please… I’m, I’m sorry…”

The sludge was at his shoulders now. Searing and unbearable. Oppressive and pungent. He heard his ribs crack. Another curt yell was garbled.

The boy looked over with the eyes that were his. 

“Did you run out of time?”