He never felt like running.

Every other morning, he puppeteered his lifeless mass of numb arms and legs to venture into the cold, brisk north wind that swept the morning beaches. Seagulls kept a promise of life among the dark blue plains of water, crying about their birdly affairs, and the long stretches of atlantic summer chaos, devoid of people, welcomed the elements and almost nothing but.

Every now and then a pilgrim on the way to Santiago crossed his path, and to every single one he wished ‘bom caminho’, dreaming of the times, future and past, he walked to Santiago just like them. Otherwise, he was all alone, for it was much too early in the day, and every wave broke a silence only disturbed by their own echoes on the sleeping buildings.

This was the coldest he’d been in weeks. He hadn’t slept all that well, and his mind was racing between a deafening static of worries.

Encapsulated in a Krillin hoodie, under a pool of streamed music and the digital gaze of a running app, he battered the kilometers away one at a time, keeping the growing pain subsided to an autopiloted action, whilst he fought to distance himself from his familiar thoughts.

‘How many sides of you are a work in progress?’, said an harrowing scowl, ‘In how many ways are you a wannabe runner on a feared, unknown pool of nothingness? Why do you let your crippling self-doubt hinder and make a rag doll out of you?’

‘Shut up, I’m not in the mood for you.’

‘You shut up. Who do you think you are, bossing me around? You may very well think me away, but you can’t. I’m the distress in your days, I’m the sour in your sweet, I’m the ugly in your neat, and I will find you — always. Nothing can keep me away. Your actions are futile, and your stupidity blinds you to the truth. You’ll never be happy. All your little tools and plans are a joke.’

‘On that note, I have something to ask you.’

The voice couldn’t hide a tone of surprise. ‘Yes…? And what might that be?’

He tried to keep is breathing under control. ‘I want to make a pact with you. I am your prey whether I like it or not, correct?’

‘That is a fact.’

‘Hear me out. I wish for you to leave me alone when I talk to other people. Is that something we can work out?’

The voice paused, deep in thought. ‘You’ll have to give me something in return for this unusual request.’

‘I understand. I am ready to part with one of my dreams.’

‘Is that so…?’

He stopped on his tracks. The app whispered in his ear — autopause. ‘That is my offer. In exchange for one of my dreams, you will never talk to me while I am already in a conversation with any other person.’

‘That sounds… doable.’

‘Do we have an agreement?’

The voice laughed. ‘And what dream of yours might it be?’

‘I’ll have to think about it. I’ll let you know.’

‘Keep me posted’, said the dreadful whisper.

‘I will. Now leave me alone. I have a full day ahead.’

‘Keep on being foolish’, and the voice laughed itself away.

The horizon was clearing a bluish sky. The night had ended its run, and he kept on running, for there was a distance yet to be braved. The app whispered yet again — autoresume.





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