The Runners (Fiction)
The cap covering his face provided little protection from the rays of the angry sun. Despite his training, the blistering heat made him long for relief. He ran his tongue over sweat-covered lips and swallowed involuntarily as the ice cream cone in his hands made its way to his mouth. It never made it there because it was precisely at that moment that they appeared. Their appearance was so strange that Corporal Richard swallowed again - and this time, it was not because he was thirsty. This time, though they appeared to be about 2 kilometers out from where he was sat, on his perch at the top of the military guard tower in the desert, for some reason, he was afraid.
First, it was one man. Then, almost materializing out of thin air, there were three men. They stood about 10 feet from each other, all wearing suits and ties. In the golden sands of the deserts, their black suits were a sharp contrast to their surroundings. There was clearly no intent to be stealthy. As far as he could see, from where he sat, there was no communication between them; they just stared dead ahead at the military base.
Normally, there would be three men in this guard tower, which was one of eight that surrounded the sprawling military base that currently housed about 2,000 employees, the majority of whom were servicemen. The military base was a Special Forces and Tactical Espionage training camp. At the moment, one of his colleagues was ill and the other was called in for an impromptu briefing. So here he was, sitting alone at the top of the guard tower that was on the south-eastern edge of the military base in the middle of the desert staring at three strange men that had materialized out of nowhere.
Corporal Richard lifted his binoculars to his eyes to get a better view of the men who were still motionless. He swept to the left and right of the strange visitors to see if there were others, but there were no others he could see. He turned his gaze back to them to get a closer look, which was just in time as they began to jog towards the base at a casual pace. One of them was dark-skinned, looking like someone of African descent while the other two were Caucasian, one with military-style black hair while the other was blonde. None of them had a beard.
It was when he was lifting his radio to his lips to announce that he noticed something a bit strange as they ran towards him. Yes, at the moment, they were running towards the base and no more jogging. And they were running in sync. It was hard to judge the exact speed with which they ran, but it was clearly very fast, at an increasing pace, the sand doing very little to slow them down or break their synchronised pace. Yes, that was weird, Corporal Richard thought to himself. It was not every day you saw three unarmed men in the desert charging towards a military base with evenly matched paces, left and right legs hitting the ground at the same time as they ran.
“Intruder alert! Three unidentified intruders on foot running towards the base on the South East. It is unknown if they are armed or unarmed. Roughly two clicks out and closing in quickly.”, he said into his radio repeatedly. He found himself repeating it the third time as that feeling of fear started to slowly turn into panic; they were moving too fast for runners on foot. It felt like they were human beings with the feet (and hearts) of horses because they were not slowing down. Their pace was dramatically increasing with every step while they bizarrely kept in step. What sort of organization would train its operatives to charge a military base but ensure they kept in step as they did so? And yet, strange as it was to admit, they were truly graceful.
He looked around and could see that in the other guard towers, guard soldiers were beginning to take positions. There were also soldiers beginning to take positions in front of the gate these intruders were charging towards. He knew the protocol; an officer would stop them to find out the reason for visiting before the gates would open and they would be escorted into the facility for questioning. Anyone who came out this far was simply not going to be “turned away”. To be here, in this manner, without some sort of permit was suspicious in itself. If the runners did not slow down, they would get shot. Either way, things were not looking good for them.
About 8 officers had taken positions around the entrance to the large metal gates that were about 20 feet high and had to be automatically opened from within after clearance. Visitors would then need to come into this outer perimeter where the guard towers were situated, go through another level of clearance before they would be allowed through the next gate where the bulk of military complexes were situated. At the moment, there were no less than 15 guns trained on the running intruders, with almost half of them being sniper weapons.
An officer walked ahead of the rest in the direction of the runners, raised up his hand so he could be clearly seen and motioned for them to stop. In his other hand, an M16A2 assault rifle was held, pointing downwards at the moment, his trigger finger pointing downward. While he wanted to stop the runners, he also wanted to do so in the least threatening way as they ran towards the base. They were about 100 meters from the first gate now. What was nerve-wracking about the whole episode was that they showed no sign of stopping. Actually, their pace continued to increase. Oddly.
“STOP!”, the leading officer shouted so he could be heard, hand still raised.
The runners continued towards him, now at about 70 meters from the gate.
“STOP OR WE WILL SHOOT!”, the officer shouted again.
In response, the three strange runners reduced the distance between them rapidly till they were running in a single file now led by the Blonde, then followed by the African and the Black-haired, still in strange sync.
The runners were now about 50 meters away and the officer now pointed his gun in readiness.
“THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING! STOP NOW OR WE WILL SHOOT!”
The instant he said that the runners fanned out, still charging towards the base but increasing the distance between themselves. The whole scene looked macabre as these clearly suicidal maniacs continued to charge. How they managed to run faster and faster was inexplicable.
“READY!!!” the officer commanded and multiple guns cocked in readiness, eyes went to scopes as the runners closed in at about 30 meters. They could not be allowed to get close because they could be carrying explosives on their person. At this point, it could not be said that they were logical or meant no harm and the only option left was to take them out.
The one thought that came to the officer’s mind before he died was how wonderfully they began to move, for they were truly graceful...
To be continued...
This will be part of the stories in the sequel to my novel, Of Priests and Mermaids (Vol 1)