Devil’s Run

Something about the oncoming joggers bothered Roy to give them a second look. His first thought was to ignore them as the usual joggers he saw every weekend. He noted several familiar faces in the crowd, then realized it was actually a crowd. The joggers he recognized didn’t normally run together, and there were a dozen others. Many of them weren’t even wearing athletic clothes. He saw jeans and business suits in the crowd; then, he noticed their faces.

Their eyes were wide and their mouths seemed stuck open. Roy came to stop and glanced behind him. The few regulars that were running behind him now ran the other way. He heard a growing commotion coming through his noise-cancelling earbuds and turned forward again.

The crowd was now about 30 feet away and he could hear them screaming over his music. He briefly wondered if they were running at him, but their eyes seemed focused on some vague location behind him.

Despite his fragile, boney appearance, Roy suspected he was literally the strongest man in the world. He never told anyone because he didn’t want to stand out in any way; but, his strength easily qualified him as a Super. He trusted his strength and stood his ground once the crowd reached him; he wanted to find out what scared them.

“What’s goin-,” he tried asking someone but they ran by ignoring him. The crowd didn’t even seem to know he was there, he was shoved from all sides as they mobbed past him. Each time someone pushed past him, a vague idea repeated itself in his mind.

RUN!” The thought became so insistent he shook his head several times to try and force it out of his mind.  Finally, the crowd moved past him, and he spotted a single figure lightly jogging his way.

It was a young woman that Roy didn’t recognize. She wore a flowing black gown that seemed to grow sheer as she jogged toward him. The thin, translucent fabric did little to hide her body from the bright sunlight. Her face was flushed with a bright pink color that wasn’t limited to her cheeks; Roy got the sense that it was her actual skin color. Her shoulder-length hair sparkled like polished gold.

She stopped once she reached Roy, and he looked into her eyes to keep his from wandering; her pupils were a translucent honey-gold color.

“Hello,” she grinned at him then slowly spun around with arms spread to bask in the sunshine. “It’s a beautiful day for a run!” She did a complete turn and faced him again with a slight pout. “Don’t you feel like running?” she asked. Roy assumed this is the woman they crowd was running from.

“What did you do them?” he asked, and he turned to point at the fleeing mob. He was startled to discover the entire crowd standing there behind. The stood in a half-circle behind him quiet and still like wax figures.

“I’ve been locked away alone for a very long time. Now that I’m free again, I wanted to stretch my legs and get some fresh air,” the woman said. “And, I hate going anywhere by myself.”

“Locked away?…” Roy began to think he’d found a supervillain that would force him into exposing his super strength. He wanted to know who he should return her to. “By who? Why?”

“Why?” She repeated his question, her golden eyes clouded with hurt. “I was a mistake. I’m sure you’ve hidden and ignored your fair share of mistakes,” she said. Roy nodded subconsciously. “You can imagine how much deeper and darker my hiding place was; a mistake made by someone…,” the woman pointed upward. “…that likes being known for not making any mistakes.”

GOD!?” Roy managed to sound sarcastic and surprised all at once. “You’re…,” he pointed an accusing finger at her, but suddenly had his doubts. “… are you Satan?” The woman’s eyes sparkled again. The silent crowd behind him burst into laughter.

“Ha!” she added. “That desk job is beneath me,” she delicately presented her hand to Roy. “I’m Unique Soul #02, El Diablito. You may call me, Diavola.”

“Uh. I don’t have a number, but 42 is my favorite one,” he reached for her hand out of habit. “I’m just Roy,” he touched her hand. 

Roy,” she gave a soft, almost romantic sigh, except he didn’t see her lips move. He somehow felt her voice caressing his mind; it felt like a nap on a cool rainy day. He knew that she wouldn’t mind if he took a peek and let his eyes roam down her body.

“Do me a favor?” she asked. Roy didn’t know if her lips moved or not, but it didn’t matter. He nodded.

“Of course, anything you want.”

“Run,” she whispered.

Roy ran.

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