But He Could Not Outrun The Might of the People

May 10, 2019 (453 words) :: A piece of flash fiction.
Tags: fiction

This post is day 130 of a personal challenge to write every day in 2019. See the other fragments, or sign up for my weekly newsletter.

His foot snags on a rock and he falls again, harder this time. Behind him he hears a distant cheer. His heart beats faster, and he feels himself shaking as he brings himself back to his feet. Out of the corner of his eye he sees an unexpected glint of light, but by the time he realises what it is, he has already started running again, and it is too late to go back for it.

He tells himself that it’s only one USB stick, that he has two more, and that with any luck it’ll be the wallet with only $10 billion worth of cryptocurrency. And he has a massive cache of gemstones, and a few gold ingots, not to mention a Gauguin that should be worth several hundred million once things get back to normal.

A sob catches in his throat, unbidden. Why would they sentence him so harshly? Don’t they recognise how hard he’s worked to be as successful as he has? Why don’t they appreciate his achievements? 30 years ago he was driving packages to the post office himself, for Christ’s sake. But he persevered, and the result was a tremendously successful multi-trillion-dollar company, one which pushed the limits of technical innovation in order to make customers happy. And he had created so many jobs, too, jobs which came with a generous wage (commensurate with skill level and local market conditions). They should be thanking him, not punishing him with the humiliating sentence of having to work in one of his own warehouses.

The buzzing roar of the crowd is close, closer than he had thought, and he has to stop himself from turning back in case he falls again. He will not let this raggedy group of malcontents force him into that cruel karmic prison. He does not recognise the legitimacy of their verdict. Don’t they understand that he was doing it all for them? Humanity needs a strong, intelligent leader, and he is capable of bringing them to the stars, if they would only let him. It’s his destiny.

He urges himself to run faster. Just a few minutes longer, and then he’ll be free. Once he gets to the road, surely the crowd will give up, and a sympathetic driver will take him back to his bunker, where armed security will see off any hostiles foolish enough to show their face. He just has to run for a few minutes longer, that’s it.

The noise of the crowd has built to an intolerable howl. He runs. And runs.

With thanks to Toby, who originally came up with the concept for this piece, and to Kate Wagner for the tweet that directly inspired the topic.

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