Fast

I've always wanted to be fast. I loved watching action movies, sword fighting or martial arts, just to watch the actors dodge and strike - sometimes so fast it was a blur. I had little routines I would do almost every day, training my reaction time. One night, I dreamed I was fast, faster than anyone in school, even faster than my martial arts heroes. That morning, I woke up excited. The birds were singing, the grass was green; it was a great day to be alive. As I waited for the bus, I caught myself whistling. Even school wasn't as much of a bore as it usually was - especially Mr. Druge's science class. A visiting scientist gave a lecture on the physics of the human body - I hung on every word once he mentioned "theoretical speed" and "increased reaction time." It was probably the best class I ever had. I never knew there were scientists that thought about that stuff, much less studied it full time - I always thought it was athletes and body-builders that thought about muscle ratios and the limits of the human body.

After school, a few of my friends and I got together for a soccer game. I was good at soccer - speed and reflexes help, and I had both. We were pretty evenly matched, though; I was good, but not that good. My team scored a goal, then the other team scored a goal. I was pushing myself pretty hard, trying to block a shot, when suddenly, everything clicked. It was like I had broken a seal somewhere. Instead of trying to dash to where the ball might be, I was running to were it was. Instead of only having a split second to shoot the ball through a shifting opening, it felt like I had all the time I needed to decide where to kick it. There was a cheer; I blinked, realizing I had just scored a goal from halfway down the field! The game was over before long - I scored six more goals, one from near my own goalie, and the other team gave up in disgust. I nearly floated home. Mom started to ask how my day was, but stopped when she saw my grin. My face hurt, I was smiling so hard. "That good, huh?" I just nodded, grinning away.

The next morning, I woke up feeling like a million bucks. I glanced at my alarm clock - oddly enough, I'd woken a full 48 minutes before my alarm went off. I usually woke up just in time to turn it off. Grinning, I rolled over and went back to sleep - it was like Saturday came early! I woke to my alarm, and switched it off. Not only did I still feel great from the day before, I also felt like I has slept in almost an hour! I almost skipped down the stairs to breakfast.

In science class, Mr. Druge droned on about reflexes, covering a lot of what the scientist had the day before. Still, I managed to take in a good bit without my thoughts wandering. Before the bell rang, Mr. Druge set up an experiment - a gripper holding a piece of metal, connected to a computer. The gripper was on a random timer, and when it let go, you had to catch the piece of metal as fast as you could. You'd get three tries, and then the computer would average the times to determine your reflexes. I was pretty familiar with it, because I used something like it to train my own reflexes. When it was my turn, I waited for the little fingers to let go, and grabbed for it. I caught it pretty fast, I thought. Once everyone else had taken their turn, Mr. Druge printed out everyone's names and average times - my name was at the top of the list! According to the numbers on the sheet, my reflexes were almost twice as good as the next best person in the room!

When I look back at how happy I was, though, I can only think how stupid I was, how I wasted all that precious time playing games, going to school, sleeping, eating. I didn't realize what was happening to me. I suppose there was nothing I could do about it, but still... I could have tried. Something...

The next day, I woke a full hour and half before my alarm went off; I felt wide awake, though, so I got up and got ready, just goofing around before it was time to go. Dad was up by the time I got downstairs. He glanced at the clock, then back at me. "What's got you up so early?" I just grinned and shrugged. "Too awesome a day just to stay in bed, I guess." He grinned and went back to reading his e-book. And idea came to me; I went to the kitchen and dug through our junk drawer, finally finding our old stopwatch. If my reflexes were that fast, I wondered how fast I was at running; I'd never timed myself, and today seemed like as good a day as any.

At school, time dragged by. Finally, class let out for the day, and I jogged to the running track. Pulling out the timer, I took a breath, hit the start button, and charged. Halfway around the 400 meter track, I was really feeling the burn, but I pushed on. Finally, panting hard, I crossed the finish line and paused the stopwatch. It read 43.26 seconds; my first thought was, "Wow! Under a minute! That's awesome!" - but then I realized I had no idea what that time even meant. For all I knew, it could be pretty bad. Then again, it was almost 100 meters per second; that had to be good, right? Once I caught my breath, I walked back to the computer lab and searched for "high school track record". The results took forever to load, but when they did, I could only stare in amazement. According to the website I'd found, the fastest time was in 1982 - a boy finished the 400 meter dash in 44.69 seconds. I had run more than a full second faster! I quickly calculated how fast I had actually gone - 20.68 miles per hour! I ran all the way home; I couldn't wait to tell my family. Everyone was impressed, even my little brother.

That night, as I drifted off to sleep, a thought kept trying to wiggle its way in - what's actually going on? I guess if I had stopped to think about it - and if I knew what would happen not much later - I wouldn't have fallen asleep so quickly. The next day was Saturday, but I still woke up early - a full two hours and 10 minutes before I usually did. Still, I felt as if I'd slept all night, so I got up and had breakfast. By the time everyone else was up, I'd finished my chores for the day and was playing computer games. Dad gave me a funny look, but didn't say anything. Everyone sounded a bit hoarse at the breakfast table; it hadn't been particularly cold lately, so I wondered how they had all gotten colds - and I hadn't - but I didn't say anything. Odder still, though, was how slowly everyone was moving. Dad lazily drifted over to the sofa to read his e-book, Mom slowly stacked dishes in the dishwasher, and even Joey was slow walking up the stairs. Still, I ignored what should have been obvious. I kept playing a reflex-based computer game, rejoicing in my ever-increasing score. By early afternoon, I was feeling quite tired, probably because I had been getting up so early. I flopped down on my bed, and was asleep in seconds.

I awoke to Mom's voice. She was sitting on my bed, gently shaking me awake. Dad was sitting at my desk. Both of them looked worried. I yawned, "What's up? Did I sleep through supper?" Mom glanced at Dad, who said, "Actually, we're worried about you. You've been acting... strange. Not yourself."
His words came out so slowly, I had trouble piecing them together as a sentence; Mom nodded, so slowly that it looked less like a nod and more like a stretch. I sat up and asked, "Strange? How do you mean?"
Dad replied, "Honestly, that - you're talking so fast, I can barely understand you. And you've been sleeping so little lately - your mother and I just want to know what's going on."
That nagging thought came back. I felt a rush of panic - what if something really was wrong with me? I was sleeping less and less, and days seemed to go on forever; maybe everyone wasn't going slower, maybe I was going faster! Mom noticed my expression, and put her hand on my shoulder. "It's ok; you can tell us. We love you, and we just don't want you to get hurt." She glanced at Dad again, then asked, "Is it - drugs?"
I blinked. The thought had never even occurred to me. I shook my head - slowly, trying to be the "right speed," and explained everything, from the soccer game on. Mom and Dad just listened, though I could tell they were still worried. I finished with, "I'm not taking drugs - well, as far as I know, anyway. Do you think somebody could be giving me drugs, like putting them in my food or something?"
Spiderman got his super-powers from being bitten by a radioactive spider; the creature with the fastest reflexes on earth was a star-nosed mole, and I was pretty sure I hadn't been bitten by one of those; drugs was the only other option I could think of.
Mom felt my forehead. "No temperature; and you say you feel fine, apart from feeling like everything else is slowing down?"
I nodded. Mom and Dad talked for a bit, and finally decided to take me to see a doctor; they'd have to wait until Monday, though.
"For the time being, just get some rest and take it easy - no more running around, ok? You can stay home from church and rest, too. If someone has been slipping you something, it should wear off by then."
I managed a weak smile, and the subject was dropped. We all went down for supper, where I managed to eat two helpings. I was finally realizing that it was because I hadn't eaten for an entire day, at least in my own version of time.

Sunday morning, I woke up at 3:37 AM. I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn't; I was wide awake. I had a bite to eat, moped around, and eventually went back to bed, feeling terrible. I stared at the ceiling, even read a book, but the worry knawing in my stomach wouldn't go away. I had another snack around 7 AM, and managed to fall asleep. I didn't notice my family leave for church, just that I woke up again at about 10:00, starving. I ate some leftovers, then plopped into a chair in the living room. I didn't even want to watch TV. A sound came from outside - a low, lilting tune that was somehow familiar. It would on for a few seconds, then stopped. Several minutes later, it sounded again, and I went to the window to see what was making the noise. There was nothing there but - a bird. Singing. I suddenly felt as if someone had punched me in the stomach - my knees went weak, my ears rang, and my eyes refused to focus. The sound wasn't music, it was a bird call - a high pitched bird call, slowed down. No drugs could do this to me - something was wrong. I ran to the bathroom, barely in time to lose my lunch, violently. Choking and spitting, I reached up to flush the toilet, and watched as the water slowly pushed down the sides of the bowl, swirling lazily, and - almost a minute later - slowly sinking down. I backed up, staring at it, knocking over the toothbrush holder - then watched the holder slowly tumble from the sink. I caught it before it had fallen even a few inches, but realizing what I had done, let go as if it had stung me and ran to my room, tears streaming from my face and gently floating to the floor. I buried my head in my pillow, blocking out the almost sub-sonic rumble of the toilet tank refilling. I cried; I screamed, "What is happening to me?"
Finally, I jumped out of bed, grabbed the stopwatch, and ran outside. I knew it was almost exactly a mile from my mailbox to a nearby park; at least I could tell how fast I was going. I cleared the old time, started the timer, then ran. My heart hammering in my chest, I ran past houses, counting them as I went. Finally, I reached the park, and stopped the watch. I held the stopwatch, my breath rasping in my lungs, my eyes refusing to focus on the time. I forced myself to breathe, and closed my eyes. When my nerves were a little more steady, I opened my eyes and held up the stopwatch.

70.18 seconds.

I sank to the ground. I had just run a mile in only a minute and ten seconds. I had run faster than 50 miles per hour. I wasn't just fast - I was the fastest human being on the planet. I couldn't move; I could barely comprehend what was happening to me - but I knew. For the first time, the cold clarity of the situation sank in. I don't know how it happened, I don't even know what it was, but I was fast, just like I always wanted to be. I was so fast that I could outrun a car on a city street. I was so fast that I could steal things without anyone noticing. I was so fast that I was passing life by - leaving everything I knew hanging in the dust.

Something touched me, and I sprang to my feet in shock - but it was just a leaf. I watched as it sank slowly to the ground, taking what seemed like hours to move. I walked home, realizing that I was walking at almost 10 miles per hour. At a jog, I would be breaking the speed limit; even so, it felt like it took the same amount of time to get home as it always did. Longer, even. I tried not to look at the neighbor's dog as it floated slowly through the air - jumping to grab a flying bug.

I didn't know what to do; I had only been gone for 15 minutes, but it seemed like hours. Not knowing what else to do, I sat down at my desk and pulled out a pencil. I wrote down my run times. I wrote down how long I slept. I added, multiplied, and divided, running the numbers every way I knew how. As far as I could tell, I was existing at more than three times the speed I should be. If I were normal, I'd be able to run 15 miles per hour, not 50. I crumpled the paper up and tossed it in the trash. Still feeling sick, I lay down on my bed again, falling into a restless sleep. The last thought in my mind before I drifted off was, "When will it stop?"

I never did see the doctor. As I write this, it's about 4 AM, Monday morning. My acceleration eventually ceased; I figure I'm moving at around 300 times the speed of "normal". Today is my birthday. If I live to be 100, I still won't make it halfway to Christmas. Assuming I age; I don't even know if I do that. And assuming I stay at this speed, too; maybe I will, maybe I won't. There are times when I speed up, and times when I remain steady - but never do I slow down. Maybe my parents will find the body of an old, old man tomorrow morning; maybe I'll have dried up and blow away by then. I don't know. I'm the only thing that moves this fast; even the simplest things are impossible calculations. The only time my parents can even see me is when I'm asleep - and 8 hours of sleep for me is only 96 seconds for them. Mom held my hand for five seconds today; it was half an hour for me. I can tell she's scared, but she has no idea what to do. Neither do I.

Eating is a problem; even a two minute microwave meal takes me 12 hours to heat, and another 12 just to let it cool; I've taken to eating nothing but sandwiches. At first, I stayed at home to eat, but recently I've been stealing - it's not hard when no one can see you move. I don't want Mom to have to buy enough food to feed me my entire life in the next few weeks; it wouldn't be fair.

I can't write any more. I need to clear my head. Maybe I'll come back to this later

It's been a while. I found these old papers - well, I say old. They're really less than a week old, in "real" time. Reading through these brought back a flood of memories... maybe I should keep writing. Every few years (my time), I come back and see my folks - by now, I'm moving so fast that even a full night's sleep takes only a second or two. I've never really timed it. It's been about 20 years, for me. I'm a lot wiser than I was when all this started. Plus I know that I age; at least I'm not stuck here forever. Old age will catch me eventually. These days, I can still see movement, but I try to ignore it; I've seen too much. I saw someone jump off a building; it took them almost four hours to fall. I couldn't do anything. Someone closed me in a store before I could get out, and I had to just stand there and watch her fall. By the time I finally made it out of the building, she was already hitting the ground. I just turned and ran.

I had a dream last night; I dreamed I was 15 again. I was playing soccer, back on that day it all started. I was watching from outside my body, an outsider looking in. As I watched, time slowed down, and I could see an old man in ragged clothes walking through the field, the players still, the ball hovering in mid air. He tripped as he was walking past the younger me, and caught himself, grabbing my shoulder for support. As he walked off the field, time slowly began to speed up again, but he kept going the same speed. By the time he reached the edge of the field, time was moving as normal. He stopped, as if unable to believe his ears, and turned. Tears began streaming down his face as he realized that he was moving in real time. He staggered to his feet, walking towards the road. He never made it; as he reached the shallow ditch, he stumbled, his hand grabbing his chest. Even as the boys - as I - played, he fell over and lay still.

I woke in a cold sweat. The more I thought about the dream, the more I realized it might be more than that. I remember, all those years ago, a man in a dirty brown coat at the soccer game. I remember him standing there - or was it a trick of the mind?

He had to have

Sorry... I don't know what I did just then. I ran all the way to the field to see if he - if the body was still there. It wasn't, of course. I forget that all this happened over the course of days, not all at once. It rained a while back - well, yesterday, in "real" time - and there wasn't a trace remaining. So few things change, now, that I expect everything to be the same, all the time.

I don't need these papers; they only serve to remind me of what I lost. Maybe I'll put them somewhere safe... maybe not. I don't really know why I carry them with me.

Just now... I thought - I thought I saw something. My hands are shaking; I ran after whateer it was, but it was gone when I got there. Or it was never there. I don't know. All I can think is... I saw something move. Move as fast as me.

I saw it again, just after I woke up - I know I did. There was a shape, a shadow, lurking nearby, and when I moved towards it, it dashed through the bushes and towards a building. I have no idea how big it was, even - it was faster than me by quite a lot. Something is out there, something like me! But what?

The sun is high in the sky; according to the clocks I pass, it's noon for everyone else. I've gotten a lot faster, recently; almost a thousand times as fast as "normal". An entire day for me takes a little less than a minute and a half for everyone else. I'm starting to wonder if the proximity of those - whatever they are - make me move faster. At first, I was excited that I might be able to have some company, even if it was just a squirrel, or something, but lately I've been trying to avoid them. No matter how fast I get - I'm more than twice as fast as I was when I first saw them - I'm always slower than they are. It's like they can speed up on their own.

I saw one today, in broad daylight. I was napping on a park bench, and I saw one come loping past. It stopped and looked right at me. I couldn't move... it wasn't human. It wasn't animal, either; I don't know what it was. Black, with very fine hair covering it; it was almost as tall as a man, maybe five feet tall, but shorter, squat. Sometimes it walked, hunched over, and sometimes it skittered around on all fours. Its eyes were... opaque. They saw that the eyes are windows to the soul; if that's true, then this creature had no soul. Its eyes were dull, black, shapeless, and dry - and they stared with such a piercing intensity it was all I could do not to scream. Suddenly, it crouched down, its mouth - at least, what I assumed to be its mouth - opening, twitching, a mottled tongue flicking out. It took a step back, then suddenly, shot off, away from me, moving so fast... I could never have caught it. I could feel a low thump as the air closed back where it had been.

I have to know more about them.

I found the old man, in the morgue. John Doe. I found him by following those black creatures - they seemed drawn to the hospital, to him, but they couldn't get to him; the door was closed. I gues they aren't very good at opening things. I opened the door myself. Just a man; he looked like most of the other people, standing around, still as statues. I touched him, as much to assume myself he really existed as anything. Maybe I should leave these notes with him...

I had another dream... a nightmare. Once again, I was watching the old man wander through the soccer game. Everything was the same as before; he touched me, then started speeding up; before he could reach the road, he fell, his grey hair resting on the green grass...
I awoke with a start.
His hair was grey.
In the dream, in my own memories, his hair was grey - dingy, dirty, grey-brown hair, unwashed in ages - but grey nonetheless. At the morgue, his hair was black.

At first I didn't understand. Just like before, just like when I was a kid, I didn't understand what was happening. I thought that maybe he was turning young again; his hair was growing black, his features youthful... but I was wrong. Oh, I was wrong.

I don't know what those creatures are. Vile monsters of the dark - they never eat, never sleep, always watch. I thought they might be some sort of guardian, but I know what can't be true. They just feel... wrong. Like they don't belong here. Like a stain, or an infection - yes, an infection... spreading...

If you've seen someone appear in front of you, but only for the blink of an eye - it's not a ghost. If you feel someone watching you, but no one is there - you might not be crazy. If you wake up and find things have moved, things are missing - maybe they are. If you see a shadow move out of the corner of your eye - it probably did. It wasn't a burglar, or an illusion. If you see something move faster than your eye can follow, you aren't imagining things.

I had a rash on my arms yesterday, and today my skin feels hot to the touch. The back of my hands are covered with fine, black hairs...

If you feel the world slowing down around you - I'm sorry. I'm truly sorry. You can't escape it, but by death - and if you can't escape it by death... you go on forever. Faster and faster, until you run out of universe... faster... faster... FASTER... FASTER...