The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

Hunter Perkins
Image courtesy of Hunter Perkins.

The Human Race

Miles crouches just behind the starting line. The rough texture of polyurethane grinds against his hands as he tenses up. He yawns. 

“On your marks!” the starter shouts. Miles shifts his position accordingly with a sigh. Due to his carelessness, he doesn’t realize what’s happening around him. And he definitely doesn’t realize what’s about to happen. In the next few moments, he will make history. He will officially become the fastest man on the face of the Earth. Unfortunately, when someone dashes through life like he does, life starts to seem a little slow in comparison. Years later, and multiple won races later, he sits in a restaurant with yet another date. 

Miles stares at the couple sitting at the table on the other side of the room. They talk. They laugh. Finally, they stand up and hold hands as they walk out the door. Miles sighs. 

“Hello?” his date says. “Earth to Miles!” Miles looks over at her, his eyes half open. 

“What?” Miles groans. 

“You’ve been staring off into space since we sat down,” she states. “If you’re not going to talk, then what’s the point of even meeting me?”

Miles considers her words for a moment. “Yeah, you’re right,” Miles says as he stands up and puts his coat back on. “Goodnight.” 

“Wha — hey!” his date calls as he walks out the door. Miles waves at her without even turning his head as he walks out the door. The freezing air burns his eyes and bites his nose. He passes by a newspaper stand. One paper catches his eye. It reads, “Miles Thomas Chickens Out Again: Is the World’s Fastest Man Afraid to Lose?” Miles grabs the entire stack of newspapers and runs away with them as the shopkeeper yells at him, unable to catch up. Once Miles gets away, he finds himself in the middle of a park. He throws the papers into a pond and sits down, wondering what he should do. 

“What’s wrong with quitting while you’re ahead?” Miles thinks to himself, completely unaware of the small droplets of water rising into the air from the pond. Suddenly, a deep voice echoes from the heavens.

“My name is Velocity,” the voice booms. “I am the fastest organism in the universe, assigned to protect the natural balance of reality from those who threaten it. In the following minutes, everything you know will end. For this, you have Miles Thomas to thank. Out of all the intelligent beings in the universe, you, Miles, have come the closest to breaking my fastest record. Not only that, you have crossed this line without taking responsibility in the least. In doing so, you have proven that humanity is capable of tipping the balance, and to combat this, I have no choice but to wipe you out.” Miles’s heart sinks.  

“Once the moon has disappeared, the gates of Azon will open,” Velocity continues. “Your planet will be exposed to the great unknown. The very embodiment of chaos will tear it to shreds until there is nothing left. Your race, along with its legacy, will be torn to shreds.”

Miles looks up at the moon. A large circular object is eclipsing it. The sky begins to warp and shift, the stars moving in and out as if they were floating on waves of darkness. Miles locks eyes with another man in the park. Even from so far away, Miles can see the fear on the man’s face. Fear of him. Miles runs away, through the trees, and out onto the street. 

“What is happening?” a woman’s voice yells. Miles turns his head to see his date from a half an hour earlier.  

“Why should I know?” Miles yells. 

“Because apparently you’re the one that started it all!” she responds. 

“I didn’t do anything!” Miles yells in defense.

She stares at him, bewildered. “Are you kidding me?” she fumes. 

“Why are we even arguing about this right now?” Miles asks. 

“Here’s why. What’s my name?” she replies. 

“Wha —” Miles stutters. 

“No, it’s Claire,” she yells. Miles continues to blurt out noises as Claire looks up at the moon. “Hey, Miles. Look!”

Miles looks up at the moon just as a large object fully eclipses it. A thin line glowing with red light appears on the other side of the sky, then widens into a rectangle. The stars are now violently waving in the night sky. Miles hears a deafening crack in the distance and looks in that direction to see a sickeningly large chunk of Earth rising on the horizon. 

“Oh my god, it’s South America,” Miles says in realization. 

“Uhm — Miles?” Claire says. Miles looks behind him to see Claire slowly being lifted up into the air by an invisible force. “Help!”

Miles grabs her hands as she falls upward. Luckily, he manages to keep her from falling into the sky. “Good thing I’m heavier than you,” Miles grunts.

Claire looks “below” her at the sky as small silhouettes appear in the glowing rectangle in the darkness. “What are those?” Claire asks. It’s not long before wings become visible on the silhouettes. 

“Nope,” Miles says as he carries Claire into a nearby building. She finally regains her footing on the ceiling inside as Miles closes the door behind them. “I‘m pretty sure those were dragons,” Miles assumes as he catches his breath. 

“What is happening?” Claire asks again. 

“I told you, I don’t know,” Miles repeats. “This is way over the top. Whoever came up with the idea of tearing the Earth apart because I won some races needs to calm down.” 

“You mean Velocity?” Claire asks. 

“Yeah, Velocity,” Miles clarifies. 

“Well, you did a bit more than win some races,” Claire mentions. “Or, more accurately, didn’t do.” 

“It doesn’t matter. We need to find a safer place to hide,” Miles suggests.

“Miles,” Claire says as she sits down on the ceiling. “The Earth is going to be disintegrated. Velocity said so himself. Even if you find a bomb shelter, we’re not going to survive.”

Miles sits down also and starts thinking for once in his life. “What if we just talked to him?” Miles says. 

“What are you talking about?” Claire asks. 

“Obviously we can’t beat him,” Miles explains. “We can’t run, either.” 

“Miles, that’s what karma looks like,” Claire jokes. 

“So we just talk it out,” Miles continues. 

“I don’t think he can be persuaded,” Claire says. “If he could be persuaded, I don’t think he would consider destroying an entire planet in the first place.” 

“Do you have a better idea?” Miles asks. 

“No, but that doesn’t mean I like yours,” Claire answers. Then a crack begins to form in the floor. It grows bigger until it splits the entire room in half. Miles and Claire’s side sinks while the other side of the room rises. 

“Miles! Grab my hand!” Claire shouts over the rumble of the ground splitting. Miles grabs her hand and she lifts him up toward the ceiling and onto the rising side of the room. They make their way up the stairs, but Miles is forced to leave Claire inside because she can’t stand on the roof. Miles can see the entire city splitting in half from on top of the remnants of the building. 

“There’s no going back now,” Miles thinks to himself. “Velocity!” Miles calls. “This is insane! My mistakes don’t have anything to do with humanity, but if you’re so sure that we’ll tip the balance, then I’m sure we can change! How were we supposed to know our actions have consequences?” 

“You weren’t,” Velocity responds from the heavens. “It’s the natural order of things. Some simply exceed the barriers. Nothing can be done about this.” 

“Well, you said you’re the fastest being in the universe!” Miles yells. “How come you don’t tip the balance?” 

“Because I have been assigned to keep the balance,” Velocity explains. 

“Then why can’t we join you?” Miles reasons. 

“You have proven yourself unable to handle the power you’ve been given,” Velocity answers. 

“Alright,” Miles says as he tightens his shoe laces. “Then I guess I’m left with no choice but to prove you wrong!” 

“What are you getting at?” Velocity asks. 

“I’m getting at the fact that the reason all this happened is because I came the closest to beating your fastest record!” Miles explains. “If I can beat you in a foot race fair and square—if I take things seriously for once in my life—would that prove that I’m capable of taking your place?”

Velocity falls silent for a moment. “You would have to undergo rigorous training on cosmic levels,” Velocity responds. “No human has ever come close to engaging in such labor.” 

“No human has ever come close to running as fast as me,” Miles replies. “What do you say?” Suddenly, a bright white light consumes everything. Once it disappears, Miles finds himself in front of a starting line next to Velocity: a tall humanoid being who glows with electricity. The track is shattered. Its pieces are strewn about in space. Below them is the broken Earth. Miles sighs before he sees Claire standing off to the side, a look of both worry and frustration on her face. 

“Miles, this is a stupid idea!” she yells. “You’re literally racing the fastest being in the universe!” Then she sees the look in Miles’s eyes. She realizes that he really is serious. If he wins this race, it will be because he finally changed. This is the only way to win. She knows that he knows this. And he’s going to give it his all.

Miles looks back at the track as a disembodied voice begins to count down. The crack of a gunshot sets off Mile’s muscles like a bomb and he launches across the track. Everything around him becomes a blur, including his own body. He loses track of where Velocity even is as he puts everything both his brain and his body have into every step. He dashes across the broken track, leaping across the floating platforms of polyurethane littered through space.

After only a few seconds, but what still feels like far too long, Miles crosses the finish line. His foot slams against the white paint like a hammer. Just beside it is Velocity’s. Miles worries that he’s lost, but Velocity can tell thanks to his god-like powers that it’s a perfect tie—down to the atom. Velocity realizes that this is no freak occurrence. It’s a sign, a sign that Miles is his successor. 

“Congratulations, Miles,” Velocity says as the two of them continue to run, unable to slow down. “You’ve done it. You’ve saved your world. At least for now.” 

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