David was running.
He barely felt the ground beneath him, the trees passed by in a blur. How much farther? It couldn’t be far. He was tired, but strangely, not winded. He’d been running through the night, enjoying the feel of the wind on his face, and the wet, green smell of the grass and trees around him. He knew he should be doubled over, gasping for air, but he wasn’t. In fact, as tired as he was, he felt like he could run faster.
Maybe even fly.
Could he fly?
The injections had been hard at first, but they told him it was what he needed. Formulated just for him. He thought for a long time they were lying to him. He didn’t feel like they were making him stronger. Each new drug made him sicker, shaking, vomiting, burning through his veins in a way that would surely kill him, but somehow never did. He didn’t believe them when they said this would change him.
Yet here he was, racing like the wind.
Escape was ridiculously easy. He just waited for the darkness, and by simple force of will, he found himself moving. He was walking, then running, then practically skimming over the ground. He had no idea where he was. Miles from where he used to be. Maybe hundreds of miles. Thousands.
Without breaking stride, he leapt. Seconds past, maybe minutes, before he touched (Skimmed? Brushed?) the ground again. He tried once more, still running, but adding a bound every few strides, jumping higher each time, practically floating.
They were right. They were right and I am changed.
He knew he could fly. He knew it.
And in the next moment, he heard it. It was soft, then building to a wild, loud, rushing. The wind blended into it and he knew this was it. He emerged into a clearing, and the cliff was ahead. The sea or the rocks or whatever was below lay shrouded in mist, so thick he could feel it trying to press against him.
It was trying to stop him! The mist worked its way into his lungs, making his chest tight. He couldn’t breathe! A high, keening sound filled his ears as the wind wailed around him.
He had to do it. With a strong burst of energy, he turned his face up to the sky and ran for the edge, leaping the last few feet, aiming for the sun and welcoming the wind as it lifted him higher and higher toward its light.
The keening had almost stopped, winding down into soft sobs. She realized that the nurse was holding her hand, and wiping her eyes on the bedcovers, she looked up.
“Thank you. Thank you for all you did to make him comfortable.”
“That’s what I’m here for. I have to make some phone calls now – the hospice office, the funeral home. Is there anyone else besides your family list that you need me to call for you?”
“No, just what I gave you. Can I -” her voice broke. “Can I stay with him till they come?”
“Of course you can. Take as long as you’d like.”
The nurse squeezed her hand once more, and got to her feet. Her gaze caught the paper, taped to the wall, just above the table cluttered with Transformers figures and games for a hand-held gaming system. The scene was beautiful, even though the medium was obviously Crayola crayon. Trees and grass and tall, rocky cliffs. He must’ve seen that in a movie,she thought to herself. David wasn’t able to be outside much.
“You ought to frame that,” she said to the mother, gesturing at the paper. “He had such a wonderful imagination.”
“He did.” The silence hung between them, heavy with a guilty sort of relief.
“He’s not trapped in this body anymore. No more pain.” The nurse half-smiled and said fondly: “I’ll bet he’s running. Maybe dancing.”
The mother tried to smile back, her eyes moving to the picture.
“I’ll bet he’s flying.”
I hope you enjoyed Icarus. Keep an eye out for my debut YA novel, Traveler, coming Feb 2017 from Swoon Reads / MacMillan.