PULSATE: Part 1
It was a routine that saved Asa’s life time and time again. Or that’s at least what she told herself time and time again.
She put her right shoe on first.
Then her left.
Then she tied her left shoe first.
Then her right.
She adjusted her iPod on her right forearm so the screen faced her.The headphones were tucked under the holder and ran up her arm to her ears. She always started with her favorite song – Welcome to the Jungle.From there, the iPod shuffled.
Asa opened the front door, stepped out on the tiny front porch, put the headphones in her ears (starting with the left one) and hit play.
The echoed opening of Welcome to the Jungle started and Asa felt her heart race.
Today was Wednesday.That meant ten miles. It was also early October right before sunset and since the sky was already somber because of passing showers, it was mostly dark.
Asa hit the pavement and started to run.
Asa’s heart pumped as much as her legs did. She kept her eyes focused forward. She learned a long time ago that looking in any direction could lead to trouble. In life there are many things around but it’s your path that you must follow and follow with clear eyes and a heart full of hope.
Each day brought a different run – a different path, a different mile amount. Mondays were easiest, a cool five mile run. Friday’s were the worst, a grueling twenty mile run. But it was Asa’s commitment to herself, her body, and in a way, to the rest of the world. The rest of the world didn’t know about Asa’s commitment and she was okay with it. It was much better off that way.
As her boss, the voice through the headphones told her time and time again, “Leave the scary shit to the books…”
She did have those days where the loneliness pinched her heart.
Mile one came and went as did Welcome to the Jungle. Now it was serious. With the iPod in shuffle mode, Asa let her focus shift from heavy guitars, drums, and lyrical madness about sex and drugs to the road, her footsteps, and what waited four and half miles ahead.
He called himself Mr. Rogers. Asa thought it a funny name, since the man who spoke in her headphones was nothing like the sweet (but slightly creepy) man who asked Asa to be his neighbor when she was a kid.
When Mr. Rogers spoke, Asa listened. Not because she was forced to but because she understood what was at stake if she didn’t.
Mile three of the run brought Mr. Rogers.
“One point five miles left until contact.”
Asa nodded. She found it better not to speak to Mr. Rogers unless she had to.
“Approximately six foot three, solid build, as expected. He’s a vagrant. He also has the gift of sun walking.”
That statement almost made Asa stumble and fall. She didn’t like “sun walkers”.
“I don’t need to tell you how important this one is. Look high, aim mid, and don’t stop until you feel it…”
Mr. Rogers faded away and back came in the music. Some twangy song by the Stones with choppy riffs tearing at her ear drums.
The last two minutes Asa didn’t hear a thing. No music. She felt her feet thumping against the ground and when that sound started to fade, she could hear a pulsating sound. The ability to hear that sound was her gift. Or at least that’s what Mr. Rogers told her (time and time again).
Asa checked her waist band and felt the cross. She was ready.
The intersection came and went, but that was planned.
It was a small white garage with an overlap. A basic hiding place. For a moment, Asa felt relieved – she figured with a sun walker that stupid, she’d be fine.
Then it attacked.
He dove from the garage and sailed through the air with his black coat open. Asa wasn’t scared, she was used to the bit. She did however play it off – she looked back, pulled her headphones out, and then started to move faster. Pretending to be scared. They loved this. The pulsating grew fast and harder.
The sun walker hit the ground and charged after Asa. She purposely slowed, letting the vampire catch up. She wasn’t in the mood to play games and knew that Mr. Rogers wasn’t either.
The vampire let out a growl and lunged forward. Asa spun around, pulling the cross from her waistband. The cross pointed on all four ends and was made of what Mr. Rogers called “old world wood” – the only kind of wood that could actually kill a vampire. (It’s not like the movies where a homemade wooden stake to the heart would do it. That’s just silly.)
The sun walker saw the cross and tried to stop its movements but couldn’t. Asa drove the cross into the vampire’s chest and forced it to the ground. The creature clawed at her but she kept stabbing it. A stab from each corner of the cross and then the bottom of the cross through the heart.
The vampire went silent. It lay there, looking human. Its long greasy hair draped over its face. Hands sprawled out.
Asa took the cross from the sun walkers chest and put it back in her waistband. She put her headphones back in her ears (this time starting with the right one).
Mr. Rogers was waiting. “Great work. The last thing we need is a sun walker here. We’ll clean up the mess.”
“Perfect movement and acting. He was really hungry too. I’m proud of you Asa. Now go home and get some rest.”
Mr. Roger’s voice faded out.
Asa checked her watch, then her pedometer. She’d only gone a little over four and a half miles.
“Five and a half to go,” she whispered and turned her iPod back to Welcome to the Jungle.
It was still Wednesday and vampires or not, that meant a ten mile run.
©2010 Jim Bronyaur
JIM BRONYAUR lives in Pennsylvania and sits at a desk in a corner writing lots of horror. He’s been published over forty times, all of which could be found at his site www.JimBronyaur.com. Those who dare to speak with him can on twitter @jimbronyaur.